Friday, August 12, 2016

Roll On, Bob. Fall Tour Announced, To Ramona and the Bob Dylan Project

The next leg of Bob Dylan's Never Ending Tour has been announced. The kickoff event is the Southwest superconcert that created a stir when tickets went on sale earlier this spring: Three nights, six legendary names from the Sixties. Indio, California is host city for that event, a town that bills itself as the City of Festivals. It's proximity to L.A. makes it accessible. It's location in the Coachella Valley near Joshua Tree State Park makes it desirable.

There will never be another event like Desert Trip, I suspect. All these guys were born in the Forties and are now in their seventies. From what I hear from people who have seen each of these supergroups in recent years, each still puts on memorable shows for their fans. I'm certain it will be no different on this occasion. And yes, I'm sorry I can't be there.

Nice symbolism in the poster. It's a sunset scene in the Southwest, though for Dylan, Inc. it's the kickoff for another round of concerts that will wend its way across the South through the months of October and November. Full schedule here.

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This week I discovered yet another great resource for Dylan fans. It's called The Bob Dylan Project and it's found at TheBobDylanProject.com

Dylan's significance may have been established simply by the quantity of truly great songs he produced, or by the ground-breaking character of the songs he birthed in the early to mid-Sixties. But it could also be said that the creative interpretation of these songs during a lifetime of performances has also made him unique amongst performing songwriters.

What the Bob Dylan Project has done is assembled in one location links to all recorded performances of Dylan material, from the original release to the alternate versions. It also includes links to recordings of alternate versions of Dylan's songs by other artists. For scholars wishing to take a deeper dive into the music of Bob Dylan, this is the mother lode. For enthusiasts desirous to expand their awareness, it's likewise a great resource. And a website worth bookmarking.

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It's 2016. In the Sixties I doubt there's a one of us who gave any thought to the notion that people would be still buying tickets to see the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, The Who, Neil Young, Pink Floyd or Dylan. If you imagined this, fifty years ago, I want to hear about it. I can't imagine that any of us gave a half a thought to such a thing.

For the past several weeks I've had the song To Ramona circling about my thoughts. I find it a moving song, emotively rich and tender, lyrically evocative and poetic, so very unlike the simplistic pop mush riding the Billboard charts. I've been wanting to write about it, but wasn't sure what new insight I could bring.

The song, whose tune is based on a Mexican waltz, was released 52 years ago this week (August 8). Dylan first performed it live the month before at the Newport Folk Festival in 1964. Since that time he has performed it more than 370 times in concert, up through 2015. Here is a link to the various ways the song has been recorded, now collected at The Dylan Project.

To Ramona

Ramona
Come closer
Shut softly your watery eyes
The pangs of your sadness
Shall pass as your senses will rise
The flowers of the city
Though breathlike
Get deathlike at times
And there’s no use in tryin’
T’ deal with the dyin’
Though I cannot explain that in lines

Your cracked country lips
I still wish to kiss
As to be under the strength of your skin
Your magnetic movements
Still capture the minutes I’m in
But it grieves my heart, love
To see you tryin’ to be a part of
A world that just don’t exist
It’s all just a dream, babe
A vacuum, a scheme, babe
That sucks you into feelin’ like this

I can see that your head
Has been twisted and fed
By worthless foam from the mouth
I can tell you are torn
Between stayin’ and returnin’
On back to the South
You’ve been fooled into thinking
That the finishin’ end is at hand
Yet there’s no one to beat you
No one t’ defeat you
’Cept the thoughts of yourself feeling bad

I’ve heard you say many times
That you’re better ’n no one
And no one is better ’n you
If you really believe that
You know you got
Nothing to win and nothing to lose
From fixtures and forces and friends
Your sorrow does stem
That hype you and type you
Making you feel
That you must be exactly like them

I’d forever talk to you
But soon my words
They would turn into a meaningless ring
For deep in my heart
I know there is no help I can bring
Everything passes
Everything changes
Just do what you think you should do
And someday maybe
Who knows, baby
I’ll come and be cryin’ to you
Copyright © 1964 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1992 by Special Rider Music

The song brings back a long ago memory of something beautiful and sad. Perhaps the song's beauty is in the universals it contains, providing opportunity for listeners to make their own connections. The vivid imagery and language stirs on many levels with a timelessness that outlives the moment of its birth.

Roll on, Bob. Thank you for all the great songs. 

2 comments:

Linda Hayes said...

Great article. Thanks for the news and link about the BobDylanProject.com I too love "To Ramona". The man has a way with words. A poet. Another from later years does not have the complex lyrics of "To Ramona," but also has that vibe of the past, is "Shooting Star"- from his Oh Mercy album- but then so many of his are just awesome and timeless. Look forward to more articles.

Ed Newman said...

Thanks for the note, Linda. Yes to all you say here.
And yes, Shooting Star is a rich song, but that entire album is a gem. No lunkers in the whole batch.
Best 2U
e.