Everyone covers Dylan: "It Ain't Me Babe"

This weeks Dylan adventure, 1964's "It Ain't Me Babe" from Another Side of Bob Dylan. This song seems to change meaning with every cover.

Dylan himself from a delete scene from Don't Look Back (released 1967):

Have you ever run after a celebrity?

1. The Turtles with their fun-loving 1965 pop cover.

When did the vocal style in the "no, no, no" part go out of style?

2. I kind of always want to punch Joan Baez in the face, but I have to admit that I like the melancholy tone of her cover as performed in 1965.

Douchiest introduction to a song ever?

3. Johnny Cash and June Carter originally recorded a version in 1965. Here they are performing their flirtatious version live.

Where can I get June's dress?

4. From a 2009 BBC Session with Fleet Foxes, Robin Pecknold soloing a straight forward cover:

I just found out this guy is basically the same age as me. That's all.

5. Silvertide's generic '00s rock cover that appeared in the Lady in the Water (2006) soundtrack:

And just because it made me love them despite their pretentiousness, a wacky version with both Bob Dylan and Joan Baez!


Free TV: The Ben Stiller Show

So I just found The Ben Stiller Show online, and one episode in, I'm in love. Ben Stiller, Andy Dick, Janeane Garofalo and Bob Odenkirk are all so young and fresh-faced before they got obnoxious, ubiquitous, and/or weird (well, Bob's probably still doing okay). Anyway, the first episode features some of my favorite things: making fun of U2, a great spoof of a movie (no really, their Cape Fear bit made me laugh out loud), silly commercials, and an introduction to a piece of pop culture I didn't know about. That piece? Yakov Smirnoff.

The pop culture I don't know about because I was 2 when the Berlin Wall came down.

And here's the first episode for your viewing pleasure:

You're welcome.


Cannonball Read #18: My French Whore

The book is called My French Whore, and it's written by the actor Gene Wilder. That may be all you need to know about the book, but I'll elaborate. It's a fairly pithy tale of a 30-year-old American soldier, Harry, in the Great War who flees a loveless/boring marriage to join the army. While overseas, he finds himself a coward in the line of fire, and thusly flees the battlefield only to be caught by the German army. Once caught, the German he learned from his immigrant parents comes in handy and he pretends to be a famed German spy. He's treated like a king and even treated to a French woman, Annie, who he begins a real and loving relationship with. All sorts of pickles and close calls ensue.

My French whore reads more like a screenplay if a screenplay were written in first-person prose. The chapters are fast and fairly predictable, and there is a clear three act structure. This isn't really a complaint so much as proof of Wilder's background as an actor and occasional screenwriter. An old school, broad sort of humor also bleeds through the book that makes it feel comfortable and well worn even though the book is only 3 years old.

And while My French Whore is too fast to have any real emotional resonance, it's a sweet book that likes its characters. It's funny with little dashes of deeper character development. What I enjoyed most was the kindness in Harry and Annie's relationship. You might expect a torrid affair, but it really just feels right. I appreciated the tone of the book, and by the end, I was ready to let the characters go feeling like I'd gone as far as I was meant to go with them and not a moment too long.


Everyone covers Dylan: "Just Like a Woman"

From Bob's 1966 Blonde on Blonde, "Just Like a Woman." It's the sort of song that blends sexism and affection in such a way as to make it kind of romantic (see also: "She's Always a Woman" by Billy Joel).

Here's Bob Dylan's version as performed at the 1971 Concert for Bangladesh. George Harrison and Leon Russell play with him.

When beards stop being attractive and start getting whimsical.

Manfred Mann's poptacular chart topping 1966 version:

I don't think I could make this more British if I tried.

Richie Haven's 1974 performance. "Just Like a Woman" starts about halfway through, but I love it in combination to Van Morrison's "Tupelo Honey."

So soothing.

The Hollies in concert, 1969. I daresay they make the song beautiful in a polished sort of way.

You look great in suits, have I told you that yet?

I couldn't find any information on the internets about Marie Cain, although a vinyl copy of her 1976 album is rather expensive. Here's an interesting version of the song that gives it different undertones with a female vocalist.

The album is called Living Alone. Just like a feminist, am I right?

Beres Hammond...because I gotta get at least one reggae cover per post.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find any other information about this version except it appears on Is It Rolling Bob? A Reggae Tribute to Bob Dylan, Volume 1. That's right. That's an album.


Cannonball Read #17: An Old-Fashioned Girl

Inspired by the cheesiness of the last book I read, I decided to go for actual Louisa May Alcott with her ode to hardworking young women in An Old-Fashioned Girl. The first half of the book tells the story of a poorish, working class girl of 14, Polly, visiting her richer, more fashionable friend Fanny and family. Their worlds collide and Polly is scandalized and confused by many of the trends, including dress and entertainment, that seemed to be the only topics of conversation. Lessons are learned that honor good old-fashioned hard work and modesty. Turns out, Polly is the paragon of everything good in this world. More than once I wanted to gag, for Louisa May has a habit of moralizing to her audience directly. The chapter where the kids sit around and listen to their grandmother's old stories is heinously boring to get through, but you feel guilty about skimming it because that must mean that I'm not a good person who is into wholesomeness and learning from my elders and blah blah blah guilt.

Fortunately, the second half of the book, where the kids have grown into young adults is far more entertaining and the fourth-wall breaking side notes are funnier and less pedantic. So anyway, Polly is 20 and moved to Fanny's town to make a living for herself and earn money for her brother in college by teaching music lessons. It's a difficult life; she lives alone with a cat and finds work to be tedious sometimes. But she makes friends with her spinster landlady, makes new friends, and learns to be on her own. Sometimes I wanted to gag some more, but overall, this book contains great lessons for young women (and men if they dare read this book). You've got to give Alcott points for writing a novel that dares a feminist message.

And did I mention the second half of the book has romantic entanglements? Polly ends up mixed up with the man Fanny likes, but Polly doesn't really because she's in love with Fanny's brother Tom, but Tom's engaged to some girl named Trixie who is pretty stupid. The thing is, the situations weren't described as dramatically as they could have been. They're played out naturally with as much awkwardness and second guessing as normal people have all with hilarious sidenotes from Alcott. I mean, when the big love scene is skimmed over with the slightly condescending, although honest description of

"Never mind what happened for a little bit, love scenes, if genuine, are indescribable, for to those who have enacted them, the most elaborate descriptions seems team, and to those who have not, the simplest picture seems overdone. So romancers had better let imagination paint for them that which is above all art and leave their lovers to themselves during the happiest minutes of their lives."

Alcott wins me over. Cheesy, but grounded descriptions that seem shockingly modern albeit rather wholesome. With all these life lessons contained in one book, I think I need some nihilism in my next read.


Don't Look Back (1967)

So I watched Don't Look Back (1967), the documentary about Bob Dylan's 1965 European tour, a couple days ago in an effort to try to understand the legend/enigma that is Bob. Things I gathered:

1. Bob Dylan was like any other pretentious 20-something, but somehow he became a spokesman for a generation.

2. Sitting around watching a movie about people wasting time by doing douchey things and getting in douchey fights is just as terrible as watching it happen in person.

3. Same goes for watching people noodle around on instruments. If you're the one sitting there watching it happen and not the one playing, it's incredibly dull. Occasionally I'm anti-social, can you tell? And no, I won't watch you play videogames.

4. Bob Dylan has (had?) a rather charming stage presence. You see this at the end of the movie right as you want to not like the guy.

5. I've had the Boston song of the same name stuck in my head ever since. I like it better than this documentary.

Thus ends another well thought out review.


Cinephilia vs. responsible choice

The choice: study for an exam or watch The Shining (1980).

The decision:

The conclusion: I enjoy horror movies replete with long takes.

The consequence: We'll see how I do on that test.


Everyone covers Dylan: "Knockin' on Heaven's Door"

Bob Dylan wrote "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" for the 1973 film Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid. I have never seen this movie, but seeing as how is stars James "Tex" Coburn, Kris "Beardily Hot" Kristofferson, and Bob "He's in Movies?" Dylan I don't know how I haven't. Apparently the 1988 director's re-edit of this film is awesome.

Anyway, "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" isn't my favorite Dylan song, but it's one I really enjoy the original of and it's pretty hard to screw up. I mean, even Avril Lavigne's cover isn't bad. Lucky for you, I chose to give you other options than Canada's little angry girl.

The original version of the song:

1. Eric Clapton sometimes feels a little reggae:

You know I chose this 1977 video mostly for Yvonne Elliman.

2. Here's a special rendition that only 80s metal could create that Australia's own Heaven rocked in 1985.

Are they in a canyon?

3. But you really can't beat GnR's classic 1992 rendition. Slash kills his solo.

Best backup singers ever?

4. Randy Crawford recorded her own version in 1989. Here's a soullicious 1993 live performance in Vienna.


5. The Alarm, a Welsh band I've don't know much about, frequently performed the song live in the mid-80s.

If you don't do "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" as a power ballad, are you only left with a reggae beat?


In the Loop (2009)

Only two reasons from a billion to watch the perfect political satire In the Loop:

The quotable profanity of Peter Capaldi's Malcolm Tucker. I considered posting a video, but half of the fun of his dialogue is surprisingly eloquent it sounds coming out of this man's mouth.


Anna Chlumsky, AKA my other girlhood movie hero, is fantastic in her role as aid to the Assistant Secretary of State. Not only am I glad she got cast in a real movie that FANTASTIC, but also that she was hilarious.

3. Seriously. Go watch this movie. Especially if you already like (fictional) shows about politics and dry British humor. It's like a more hilarious Yes, Minister or likeThe West Wing if it was a comedy. You're going to love it.

Rating: 5+ Coughing Fits Spurred On By Laughter and a Pair of Lungs Filled with Mucous!


Cannonball Read #16: Hattie Big Sky

YA lit, y'all. It keeps me motivated to read. Toss in some historical setting and a female protagonist and I'm beyond there. Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson is about a 16-year-old orphan who inherits a claim of land in eastern Montana from an erstwhile uncle. Anxious to start a life free of owing random relatives (especially her ice cold Aunt Ivy), she decides to move out Montana in 1918 and make her own life. Besides, her best friend Charlie has enlisted in the army and is trampling around Europe.

So she moves out there and it's scary. It's a different culture with people she doesn't know, she has to take care of herself and all the household chores, and most of all "prove" her claim by building fence and planting a certain acreage of land. Add on top of that the fact that her closest friends include a family with a German father who is constantly under scrutiny from the county defense league. And of course the leader of that league is the very handsome and somewhat charming Traft Martin. But she still has feelings for her soldier Charlie! What's a girl to do? The right thing of course!

Because it's the kind of novel that's in the spirit of Louisa May Alcott. It's about good girls growing up and learning lessons about being self-reliant and loving people who are good people first and foremost. It's cheesy as hell, but I eat this stuff up. While Hattie Big Sky starts to fall into a "could anything else possibly go wrong" territory, troubles are quickly over and we're never really in suspense of whether or not Hattie will make it through okay. On to the next book!


Some great beards 4

Blame it on the really hot shaved-head-and-bearded guy on the bus (who I learned today most certainly has a GF...like that will stop the across-the-bus ogling), but I'm in the mood for some more beards. It's been too long.

1. Tom Skerritt While I mostly recognize him with a mustache, I appreciate his bearded captain look in Alien.

2. Paul McCartney manages to look boyish even with a beard.

3. Naveen Andrews remains the best part of LOST, bringing the badass again and again in addition to his perfect manlock-beard combo.

4. Kris Kristofferson is incredibly attractive. That's all.

5. Billy Crystal proves that even goofy guys can be hot with a little facial hair in When Harry Met Sally.

This was the best picture to show off his facial hair. Hey, Meg.


Everyone covers Dylan: "I Shall Be Released"

So Bob Dylan, right? Great songwriter, terrible singer. More often than not, I enjoy covers of his songs rather than his versions, since his voice tends to kill a song for me. Lucky for you, I'm willing to scour the YouTubes to find you 5 of these great covers of a Dylan song each week. This is an impossible task, especially since the 60s were a time when people unabashedly covered songs and released them as singles or performed them on all those variety shows. All I can guarantee are a variety of versions that are good.

First up, "I Shall Be Released." This song was written by our man Bob in 1967.

Bob Dylan's version was recorded in in 1971 for Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits Vol. II:

Although the first recording of it (according to the 'pedia) was in 1968 by the Band, Dylan's band for a time.

1. Here's the Band at the Express Festival of 1970:

2. Nina Simone's version (1969) gives it some soul:

3. Sting at The Secret Policeman's Other Ball in 1981 reggae-ing it up. You know I love it:

4. The Jerry Garcia Band in 1990 giving a solid version of the song with good solos (organ especially) and mellow soul:

5. Jeff Buckley gets spare on his version on the 1993 album, Live at Sin-é.


100 Favorite Songs: 96-100

Don't worry, I left some good ones for the end.

96. “Rich Girl” by Hall and Oates (1977)

Have I mentioned I love blue-eyed soul enough times? So perfect.

Also a great karaoke song.

97. “Better Man” by Pearl Jam (1994)

A rare woman's perspective in a rock song that was written by Mr. Vedder while he was in high school. Brilliant.


98. “Little Moments” by Brad Paisley (2004)

You know I love cheesy songs, too, and what better way to celebrate that than country. Brad Paisley writes some really silly music, but"Little Moments" is a song one that ends up remarkably romantic. Here's a 2004 performance from CMT Crossroads with John Mayer:

I prefer Brad's voice on this.

99. “Carry On Wayward Son” by Kansas (1976)

Great song, which solidified its place in my heart when it was featured in a great episode of Strangers with Candy.

Short shorts, tube socks, perfection.

100. “Badge” by Cream (1969)

Written by Eric Clapton and George Harrison, "Badge" is a great 2-part song, with a heavy bassline beginning, and gorgeously melodic second half. Here's a super long 1977 performance of Clapton and crew:

I believe that's my 1970s girlfriend Yvonne Elliman on tambourine and backing vocals.

Thanks for sticking with me. Any excuse to peruse the YouTubes for great performances is a good one. Hopefully you enjoyed this list as much as I have loved putting it together! Until the next ridiculous music series.