New socks!

Jun. 15th, 2015 10:03 am

All the fun of fairisle without the faff. These are knitted in Regia Design Line by Arne & Carlos. The colourway is ‘Summer Night’ but they have a wintry look to me. No sooner had I grafted the toes than I cast on another pair, this time in pale sherbert colours.


In other news, it’s fifty years since Like a Rolling Stone came out. Frightening to think that I was at school then. Wonderful that the record still sounds great. I turned it up as loud as possible, regardless of what the thatchers might think, and shouted out every word.
According to Spotify, my most played artist is: Bob Dylan. There’s a surprise.
Their categories are odd. This is the breakdown.
I’ve listened to: 30% Folk Rock; 21% Singer-Songwriter; 17% Merseybeat (what?); 17% British Invasion; 17% Folk.


I meant to listen to Singing Together yesterday evening but forgot, so I caught up with it on the iPlayer this morning. Singing Together is the reason I know so many folk songs. At junior school, we would all sit down in the hall, the wireless would be switched on and with the help of our booklets we’d join in the songs, presented by William Appleby. I kept all the booklets and was absolutely furious when my mother gave them away without telling me. These small bitternesses last a long time and a few years ago I bought just one booklet, shown here, on ebay.* The illustrations are by Robin Jacques. We also listened to Time and Tune, for younger children, and Rhythm and Melody.

In those days, broadcasting for children was about ‘improving their minds’. Singing Together was actually fun, though why the producers chose so many seditious Jacobite songs, I don’t know! Apparently, from over fifty years of programmes, only three episodes survive, because the broadcasting was live. Jarvis Cocker was hoping to find some archive from the seventies, when he was at school. After my time but the programme went on long enough to influence people like Lisa Carthy.

I loved this one:
Pleasure it is
To hear, iwis,
The Birdès sing.
The deer in the dale,
The sheep in the vale,
The corn springing.
God’s purveyance
For sustenance,
It is for man.
Then we always
To give him praise,
And thank him than,
And thank him than.

At the end of term we used to vote for our favourite song and the results would be sent off to the BBC. Finding no other hands go up for this medieval one, I was too embarrassed to admit that it was mine. I could still sing it. A fascinating programme, do catch it if you can.

*Edit: I see these are now going for at least £12.00 each!

In bed yesterday evening I listened to Counterpoint. So nice that Paul Gambaccini is back and so disgraceful that he was taken off. One contestant picked Bob Dylan for his special round and got every answer right. So did I. Not only that, I even guessed in advance what two of the questions would be!
SOTS has been particularly good today; I turned the radio up really loud for One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later). It seems incredible now that a brilliant Dylan track from Blonde on Blonde barely made the top 40 in the UK.

Brian played Adam Faith and mentioned a blog about him on the SOTS site. As usual with the BBC site, it took me ages to find this but here it is, written by Bob Stanley.


Adam Faith, photo BBC

It’s pouring with rain, walking is difficult and I think I’ll be fishing out the Adam Faith CDs.
At ten o’clock yesterday evening, had you felt you could not stand one more news programme devoted almost entirely to the Scottish Referendum, you could have tuned instead to Radio 2 and listened to Suzi Quatro’s favourite Bob Dylan covers. Suzi Quatro is a woman after my own heart. She’s ‘a Dylan addict’; she plays Dylan ‘really loud’; ‘He never ceases to surprise’. She does a mean Dylan impression, although Joan Baez is better at it. At one point, apropos nothing at all, she suddenly said, ‘Oh God, I love Bob Dylan.’ Me too, Suze!

She said she had ‘fifty four’ covers to choose from. What? There must be hundreds! Almost certainly there is a site somewhere on the net, compiled by Dylanolgists, listing every cover ever made and probably telling you what Bobby had for breakfast the day he wrote the song. Right from the start of his career, other people had more chart success with some of Dylan’s songs than he did. When he was young and I was even younger, I knew a lot of his songs without realising that he had written them. That’s true of, for instance, It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue (Joan Baez) and If You Gotta Go, Go Now (Manfred Mann). Bruce Springsteen has said that his introduction to Dylan was hearing the Byrds’ version of Mr. Tambourine Man, which made No.1 in the charts on both sides of the Atlantic.

I can’t believe (oh, actually I can, because the BBC website is so notoriously useless) that I CAN’T FIND A PLAYLIST for this programme. Suzi Q went for some unusual covers and eschewed the obvious, like Bryan Ferry or Adèle. Some of these choices were eccentric. Much as I like Bob Marley, I didn’t feel that he added anything to Like A Rolling Stone, nor did I much like The Turtles’ It Ain’t Me Babe. For my views on cover versions, see here, back in 2008. My favourite left-out cover is probably Johnny Cash singing Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right and my fave included one, Rod Stewart’s Just Like A Woman. ‘Mr Stewart’, Suzie called him.

Bob Dylan makes Suzie Q very emotional. She cries every time she hears Blowin’ In The Wind. Hearing To Make You Feel My Love in the car, she had to pull over to have a weep. ‘I can’t believe that Bob, in his later years, could write a song like this.’ She chose Garth Brooks singing the song and called it ‘the best romantic song in the world.’ I can’t disagree. Dylan’s back catalogue must be unmatched and the poor man, being a towering genius, has been a legend for most of his lifetime. How he copes, I can’t imagine.

LJ friends, this is what you’re getting for Snaptember 12.

I posted a while ago about the up-coming sale of the hand-written lyrics of Like A Rolling Stone. Here's the results.

BBC News - Bob Dylan's Rolling Stone lyrics auctioned for $2m

BBC News - Bob Dylan Like a Rolling Stone lyrics to go on sale

Was it Bruce Springsteen who said, 'It is a privilege to live on the same planet as the man who wrote Like A Rolling Stone'?

Would I bid if I had the money? I think so.
Pete Seeger has died, aged ninety four. Not bad going. I daresay there are still people in the States who think he was a dreadful old commie. I prefer to think of him as a singer songwriter. I just heard Chris Evans say that he thought Where Have All the Flowers Gone? was written by Bob Dylan. Proof of Seeger's great influence, I'd say. My favourite version of any of his songs is probably Turn, Turn, Turn by The Byrds.


A time to dance, a time to mourn

Picture from here
When I got back from the market this morning (what a beautiful day it is!), this track was on the radio. It doesn’t get much airplay and isn’t it a lovely song? Bob Dylan's version, 1962.

Bob manages to read this in a way that makes it sound as though he wrote it himself!
I was up at six this morning so I’ve already heard a lot of radio. On every news bulletin it’s been announced that ‘Peter Robinson, Northern Ireland’s First Minister’ has blah blah. What a strange emphasis. It suggests that Northern Ireland has a second, third, possibly even a fourth Minister.

GMS was out to get me this morning. Aled Jones and Canon Ann Easter (the unlikely Chaplain to the Queen) were discussing the sad death of a friend and said that only Bob Dylan would do to remember her by. So they played Forever Young, causing crack-up number one. After a little more chat came Adele’s version of Make You Feel My Love. I nearly emailed in begging them to stop.

Nothing on television yesterday evening so I knitted socks to Ill Met by Moonlight, my latest from LoveFilm. Even though it’s a Powell and Pressburger film starring Dirk Bogarde, I didn’t like it. The film is based on the true story (look it up yourselves) of a SOE plot to capture a German general in Crete and ‘make the Germans look fools.’ This is typical of the kind of brave but crackpot scheme which lost lives while doing nothing at all to end the war. Film makers really should have known that the war was not won by suave British officers cocking an eyebrow and spouting poetry. And Dirk Bogarde looked too damned pleased with himself throughout.

photo from IMDb

When I was about twelve I had a photo of Dirk Bogarde on my bedroom wall. Little did I know.

In 1997 Bob Dylan brought out his best album for years, Time Out of Mind. I saw the first UK gig of the tour and it was great. On the album is a beautiful song called Make You Feel My Love. No one made that much fuss about it at the time. It was later covered very well by Bryan Ferry on his album Dylanesque and more recently was a massive hit for Adele.

I’m currently listening to GMS. Amongst Aled’s guests this morning are The Soldiers. What did they choose to sing? Make You Feel My Love. Last week I watched the first episode of a new series of The Choir. What did Gareth get the women to sing? ‘This lovely song by Bob Dylan’: Make You Feel My Love.

For years I think you’d have said that Dylan’s most famous song was Blowing In The Wind, usually described as a protest song. Now, the ubiquitous Dylan sound is a love song which seems to speak to everyone. Are we all going soft? Dylan isn’t. At Bournemouth last month he sang it aggressively, as if he were saying, ‘I’m going to make you feel my love whether you like it or not.’ Trust him to be different.
Yesterday evening [ profile] huskyteer and I went to see the Dylan/Knopfler double bill at the pretentiously named Bournemouth International Centre. There were many grey or bald heads in the crowds milling around before the show but there was an excited buzz. It's odd that these two performers should have completely separate sets and I'd have liked to see them on stage together at least once. It was not to be. The Knopfler set was unexpected: very folky. I especially enjoyed Sailing to Philadelphia and Privateer. Poor old Knopfler, he played beautifully in his inimitable style and had a great band but it was clear most people were there for Bobby.

His Bobness came on after an unintelligible recorded announcement which I think at one point referred to him as 'the Columbia star'. As usual, no engagement with the audience, just song/blackout alternating until they'd done He spoke only at the end to introduce his band. Bob played a great new game with his audience, called 'Can you guess what I'm singing?' The band was over-amped for my taste and the introduction to each song sounded pretty much the same; husky was a little quicker than I was at guessing the right answers. The lyrics were shouted rather than sung and it was just as well everyone there knew all the words. A great new take on old songs or just going through the motions? The audience went justifiably mad for Tangled Up In Blue and Highway 61 and the fact is that whatever he does, the spry little man in the big hat is mesmerising. Our binoculars were useful. Ballad Of A Thin Man was one of the few songs to have a recognisable intro and went down well, as did the finale, Like A Rolling Stone. It may sound better on your old vinyl but there's something about being in the same space as the man who wrote it singing one of the greatest songs ever written which brought everyone to their feet. The lights went out and the good people of Bournemouth and surrounding areas dispersed in a quiet and respectable manner. You'd think they'd just been to hear the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra rather than a couple of rock legends.

As everyone knows, this year marks the four hundredth anniversary of the publication of The King James Bible. I seem to have undertaken the Bible challenge without knowing there was one.

I decided to have the Bible on my Kindle and to try out some samples first, to make sure I was getting something easy to read. The first one I’ve downloaded has illustrations by Gustave Doré which are pale on the Kindle and not worth having. I’m now annoyed to find that ‘your Amazon library’ doesn’t include samples you’ve requested. I can see from my Kindle that I have ‘The Holy Bible, King James Version, Church of England illustrated Gustave Doré’ but no amount of searching will bring this same version up on Amazon again. *Sigh*. Fine if I decide to buy it but not much use for recommending it to anyone else. Kindle samples are usually two chapters long so with the Bible you get a lot of text to try.

I’m reading the whole thing straight through, hence the Bible Challenge. This is an odd experience that makes me wonder if people my age have the Authorised Version built into their DNA. Pages and pages of tedious begetting and smiting and the inexplicable actions of a capricious Almighty, then suddenly whammo! a passage that you know by heart. Sunday School? Scripture lessons? Hearing the lessons read week after week in church? I just don’t know but the stories are as familiar as nursery rhymes. Here they come: Esau and Jacob; Jacob’s ladder; Jacob serving for Rachel; Joseph and his coat of many colours, his life in Egypt, the seven fat years followed by the seven lean ones and so on.

I can’t help wondering about people who don’t have all this in their heads. Whether or not you are a believer (I am, BTW) you have to accept that our culture is based on the Judaeo-Christian tradition and therefore it’s referenced constantly in art, literature and music. Just one example: James Mortmain’s book Jacob Wrestling in I Capture the Castle. It must be strange not to get all these allusions naturally and to need footnotes and endless explanations; like having to learn a new language. So I think there’s a good case for at least teaching children bible stories, which can be done without indoctrination.

I prefer the Authorised Version both because it’s familiar and because it’s literature. I always have trouble with the attempted sacrifice of Isaac though, because I can never get Bob Dylan’s version out of my head.
Dylan & a challenge )
I went to the market this morning without a coat and was *cold*. No luck today, just fruit. Last week though, I got a haul of old paperbacks including these with fabulous cover art. John Buchan as you've never seen him before.

Ten books for £2.00, including a Miss Silver, The Ivory Dagger, which I didn't have. I've just finished The Ivy Tree; it's a good thriller. Today on the way home I was singing along to Just Like A Woman on SOTS and carried on when I stopped off for a paper. Eccentric, moi? No one turned a hair.
Unless you've been going around with your head in a bag, you'll know that today is Bob Dylan's seventieth birthday. Gulp.

Glad you’re still with us, Bob and Happy Birthday. I do hope that after all this time you’ve come to terms with being Bob Dylan, which must be very difficult.
Nice audio slideshow here narrated by Michael Gray (his book Song & Dance Man is very good). He points out that Dylan is finding a new, young audience and ends with Make You Feel My Love, which has quite rightly been a smash hit for Adele.

Who’d like to add themselves or others to the list of fans? Here’s some for starters:
Christopher Ricks
Andrew Motion
David Cameron
The Dowager Duchess of Devonshire

The words of a chap who’s still a fan after all these years.
I missed a programme on Radio 4 yesterday and just caught up with it on the iPlayer. It’s called Falling for Françoise and describes how John Andrew and other teenage boys (Malcolm McClaren, for example) fell for Françoise Hardy in the early 1960s. Andrew sets off down memory lane, meets other fans (not all male, I’m pleased to note) and even gets to interview his heroine. Bob Dylan was apparently also an admirer and sang Just Like A Woman and I Want You to her in his dressing room; you need to hear her tell the anecdote. One of those amusing and interesting little programmes Radio 4 does so well. And Françoise sounds so nice.

Yesterday evening’s contribution to Dylan at 70 was an hour devoted to The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, every song covered by a British folk singer, the whole held together by Mark Radcliffe. As usual with the BBC website, it’s just taken me ages to find the information I wanted here. Hurrah, I was asked to fill in a questionnaire and was able to tell them that their search function is c**p and in what way. ‘Entirely new’ versions of these songs by British folk singers sounded ominous. Obviously I liked some more than others but what they all did was to remind you that Dylan’s early folky songs sound as if they really were folk songs which had been around for ever. Here’s the list:

Blowin' in the Wind by Seth Lakeman; Girl from the North Country by Thea Gilmore; Masters of War by Martin Simpson; Down the Highway by While and Matthews; Bob Dylan's Blues by Ewan McLennan; A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall by Karine Polwart; Don't Think Twice, It's All Right by Ralph McTell; Bob Dylan's Dream by Martin Carthy; Oxford Town by Coope, Boyes and Simpson; Talkin' World War III Blues by Billy Bragg; Corrina, Corrina by Cara Dillon with The Scoville Units; Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance by Rory Mcleod; and I Shall Be Free by Rab Noakes with Fraser Speirs.

Thea Gilmore’s Girl From The North Country was beautiful. Ralph McTell sang my favourite Don’t Think Twice; I prefer Johnny Cash singing it. Billy Bragg doing Talkin’ Third World War Blues? Sorry Billy, it sounded like Dry Your Eyes Mate. It’s amazing how young Dylan was when he wrote these songs. Reminds me of the oft-told story about when he arrived in New York and people would go to the SoHo clubs to hear the skinny little kid. One evening he sang Masters Of War and they all came out looking shell shocked. How did he do it? How did Keats? Yes, I am firmly in the Keats *and* Dylan camp.

Plenty more programmes to come!

Dylan at Foyles. Photo by [ profile] huskyteer

There’s something on Radio2 almost every evening this week, some programmes timed to be on just as I’m dropping off to sleep. So thank goodness for the iPlayer. Last night’s offering was Nashville Cats: the Making of Blonde on Blonde. It was presented by Bill Nighy. Normally I could listen to him reading anything but here I felt his voice added little. TBH it was a prog for geeks or people who are very keen on Al Kooper (and nothing wrong with that). It was worth hearing just to be reminded what a great album Blonde on Blonde is or, as the script put it, ‘arguably Dylan’s greatest LP’. Singles, EPs and LPs; another world.

As well as these music programmes, there’s short stories on Radio4 in the afternoons and No Direction Home on TV. Sometimes, I’m really glad I was around in 1966.
poll )



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