INTERESTING STUFF – 12 February 2011
Egypt and the United States

ELDER MUSIC: Bob Resung

PeterTibbles75x75You never know who you're going to meet on the internet and I came to know Peter Tibbles (bio here) via email over the past couple of years. His extensive knowledge of most genres of music and his excellent taste became apparent only gradually (Peter's not one to toot his horn) but once I understood, I knew he needed his own column at Time Goes By - or, better, that TGB needed his column - which appears here each Sunday. You can find previous Elder Music columns here.

EDITOR'S NOTE: In case you missed it in Interesting Stuff yesterday, Peter Tibbles' fame is growing. He has been interviewed at Boomer Turn-Ons specifically about this Sunday column he writes. You can read it here.


That is not someone's name; it should, perhaps, be called Bob Re-sung. This is about others interpreting Bob Dylan's songs.

These have been selected by Norma, The Assistant Musicologist. As usual, she's left me to do the writing. She selected the tracks and I'm to write the column "because you're so good at it," she said, echoing my sister when she wants to get someone else to do what she doesn't want to do.

That's okay, I quite like tippy-tapping away. The A.M. wants to say: "Peter thinks that songwriters are the best ones to sing their own songs. However, I think there is also a lot to be said for fine singers and interpreters of such good songs as these."

The first song is by Peter, Paul and Mary.

Peter, Paul and Mary

The A.M. says that it was through them that she first heard Bob's songs. It turns out that during their first visit to Melbourne, she and I were both in the audience quite unbeknownst to each other, as we didn't know each other then.

In the way of these things she was up in the bleachers, having got the very last ticket and I was in the front row. "That'd be right," was the A.M.'s comment when she found out.

PP&M did much to bring then-little known songwriters to a larger audience – notably Gordon Lightfoot, Tom Paxton and John Denver. But it's Bob we're interested in and their version of When the Ship Comes In.

♫ Peter, Paul and Mary - When the Ship Comes In

Jennifer Warnes is a particular favorite of both the A.M. and mine.

Jennifer Warnes

She released a terrific CD of Leonard Cohen's songs a while back but we're Bobbing today, not Lenning.

Jen started out as a folk singer and got her big break playing the lead role in Hair. Wish I'd seen that. From then, her singing career continued with her as a rather Linda Ronstadt sound-alike initially. She has since forged her own individual style. She sings Sign on the Window.

♫ Jennifer Warnes - Sign on the Window

Chris Smither is a really fine singer/songwriter, if you ever get a chance to see him, take it.

Chris Smither

He worked around the folk clubs in Boston in the early days and still occasionally sings other people's songs. He did so in his album "Leave the Light On" which I consider his best.

While I'm on the topic of best, there are always interesting discussions on what is Bob's best song. This can never be resolved, but this one would probably be in most people's top five, Visions of Johanna.

♫ Chris Smither - Visions of Johanna

Linda Ronstadt has done a bunch of Bob's songs over the years. The A.M. couldn't select music for a column like this one without her presence. There probably isn't much we need to tell you about Linda, she's been around performing in a variety of styles for so long. I won't even attempt to précis her career.

Linda Ronstadt

This is Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues. There are several fine versions of this song – Nina Simone and Judy Collins are two that come immediately to mind. Bob's live version from Liverpool in 1966 is blistering. You can hear that here.

♫ Linda Ronstadt - Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues

Eric Bibb was born into song, and grew up around music.

Eric Bibb

His father was the singer, Leon Bibb, his uncle the great jazz pianist, John Lewis. Paul Robeson was his godfather (couldn't do better than that). Besides, there were always people dropping in – Pete Seeger, Odetta, Josh White and so on. It would be difficult not to become a musician with that upbringing.

He made his first public appearance at age 16 on his father's TV program. Talk about being thrown in at the deep end. These days he is based in London and performs extensively around Europe. His song is Buckets of Rain.

♫ Eric Bibb - Buckets Of Rain

Next we have a song about which there is complete agreement between the two of us. I think this is the best Bob cover ever; it's better than his version. I give you Maria Muldaur.

Maria Muldaur

The song was originally on Bob's “Shot of Love,” one of his lesser albums. Of course, pretty much all his albums from the eighties could be put in the lesser category. Fortunately, he got out of that slump and the last several have been excellent.

Maria recorded an album of Bob's songs called "Heart of Mine - Love Songs of Bob Dylan" which is a pretty fine album. This is a song, no, THE song, from that album, Heart of Mine.

♫ Maria Muldaur - Heart Of Mine

Cassandra Wilson is classically trained on the piano and plays the clarinet. She switched her interest to guitar when she was a teenager.

Cassandra Wilson

She's one of the few people who can successfully blend jazz, pop, folk and blues without it seeming contrived. Her earlier musical career was as a straight jazz singer but she incorporated these other elements into her music as time went by. This is Cassandra's version of Shelter From the Storm.

♫ Cassandra Wilson - Shelter From the Storm

And now to the man himself.

Bob Dylan

The A.M. actually likes Bob doing his own songs - well, some of them. Okay, this one.

It is from the album of his that I suspect is her favorite. Hard core Bob fans will disagree but on several listenings, I admit that it holds up really well. It's also the one that came immediately after "Self Portrait" and everyone went "Ahhh, he's regained his mojo.”

Its reputation declined over the years. It's time to reinstate "New Morning." The track selected is If Dogs Run Free, not your standard Bob track.

♫ Bob Dylan - If Dogs Run Free


Comments

This is just great. Is there any way to have your songs "live" someplace where I can just play them, without having to sit and click each and every one? Without, of course, you or Ronni breaking the law...

Mary...
Law is not the difficulty, but bandwidth is, along with my time and effort.

In no way do I mean to be rude, but this is just a personal, little blog with limited resources.

Thanks for a lovely way to start a sunny Sunday morning. I love all of them and each of them and the originals and the covers and I am smiling.
a/b

Beautiful selections...I love the artists selected. Norma knows her Dylan!

Thank you, Norma. Your choices in this column made my Sunday! One can imagine the care each artist took in developing each rendition of these songs and how much each tune meant to them. Thank you.

I enjoyed listening to all of your selections as I read my morning paper. I liked Bob Dylans arrangement best.

As a side issue, I am sure I previously wrote that Linda Ronstadt is a native Tucson. This morning's paper had a section on the fact that Arizona will turn 100 a year from now. They had articles on the early pioneers. You might find it interesting to know that the first Ronstadt came to Tucson 30 years before it became a state. He was 14 years old and was the namesake for a 4,000 foot wagon maker shop.

The Ronstadts became a leading Tucson family and still are. When I first moved to Tucson 47 years ago Ronstadt's was the leading department store. It no longer exists.

Note to Ashleigh Burroughs - It's nice to see you commenting again. I hope all is well with you now.

And Peter Knows His Dylan...

What a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon,Peter and Norma...

Thanks for sharing your extensive musical knowledge with us..

Hello, Ashleigh. Happy to see you back.

All Bob Dylan fans should check out Tim O'Brien's Red on Blonde. Tim is a multi-talented mandolin player, fiddle player, with a beautiful voice and a great love of Bob Dylan.

Did you see him live on the Grammy's last night. Fabulous stuff. Now I will go play all these with a grin on my face.

Sometimes, when Bob is "resung" by a very close friend, the results can be a bit of a surprise. At a 1983 concert, Joan Baez undertook to cover "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall." Mid-way through her performance (at 3:52), either out of boredom or out of a need for comic relief from the grim lyrics, Baez decided to have a little fun at Bob's expense. Here's the YouTube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmx8uAxD41w .

Hi, Ashleigh! Welcome back!

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