Entertainment behind the scenes
The next time you see Jakob Dylan pouring his heart and soul into his songs while performing in concert, be aware that the rock musician could be faking it and pondering some completely random notion.
“I can sing just about anything, and think about almost anything else. I really can. You’d be surprised,” Dylan told fans during a Q&A at the Grammy Museum on Monday, a day before the release of his second solo album. ”I’m not above playing songs that people want to hear whether I’m necessarily so into it. I won’t make an audience wait 4 hours ’til I get to that (mental) spot.
“The only time I try to avoid songs is when I think that it just sounds like, ‘Oh boy, for those 4 minutes I’m probably going to check out too much and that’s not good for anybody.’”
The 40-year-old rock ‘n’ roll scion begins a U.S. tour near Pittsburgh on Friday to promote the new disc “Women + Country.” As the married father of four children, he said he has become increasingly aware that concertgoers are shelling out good money for babysitters and gas, “and I think you’ve got to honor that to some degree.”
from Tales from the Trail:
The announcement that music icon Bob Dylan was coming to the White House next month for "A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement" sent us scrambling to listen to his famous song "The Times They Are A-Changin'."
The lyrics from 45 years ago, eerily echo today.
Come senators, congressmen, please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway, don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt, will be he who has stalled
The battle outside is ragin'
It'll soon shake your windows, and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'
Surely some of his hardcore fans will be applying the same microscope to his music video for “Must Be Santa,” just released on Monday, in which the rock icon sports a blond wig as he carouses at a wild Christmas party. Why blond? Why switch from a white hat early in the video to a black hat later on. What does it mean? Who knows.
It turns out that Bob Dylan Christmas album due out on Oct. 13 might be a good reason to hit the eggnog after all.
When news of the album was revealed over the summer, many Dylan fans could hardly believe it. Dylan just isn’t the kind of artist who does Christmas albums, or so everyone thought.
We’ve all been there — sitting at a rock/folk/country concert, politely waiting for the band to get through its new songs and start belting out the reasons we came in the first place. But if we do that, do the performers then have a responsibilty to deliver the oldies? And in a form we want to hear?
A couple of recent performances have underlined the issue. As Fan Fare noted recently, Yusuf, the former Cat Stevens, left some fans disappointed at the recent festival in Cropredy. He delivered a fine set, but primarily stuck to new songs and some obscure old ones. He was unprepared to give the crowd the big hits it was hoping, indeed asking for.
Christie’s auction house acknowledged this week that a handwritten “poem” singer Bob Dylan wrote when he was 16 was actually a song by country icon Hank Snow.
It’s not the first time that commentators have said that Dylan (shown at right seeming to eat a document) drew on other sources during his musical career.
Bob Dylan is entering the torture-porn comedy arena with a new video from his chart-topping album.
The on-screen action in “Beyond Here Lies Nothin’” follows a bloody battle between an attractive young woman and her older male captor in a seedy motel room. After stabbing him she escapes, runs him over with a car, and then smacks him — with a passionate kiss.
Dylan doesn’t actually appear in the video, having perhaps learned from “Tight Connection to My Heart” and a handful of features that acting is not his strong suit.
His Columbia Records label does not know if he has even seen it. The company has carte blanche with his videos, and its main job is “to push the envelope, to try not to be predictable,” said Greg Linn, Columbia’s vice president of marketing.
The video premiered Tuesday on the cable channel IFC and its Web site. The company “jumped at the chance” to get an exclusive two-day window, said Craig Parks, IFC’s vice-president of digital media. IFC said the video was the right fit for its audience, which skews towards young male hipsters. But it garnered a hostile reception from fans, judging by comments posted on the Dylan fan Web site Expecting Rain.
The low-budget video was filmed in one day last month at the Astro Motel in downtown Los Angeles, with Australian filmmaker Nash Edgerton directing actors Amanda Aardsma and Joel Stoffer.
The actors did most of their own stunts, said Aardsma, who likened her feisty role to the one played by Rose McGowan, in Robert Rodriguez’ zombie thriller “Planet Terror. ” “The next day, I was pretty bruised and battered,” she said.
The video explores the thin line between love and hate. “It leaves you wondering whether they’re in a relationship or she’s suffering from Stockholm Syndrome,” Aardsma added.
Linn said “Beyond Here Lies Nothin’” was chosen over other cuts from “Together Through Life,” because it’s a thought-provoking tune that “sums up the whole record.” Romantic musings are prevalent on the album, but there’s also a dark side, and label executives started “vamping” from there in sketching out the video’s concept, he said.
The song could be seen as slightly creepy. “Oh well I love you pretty baby, You’re the only love I’ve ever known,” Dylan sings. “Just as long as you stay with me, The whole world is my throne.” Or it could just be a simple love song.
The album, meanwhile, fell four places to No. 5 on the U.S. pop album chart on Wednesday. In the U.K., it has just begun a second week at the top.
Bob Dylan may have starred in a television commercial for iTunes, but don’t look for him to become an iPod pitchman anytime soon.
In a Rolling Stone magazine cover story, the 67-year-old troubadour rails against modern technology like cell phones, iPods and video games. The man who wrote “The Times They Are A-Changin’” almost 46 years ago evidently thinks the times have changed a little too much.
“It’s peculiar and unnerving in a way to see so many young people walking around with cell phones and iPods in their ears and so wrapped up in media and video games,” Dylan told interviewer Douglas Brinkley, a professor of U.S. history at Rice University in Houston.
“It robs them of their self-identity. It’s a shame to see them so tuned out to real life. Of course they are free to do that, as if that’s got anything to do with freedom. The cost of liberty is high, and young people should understand that before they start spending their life with all those gadgets.”
Dylan teamed up with Apple’s iTunes music store in 2006 to promote his new album “Modern Times.” A commercial showed him singing and playing guitar while an iPod-sporting woman danced to the music. He released his latest album “Together Through Life” this week.
In the Rolling Stone interview, Dylan also expressed some backhanded nostalgia for the early recordings of his old friend and duet partner Johnny Cash, in the process describing the country legend’s acclaimed 1990s comeback albums as ”notorious low-grade stuff.”
Cash died in 2003, riding high on a decadelong comeback masterminded by producer Rick Rubin. Over that time, they recorded a series of Grammy-winning albums that showcased Cash’s acoustic side. But Dylan said he started missing Cash ”10 years before he actually kicked the bucket.”
Bob Dylan achieves a dubious milestone with his first album in three years, an intriguing mix of Chicago blues, Tex-Mex and humorous balladry.
“Together Through Life,” which hit stores this week, marks the first time the noted wordsmith has worked with an outside lyricist on the bulk of an album since 1976′s “Desire.” Back then, theater director Jacques Levy co-wrote such tunes as “Hurricane” and “Romance in Durango” — whose southern-fried elements coincidentally echo through the new disc.
This time, Dylan has reunited with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter. They previously partnered on a pair of songs for Dylan’s 1988 album “Down in the Groove,” an unloved project described as “catastrophic” by Blender magazine. (Dylan and the Dead have a patchy history. After touring together in 1987, they released the universally reviled live album “Dylan & the Dead.” Following the 1995 death of Grateful Dead frontman and Dylan pal Jerry Garcia, the Dead’s bereft legions of tie-dyed hippies started infiltrating Dylan’s shows.)
Since Dylan kicked off his latest comeback with 1997′s “Time Out of Mind,” which came out months after he suffered a potentially fatal heart infection, it’s been hard to get critics to say anything bad about him. Of course, “Time out of Mind,” which won the Grammy for album of the year, and its successors “Love and Theft” and “Modern Times” marked his strongest trilogy since the 1975/76 combo of “Blood on the Tracks,” “The Basement Tapes” and “Desire.”
But the new album seems to have left some critics a little uneasy. In an otherwise glowing review, Rolling Stone said the lyrics “seem dashed off in spots, like first drafts.”
Canada’s National Post also was troubled by the lyrics, complaining that the album “depends too heavily on a set of stock imagery about lonely Southern towns and attractive but ‘sinful’ women, and the trademark zingers and barbed metaphors are offset by disappointing filler.”
The New York Times, which gave Dylan his first major piece of ink in 1961, said “very little on ‘Together Through Life’ seems destined for his repertory’s long haul.”
Critics in Britain, where Dylan is in the middle of a tour, were considerably more enthusiastic. The Times said the album is “a welcome addition to the late-period Dylan catalogue.” Mojo magazine, which regularly runs massive dissections of Dylan’s career, said the album “gets its hooks in early and refuses to let go.”
The Guardian, was a little more restrained, saying there are “many great things” about the album, but “If a band in a pub started playing the ploddy blues of (the Dylan original) ‘Jolene,’ you’d tut and talk over it.”
As the world’s media ponders who Obama will pick as his vice presidential candidate, we’d like to throw the 67-year-old singer/songwriter/poet into the ring. He has a name that travels across borders, is a cultural icon (surely that overused word is justified in this case) and he could come up with a mean campaign song to rally the followers.