Tag Archives: Bob Dylan

Favorite Albums 2020

Bob Dylan – Rough & Rowdy Ways

A masterpiece from our greatest songwriter/poet. Murder Most Foul, a 17 minute pop culture treatise on the JFK assassination alone is worth the price of admission. Brilliant.

Taylor Swift – folklore

A beautiful, cleareyed journey into the storytelling charm of this gifted writer. A not expected acoustic cycle of songs with The Last Great American Dynasty being her best work… up to this point.

Jason Isbell – Reunions

A raw, intimate album burning with introspection, regret and triumph. Isbell’s greatest gift is opening his heart to the listener without losing it. It Gets Easier is a spare anthem of truth to recovery.

Every Echo – self titled

Four singer/songwriters form a project to present their gifts to the waiting arms of pop connoisseurs and raconteurs everywhere. Full of hooks and heart and so many ear worms you may need a prescription. Fantastic.

Andrew McKnight – Treasures In My Chest

Exploring a family tree has never sounded so good. A rustic unpacking of family secrets and treasures written and performed beautifully by one of America’s true troubadours. A companion book chronicles the trip.

REISSUES / BOX SETS

John Lennon – Gimme Some Truth

Procured by Yoko and Sean Lennon, these totally sonically remastered tracks represent the best of John’s solo work. Uncovering these deep tracks and rarely heard works bring a clearer view to his body of work. Love, Out of the Blue, I Know (I Know) and Steel and Glass are just some of these prizes. The accompanied hardback book that comes with this set is a revelation of design, photos and ancedotes.

Tom Petty – Wildflowers & All The Rest

A remastering of one Tom’s most beloved albums would have been sufficient but to add a whole other disc of outtakes and songs that didn’t make the cut, well that’s a beautiful thing. What I cannot understand is how these unreleased songs stayed unreleased. They show the wealth of talent of this remarkable artist making our hearts break more for his absence.

Elton John – Jewel Box

A massive box set of deep cuts, rarities and never heard songs. The latter being recored before his debut album Empty Sky, here you can hear the raw talent ready to explode. With all the glitz, glamour and showbiz of Sir Elton we overlook his body of work with Bernie Taupin. Look no further here it is in all its splendor, from Tumbleweed Connection to Wonderful Crazy Night. Thankfully the Bitch never left. Glorious.

Small Town Talk Speaks Volumes

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Any book dealing with Bob Dylan is usually full of conundrums and partial truths, but any book dealing with Bob Dylan is usually a good read. Sprinkle in The Band, Van Morrison, Paul Butterfield, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Todd Rundgren and other rock notables and you should have an enjoyable word stew. Barney Hoskyns’ new book, Small Town Talk, is a very good entree.

Dylan was visiting his brooding, enigmatic manger Albert Grossman in Woodstock NY. He had just returned from a hard grueling career changing 1966 electric world tour with his backing band, The Hawks. He needed to re-charge. Woodstock was the ideal place for him and his family to leave the public eye and enjoy a more rural pastoral life. In other words Bob was tired.

That all changed on July 29, 1966 when Bob wrecked his beloved Triumph motorcycle. Reports of the time ranged from his death, to broken neck to career ending injuries… at this point the book takes off.

During his recovery Bob invited The Hawks up to the village to play, write, and have some fun. The Hawks became The Band, the playing and writing became The Basement Tapes and the fun became infectious. Word leaked about what was happening up in Old Woodstock, then the songs leaked out and then Big Pink leaked out,  then everything changed.

Soon every rock star passed through, visited  or moved to the tiny village, and with them came sex, drugs, and, you know, rock and roll. It was a startling invasion of not only musicians but their entourages: parasites, groupies, drug dealers and media. This book chronicles those stories from 1966 until today. Some of the best parts of the story is how the locality and its governing officials and town business owners had to deal with this new paradigm of change. (The Chief Of Police has some fine stories with regards to the driving escapades of certain members of The Band ). Money was flowing in, but the quiet farming/art community was becoming more Greenwich Village than Mayberry. A seamy underbelly was growing underneath the narrow streets of the beautiful old village. The uneasy balance between old and new Woodstock is as much a character in the story as any musician. It is also filled with sadness as many of the Woodstock icons succumbed to their demons: Richard Manuel, Janis Joplin, Rick Danko and others.

Small Town Talk is a wonderful read, and any rock fan who cares about the birth of the Americana genre should pick it up. I’m betting most Dylan and Band fans already have. My only complaint is I wish the author would have dug deeper into the locals’ reaction to the conquering horde, being from a small town I know how my father would have.

Available at your favorite bookstore and here at Amazon.