Saturday, March 07, 2015

Late Night at the Cafe: Political World




We live in a political world
Love don’t have any place
We’re living in times where men commit crimes
And crime don’t have a face
We live in a political world
Icicles hanging down
Wedding bells ring and angels sing
Clouds cover up the ground
We live in a political world
Wisdom is thrown into jail
It rots in a cell, is misguided as hell
Leaving no one to pick up a trail
We live in a political world
Where mercy walks the plank
Life is in mirrors, death disappears
Up the steps into the nearest bank
We live in a political world
Where courage is a thing of the past
Houses are haunted, children are unwanted
The next day could be your last
We live in a political world
The one we can see and can feel
But there’s no one to check, it’s all a stacked deck
We all know for sure that it’s real
We live in a political world
In the cities of lonesome fear
Little by little you turn in the middle
But you’re never sure why you’re here
We live in a political world
Under the microscope
You can travel anywhere and hang yourself there
You always got more than enough rope
We live in a political world
Turning and a-thrashing about
As soon as you’re awake, you’re trained to take
What looks like the easy way out
We live in a political world
Where peace is not welcome at all
It’s turned away from the door to wander some more
Or put up against the wall
We live in a political world
Everything is hers or his
Climb into the frame and shout God’s name
But you’re never sure what it is


Bob Dylan 1989

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

That time again: The 9th Annual CafeAnonsBall

Hard to believe it's been nine years since we opened the cafe doors and started serving up the butterbeer and chai. Golly!

Since today is our anniversary we know what that means! We are celebrating the 9th CafeAnonsBall! The one time of year when we celebrate all those folks who drop into the cafe and who's name is only known to God.

So to get things started, we need to be sure the pancakes are arriving from the kitchen to all the plates here in the cafe.  There are many ways to make pancakes - but just in case you're not sure, here is a short less on making delicious pancakes for Strove Tuesday.


Ever wonder how Shrove Tuesday got started? Here's a short history:

History
For centuries, the English have celebrated Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent, with merriment and antics and, especially, great quantities of pancakes. In fact, the fried flat cakes became so important to the holiday that is has also been called Pancake Day, or Pancake Tuesday.

Learning to make pancakes can start early.
Long ago, strict Christian Lenten rules prohibited the eating of all dairy products, so keen housewives made pancakes to use up their supplies of eggs, milk, butter and other fats. They could be easily made and cooked in a skillet or on a griddle.

Families ate stacks of them, and pancakes were popular with all classes.

The rich Shrovetide pancakes were eaten as a ritual or symbol of self-indulgence before the fast. Early English recipes called for wheaten flour, eggs, butter or lard, a liquid (water, milk, ale or wine) and flavorings such as white or brown sugar, spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, or ginger), orange flower water, scented sugars or liqueurs.

The pancakes were fried in butter or fat and served flat or rolled and sprinkled with powdered sugar, topped with preserves or doused with  alcohol. A special pancake, called a quire or pancake of paper, was made very thin and usually stacked. It was likened to a quire of "wafers" or writing paper.

Even the church bells that rang early on Shrove Tuesday morning summoning everyone to confession and to be "shriven" became known as Pancake Bells. They also reminded all to use up the "forbidden foods" before Lent. An old London rhyme went "Pancakes and fritters, say the bells on St. Peter's."

Now we know!

Pancake Races
One of the traditions of Shrove Tuesday is to hold pancake races. Here is what Wiki says about that:
Shrove Tuesday was once known as a "half-holiday" in England. It started at 11:00 am with the ringing of a church bell. On Pancake Day, "pancake races" are held in villages and towns across the United Kingdom. The tradition is said to have originated when a housewife from Olney was so busy making pancakes that she forgot the time until she heard the church bells ringing for the service. She raced out of the house to church while still carrying her frying pan and pancake. The pancake race remains a relatively common festive tradition in the UK, especially England, even today. Participants with frying pans race through the streets tossing pancakes into the air and catching them in the pan whilst running. 
The most famous pancake race, at Olney in Buckinghamshire, has been held since 1445. The contestants, traditionally women, carry a frying pan and race to over a 415 yard course to the finishing line. The rules are strict: contestants have to toss their pancake at both the start and the finish, as well as wear an apron and a scarf. Traditionally, when men want to participate, they must dress up as a housewife (usually an apron and a bandanna). The race is followed by a church service. 
Since 1950 the people of Liberal, Kansas, and Olney have held the "International Pancake Day" race between the two towns. The two towns' competitors race along an agreed-upon measured course. The times of the two towns' competitors are compared to determine a winner overall. After the 2009 race, Liberal was leading with 34 wins to Olney's 25. A similar race is held in North Somercotes of Lincolnshire in eastern England.

Have you ever participated in a Pancake Race?

Here at the Cafe we thought that it would be like a Cafe in real life.  Only in Cheers does everyone know your name.  In most cafe and pubs - yes, there are regulars who's names are known.  But there are many visitors who's name no one ever knows.  That's part of the charm of a cafe or pubs—a mix of the known and the unknown.  We wanted it to be a place where those on the left and those on the right could meet up and swap howdies.  However we didn't want anyone to meet up and swap blows.

So our official moderator is none other than this guy:

Remember him?

He has his favorite table by the door.  He has a lot on his mind so most often is not easily disturbed. But if things get rowdy, he won't hesitate to get up from his chair and toss someone out the door - or window.

Sadly, many time they are the anons—not always—but most often it does seem to their lot in life.  Some seem to forget that while we may not know their name (though we might know where they are posting from) someone does know their name.  Just saying.

Most of the time—a great deal of the time—Hagrid can just snooze his time-off away and while the conversations may get lively (we are permitted to toss pancakes but not chairs), it most often is still rather cordial.  And for that, we are grateful.

And so on this day, we say thank you—all you anons (who know who you are), thank you for dropping in, toasting your tankard, speaking your mind and most of the time keeping your cool.  

So find your table and order your chai.  Here are some favorites from this past year:








Friday, February 13, 2015

Conversation with Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan is interviewed by Bill Flanagan following his Musicares speech last week:


I NOTICED THAT SOME PEOPLE WHO WERE NOT AT THE EVENT READ THE TRANSCRIPT OF YOUR SPEECH AND DIDN’T GET THAT SOME OF IT WAS TONGUE IN CHEEK. WHEN YOU SAID, “WHY ME, LORD?” IN THE ROOM YOU WERE LAUGHING AND SO WAS THE AUDIENCE. IN PRINT, SOME PEOPLE THOUGHT IT WAS ALL SERIOUS.

Yeah, well you had to be there.

HOW DID YOU SELECT ALL THE PERFORMERS FOR THE MUSICARES TRIBUTE, WAS THAT DIFFICULT?

It really wasn’t. Most all of them had recorded versions of those songs over the years. Garth had made “Make You Feel My Love” a number one hit. Tom Jones had done an incredible version of “What Good Am I.” Beck had recorded “Leopard skin Pillbox Hat." Bonnie had recorded astonishing versions of “Standing in the Doorway” and “Million Miles." John Doe had done “Pressin’ On” for that movie and that was just a once in a lifetime recording. Los Lobos had also recorded “On a Night Like This,” same thing with Crosby, Stills and Nash. I had heard them do a beautiful version of “Girl From The North Country." So no, it wasn't that hard. I’d even seen Alanis Morissette sing “Subterranean Homesick Blues” somewhere and I couldn't believe she got that so right, something I’d never been able to do. Neil of course, he’s been doing “Blowin’ In the Wind” for a while and he does it the way it should be done and that song needed to be there. Some people called up right away and wanted to be on the show, so Don Was found a few songs for them. But mostly, they were all recorded versions that we were hearing except maybe for Aaron Neville's version of “Shooting Star.” I could always hear him singing that song. He’s recorded other songs of mine, all great performances, but for some reason I kept thinking about “Shooting Star,” something he’s never recorded but I knew that he could. I could always hear him singing it for some reason, even when I wrote it. I mean, what can you say? He's the most soulful of singers, maybe in all of recorded history. If angels sing, they must sing in that voice. I just think his gift is so great. The man has no flaws, never has. He’s always been one of my favorite singers right from the beginning. “Tell it Like it Is," that could be my theme song. It’s strange, because he’s the kind of performer that can do your songs better than you, but you can’t do his better than him. Really, you can’t say enough about Aaron Neville. We won’t see his likes again. I wanted to get hold of Eric, he’s recorded a lot of my songs too, all great versions. But I didn’t want to impose on him, because I don’t think he’s performing anymore. Rod’s done some early songs of mine as well. I just didn’t think to ask him - I probably should have. There were others, Toots and the Maytals, Chrissie Hynde, Stevie Wonder, even the Rolling Stones. But it gets overwhelming after a while and you just can’t get to everybody.

WHAT WAS THAT THING ABOUT MERLE, SOUNDS LIKE YOU WERE DISSING HIM, WHAT WAS THAT ABOUT?

No, not at all, I wasn’t dissing Merle, not the Merle I know. What I was talking about happened a long time ago, maybe in the late sixties. Merle had that song out called “Fighting Side of Me” and I’d seen an interview with him where he was going on about hippies and Dylan and the counter culture, and it kind of stuck in my mind and hurt, lumping me in with everything he didn't like. But of course times have changed and he’s changed too. If hippies were around today, he’d be on their side and he himself is part of the counter culture … so yeah, things change. I’ve toured with him and have the highest regard for him, his songs, his talent - I even wanted him to play fiddle on one of my records and his Jimmie Rodgers tribute album is one of my favorites that I never get tired of listening to. He’s also a bit of a philosopher. He’s serious and he’s funny. He’s a complete man and we're friends these days. We have a lot in common. Back then, though, Buck and Merle were closely associated; two of a kind. They defined the Bakersfield sound. Buck reached out to me in those days, and lifted up my spirits when I was down, I mean really down - oppressed on all sides and down and that meant a lot, that Buck did that. I wasn’t dissing Merle at all, we were different people back then. Those were difficult times. It was more intense back then and things hit harder and hurt more.

LEIBER AND STOLLER TOO?

Yeah, them too.

WHAT DID YOU THINK OF BRUCE’S PERFORMANCE?

Incredible! He did that song like the record, something I myself have never tried. I never even thought it was worth it. Maybe never had the manpower in one band to pull it off. I don’t know, but I never thought about it. To tell you the truth, I’d forgotten how the song ought to go. Bruce pulled all the power and spirituality and beauty out of it like no one has ever done. He was faithful, truly faithful to the version on the record, obviously the only one he has to go by. I’m not a nostalgic person, but for a second there it all came back, Peckinpah, Slim Pickens, Katy Jurado, James Coburn, the dusty lawless streets of Durango, my first wife, my kids when they were small. For a second it all came back … it was that powerful. Bruce is a deep conscientious cat and the evidence of that was in the performance. He can get to your heart, my heart anyway.

HE PLAYED SOME EXPLOSIVE GUITAR THAT WASN’T ON THE ORIGINAL RECORDING.

Yeah, well that’s just Bruce being Bruce. He’s got to remind people that he can play that thing. It wasn't incessant though. It didn’t detract from the song. He brought it in quick and pulled it back quick. He definitely knows when and how to stick something in and then move it back. He’s a great performer all around.

DID YOU REALLY MEAN WHAT YOU SAID ABOUT THE CRITICS? CERTAINLY NOT ALL OF THEM GET ON YOUR NERVES?

No, not at all, I got no bitterness towards critics. Like Elvis said, “I know they have a job to do.” Some critics are better than others … some know how to write better, think better, some understand more of what they’re seeing and hearing better … some are more experienced in life. There are all kinds of critics … they’re not all on the same level. And sometimes, if they’re not saying bad things about you, you don’t really count. It’s nice to have their support, but then on a lot of different levels, it really doesn’t matter one way or another. The people will decide. Some seem to do a lot of griping for no reason, but you have to be sort of understanding. They don’t have any idea what it takes to be on a public stage and couldn’t do what you do not even for one single second. I particularly don’t like the ones who talk down with that attitude of superiority, like they know and you don’t. It’s nice to have their support, but if you don’t, you can’t let it bother you, they’re not players. I have no bitterness towards any of them, not at all.

WHAT WAS THAT THING ABOUT THE BLUES BEING A COMBINATION OF STRAUSS WALTZES AND ARABIC VIOLINS? WHERE DID YOU GET THAT?

I read it in a musicology book. In the 16 or 1700’s there were African tribal wars and instead of slaughtering their enemies like they would do today, the African chiefs roped up their captives and sold them as slaves to Arab slave traders, who were basically middlemen in the slave trading business. Then the slaves had to be marched to where the ships were at the landings; Dutch ships, English ships, Spanish ships, whatever. And that march was a long hard tedious journey, sometime covering hundreds of miles. The Arabs played their violins at night around campfires. And that sound must have drifted into their dreams. A lot of these slaves died before they even got to the boats. When they got to the ports they’d be sold to the sea captains, then they’d make another long journey over the water to the New World. Hard to tell how many of them actually survived from the whole ordeal. Agents in America would buy the slaves from the sea captains, then the agents would sell them to plantation owners. In the new world, they’d hear a lot of minuets played at plantation parties … that’s sort of how it happened according to the book, two different influences, it was so interesting. The 12 bar blues pattern, that's something else. That evidently comes out of field hollers, where one guy sings a line and a whole bunch of others repeat that line and maybe after that there is a third different line. It all gets mixed up. I can’t remember everything in the book, but this one chapter intrigued me. It pertained to the Delta blues and for that type of music it made sense. North Carolina stuff and Georgia and Florida songs are different - have less of a twang and are more melodic, seem to have more of a waltz minuet vibe, maybe because of who the slaves were and what they were exposed to along the way, musically speaking. The Delta blues has always been eerie and suspenseful, middle eastern in tone, so to me it made sense. I’ve always had a feeling for the blues, even back when I was a little boy … before I even knew what it was … mostly the sound of the Delta blues, because it’s probably in my DNA. I guess I must have both Arab in me and waltz time European blood as well.

YOU TALKED ABOUT ROCK & ROLL ENDING IN THE EARLY SIXTIES AND I TAKE YOUR POINT - THE EARLY ROCK & ROLL WAS DISPLACED BY THE BRITISH INVASION AND MOTOWN. BUT THE HALL OF FAME TAKES A BROADER VIEW - THAT ALL THE MUSIC THAT GREW OUT OF THAT FIRST EXPLOSION, FROM LED ZEPPELIN TO P-FUNK TO TOM WAITS ARE BRANCHES ON THE TREE OF ROCK & ROLL AND DESERVE TO BE REPRESENTED IN THE HALL OF FAME. YOU DON’T BUY IT?

I don’t buy what I don’t need, but I see your point. Perhaps mine is more of a pedantic point of view, maybe one I ought not have.

ARE THERE ANY OTHER PERFORMERS BESIDES BILLY LEE RILEY THAT YOU CAN RECOMMEND FOR THE HALL OF FAME?

Yeah sure, Willy DeVille for one, he stood out, his voice and presentation ought to have gotten him in there by now.

I AGREE WITH YOU, MAYBE HE’S BEEN OVERLOOKED. HE CARRIED A LOT OF HISTORY. THE DRIFTERS, BEN E. KING, SOLOMON BURKE, STREET CORNER DOO WOP AND JOHN LEE HOOKER WERE ALL THERE IN WHAT HE DID AND HOW HE PERFORMED.

I think so too.

YOU SUGGESTED THAT SOME OF THE ACTS IN THE HALL OF FAME MIGHT NOT BE TRUE ROCK & ROLL. YOU MENTIONED THE MAMAS AND THE PAPAS, ABBA, ALICE COOPER. I HAVE TO STICK UP FOR STEELY DAN. NOT EVERYTHING THEY DID WAS ROCK & ROLL BUT “BODHISATTVA,” “SHOW BIZ KIDS,” “MY OLD SCHOOL” - THOSE SONGS ROCKED LIKE A BASTARD.

Yeah they might have rocked like a bastard, and I’m not saying that they didn’t, but put on any one of those records and then put on “In The Heat of the Moment” by Willy or “Steady Driving Man” or even “Cadillac Walk." I’m not going to belittle Steely Dan but there is a difference.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Bob Dylan's speech accepting award as Person of the Year



This is Bob Dylan's acceptance speech as Person of the Year by MusiCares, a charity organization sponsored by the Grammy's that aids musicians in need.  He gave it Friday night at the Los Angeles Convention Center. From here.


I’m glad for my songs to be honored like this. But you know, they didn’t get here by themselves. It’s been a long road and it’s taken a lot of doing. These songs of mine, they’re like mystery stories, the kind that Shakespeare saw when he was growing up. I think you could trace what I do back that far. They were on the fringes then, and I think they’re on the fringes now. And they sound like they’ve been on the hard ground.

I should mention a few people along the way who brought this about. I know I should mention John Hammond, great talent scout for Columbia Records. He signed me to that label when I was nobody. It took a lot of faith to do that, and he took a lot of ridicule, but he was his own man and he was courageous. And for that, I’m eternally grateful. The last person he discovered before me was Aretha Franklin, and before that Count Basie, Billie Holiday and a whole lot of other artists. All noncommercial artists.

Trends did not interest John, and I was very noncommercial but he stayed with me. He believed in my talent and that’s all that mattered. I can’t thank him enough for that. Lou Levy runs Leeds Music, and they published my earliest songs, but I didn’t stay there too long.

Levy himself, he went back a long ways. He signed me to that company and recorded my songs and I sang them into a tape recorder. He told me outright, there was no precedent for what I was doing, that I was either before my time or behind it. And if I brought him a song like “Stardust,” he’d turn it down because it would be too late.

He told me that if I was before my time — and he didn’t really know that for sure — but if it was happening and if it was true, the public would usually take three to five years to catch up — so be prepared. And that did happen. The trouble was, when the public did catch up I was already three to five years beyond that, so it kind of complicated it. But he was encouraging, and he didn’t judge me, and I’ll always remember him for that.

Artie Mogull at Witmark Music signed me next to his company, and he told me to just keep writing songs no matter what, that I might be on to something. Well, he too stood behind me, and he could never wait to see what I’d give him next. I didn’t even think of myself as a songwriter before then. I’ll always be grateful for him also for that attitude.

I also have to mention some of the early artists who recorded my songs very, very early, without having to be asked. Just something they felt about them that was right for them. I’ve got to say thank you to Peter, Paul and Mary, who I knew all separately before they ever became a group. I didn’t even think of myself as writing songs for others to sing but it was starting to happen and it couldn’t have happened to, or with, a better group.

They took a song of mine that had been recorded before that was buried on one of my records and turned it into a hit song. Not the way I would have done it — they straightened it out. But since then hundreds of people have recorded it and I don’t think that would have happened if it wasn’t for them. They definitely started something for me.

The Byrds, the Turtles, Sonny & Cher — they made some of my songs Top 10 hits but I wasn’t a pop songwriter and I really didn’t want to be that, but it was good that it happened. Their versions of songs were like commercials, but I didn’t really mind that because 50 years later my songs were being used in the commercials. So that was good too. I was glad it happened, and I was glad they’d done it.

Purvis Staples and the Staple Singers — long before they were on Stax they were on Epic and they were one of my favorite groups of all time. I met them all in ’62 or ’63. They heard my songs live and Purvis wanted to record three or four of them and he did with the Staples Singers. They were the type of artists that I wanted recording my songs.

Nina Simone. I used to cross paths with her in New York City in the Village Gate nightclub. These were the artists I looked up to. She recorded some of my songs that she [inaudible] to me. She was an overwhelming artist, piano player and singer. Very strong woman, very outspoken. That she was recording my songs validated everything that I was about.

Oh, and can’t forget Jimi Hendrix. I actually saw Jimi Hendrix perform when he was in a band called Jimmy James and the Blue Flames — something like that. And Jimi didn’t even sing. He was just the guitar player. He took some small songs of mine that nobody paid any attention to and pumped them up into the outer limits of the stratosphere and turned them all into classics. I have to thank Jimi, too. I wish he was here.

Johnny Cash recorded some of my songs early on, too, up in about ’63, when he was all skin and bones. He traveled long, he traveled hard, but he was a hero of mine. I heard many of his songs growing up. I knew them better than I knew my own. “Big River,” “I Walk the Line.”

“How high’s the water, Mama?” I wrote “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)” with that song reverberating inside my head. I still ask, “How high is the water, mama?” Johnny was an intense character. And he saw that people were putting me down playing electric music, and he posted letters to magazines scolding people, telling them to shut up and let him sing.

In Johnny Cash’s world — hardcore Southern drama — that kind of thing didn’t exist. Nobody told anybody what to sing or what not to sing. They just didn’t do that kind of thing. I’m always going to thank him for that. Johnny Cash was a giant of a man, the man in black. And I’ll always cherish the friendship we had until the day there is no more days.

Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Joan Baez. She was the queen of folk music then and now. She took a liking to my songs and brought me with her to play concerts, where she had crowds of thousands of people enthralled with her beauty and voice.

People would say, “What are you doing with that ragtag scrubby little waif?” And she’d tell everybody in no uncertain terms, “Now you better be quiet and listen to the songs.” We even played a few of them together. Joan Baez is as tough-minded as they come. Love. And she’s a free, independent spirit. Nobody can tell her what to do if she doesn’t want to do it. I learned a lot of things from her. A woman with devastating honesty. And for her kind of love and devotion, I could never pay that back.

These songs didn’t come out of thin air. I didn’t just make them up out of whole cloth. Contrary to what Lou Levy said, there was a precedent. It all came out of traditional music: traditional folk music, traditional rock ‘n’ roll and traditional big-band swing orchestra music.

I learned lyrics and how to write them from listening to folk songs. And I played them, and I met other people that played them back when nobody was doing it. Sang nothing but these folk songs, and they gave me the code for everything that’s fair game, that everything belongs to everyone.

For three or four years all I listened to were folk standards. I went to sleep singing folk songs. I sang them everywhere, clubs, parties, bars, coffeehouses, fields, festivals. And I met other singers along the way who did the same thing and we just learned songs from each other. I could learn one song and sing it next in an hour if I’d heard it just once.

If you sang “John Henry” as many times as me — “John Henry was a steel-driving man / Died with a hammer in his hand / John Henry said a man ain’t nothin’ but a man / Before I let that steam drill drive me down / I’ll die with that hammer in my hand.”

If you had sung that song as many times as I did, you’d have written “How many roads must a man walk down?” too.

Big Bill Broonzy had a song called “Key to the Highway.” “I’ve got a key to the highway / I’m booked and I’m bound to go / Gonna leave here runnin’ because walking is most too slow.” I sang that a lot. If you sing that a lot, you just might write,

Georgia Sam he had a bloody nose Welfare Department they wouldn’t give him no clothes He asked poor Howard where can I go Howard said there’s only one place I know Sam said tell me quick man I got to run Howard just pointed with his gun And said that way down on Highway 61

You’d have written that too if you’d sang “Key to the Highway” as much as me.

“Ain’t no use sit ‘n cry / You’ll be an angel by and by / Sail away, ladies, sail away.” “I’m sailing away my own true love.” “Boots of Spanish Leather” — Sheryl Crow just sung that.

“Roll the cotton down, aw, yeah, roll the cotton down / Ten dollars a day is a white man’s pay / A dollar a day is the black man’s pay / Roll the cotton down.” If you sang that song as many times as me, you’d be writing “I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more,” too.

I sang a lot of “come all you” songs. There’s plenty of them. There’s way too many to be counted. “Come along boys and listen to my tale / Tell you of my trouble on the old Chisholm Trail.” Or, “Come all ye good people, listen while I tell / the fate of Floyd Collins a lad we all know well / The fate of Floyd Collins, a lad we all know well.”

“Come all ye fair and tender ladies / Take warning how you court your men / They’re like a star on a summer morning / They first appear and then they’re gone again.” “If you’ll gather ’round, people / A story I will tell / ‘Bout Pretty Boy Floyd, an outlaw / Oklahoma knew him well.”

If you sung all these “come all ye” songs all the time, you’d be writing, “Come gather ’round people where ever you roam, admit that the waters around you have grown / Accept that soon you’ll be drenched to the bone / If your time to you is worth saving / And you better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone / The times they are a-changing.”

You’d have written them too. There’s nothing secret about it. You just do it subliminally and unconsciously, because that’s all enough, and that’s all I sang. That was all that was dear to me. They were the only kinds of songs that made sense.

“When you go down to Deep Ellum keep your money in your socks / Women in Deep Ellum put you on the rocks.” Sing that song for a while and you just might come up with, “When you’re lost in the rain in Juarez and it’s Easter time too / And your gravity fails and negativity don’t pull you through / Don’t put on any airs / When you’re down on Rue Morgue Avenue / They got some hungry women there / And they really make a mess outta you.”

All these songs are connected. Don’t be fooled. I just opened up a different door in a different kind of way. It’s just different, saying the same thing. I didn’t think it was anything out of the ordinary.

Well you know, I just thought I was doing something natural, but right from the start, my songs were divisive for some reason. They divided people. I never knew why. Some got angered, others loved them. Didn’t know why my songs had detractors and supporters. A strange environment to have to throw your songs into, but I did it anyway.

Last thing I thought of was who cared about what song I was writing. I was just writing them. I didn’t think I was doing anything different. I thought I was just extending the line. Maybe a little bit unruly, but I was just elaborating on situations. Maybe hard to pin down, but so what? A lot of people are hard to pin down. You’ve just got to bear it. I didn’t really care what Lieber and Stoller thought of my songs.

They didn’t like ‘em, but Doc Pomus did. That was all right that they didn’t like ‘em, because I never liked their songs either. “Yakety yak, don’t talk back.” “Charlie Brown is a clown,” “Baby I’m a hog for you.” Novelty songs. They weren’t saying anything serious. Doc’s songs, they were better. “This Magic Moment.” “Lonely Avenue.” Save the Last Dance for Me.

Those songs broke my heart. I figured I’d rather have his blessings any day than theirs.

Ahmet Ertegun didn’t think much of my songs, but Sam Phillips did. Ahmet founded Atlantic Records. He produced some great records: Ray Charles, Ray Brown, just to name a few.

There were some great records in there, no question about it. But Sam Phillips, he recorded Elvis and Jerry Lee, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash. Radical eyes that shook the very essence of humanity. Revolution in style and scope. Heavy shape and color. Radical to the bone. Songs that cut you to the bone. Renegades in all degrees, doing songs that would never decay, and still resound to this day. Oh, yeah, I’d rather have Sam Phillips’ blessing any day.

Merle Haggard didn’t even think much of my songs. I know he didn’t. He didn’t say that to me, but I know [inaudible]. Buck Owens did, and he recorded some of my early songs. Merle Haggard — “Mama Tried,” “The Bottle Let Me Down,” “I’m a Lonesome Fugitive.” I can’t imagine Waylon Jennings singing “The Bottle Let Me Down.”

“Together Again”? That’s Buck Owens, and that trumps anything coming out of Bakersfield. Buck Owens and Merle Haggard? If you have to have somebody’s blessing — you figure it out.

Oh, yeah. Critics have been giving me a hard time since Day One. Critics say I can’t sing. I croak. Sound like a frog. Why don’t critics say that same thing about Tom Waits? Critics say my voice is shot. That I have no voice. What don’t they say those things about Leonard Cohen? Why do I get special treatment? Critics say I can’t carry a tune and I talk my way through a song. Really? I’ve never heard that said about Lou Reed. Why does he get to go scot-free?

What have I done to deserve this special attention? No vocal range? When’s the last time you heard Dr. John? Why don’t you say that about him? Slur my words, got no diction. Have you people ever listened to Charley Patton or Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters. Talk about slurred words and no diction. [Inaudible] doesn’t even matter.

“Why me, Lord?” I would say that to myself.

Critics say I mangle my melodies, render my songs unrecognizable. Oh, really? Let me tell you something. I was at a boxing match a few years ago seeing Floyd Mayweather fight a Puerto Rican guy. And the Puerto Rican national anthem, somebody sang it and it was beautiful. It was heartfelt and it was moving.

After that it was time for our national anthem. And a very popular soul-singing sister was chosen to sing. She sang every note — that exists, and some that don’t exist. Talk about mangling a melody. You take a one-syllable word and make it last for 15 minutes? She was doing vocal gymnastics like she was on a trapeze act. But to me it was not funny.

Where were the critics? Mangling lyrics? Mangling a melody? Mangling a treasured song? No, I get the blame. But I don’t really think I do that. I just think critics say I do.

Sam Cooke said this when told he had a beautiful voice: He said, “Well that’s very kind of you, but voices ought not to be measured by how pretty they are. Instead they matter only if they convince you that they are telling the truth.” Think about that the next time you [inaudible].

Times always change. They really do. And you have to always be ready for something that’s coming along and you never expected it. Way back when, I was in Nashville making some records and I read this article, a Tom T. Hall interview. Tom T. Hall, he was bitching about some kind of new song, and he couldn’t understand what these new kinds of songs that were coming in were about.

Now Tom, he was one of the most preeminent songwriters of the time in Nashville. A lot of people were recording his songs and he himself even did it. But he was all in a fuss about James Taylor, a song James had called “Country Road.” Tom was going off in this interview — “But James don’t say nothing about a country road. He’s just says how you can feel it on the country road. I don’t understand that.”

Now some might say Tom is a great songwriter. I’m not going to doubt that. At the time he was doing this interview I was actually listening to a song of his on the radio.

It was called “I Love.” I was listening to it in a recording studio, and he was talking about all the things he loves, an everyman kind of song, trying to connect with people. Trying to make you think that he’s just like you and you’re just like him. We all love the same things, and we’re all in this together. Tom loves little baby ducks, slow- moving trains and rain. He loves old pickup trucks and little country streams. Sleeping without dreams. Bourbon in a glass. Coffee in a cup. Tomatoes on the vine, and onions.

Now listen, I’m not ever going to disparage another songwriter. I’m not going to do that. I’m not saying it’s a bad song. I’m just saying it might be a little overcooked. But, you know, it was in the top 10 anyway. Tom and a few other writers had the whole Nashville scene sewed up in a box. If you wanted to record a song and get it in the top 10 you had to go to them, and Tom was one of the top guys. They were all very comfortable, doing their thing.


This was about the time that Willie Nelson picked up and moved to Texas. About the same time. He’s still in Texas. Everything was very copacetic. Everything was all right until — until — Kristofferson came to town. Oh, they ain’t seen anybody like him. He came into town like a wildcat, flew his helicopter into Johnny Cash’s backyard like a typical songwriter. And he went for the throat. “Sunday Morning Coming Down.”

Well, I woke up Sunday morning With no way to hold my head that didn’t hurt. And the beer I had for breakfast wasn’t bad So I had one more for dessert Then I fumbled through my closet Found my cleanest dirty shirt Then I washed my face and combed my hair And stumbled down the stairs to meet the day.

You can look at Nashville pre-Kris and post-Kris, because he changed everything. That one song ruined Tom T. Hall’s poker parties. It might have sent him to the crazy house. God forbid he ever heard any of my songs.

You walk into the room With your pencil in your hand You see somebody naked You say, “Who is that man?” You try so hard But you don’t understand Just what you’re gonna say When you get home You know something is happening here But you don’t know what it is Do you, Mister Jones?

If “Sunday Morning Coming Down” rattled Tom’s cage, sent him into the looney bin, my song surely would have made him blow his brains out, right there in the minivan. Hopefully he didn’t hear it.

I just released an album of standards, all the songs usually done by Michael Buble, Harry Connick Jr., maybe Brian Wilson’s done a couple, Linda Ronstadt done ‘em. But the reviews of their records are different than the reviews of my record.

In their reviews no one says anything. In my reviews, [inaudible] they’ve got to look under every stone when it comes to me. They’ve got to mention all the songwriters’ names. Well that’s OK with me. After all, they’re great songwriters and these are standards. I’ve seen the reviews come in, and they’ll mention all the songwriters in half the review, as if everybody knows them. Nobody’s heard of them, not in this time, anyway. Buddy Kaye, Cy Coleman, Carolyn Leigh, to name a few.

But, you know, I’m glad they mention their names, and you know what? I’m glad they got their names in the press. It might have taken some time to do it, but they’re finally there. I can only wonder why it took so long. My only regret is that they’re not here to see it.

Traditional rock ‘n’ roll, we’re talking about that. It’s all about rhythm. Johnny Cash said it best: “Get rhythm. Get rhythm when you get the blues.” Very few rock ‘n’ roll bands today play with rhythm. They don’t know what it is. Rock ‘n’ roll is a combination of blues, and it’s a strange thing made up of two parts. A lot of people don’t know this, but the blues, which is an American music, is not what you think it is. It’s a combination of Arabic violins and Strauss waltzes working it out. But it’s true.

The other half of rock ‘n’ roll has got to be hillbilly. And that’s a derogatory term, but it ought not to be. That’s a term that includes the Delmore Bros., Stanley Bros., Roscoe Holcomb, Clarence Ashley … groups like that. Moonshiners gone berserk. Fast cars on dirt roads. That’s the kind of combination that makes up rock ‘n’ roll, and it can’t be cooked up in a science laboratory or a studio.

You have to have the right kind of rhythm to play this kind of music. If you can’t hardly play the blues, how do you [inaudible] those other two kinds of music in there? You can fake it, but you can’t really do it.

Critics have made a career out of accusing me of having a career of confounding expectations. Really? Because that’s all I do. That’s how I think about it. Confounding expectations.

“What do you do for a living, man?” “Oh, I confound expectations.”

You’re going to get a job, the man says, “What do you do?” “Oh, confound expectations.: And the man says, “Well, we already have that spot filled. Call us back. Or don’t call us, we’ll call you.” Confounding expectations. What does that mean? ‘Why me, Lord? I’d confound them, but I don’t know how to do it.’

The Blackwood Bros. have been talking to me about making a record together. That might confound expectations, but it shouldn’t. Of course it would be a gospel album. I don’t think it would be anything out of the ordinary for me. Not a bit. One of the songs I’m thinking about singing is “Stand By Me” by the Blackwood Brothers. Not “Stand By Me” the pop song. No. The real “Stand By Me.” The real one goes like this:

When the storm of life is raging / Stand by me / When the storm of life is raging / Stand by me / When the world is tossing me / Like a ship upon the sea / Thou who rulest wind and water / Stand by me

In the midst of tribulation / Stand by me / In the midst of tribulation / Stand by me / When the hosts of hell assail / And my strength begins to fail / Thou who never lost a battle / Stand by me

In the midst of faults and failures / Stand by me / In the midst of faults and failures / Stand by me / When I do the best I can / And my friends don’t understand / Thou who knowest all about me / Stand by me

That’s the song. I like it better than the pop song. If I record one by that name, that’s going to be the one. I’m also thinking of recording a song, not on that album, though: “Oh Lord, Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.”

Anyway, why me, Lord. What did I do?

Anyway, I’m proud to be here tonight for MusiCares. I’m honored to have all these artists singing my songs. There’s nothing like that. Great artists. [applause, inaudible]. They’re all singing the truth, and you can hear it in their voices.

I’m proud to be here tonight for MusiCares. I think a lot of this organization. They’ve helped many people. Many musicians who have contributed a lot to our culture. I’d like to personally thank them for what they did for a friend of mine, Billy Lee Riley. A friend of mine who they helped for six years when he was down and couldn’t work. Billy was a son of rock ‘n’ roll, obviously.

He was a true original. He did it all: He played, he sang, he wrote. He would have been a bigger star but Jerry Lee came along. And you know what happens when someone like that comes along. You just don’t stand a chance.

So Billy became what is known in the industry—a condescending term, by the way—as a one-hit wonder. But sometimes, just sometimes, once in a while, a one-hit wonder can make a more powerful impact than a recording star who’s got 20 or 30 hits behind him. And Billy’s hit song was called “Red Hot,” and it was red hot. It could blast you out of your skull and make you feel happy about it. Change your life.

He did it with style and grace. You won’t find him in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He’s not there. Metallica is. Abba is. Mamas and the Papas—I know they’re in there. Jefferson Airplane, Alice Cooper, Steely Dan—I’ve got nothing against them. Soft rock, hard rock, psychedelic pop. I got nothing against any of that stuff, but after all, it is called the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Billy Lee Riley is not there. Yet.

I’d see him a couple times a year and we’d always spent time together and he was on a rockabilly festival nostalgia circuit, and we’d cross paths now and again. We’d always spend time together. He was a hero of mine. I’d heard “Red Hot.” I must have been only 15 or 16 when I did and it’s impressed me to this day.

I never grow tired of listening to it. Never got tired of watching Billy Lee perform, either. We spent time together just talking and playing into the night. He was a deep, truthful man. He wasn’t bitter or nostalgic. He just accepted it. He knew where he had come from and he was content with who he was.

And then one day he got sick. And like my friend John Mellencamp would sing—because John sang some truth today—one day you get sick and you don’t get better. That’s from a song of his called “Life is Short Even on Its Longest Days.” It’s one of the better songs of the last few years, actually. I ain’t lying.

And I ain’t lying when I tell you that MusiCares paid for my friend’s doctor bills, and helped him to get spending money. They were able to at least make his life comfortable, tolerable to the end. That is something that can’t be repaid. Any organization that would do that would have to have my blessing.

I’m going to get out of here now. I’m going to put an egg in my shoe and beat it. I probably left out a lot of people and said too much about some. But that’s OK. Like the spiritual song, ‘I’m still just crossing over Jordan too.’ Let’s hope we meet again. Sometime. And we will, if, like Hank Williams said, “the good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.”

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Bob Dylan does American Standards his way

An amazing interview with Bob Dylan - and with the AARP no less!  Read it all here.
Full interview here.

Here is a sample from his new album of standards:




Bob Dylan talks about Billy Graham:

When I was growing up, Billy Graham was very popular. He was the greatest preacher and evangelist of my time — that guy could save souls and did. I went to two or three of his rallies in the ’50s or ’60s. This guy was like rock ’n’ roll personified — volatile, explosive. He had the hair, the tone, the elocution — when he spoke, he brought the storm down. Clouds parted. Souls got saved, sometimes 30- or 40,000 of them. If you ever went to a Billy Graham rally back then, you were changed forever. There’s never been a preacher like him. He could fill football stadiums before anybody. He could fill Giants Stadium more than even the Giants football team. Seems like a long time ago. Long before Mick Jagger sang his first note or Bruce strapped on his first guitar — that’s some of the part of rock ’n’ roll that I retained. I had to. I saw Billy Graham in the flesh and heard him loud and clear.

Bob Dylan
2015


Bob Dylan talks about his gift:

Q: Let me talk to you for a minute about your gift. There are artists like George Balanchine, the choreographer, who felt that he was a servant to his muse. Somebody else like Picasso felt that he was the boss in the creative process. How have you dealt with your own gift over the years? I mean your songwriting, your inspiration, your creativity.
A: [Laughter]
Q: That makes you laugh?  
A: Well, I might trade places with Picasso if I could, creatively speaking. I’d like to think I was the boss of my creative process, too, and I could just do anything I wanted whenever I wanted and it would all be on a grand scale. But of course, that’s not true. Like Sinatra, there was only one Picasso. As far as George the choreographer, I’m more inclined to feel the same way that he does about what I do. It’s not easy to pin down the creative process.
Q: Is it elusive?
A: It totally is. It totally is. It’s uncontrollable. It makes no sense in literal terms. I wish I could enlighten you, but I can’t — just sound stupid trying. But I’ll try. It starts like this. What kind of song do I need to play in my show? What don’t I have? It always starts with what I don’t have instead of doing more of the same. I need all kinds of songs — fast ones, slow ones, minor key, ballads, rumbas — and they all get juggled around during a live show. I’ve been trying for years to come up with songs that have the feeling of a Shakespearean drama, so I’m always starting with that. Once I can focus in on something, I just play it in my mind until an idea comes from out of nowhere, and it’s usually the key to the whole song. It’s the idea that matters. The idea is floating around long before me. It’s like electricity was around long before Edison harnessed it. Communism was around before Lenin took over. Pete Townshend thought about Tommy for years before he actually wrote any songs for it. So creativity has a lot to do with the main idea. Inspiration is what comes when you are dealing with the idea. But inspiration won’t invite what’s not there to begin with.
Q: You’ve been generous to take up all of these questions.
A: I found the questions really interesting. The last time I did an interview, the guy wanted to know about everything except the music. Man, I’m just a musician, you know? People have been doing that to me since the ’60s — they ask questions like they would ask a medical doctor or a psychiatrist or a professor or a politician. Why? Why are you asking me these things?
Q: What do you ask a musician about? 

A: Music! Exactly.

Tonight at the Cafe: Because He Lives (Amen)

By Matt Maher:

BREAKING NEWS: Bishop Mark Lawrence and the Diocese of South Carolina win major court decision

From here:

IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED,
1. The Plaintiffs are the owners of their real, personal and intellectual property.
2. The Defendants have no legal, beneficial or equitable interest in the Plaintiffs’ real, personal and intellectual property.
3. The Defendant TEC, also known as The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America and Defendant The Episcopal Church in South Carolina and their officers, agents, servants, employees, members, attorneys and any person in concert with or under their direction or control are permanently enjoined from using, assuming, or adopting in any way, directly or indirectly the names, styles, emblems or marks of the Plaintiff as hereinafter set out, or any names, styles, emblems or marks that may be reasonably perceived to be those names, styles emblems or marks . . .
. . .
4. The Dorchester County clerk is directed, upon the filing of this order, to refund the sum of $50,000.00 to the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina.
5. The Defendants counterclaims are dismissed with prejudice.

Decision is here. StandFirm is posting updates here.

Here is the official release from the Diocese of South Carolina:

SOUTH CAROLINA CIRCUIT COURT RULES DIOCESE OF SOUTH CAROLINA AND PARISH CHURCHES KEEP THEIR HISTORIC PROPERTY

The Episcopal Church has no legitimate claims to their property, names and symbols.
ST. GEORGE, SC, Feb. 3, 2015 – In a 46 page opinion, South Carolina Circuit Court Judge Diane S. Goodstein, ruled that The Diocese of South Carolina, The Trustees of the Diocese and 36 parish churches successfully withdrew from The Episcopal Church in 2012 taking with them all their property, including churches, symbols and other assets. The ruling is the result of a three-week trial last summer in which over 50 witnesses testified.

The historic ruling comprehensively resolves the issues surrounding the more than $500 million in property owned by the Diocese and its parishes, which disassociated from the denomination in 2012 after TEC improperly attempted to remove Bishop Mark Lawrence as head of the Diocese.
The judge’s decision found baseless TEC’s claim that it owned the Diocese’s identity and properties.  During the trial, the Diocese demonstrated that it existed long before TEC was established – and that it was one of the dioceses that founded the denomination in 1789.  It also proved that every diocese is free to associate with a denomination of its choosing. 

The Court found that “the Constitution and Canons of TEC have no provisions which state that a member diocese cannot voluntarily withdraw its membership.” The ruling found that had there been such a provision, it would have violated the Diocese’s “constitutionally-protected right” to freedom of association. “With the freedom to associate goes its corollary, the freedom to disassociate,” Judge Goodstein said.

The Court also found that TEC had “no express or constructive trust” in Diocese or Parish property.
Finally, the Court issued a permanent injunction protecting all the Diocese’s names and marks as well as those for the parishes of St. Phillip’s, St. Michael’s, and the Parish Church of St. Helena.  The Court further found, “It is also clear, as to the Diocese, that the Defendants ‘willfully intended to trade on the registrant's reputation’ and that they chose, intentionally, to use the names and seal of the Diocese as strategic support for TECSC's purposes. This strategy was not simply one of TECSC' s but was one that TEC benefited from and promoted.”

Lead Counsel for the Diocese, Alan Runyan, said that the decision is completely consistent with both South Carolina and United States Supreme Court precedent involving church property disputes.
The decision ends the latest of many legal battles TEC has fought in its effort to shore up the denomination.  Since 2003, TEC has lost 17.4 percent of its members and experienced a reduction of nearly 24 percent in average Sunday attendance.

In the last few years, the denomination has spent close to $40 million on lawsuits to prevent dioceses from leaving and to seize the property of congregations that did.

“We are grateful that Judge Goodstein’s decision protects South Carolina churches from being added to the long list of properties that TEC seized then either abandoned or sold-off,” said Jim Lewis, Canon to the Ordinary.  “The decision protects our freedom to embrace the faith Anglicans have practiced for hundreds of years – and not the new theology being imposed on TEC’s dwindling membership.”

Judge Goodstein’s decision is the latest legal loss for TEC.  The Illinois Court of Appeals upheld a decision that held that the Diocese of Quincy (Ill.) was entitled to keep their property in a case similar to the one in South Carolina. Last month, the highest court in Illinois, the Illinois Supreme Court, refused to hear an appeal in the case.

The denomination, which lost a decision in its case against the Diocese of Fort Worth, appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court but was denied a review.  The case will now resume in the trial court there, under findings by the Texas Supreme Court that favor the Anglican diocese.

TEC supporters have repeatedly attempted to make the disassociations by the dioceses of South Carolina, Fort Worth (Texas), Quincy (Ill.) and San Joaquin (Calif.) a protest of the denomination’s shifting policies regarding sexuality. 

While traditional marriage between a man and a woman continues to be upheld in these dioceses, issues of human sexuality represented only distractions in the South Carolina case.

“This has never been about exclusion,” said Bishop Lawrence. “Our churches, our diocese are open to all.  It’s about the freedom to practice and proclaim faith in Jesus Christ as it has been handed down to us. We’re ready to move forward and grateful for Judge Goodstein’s handling of the case.
Today's decision also comes close on the heels of an earlier ruling by the South Carolina Court of Appeals awarding the Diocese $1,000 for legal expenses incurred by TEC's frivolous appeals.  TEC has a history of using appeals and other legal action to delay cases and drain the resources of parishes and dioceses that disassociate from the denomination.

About the Diocese of South Carolina
The Diocese was founded in 1785 by the parishes of the former South Carolina colony.  Based in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, the Diocese is one of the oldest religious districts in the United States and counts among its members several of the oldest, operating churches in the nation.

The Diocese of South Carolina is recognized by Anglican Dioceses and Provinces around the world, many of whom have broken fellowship with The Episcopal Church, and in 2013 the Diocese joined the global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans and entered into a formal relationship of Provisional Primatial Oversight with Global South primates. 

Today at the Cafe: The sun comes up, it's a new day dawning



Let me be singing when the evening comes.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Giving thanks for the life of Martha Giltinan

When I learned this morning that Martha Giltinan died today, this song was playing.  It seems to fit, like a selection from the soundtrack of this past year and the journey she shared so freely, so transparently with friends and family since her diagnosis last winter.  To say she will be missed is an understatement.  A light has gone out.  But I think one of her greatest legacies is that - through her life - she lit so many lights that now blaze brightly across the world, a light fueled by the redeeming love of Jesus. And that Light, we know, will never go out.


And this from Audrey Assad: