Bob Dylan, Nettie MooreI didn’t drink the Bob Dylan Kool-Aid until I was 35 years old. It was fun being the non-believer, but there was always this big hole in my map, and ‘60s Dylan plugged it just so. It was him, it was that guy. Don’t Look Back made it clear. He changed the channel on the century; turned the She Loves You Beatles into the Norwegian Wood Beatles; established the right of the entertainer to be a petulant boob; traded yes for no; was first punk; etc. Visions Of Johanna = crack water! (Last week, I was in Atlanta with a songwriter who said crack water! in response to anything he liked, especially his own songs.)
I have trouble with the Alive Dylan of today. I’ve seen him play live three times in the last two years, and I walked out once, mostly because I couldn’t hear anything he was singing or playing. The music around him was just a big mash of blues-rock that hurt my teeth. Modern Times worked well when I played it last Saturday during a dinner party. I enjoy it more than the last two, if I have to listen to Recent Bob. The quiet, Joe’s-Pub-style setting works for Dylan’s voice, because he doesn’t have much of a holler left; his instrument is burnt. Ha, ha, I cheated death is a good look for Bob. They say whiskey will kill you, but I don’t think it will. I’m ridin’ with you to the top of the hill is a good turn of the verb. He needs the will for the hill rhyme, but he also gets to say (1) that whiskey hasn’t killed him yet, and (2) that his bad ass still knows where to find it. Dylan tells the overly faithful not to seek his advice, and warns everyone else to think twice before calling him names. Not Dead Yet, and I don’t treat that sentiment lightly. We’ll all, hopefully, get this old, and I wouldn’t mind sounding like this.
I am entirely OK with this.
Danity Kane, ShowstopperDiddy’s MTV band doing a snap tune. No reason to listen to this unless you don’t have a copy of Do It To It by Cherish. I saw Cherish doing a CD signing at a Best Buy in Atlanta last week.
Leaders of The New School, Case of the PTAThis one was big for me in 1990, 1991whenever it came out. My friend Dave Reid and I got into the (terrible) habit of saying Always misbehaving and mischievous! with great zest. Do women do that same kind of Monty Python-style quoting? Though I never did it with Monty Python moviesthe TV show was great; never felt the moviesI have quoted too many things too many times, including the Samuel L. Jackson Chapelle’s Show skit. It’s unbearable, and I must stop. But. 1991: Picking Busta as the member who should go solo felt like some super-smart A&R shit. Obviously this was not a unique take on his work. Rap bands? Where’d they go? Songs about being teenagers? Samples? A different planet.
Sub Pop Records, The Singles ClubTouch Me I’m Sick was such a big deal when it came out. I cannot summon up the synaptic zaps and zings that would bring me back to the frame of mind that I/we were all in then. It works fine as scuzz-rock ephemera, mostly because of Mark Arm’s voice, but it’s also just a badly recorded paraphrase of Iggy Pop’s I’m Bored (until the bridge), which I just watched on the Old Grey Whistle Test DVD. Ultra-retarded. (Must..take off shirt.) I appreciate Christmas singles, so I’ll give a gold star to the Blues Explosion and Jesus and Mary Chain, who I am becoming convinced had a much longer and stronger career than anyone noticed. Or than I noticed.
Though I was mostly cursor-dropping, the second run of the Singles Club (late ‘90s, early ‘00s) is much less enjoyable than the first run. Whatever historical mojo indie rock had in 1988 was gone by 2000. Someone asked me the other day, Have we forgotten Eddie Murphy? Someone must ask this of Urge Overkill. Babes In Toyland have a better shot at a second life.