1001 Albums: If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears

#67

Album_67_Original

Artist: The Mama’s and the Papa’s

Album: If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears

Year: 1966

Length: 33:42

Genre: Pop Rock/Folk Rock/Sunshine Pop

“Got a feelin’ that you’re playing some game with me babe
Got a feelin’ that you just can’t see
If you’re entertaining any thought that you’re gaining
By causing me all of this pain and making me blue
The joke on you”

I have officially signed a lease and am moving in to my very own apartment within a week. It’s exciting stuff. No more mooching off my cousins, now I will truly be an independent adult. Free to do whatever I want whenever I want (within the limits of the law and my monthly budget). Finally I can see what it feels to be a full-functioning adult… alone with the pressures of the world and society crashing down on me and the burden of the sudden influx in bills to pay. I can’t wait.

So, that’s one thing of my checklist and a weight off my shoulders. Now all I need is a job and I’ll be set for now. It’s surprising how easy yet difficult it has become to get a job. I think I’ve sent my CV to a good 30 places and only heard from roughly two. I keep getting emails that say my application has been viewed… but then hear nothing from that company. Oh well… Isn’t it funny how you’re always told to go to places in person because it shows determination and perseverance but when you do go they tell you to apply online? Getting a lot of mixed signals from everyone. You’re always told to do one thing and then when you do it they tell you another but then you’re supposed to do the first thing because people like that, yet they don’t like it either. What the fuck… no wonder we’re so confused all the time.

I’ll give myself a mental break from that because I have to tell you guys about The Mama’s and the Papa’s. Oh man, these guys. Monday Monday and California Dreamin’ were two songs that were part of my childhood song diary that played on my dad’s music compilations. I used to hear both those songs so many damn times, they’re part of the repertoire of music engraved in my head forever. Not complaining, I actually enjoyed those songs. When I was a kid and was attending day camp during the summer, my group actually performed a dance routine to California Dreamin’ that I got a little to into that it garnered some weird looks from the other kids. Hey, don’t hate cause I love to dance.

I find this album is really a testament of it’s time. A lens into a specific group of people circa 1966. This whole album just reaks of hippie flower-power folk rock that it can turn you off if you’re really not into it. That’s kind of a shame because musically it delivers with particular attention to the harmonies created by the four members of the band, specifically Mama Cass and Michelle Phillips, who, when blended together, create angelic harmonies that can only please your ears.

If you don’t pay attention you might miss some of the lyrical content, which is easy to assume is just your typical love cheese. Being catered for their hippie love, the lyrical content kind of grasps every aspect of the flower power lifestyle: Peace, Love and Promiscuous sex. That’s right, it’s a little shocking what they sing about at times (mostly for the time they came out) that there were nerves when it came to selling the album. Heck, the album cover itself garnered enough controversy and it’s only crime was it featured a toilet on it. Oh no, not a toilet. It’s interesting to see how The Mamas and The Papas are considered a little risque, especially when considered to today. I guess companies were run by very conservative people who didn’t like the idea of sleeping around being thrown out there. God forbid people like sex.

I got to say though, as much as Michelle Phillips is a bomb shell, I wouldn’t be surprised if Mama Cass was the one getting way more action. Her singing voice, with that rare soprano quality, was enough to get any man to cream his pants and I’m sure everyone’s wanted that experience with a BBW. For larger woman, she was definitely a good role model as she proved size and weight didn’t matter and you can still be a banging lady.

mama cass

Don’t lie, you would.

So, this got oddly sexual, but hey can you blame me? That was a big thing for the hippies. The sexual revolution was a big deal and changed how people viewed the act. No longer was it a taboo subject to hush in giggled whispers, they normalised it as a fun thing that everyone enjoys and removed the judgements that came with it. And STDs… that was a big thing to… probably should have used condoms buddies.

Whatever your stance on it, approve or dissaprove, it was still a big part of the 60s and this album is a nice time capsule to that era. From the musical vibes to the themes of the music, it really grabs your hand and takes you back to that time to experience it for yourself.

I’ll end this with something humorous for your viewing pleasure. French and Saunders did a style parody of The Mamas and The Papas on their tv show back in the 90s (early 2000s?) and I think they captured their style almost perfectly. Man, I love these two ladies:

 

Song of Choice: California Dreamin’

-Bosco

 

 

1001 Albums: Fred Neil

#62

Album_62_Original

Artist: Fred Neil

Album: Fred Neil

Year: 1967

Length: 39:09

Genre: Folk Rock

“Everybody’s talkin’ at me
I don’t hear a word they’re sayin’
Only the echoes of my mind

People stoppin’, starin’
I can’t see the faces
Only the shadows of their eyes”

 

From two giants of music to… this… guy. Fred Neil. Fred Neil, man. It’s Fred Neil guys. Fred Fucking Neil. Oh man, It’s Fred Neil. Everybody! Fred Neil! Give it up for Fred Neil everyone. Fred Neil!

Ok, so clearly I have no idea who Fred Neil is. Not my fault, I’m not into folk music, so I’m not aware of the icons of folk or anything. Wait… was this guy even a folk icon at all? I mean… did he even leave an impact in music? My research brings up almost nothing about him. Hell, he went practically unnoticed and wasn’t even a commercial success. His claim to fame is that other, more famous folk musicians covered some of his songs. He barely even toured. I’m so at a loss of what to say here. I might need a little help…

I asked a bunch of my friends what they could tell me about Fred Neil and this is the responses I got:

“Unfortunately not much… American Folk Singer born in 1936… I’m shocked I know that too… I absolutely did wikipedia that information, I honestly know nothing about him”

-Marc

 

“Never heard of him. I just had to Google him to even know who he was”

-Stephy

 

“Fred Neil? I have no clue. Never heard of him before”

-Vishesh

 

“Uhh never heard the name… He is a musician”

-Sandra

 

“Who?”

-Henry

 

“Nada”

-Sean

 

“Personally nothing. I don’t know him… Google him. I have no clue who he is… Tell you what?… I told you I don’t know him… He is old… Are you being silly? I told you I have no clue who he is”

-Mom

 

“Poop Emoji”

-Dad

 

“The one and only!… JK. I have no clue who the fuck that is”

-Graham

 

Fantastic… I received zero help from any of my friends, even the ones who have a vast knowledge of music. It seems like no one has heard of this guy. But he’s on the list… so someone must have heard of him… right? I mean, he must be good otherwise they wouldn’t have included him here, right? RIGHT?!

I’ll be honest, the reason I’m having such difficulty coming up with things to say about him is because this whole review can basically be summed up in three words:

“It’s Folk Rock”

That’s it. That basically sums up the entirety of the album. Whatever you’re thinking folk rock is, this is exactly what it is. Nothing more and nothing less. Just straightforward folk rock. If Bob Dylan was the spirit of Folk Rock than this album is the essence of it. It blends electric with acoustic seamlessly and he sings with a nice, deep voice to keep you listening tot he stories he’s telling. There’s some great harmonica in there and he even whistles rather nicely at one point. But… that’s it. That’s really all there is. He hits every point on the Folk Rock checklist and does it well. There you go. You know the album now. Whatever you’r picturing in your head is probably right on the mark (Unless you’re way off than don’t trust what you’re thinking).

I mean, I could try talking about each individual song, but what is there to really say? The opening song is called The Dolphins because… he fucking loves dolphins. No joke, he spent the later years of his life assisting the preservation of dolphins (Woah! Hey! An actual fun fact!). He just really loves dolphins. I could go on, but seriously, every song just went straight through my ears and I could barely even force myself to form any opinion on it.

But… if I really had to try, I guess I could muster one or two things. Here’s some fun trivia: Remember that song that played constantly throughout the movie Midnight Cowboy? Everybody’s Talkin’? Yeah? No, he didn’t play that version of it, Harry Nilsson did. But Fred was the original songwriter. I knew I recognised that song. The minute it played I had a feeling I had heard it somewhere and the first thing that popped into my head was visions of Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight. But… it didn’t sound the same, so it couldn’t be that. But my instincts were right and… that’s pretty cool, I guess.

Now, if I were to speak of one song, and that’s a big if, I would talk about the last song on the album. Don’t ask me to tell you the name from memory because it’s a beast of a fucking name. A name so absurd that I couldn’t even spell it out, I had to copy paste it. The song is very simply called: Cynicrustpetefredjohn Raga. Dear fucking lord, what kind of a title is that? Why would you ever name you’re song like that? What is this bat shit insanity of a title name? Is it even relevant to the song? NO! It’s not. It’s 8 minutes of pure folk rock instrumental. That’s what it is. And by god it’s one hell of a tune. It’s like Fred decided to just take a 180 with the end of the album and finish it off with a grand finale. Almost like the folk-rock version of a free-form jazz tune. It takes you on a journey that you don’t even expect, with twists and turns around every bend. You end in a place that you didn’t even start in. This song is a big surprise at the end of this album and catches you completely off guard. I am happy for this.

So that was Fred Neil. I hope you learned something today… even if it is wildly underwhelming.

God…

 

Song of Choice: Cynicrustpetefredjohn Raga

-Bosco

 

1001 Albums: Highway 61 Revisited

#58

Album_58_Original_2.jpg

Artist: Bob Dylan

Album: Highway 61 Revisited

Year: 1965

Length: 51:26

Genre: Rock and Roll/Folk Rock

“How does it feel, how does it feel?
To have on your own, with no direction home
Like a complete unknown, like a rolling stone”

Driving down the highway.

Traffic stops to a crawl.

25 minute drive is now almost an hour long.

No sight of change in the conditions.

Google maps doesn’t have a quicker route.

It’s getting hot in the car.

Air conditioning blasting.

Was a looooong day, fatigue kicking in hard.

Want to get home and lie down now.

Only solace in this time of need: Bobby Dylan.

That’s right, as I was stuck in traffic after driving Sandra to the bus station, the only thing keeping me awake and sane was this album. Originally I just thought it’d be a great opportunity to continue listening to the albums on the list, for once I might actually get to sit through one in one sitting rather than multiple listens. So far, I’ve really liked Bob Dylan and have been pleasantly surprised with every album that has been thrown my way by him. Each one getting better and better. And when I thought “There’s no way he can top Bringin’ It All Back Home, along comes this one.

Is it safe to call Bob Dylan a musical genius at this point? I never use this term ever, and there was a point in my life where I avoided Bob Dylan because I thought I’d hate it so much. But I was wrong, very wrong indeed. He only seems to get better and better with time, which is an incredible feat considering he started with a high. How does he keep doing it?

One word: Evolution.

Bob Dylan doesn’t stay the same. He evolves drastically with every album, trying new things but still keeping his Bobby Dylan flair. This time he decided to take even more steps to distance himself from his folk sounding roots that made him famous and went with a full studio band to record this album. This, obviously, didn’t go well with his big fans. He was even famously booed at The Newport Folk Festival just for even daring to do something different and evolve his musical stylings. Fucking shocking, I know. I mean, how dare he try and become a better musician and do new and exciting things? He should just be stuck in one place and create the same album over and over again to please the crazy fans. I can’t imagine what would have happened to Bob Dylan if he kept producing folk albums with just him and an acoustic guitar, I feel it just wouldn’t have had the same impact. I’m sure it would have been great, but seeing how Bob Dylan was getting bored with himself, I doubt he would have gone any further if he was stuck in the same place.

Did you know that? He was actually getting fed up with himself. He was doing so many shows that he couldn’t stand listening to himself sing. He felt like he was in a sort of rut and was losing his passion for the music. Because of this he puked out a super long poem of sorts that just spewed all his feelings into words. Apparently this was enough to get him back to enjoying his music once again. He would reduce this vomit into a smaller form and it would become the first song on the album: Like a Rolling Stone. I knew I felt a sense of deeper sadness within the song that was hard to point out. At first I couldn’t tell if he was being sincere or mocking people who are feeling lost. But it seems sincere was the right mood (but I wouldn’t put it by him to make fun of himself while he’s at it).

 

It seems too that Dylan had a double meaning when he came up with the title for the album. It wasn’t just his own revisiting of the famous Highway that got him back in the mood to make music but was also his way of creating a throwback to the classic Blues musicians of older days. You see, Highway 61 actually passed by the birthplaces of many famous and influential musicians including Muddy Waters, Son House, Elvis Presley and Charley Patton. It was also, famously, where Bessie Smith died in a car crash and where Robert Johnson was believed to selling his soul to the devil at the crossroads of route 49 and Highway 61. To Dylan, this was more than just revisiting a place that he felt one with and that he described as being a part of him and running through his veins, this was an ode to those musicians and their music.

That’s what he does best on this album, he blends good old blues styling with his poetic nuances and lyrical cynicism of the modern day america. This is really what sets this album apart from his previous efforts. He’s continuously trying to distance himself form his folk roots, which has alienated his fan base increasingly. But what’s great about him is he doesn’t care. He’s in it for the love of the music and doesn’t cater to what the fans want but what he feels will make him happiest. That being said, he still retains his dark sense of humour and cynical look of America as he continues to speak as the voice of the troubled youth (even if at this point he’ll never admit that’s what he’s doing). The themes of fear and anxiety of society are even grander in this album and he even gets a little more personal with it. Songs like Like A Rolling Stone, which captured his feelings of being lost at that point in time musically, and Ballad of a Thin Man, which was his response to the media’s expectations of him and not understanding who he was and what he was doing musically. Whereas before he would capture a moment in America and ramble on about the issues at hand, here we see him mixing in personal conflict in a more direct way, which not only adds an extra layer to his lyrics but also creates a sense that he is being more vulnerable than before and opening up in a bigger way. This creates music that is still protesting but a much more pure and innocent type of protest compared to his more punk attitude of earlier works.

We also find Dylan at his most incomprehensible so far. Here is the voice I knew him to have. The typical Dylan drawl that doesn’t sing but just sort of speaks with weird intonations and with a slur that makes it hard to actually understand what he’s saying half the time. The biggest show of this Dylan characteristic was most definitely his final song on the album, Desolation Row. 11 minutes of pure Bob Dylan rambling, where he stripped away the rest of the band and went for his old school-sound of pure folk. Just him and his guitar, riffing away and rambling on and on, creating a portrait of 1960’s america. Upon first listen this sounds like the most incomprehensible and non-nonsensical song ever. It’s constant references to famous figures, political and pop culture, and strung together with non-linear storytelling and often times pure non-sequiters. In the hands of anyone else this would have been terrible, random for the sake of being random, but in Bob Dylan’s hands he creates a somewhat non-sequiter masterpiece that definitely requires multiple listenings before you can even grasp what he’s getting at with it. I’m sure if I took the time to sit and really look at the lyrics, I mean take a long, hard look at them, I can take something away from it.

That’s really what’s remarkable about this album. It’s not a one-time listening album. It’s one you have to listen to multiple times to truly enjoy and get the most out of it. That’s always the sign of a great piece of art, one that gets better the more you experience it. It’s fine if you didn’t get something the first time around, you might notice something new the next time and the next and the next and hey maybe even the 20th time! That’s always a fun experience, when there’s something you’ve experienced so many damn times and you’re still experiencing new things, it’s really a magical sort of feeling. We all like that feeling of discovery, and I’m sure the next time I listen to this album (If I ever do… probably… maybe) I’m sure I’ll experience that as well.

 

Song of Choice: Tombstone Blues

-Bosco

 

1001 Albums: Bert Jansch

#56

Album_56_Original_2

Artist: Bert Jansch

Album: Bert Jansch

Year: 1965

Length: 39:19

Genre: Folk

“When sadness fills your heart
And sorrow hides the longing to be free
When things go wrong each day
You fix your mind to ‘scape your misery
Your troubled young life
Had made you turn
To a needle of death”

This wasn’t a good album for me at the moment. Not because the album was bad, more just the timing of it. If you’ve ever heard the album you would know it’s a pretty depressing and sad album. Sadness seems to pour through every moment and it really is a bit of a downer, especially if you’re not in the best mood.

I know a lot of people like to listen to sad music when they’re feeling down in the dumps. I never understood that. It makes no sense to me. Why would you want to listen to depressing shit when you’re already feeling really shitty? Wouldn’t you want to listen to something that makes you feel better? That pumps you up? That lifts you and brings your mood to lighter pastures? Maybe that’s just me. I know when I’m really stressed or down I like to listen to upbeat, fast-paced music that really gets me going. Usually punk or new wave from the late 70’s and early 80’s is always a good choice. It allows me to let out aggression, I find myself dancing, I find myself getting super pumped and by the end of it I feel ten times better. Isn’t that what anyone would want to do?

“But I relate to this. It’s sad like how I’m feeling and expressing feelings I am currently feeling”

OK, fair point. I guess it’s nice to know that you’re not alone in feeling the way you do and there’s a type of reassurance to that. As if it’s letting yourself know the feelings you’re feeling are perfectly normal and you’l get yourself through it. You’re not alone. I get it, but it still makes no sense to me personally.

Let me explain (I guess). I’ve finally made my move to Toronto and for the most part I’ve settled in quite nicely and am getting into the groove of things. But, at the same time it’s been getting really difficult. I’ve felt a lot of pressure on my shoulders, I’ve been scared of money (having no job to give you income will do that) and I slowly feel my confidence dropping and my loneliness increasing as I’m pretty much alone, with no friends. It’s been tough and my anxiety has been tested with visiting apartments (something I’m both new at and not very good at). Yesterday in particular wasn’t a good day that brought me down pretty badly and I’ms till trying to pick myself up from it. I figured continuing this list would make me feel better, that feeling of productivity always made me feel good. Unfortunately it was this album that just made me feel kind of down.

There’s nothing wrong with sad music, especially when it’s sincere and genuine and comes from a real place. I actually think music that hits you on a deeper emotional level can be really powerful and is difficult to accomplish without sounding sappy, self-indulgent or melodramatic. But in context of things that have been going on, it’s not what I needed. Already I wasn’t doing my best and I was met with songs that sang about a friend’s death, loneliness and relationship hardships (to name a few). Really uplifting subject matter. it doesn’t help that Bert’s guitar playing sells the sadness vibe and matched with his on the verge of crying vocals, it really puts a downer on the afternoon, which is never ideal.

That all being said, how was the album despite all this?

Not bad. It’s a fairly decent album. It doesn’t offer more than it really needs to and gives you exactly what you’d expect from a début folk album. I don’t think Bert set out to impress or prove anything, he just wanted to play some music and share some stories and he does that very well. It’s almost like listening to that one guy at a party who picks up the guitar and sings in the corner with a group of people around him, admiring him. He’s talented enough for you to stop and look but you’ll probably forget about him the next day. He’ll always be that one guy who played guitar at the party you were at this one time, never left a big impression, but enough that you’ll look back in a “Oh yeah that guy!” kind of way. There’s nothing truly impressive about it, but it’s not bad either, it’s exactly what it needs to be and nothing more. Bert sings every song with enough sincerity in his voice that you believe what he’s saying and lyrically it’s poetic enough to leave you satisfied. It’s an all around solid folk album.

Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to put on something a little more upbeat. I have some steam I need to blow off.

Song of Choice: Angie

-Bosco

1001 Albums: The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan

# 36

album_36_original

Artist: Bob Dylan

Album:The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan

Year: 1963

Length: 50:04

Genre: Folk

 

 

“Yes, how many times can a man turn his head
Pretending he just doesn’t see?
The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind”

From one musical icon to the next. Although, this time around I have much nicer words to share about Mr. Bobby Dylan than I did with The Beatles. Don’t worry, I won’t be making any ridiculous comparisons this time and I’ll keep Mr. Bobbity Bobby Boo Dylan in tact. I actually had finished this album a few days ago, but took awhile to getting around to writing this post (for reasons I’ll get to soon). The main reason was the length of the album, which I was surprised to see was about 50 minutes long, sure as hell didn’t feel that way, felt like I zoomed through it (which is funny because it took me multiple listenings to finally get through it).

The first instance, which got me through about three songs, was followed up with some channel surfing. We stumbled upon Forrest Gump and it was the scene in the bar where Jenny sings Blowin’ in the Wind, basically naked, with only her guitar covering her. The coincidence of this was too much for me and I figured this was a sign. A sign for what? I’m really not sure, hard to tell exactly what the universe was trying to tell me. I kept talking about how naked she was and Sandra was having none of it.

“If you want to see her naked that bad, go on the Internet, I’m sure you can find her naked somewhere. Come on, Jonathan”

I’m a simple man, what can I say, but a greater power was not really telling me anything other than damn, what a coincidence. Maybe it was Bobbylini Dylan’s philosophical nature that rubbed off on me from that song and I was looking way too much into it all, but I can guarantee I immediately forgot about it after we stumbled upon Lumberjack Olympics (Basically muscly, sweaty men wielding axes and chopping wood in competitive style) and that just intrigued me way more than any coincidence could.

It’s funny, the opposite effect actually occured when entering this album than The Beatles one. For the most part, everyone knows my relationship with Folk music. I respect it, but I don’t like it, never did. I could never get into folk music and for the most part I always find myself bored listening to it. It’s purely a personal taste. I can definitely see why people love it and get into, I just, for whatever reason, never could.

I, obviously, knew of Bobby Booby Dylan and for the longest time always made an effort to sort of avoid him. I’ll be honest I was very judgemental when it came to it and I did have an ex who loved him a ton (which didn’t help since our musical preferences clashed horribly, so it made me associate Bobilobba Ding Dong Dylan with that). My initial feeling was, I was not going to enjoy it and went in with that.

I was wrong, so terribly and happily wrong. Whereas The Beatles I went in with the attitude that I’m listening to the greatest band in the world and being disappointed, this time I went in thinking I won’t enjoy it and found myself loving it. Yes, believe it or not, I loved a folk album. I was engaged and stuck the whole way through, Bobbity boopity boppity Dylan’s cynical lyrics and cheerful guitar playing resonating with me more than I expected to. I didn’t think I’d be immersed as much I was in a Bob Bob the Bob Dylan’s music, but I was, I really was. Shocking I know (for those who know me, for those who don’t… be shocked for the sake of it).

So, I’m going to have a moment of honesty and, I guess, Vulnerability right here. Remember when I said it took me awhile to get myself to write this post? Well, the main reason for that was because I was actually scared to write it. Yeah. Every other post I was always ready to jump in and get it going, even when I was saying things I knew people would disagree with in the last post. This one, I just couldn’t get myself to sit and write it. It was strange, but I understood why (having grown to understand my fears and feelings and be able to pinpoint the root cause of it all). The main reason was because I felt I wouldn’t be able to give this album justice. I can’t really talk about folk music, which after the very underwhelming and pretty lackluster post I wrote on Joan Baez, I knew I would have a difficult time writing about this one, which sort of created a wall for me. It was odd because for the most part I was always able to crank something out, especially when I had no idea what I was talking about (most of the jazz albums), but this… Mr. BOB DYLAN made me nervous. Maybe because he’s such a big icon, I don’t know.

But the writing must go on, not going to give up because things get tough. This is not only for my readers but mostly for me, gotta just sit down and do it. So, I’ll do my best. here goes nothing….

This is a damn good album. If I could summon the perfect words to talk about it, I would, but for now I’ll have to go with my limited vocabulary. All these years I didn’t give Bobby Robby Dylan a chance and I’ll admit it was unfair of me to think so negatively of him when I didn’t even know him. It’s hard to make an album that at once is incredibly sad but still feels happy, but by-god he managed to do that. That’s really the vibe of the entire album, it’s bittersweet from start to finish. The cheerful guitar playing never distracts from the sadder, philosophical, cynical and at times political lyrics, but rather supports it in an incredibly beautiful way.

From what I gathered, this was the album that showed the world that Bobbin’ Dylan was a poet and it cemented him as a songwriter who wrote lyrics with substance and depth. It blew him up from young folk singer to Folk Icon and he even became recognised as the spokesperson for all the disaffected youth in America (even though he would go on to hate this title and try to stray away from it).

Whether he liked it or not, there was no denying he tapped into the minds of the young adults of his generation. His first intention may have been to write music that showed his feelings and fears of the world around him, but without realising he was actually voicing what everyone was feeling. He may not have wanted the title but his material managed to resonate with everyone around him. He was the voice they needed, even if he didn’t want it. It doesn’t end there either. His writing style was vague enough that it made the songs incredibly timeless. A lot of the songs on this album are arguably more relevant and poignant today than they were back in 1963.

Oxford Town came to mind, telling the story of a brown-faced boy and the discrimination he was facing. The ambiguous ending of a fight and two dead leaves a lot to the imagination to the fate of our protagonist and oddly still fits here today in 2017. With everything happening in the world, a story of a brown-faced boy facing dangerous discrimination in small town USA seems to be appropriate as a modern day “protest song”. With fears of the other being strong in North America and my best friend being a brown man (who I can guarantee is definitely some delicious milk chocolate to me) it struck a slight chord with me. My best friend isn’t muslim but with the rampant fear that’s growing and growing, it can easily happen that someone could judge him too quickly and who knows what could happen. It’s a scary world we’ve come to and I hope it will be kind to him.

Although, is life really ever kind to anyone? Not really.

I really don’t want to get political with this (especially since in general, I’m not a political person. I usually keep those ideas to myself and never get involved). But it’s hard not to with Bobbin’ For Apples Dylan. He basically popularized the protest song and brought it to the mainstream. There was no other man who could sit down at a concert, with a devil-may-care attitude, and spout political lyrics to a mass audience. At least not in those days. I feel it’s a safe bet to say that Bobber Robber Dylan was amongst the first punks to hit the music scene. Yeah, Punk way before punk was even a thing yet. If you think about it, he basically was. It doesn’t sound like the Punk we’ve grown to accept as the punk genre, but the ideology and attitude of one was definitely there and if you don’t believe me, just listen to Master of War and you definitely feel that biting commentary punks would adapt in their lyrics.

There’s so many highs in this album, I actually feel like I could write an article for each one. But I won’t… at least not anytime soon. Who knows, I might revisit this album one day to give each song a proper look at, but for now, I’ll keep it brief because I still have about 964 albums to get through.

I had forgotten that he was the mastermind behind Blowin’ in the Wind. If you also didn’t know that, it’s totally ok, because Peter, Paul and Mary were the ones that had the hit on their hand with it and it’s most often associated with them. Having heard the two I can say, their version was definitely more accessible, but it doesn’t hit that level of cycnicism that Bob’s Burgers Dylan delivers. Theirs may have sounded pretty, but Bob’s delivery of the lyrics has a much more genuine feel to it as if you can hear him actually contemplating these questions with no answers and sighing at the misery of the world, fed up yet still going because there isn’t really much he can do. It’s more powerful than you’d expect.

It doesn’t end there (of course not). His song Talkin’ World War III Blues leaves quite an impact and has the same effect that Oxford Town had. It’s funny how this song from 1963 feels way more relevant today as we seemingly inch closer and closer to the possibility of World War III. When Bob wrote this, it was during the Cold War and fear of nuclear war was damn strong. Everyone felt like the world would just blow up at any second. It never happened, thankfully, but damn is that fear just getting stronger and stronger as every day goes by. We all feel it to some extent and at one point or another we have all wondered what would happen if it did. The song was a ramblin’ style song, that he improvised and just sort of ranted about his feelings of it all, but once again, he managed to speak what everyone was thinking and I don’t think he ever thought his words would feel relevant to a young 24 year old 54 years later. When he sings about imagining what the world would be like as the lone survivor and asking others that he’ll put them in his dream if they put him in theirs couldn’t have been more relateable to me, even if it tried. We are all the main characters in each of our stories, and when the world goes down, we would all like to think we’re the ones who would survive and come out alive and well. Unfortunately, we don’t know what will happen, so we only hope that we’re still a part of it in the grand scheme of things. I know I do.

As I said before, Bob Xavier Dylan managed to capture a bittersweet vibe throughout the entire album. Like the song before where he was rambling on about his fears of nuclear war, he still managed to make it feel more upbeat than it really was. For me, the standout song that beautifully captured this vibe to perfection was Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right. One of the few love songs on the album, it was everything every love song should aspire to be. Love songs are tricky to write, they can easily enter the “Lovey gooey cheesy” territory and the “I’m whiny and sad, break-up” territory. Bob 2 Casale Dylan draws the line in the middle somewhere and walks it masterfully. This is one of the best love songs I have ever experienced and what really sets it apart is both Dylan’s lyrics and his delivery and tone. Lyrically the whole song has the singer wallowing ins elf-pity about his break-up. It goes through the regular points you’d expect, some pointing and blaming, some sad revelations, the whole “I’m like this because of you, we could have had it all” type of stuff, but it’s completely turned on it’s head when he utters the title: “But don’t think twice, It’s all right”. Simple, but packs a punch. It doesn’t matter how angry, sad, upset he is about the break-up. It doesn’t matter if he growls, spits, yells, cries the lyrics. He’s having a hard time with it, but he’s also accepted it. Telling his love that she has made her decision and shouldn’t look back on it is one hell of a thing to admit and accept, especially in heartbreak. You’d never see Adele and Taylor Swift sing something like that (especially since they’re always so hung up about their exes). This is an incredibly mature and adult break-up. He reminds us that break-ups are two-sided and the singer is not the only person going through it. We often forget that the person doing the breaking is also someone who has feelings and made the decision for a reason, but it’s easy tog et lost in our own emotions feeling our sadness is above theirs for being on the receiving end of the break-up. He takes her decision into consideration and basically tells her not to change her mind just because he’s feeling a certain way. What really brings the song to perfection is the cheery guitar playing that counter-acts the sad acceptance in the lyrics, bringing that bittersweet feeling that supports the theme of the song. Without it it may have been another sad song, but being bittersweet is exactly what the song was going for and he did it incredibly well.

I never thought I’d be this into Bob Dylan but I’m happy I finally got around to listening to him. I can admit that I was wrong all these years and it’s one of the few moments that I am happy to be wrong.

Does this change my feelings toward folk music in general? Not really, I still find folk music hard to sit through, but at least I have a taste of it that I could hold on my tongue.

Or ears… music, you know?

Song of Choice: Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right

-Bosco

P.s. If you’re wondering, the Bob Dylan nicknames wasn’t intentional, I just started doing them and couldn’t stop. I have no reason or explanation for them, it just came to me in the moment and I went with it. So there.

 

 

 

 

1001 Albums:Joan Baez

#24

album_24_original

Artist: Joan Baez

Album: Joan Baez

Year: 1960

Length: 46:02

Genre: Folk

 

“The river of Jordan is muddy and cold
Well it chills the body but not the soul
All my trials, Lord, soon be over”

So the first question that is going on through everyone’s heads (probably not) is: Was this a good album to kick-off the 60s? That really depends who you are. I know for some people this would have been the perfect album to start the 60s, for others… maybe not. I unfortunately fall into the latter category but before anyone says anything let me explain.

I’m not crazy about folk music. I know, hang me up, lynch and mob me. For whatever reason I could just never get into folk music. Now it’s nowhere near the hatred I have of country, not even close, it’s just one of those genres I can’t seem to be able to sit through. Personally, I just find it boring, repetitive and a little grating. It’s depressing both lyrically (not always) and musically and I often find myself getting easily distracted away from it.

Do understand this is purely a personal taste. But you can imagine my reaction going into this, super excited to start the sixties and met with lightly strummed acoustic guitar and folky tales. Not really how I had hoped the 60s to start (though to be fair I should have expected it).

So here I am struggling about this album because on the one hand, I just can’t get into folk, but on the other, this album is a damn good album. Heard that? I just did something beyond astonishing, despite not liking it, I still recognized it as good. Odd, isn’t it? How I was able to separate personal taste and objective critiquing? I know, it’s the classic attitude: Well, I like it so it must be good or, I didn’t like it so it must be bad. Nope, not how it works, personal taste and objective reviewing are two very different things, yet so many people fall into criticizing things based on their own personal preferences (which explain why these people aren’t critics). And you see it all the time, people wildly criticising each other for liking or disliking something and calling each other idiots who shouldn’t breed just because their own personal tastes don’t match. This is stupid. If you’re like that, you’re stupid. Everyone is allowed to like whatever they want, it’s all up to personal taste which is a very personal thing. Different for everyone. When it comes to critiquing, the point isn’t whether you liked it or not, but why. The why is so important when doing reviews and critiques. Saying you think something is bad just because you “didn’t like it” is not a good enough reason. If you were able to delve into why you didn’t/did like it and are able to explain what it was that did/didn’t work for you, then you’re off to a good start.

So here I am, I wasn’t crazy about this album but I do recognize it as being one hell of a good album. It’s funny because if this album was released today it would easily be dismissed as a “seen that a million times” type album. But, it wasn’t, it was released in 1960, which was exactly the perfect time for it to be. This was fresh in those days and this album is an important one when it comes to the folk revival genre. Joan Baez not only rejuvenates these classic folk songs but performs with so much sincerity in her voice, which I should add is one powerful voice, strong and forceful, but never in an intimidating way, that it doesn’t sound like folk was an old thing (remember this was the 60s and it was considered Revival, and remember this was the 60s and not today… 2017, contextually what she was doing was a new thing).

If you’re a folk fanatic then you have to check out this album, it was very influential at the time it came out and listening to it, it shows. I had to go see a folk musician last year at some festival and knowing nothing about folk I thought he was pretty good, doing some interesting things I hadn’t seen done with an acoustic guitar… until I heard this album and realised how old it was and he probably owed a lot to Joan Baez for getting this style out there.

It’s funny how that works, eh? You always think you’re experiencing something new only to find out somebody had already been doing it decades ago. What’s even funnier is how we can discover an album like this and almost immediately discard it because of that feeling of familiarity that we feel like we’ve seen it a thousand times and it doesn’t feel like anything inspiring.

Context. Context is so important. I’m probably going to have to do that a lot with these albums, especially entering the 60s that has a lot of bands that, although now, don’t sound like anything different, but did big-time when they came out. I’m just going to have to remember that…

Song of Choice: El Preso Numero Nueve

-Bosco