Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Bob Dylan and the blues

I almost changed my mind about making this post because so much has been written about Bob Dylan over the years. As a kid, I was aware that he was the guy who recorded Like a Rolling Stone and that was about it until I was maybe 15, when I heard Blood on the Tracks, Desire and Hard Rain more of less all at once. At that time, I was a teen-age blues freak and when I listened to Dylan (I didn't know he was supposed to be a poet who can't sing very well) I thought he attacked a song with much the same spirit and sometimes with a similar approach to some of the blues players I was listening too. I really liked that and so started to listen to more and more of his music. To this day, I don't think he was kidding when he described himself as just a song and dance man.

Here's Meet me in the Morning, from Blood on the Tracks. I love the lazy groove in this tune. I think it might be the first blues by Bob Dylan I heard.

Bob Dylan has returned to blues in one form or another throughout his lengthy career. Here's his cover of Bukka White's Fixin to Die. He sounds so young here, but makes up for it with an energetic performance.

Down in the Flood was recorded with The Band, a group of guys who came to Dylan loaded with blues and rockabilly, as Ronnie Hawkins' backup band, The Hawks.

Broke Down Engine, from the often overlooked collection of traditional material, World Gone Wrong, is a fantastic cover of the Blind Willie McTell signature piece.

Dylan has returned to the blues in a big way with his new release. Willie Dixon gets a music credit on My Wife's Home Town for obvious reasons. We've all heard, "I just want to make love to you". But Dylan takes Willie Dixon's classic in a much different direction. Robert Hunter co-wrote the lyrics on this tune and on most of the pieces on the album. The accordion work is by David Hidalgo from Los Lobos.

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