Archive for Bob Dylan

CD Review: “Searching for Sugar Man” by Rodriguez

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , on July 2, 2013 by 30daysout

File:Searching-for-sugar-man-soundtrack.jpg

By George Kovacik

Most of us musicians make albums that, for one reason or another, never seem to find their place in the world. They are filled with songs that we have spent years writing and thousands upon thousands of dollars recording. We think they are the next Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band or Pet Sounds and we have big dreams of money, girls and everything else that goes along with being a superstar. Back in 1970, Sixto Rodriguez was a singer-songwriter who had these same dreams. Then he made a record.

Rodriguez, as he was billed, put out his first album, Cold Fact, in March 1970 and a year later followed it up with, Coming from Reality. Both albums bombed in the United States, and Rodriguez quit music and worked manual labor jobs in Detroit where he lived at or below the poverty line.  Unbeknownst to him, both albums caught fire in South Africa. His songs became hits with the anti-apartheid movement and he became a hero no one knew anything about. In fact, tall tales circulated about how he had died. One said he shot himself to death on stage, while another said he doused himself with gasoline and set himself on fire.

In 1997, South African record store owner, Stephen “Sugar” Segerman, set out to find out what happened to the elusive Rodriguez and to see if he was still alive. This is where I’m going to leave you hanging. I encourage you to watch the excellent documentary, Searching for Sugar Man, for the rest of the story.  However, I will tell you about the music that makes up the incredible soundtrack.

When you listen to Rodriguez, it’s hard to believe that he didn’t become a huge sensation. He’s a cross between Bob Dylan and Jim Croce. His songs were socially conscious with great melodies. They drew me in the first time I heard them. The catchy “I Wonder” should have been a huge hit. The sad “I Think of You” is a beautiful love song. The psychedelic “Sugar Man” showed his love for more than one kind of mind-altering substance, “Cause” is as brilliant and sad a song as you will ever hear, and his lyrical prowess is firmly on display on the Dylan-esque “This Is Not A Song, It’s An Outburst (Or, The Establishment Blues).”

The story of Sixto Rodriguez gives all of us musicians hope that there is some kid halfway across the world who cannot wait to get home from school to listen to his iPod and learn one of our guitar licks. I’m sure there is some other guy out there right now trying to find the balding guy on the back cover of the Orange Is In Another Lame Semi-Tragedy CD. I’m right here, buddy. Give me a call.

“I Think of You” – Rodriguez

“Cause” – Rodriguez

“Crucify Your Mind” – Rodriguez (Live on “Late Show with David Letterman)

“I Wonder” – Rodriguez (Live on KEXP)

(Less Than) 30 Days Out From Christmas: Yuletide Tales

Posted in 30 Days Out (From Christmas) with tags , , , , , , , , on December 9, 2012 by 30daysout

dragnet-xmas-story-a

In the weeks before Christmas, it’s kinda tough to get the kids calmed down. They’re rabid with anticipation, giddy with thoughts of Santa – more likely, fueled by so much caffeine and greed they could stay awake until Memorial Day.

So why don’t you gather them around for a little story? It doesn’t have to be a spoken word story – plenty of Christmas tunes tell their own little tales. But a good, long tale … why, that’s enough to send even the toughest kid into Dreamland.

MP3: “The Night Before Christmas” by Bob Dylan

MP3: “Father Christmas” by The Kinks

MP3: “The Old Man’s Drunk Again” by Jimmy Martin

MP3: “The Meaning of Christmas” by C3-PO and Friends

MP3: “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear” by Frank Sinatra

MP3: “Frosty The Snowman” by Steve “Lips” Kudlow, Bumblefoot, Chris Chaney & Kenny Aronoff

MP3: “Santa Claus and His Old Lady” by Cheech & Chong

MP3: “Christmas In Prison” by John Prine

MP3: “Snoopy’s Christmas” by the Royal Guardsmen

MP3: “The Bizarre Christmas Incident” by the Ben Folds Five

MP3: “.22 Rifle For Christmas” episode of “Dragnet” radio show

Bah, Humbug! Merry Christmas!

Posted in 30 Days Out (From Christmas) with tags , , , , , , , , on December 3, 2012 by 30daysout

OK, now is about the time you start wishing the whole thing was over with already.  You know, they should have Christmas in January – that’s when they have all the good sales!  Ho, ho.

Here’s a Christmas blowout:

MP3: “Four Shopping Days Left Until Christmas” Ad jingle

MP3: “Stop Giving Me Crap For Christmas” by Bobby Gaylor

MP3: “Santa’s Too Fat For The Hula Hoop” by Thurl Ravenscroft with the Pixies

MP3: “Ho Ho F***ing Ho” by Kevin Bloody Wilson (Not Safe For Work!)

MP3: “This Time Of Year” by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones

MP3: “Don’t Believe In Christmas” by the Sonics

MP3: “Child Of Winter” by the Beach Boys

MP3: “Season’s Greetings” by Ozzy Osbourne

YouTube: “Winter Wonderland” by Ozzy Osbourne and Jessica Simpson

MP3: “Holiday Message” by Lou Reed

MP3: “Christmas Eve Sarajevo 12-24” by Savatage

MP3: “Christmas All Summer Long” by Deer Tick

MP3: “I Farted On Santa’s Lap” by the Little Stinkers

MP3: “Seasons Greetings” by the Fabulous Thunderbirds

MP3: “Merry Christmas Darling” by the Fabulous Thunderbirds

MP3: “Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin’ ” by Mack Rice

MP3: “Back Door Santa” by the Holmes Brothers

MP3: “Here Comes Santa Claus” by Bob Dylan

MP3: “The Holly and the Ivy” by Annie Lennox

MP3: “I Wish It Was Christmas Today” by Julian Casablancas

MP3: “Lord Of The Dance” by Arthur Brown

MP3: “I Believe In Father Christmas” by Emerson, Lake & Palmer

MP3: “Silver Bells” by Arlo Guthrie & Ed Gerhard

MP3: “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town” by the Crystals

MP3: “Silent Night” by Phil Spector & His Artists

YouTube: “Marshmallow World” by Dean Martin & Frank Sinatra

Bonus YouTube: “The Digital Story of the Nativity”

A Treasure Trove of Houston – and Texas – Rock History

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on November 20, 2012 by 30daysout

Rockin’ Houston is one of the best rock photography web sites ever.

You probably have a favorite place where you have seen many or most of your rock shows – a venue, or even a city. We were lucky to grow up in or near Houston – ever since the 1950s, the city has been a host for the greatest acts in rock history.

For example: when Paul McCartney played in Houston’s Minute Maid Park last week, he did not mention the times he’s played Houston before. It was his sixth visit to the Bayou City – the first was in 1965, at the Sam Houston Coliseum with that other band of his (not Wings). How many cities can say they once hosted the Beatles? So you see, rock fans in Houston consider themselves very privileged indeed.

Now along comes a new web site, RockinHouston.com, that celebrates Houston’s glorious rock history. Consisting of thousands of photographs taken by rock fans and professionals alike, the site brings to life the heyday of places like the Texas Opry House, Liberty Hall, the Houston Music Hall and other local rock meccas. There are shots from the Astrodome, the old Summit (now Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church), even some choice pics from other Texas cities (Sex Pistols at Randy’s Rodeo in San Antonio, 1978? Check.).

One of the many shots you’ll find on RockinHouston.com.

RockinHouston.com was created by Bruce Kessler, who shot photos at virtually every Houston rock concert since the early 1970s. He started as a fan who simply bought a ticket and took photos from his seat, but as he became more proficient he was able to gain closer access from local promoters. Soon Kessler was the official photographer for the Agora Ballroom and later, the house photographer for the Summit. He also went to work as a staff photog for Pace Concerts, which eventually got bought out by SFX then Clear Channel and so on.

Kessler hung up his cameras in 2005 but he eventually was asked to catalog and inventory the archives of fellow Houston photographers Larry Lent, Ray Fetterman and James Townsend, who between them shot many more concerts in the area. Like Kessler, Lent and Townsend started out as fans who eventually earned closer access – Fetterman was at one time a shooter for the now-defunct Houston Post.

All three have since died, and Kessler was asked to inventory Lent’s and Townsend’s files. He was authorized to keep a handful of photos as a token of friendship, and their work also appears on RockinHouston.com.

In a segment titled “Why the Website” Kessler said “Recalling the excitement of sorting through the Townsend and Lent collections and all of the memories that their work brought back, Bruce realized that it would be a shame to let all of the accumulated images and memorabilia go to waste and that it was finally time to share them. Having never exhibited any of his work, this website serves as a massive photo exhibition recalling Houston’s concert history.”

We asked Kessler if he could estimate how many photos he took over the years.  “After months of editing it feels like millions,” he replied, “but I am sure it is just in the tens of thousands … perhaps 30-ish (thousand).” He supposes one could count how many photos he’s uploaded to the site so far, but he adds “I am not even at the halfway point!”

Check out RockinHouston.com when you have a few hours – you won’t want to leave!

Glad It’s Over?

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , , , , on November 7, 2012 by 30daysout

There are most likely many happy people in America this morning, and a lot of disgruntled, disappointed ones. By far, most people seem to be simply relieved it’s over.

It’s been a nasty and brutal year leading up to Election Day, so nasty you’d think the Civil War had started up again. Hell, even the band The Civil Wars broke up. That’s how divided everyone is.

So it’s time to move on. Congratulations to President Obama and Mr. Romney for getting their respective messages out to so many people – let’s hope we can find some ground in the middle from which we can work to solve our problems.

MP3: “Come Together” (live) by John Lennon & Elephant’s Memory

MP3: “Let’s Work Together” by Canned Heat

MP3: “One Time One Night” by Los Lobos

MP3: “Chimes of Freedom” by The Byrds

MP3: “The Rising” by Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band

MP3: “Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream” by Johnny Cash

MP3: “Find The Cost of Freedom” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

MP3: “Blame It On Obama” by Andre Williams

MP3: “Star Spangled Banner/Purple Haze” (live at Woodstock) by Jimi Hendrix

Video Du Jour: Bob Dylan/Farm Aid

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , , , , , on September 18, 2012 by 30daysout

This weekend’s Farm Aid 2012 in Pennsylvania’s Hersheypark Stadium will be the 25th event staged to help America’s farmers (actually in 1989 they took Farm Aid on the road).

Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Dave Matthews and many more will play on Saturday, Sept. 22, 27 years to the day of the very first Farm Aid concert.

Farm Aid was inspired, of course, by Bob Dylan’s offhand comment at Live Aid in 1985 that he hoped some of the money would help American farmers in danger of losing their farms through mortgage debt. Nelson and Mellencamp took up the mantle and went to bat for U.S. farmers.

So, to celebrate Farm Aid, here’s Bob Dylan along with Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and Willie Nelson, doing “Maggie’s Farm” at the 1985 event in Champaign, Illinois.

Farm Aid official web site

Old Guys and Rock & Roll

Posted in Rock Rant with tags , , , , , , , , on September 16, 2012 by 30daysout

Paul McCartney, at age 70, is a textbook example of how old guys can still rock.

It used to be very true that rock and roll was not made by old people. “Old” used to mean people over age 30. So what happened?

Bob Dylan (age 71) just released Tempest to glowing reviews – it should appear on the upper reaches of the Billboard album charts in a few days, but probably not at No. 1. Paul McCartney (age 70) is currently performing close to three-hour sets on his “On The Run” tour, which began last summer in New York City. Roger Waters (age 69) and Rod Stewart (age 67) are also touring, while relative youngster Bruce Springsteen (age 62) can’t be dragged off a stage for anything.

Paul Simon (age 70), Crosby, Stills & Nash (average age 69) and the Beach Boys (average age 70) have live DVDs and/or CDs from recent tours. Van Morrison (age 67) is about to release his 34th studio album, Born To Sing: No Plan B, in early October. Mark Knopfler (age 63) and ZZ Top (average age 60) have strong new albums out, Neil Young (age 66) is readying a new album and tour, and the Rolling Stones (average age 68) keep threatening to do something to celebrate their 50th anniversary. And you can’t stop Willie Nelson (age 79)!

So what gives? Is there something in the water?

Well, pretty much all of these guys mentioned above are big draws on the concert circuit so one can cynically say that the lure of the big bucks is enough to get these codgers out of their rockers. Nobody makes money off albums any more, so each of these acts will go on the road to support an album if they haven’t already. Hell, Dylan’s been touring constantly since the early 1980s.

You think maybe it’s an indication that music being produced today somehow doesn’t measure up to those classics of the past? Perhaps – nothing sends concertgoers to the restrooms/beer vendors faster than “a new song off our latest album.” Even superstars like McCartney and Dylan know better than to populate their concerts with new material.

And it’s tempting to say worthless stuff like “do you think we’ll be paying to see Bon Iver or Green Day live in 15 years?” Because unless you are a total idiot, you know the answer is yes. It may not be Bon Iver or Green Day specifically, but it could be that Weezer reunion or the surviving members of Mumford and Sons or the remnants of Radiohead.

Because it’s not necessarily about who is playing, but what they’re playing. It’s rock and roll, and despite what smartasses over the years keep saying, it’s not dead.

It’s pretty damn old, and it’s not pretty (take a close look at the cover of the latest issue of Rolling Stone). But rock and roll is still alive because we want it to be. The footsoldiers of rock and roll are sticking around because we want them to – the audience changes more than the artists, and as we discover new acts we like, we also go back and appreciate the past. My kids know more about the Beatles and the Stones and the Who than I ever did, when I was a teenager and those boys had brand-new songs on the radio every day.

Women seem to know better, they know when it’s time to fade away – although you can make a pretty good case for rockers like Joan Jett and Bonnie Raitt being here for quite a while. Pop artists are another thing entirely: Madonna has well overstayed her welcome and the decline of Katy Perry, Britney Spears, et. al. won’t be pretty.

Perhaps it’s best just not to think about these things. We’re all going to get to the end of the trail – literally and figuratively – one day. Rock and roll is here to distract us from that brutal truth, to keep us dancing until we can’t any more.

So. The Rolling Stones may tour next year? Don’t know about you, but I’m gonna buy a ticket. For a few hours, I’m gonna be young again.