Saturday, May 25, 2019

America's Got Talent. We Know Because We've Seen So Much of It During Dylan Fest

2019 DDF SINGER/SONGWRITER CONTEST RESULTS

A setting with acoustics and ambience.
Photo by Michael Anderson.
One of the highlights of the annual Duluth Dylan Fest is the Singer/Songwriter Contest, a tradition carried over from Hibbing's Dylan Days. The last Singer/Songwriter Contest that I attended in Hibbing stretched two days, the year before Zimmy's folded and many Northland hearts were broken.

Our first Duluth S/S contest was actually an event seeking a home. One year we did it at Beaners Central in West Duluth. The crowd was so small one could hardly call it a crowd, but it was a good first effort. The following year we convened at Red Herring, but the Friday night bar crowd had a different agenda and thought packed, half the folks there were not there for Dylan covers.

Two years the S/S Contest was held at Clyde Iron in the West End, a great venue for events. Except when they are having two events simultaneously. Both years we had to compete with wedding afterparties that interfered a bit with the quieter acoustic performers in our event.

Alas, last year we found ourselves a new home, courtesy the Sacred Heart Music Center. This former Catholic church building has become a real boon to the music community, and will likely become a permanent home for the Singer/Songwriter competition.
Gene LaFond and Zane Bail talk with the other judges.
* * * *
The program last night featured a welcome by host Pat Eliason, which included introduction of our celebrity judges.* Gene LaFond and Amy Grillo performed an original tune to set the stage, and then the show began.

Jim Hall. Photo credit: Michael Anderson
Jim Hall, who won this competition the year it was held at the Red Herring, was first to perform. This own composition was titled "I'm Still a Working Man." His Dylan tune was a heartfelt "Dear Landlord" from John Wesley Harding.

The next on the docket was Josie Langhorst, whom I raved about last year when she performed here at age 12. Her original tune, "Talk To Me," revealed an incredibly mature understanding of relationships, nuanced and subtle. Dylan himself, who wrote such remarkably mature songs at such a young age -- like "Boots of Spanish Leather" and "One Of Us Must Know," would undoubtedly be proud of how advanced this songwriting prodigy appears to be. She sings with force and a confidence that belies her youth.

There were 17 composer performers in all from a variety of places in Minnesota and Wisconsin. In the audience we had Dylan Fest visitors from Denmark, Ireland, Scotland and Australia, among other places. I could bore you with details, but will simply cut to the chase.

Shane Nelson of Superior impressed us all. Michael Anderson photo.
The winner of this year's competition was Shane Nelson, of Superior. The judges grade on their original song, and his "I Do What I Do" wowed them enormously. He followed with an equally potent "Positively Fourth Street" that left few of us surprised when he later won.

Mike LaBo of Lansing Michigan. Photo, Michael Anderson
Second place Mike Labo wrote and performed "How Cn A Bird?" followed by a favorite of mine, "New Morning." Third place Jim Hall was noted above.

Hall, Nelson and LaBo. Photo: Michael Anderson
What's distinctive is the variety of styles, the variety of selections, and the breadth of the Dylan catalog. Words are insufficient, which is why we keep listening to the music. What Dylan album have you been listening to today?

* * * *

* Celeb judges this year:
Mriam Hansen, host of Highway 61 Revisited, KUMD 103.3
Gene LaFond, musician
Christa Lawler, Arts & Entertainment reporter, Duluth News Tribune
Jamie Ness, musician
Karen Sunderman, Producer, Making It and The Playlist, PBS 8

Friday, May 24, 2019

Dylan Fest 2019: Joan Osborne Greeted with Enthusiasm by Packed House @ Sacred Heart

Joan Osborne, Sacred Heart in Duluth. Photo: Michael Anderson
At its essence, what is a music concert? What is the common denominator between the Rolling Stones, McCartney, Roger Waters, the Blind Boys of Alabama and last night's Joan Osborne concert in Duluth Central Hillside during Dylan Fest 2019?

The answer, my friend, is a capitalist transaction.An audience makes a trade with the performers, money for a satisfying evening of entertainment, whether a $500 Rolling Stones transaction, a $200 Roger Waters event or ten dollars for an unknown in Wabasha. Even a free concert is a form of barter: my time for what you choose to share. It's always nice when we receive more than we expected.

Last night at the Sacred Heart Music Center Joan Osborne and her accompanying musicians delivered the goods. I don't think anyone had expectations below the value of the ticket. I mean, this is a national recording artist doing Dylan tunes in Dylan town, with an audience primed. The context is Duluth Dylan Fest, the evening of this town's hometown boy turning 78.

This year's 8-Day Dylan Fest has already featured an art event, and a poetry event. Today there will be a cutting of the cake on the front lawn of his first home (where he lived till age six) and tomorrow is a talk by author David Gaines as part of the John Bushey Lecture Series.

Most of all, though, it is a week of music. What's astonishing is discovering how many different ways Bob Dylan's songs can be served up, and remain continuously fresh and satisfying. This week alone--and it's not yet over--we've been treated to:
Cowboy Angel Blue (Sunday at Cedar Lounge)
Tom O'Keefe and Friends (Monday at the Zeitgeist)
Leslie Black and Friends (Monday at Carmody's Irish Pub)
Greg Tiburzi & Steve Johnson (Tuesday, Sir Ben's)
Kyla Ollah (Wednesday at Teatro Zuccone, accompanying the poetry event)
Rich Mattson and the Northstars (Poetry afterparty at Cedar Lounge)
And then, Joan Osborne, last night in this former Catholic church on Duluth's Central Hillside.

For the record, additional music to be performed will include tonight's Singer/Songwriter contest in which each musician will play a Dylan song and one of their own, an afterparty for that at Bent Paddle Taproom with the Basement Tapes Band, another Sacred Heart show Saturday featuring the Bob Dylan Revue, and Sunday's brunch accompanied by Jim Hall.

So now that you have context, let's consider the concert itself. A local trio called Coyote opened, featuring Marc Gartman, Jerree Small and Matt Mobley. Mobley's a versatile stand-up bass player who we routinely run into in local jazz venues such as the Carlton Room.

(L to R) Gartman, Small and Mobley
Coyote's set featured original tunes and gentle harmonies. The quiet acoustics were beautifully amplified by the sensational sound properties of the Sacred Heart sanctuary. Gartman and other performers from Duluth who have played here, including myself, all appreciate this quality of this special place.

Before closing out their set of original material Gartman said, "We're going to do a Dylan song. Dylan Thomas." They closed with a very fine "I'll Keep It With Mine."

A short intermission for a set change--removing Coyote's equipment from the lower tier of the stage--and we were soon back. "How about a warm Dylan Fest welcome for Joan Osborne."

Osborne plucked songs from all portions of the Dylan catalog, giving each an infusion of her own flavor. From start to finish her fresh takes serve to show how remarkable Dylan's work really is.

But it was the backing band that gave this concert its special lift. Jack Petruzzelli on guitars and Keith Cotton on keyboards were criminally tight. From the opening number, "Quinn the Eskimo," they were given opportunities to show their chops.  The accompanists were also producers of her 2017 Songs of Bob Dylan release.  (Still fact checking on that.)

Photo: Michael Anderson
From here she moved into an intense rendition of "High Water (For Cherley Patton)" from Love & Theft. Then we slid back to "Spanish Harlem Incident," and its delicious ontological earnestness from Another Side of Bob Dylan.

I am homeless, come and take me
Into the reach of your rattling drums
Let me know, babe, all about my fortune
Down along my restless palms

...and its heartfelt closing appeal...

I got to know, babe, will you surround me?
So I can tell if I’m really real

Photo: Michael Anderson
I'd be curious what the process is for selecting songs for an album of covers. It would have to in part be selections meaningful to the artist. It was apparent during certain moments that the lyrics she sang were heartfelt.

The rest of her playlist included:
Don't Think Twice (Freewhelin' Bob Dylan)
Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 (Blonde on Blonde)
Trying to Get to Heaven (Time Out Of Mind)
Masters of War (Freewheelin')
Buckets of Rain (Blood on the Tracks)
Highway 61 Revisited (Highway 61 Revisited)
Tangled Up In Blue (Blood on the Tracks)
An original song about our need for hope.
Gotta Serve Somebody (Slow Train Coming)

By the time this set was complete everyone in the room was on their feet, clapping, banging things to get an encore. After a two minute reset, the team emerged for a pair of songs that served as exclamation point and summation for the night, the first being Knockin' On Heaven's Door, at which time keyboard player Pete Cotton left the stage and disappeared in the back. Few in the audience knew how to interpret this, so that when the pipe organ in the back of the sanctuary roared to life in the middle of the song it sent chills up many a-spine.

Her final number, One Of Us, is the song that put her on the map career-wise, got her nominated for Grammy awards for best song, best female vocalist and more... and a very satisfying conclusion to the evening.

* * * *
For a listing of upcoming events for the rest of this week visit BobDylanWay.com
http://bobdylanway.com/pdfs/DuluthDylanFest2019Line-up.pdf

EdNote: Joan Osborne is a really good whistler!

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Must See: "Which One Is The Real Bob Dylan" at Karpeles Manuscript Museum Library in Duluth

It’s only fitting that Bill Pagel’s exhibit Which One is the Real Bob Dylan should share this space at Karpeles with an exhibit about Abraham Lincoln.

When the Founding Fathers created the American Experiment its core principles had to do with freedom and human dignity,  its motto being the proposition that All Men Are Created Equal. Unfortunately a considerable portion of our people were not free, and though these founders heroically set forth the principles, they left it to future generations to work out the details, to implement what was promised.

And so it was Lincoln set about to complete what the Founding Fathers started, to fulfill what was promised in the Declaration of Independence.

And yet, even though Lincoln carried it forward with the Emancipation Proclamation, the lack of equality for blacks continued to be heartbreakingly evident, especially in the Deep South. The rise of the Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow laws and lynchings stained the promises made.

Dylan, signed by Dylan, on display at Karpeles
Nearly a century later, the advent of television and this pervasive injustice gave birth to the Civil Rights Movement. Dylan’s songs articulated insights that helped raise awareness of the unfulfilled promises made by our Founding Fathers.

How many years can a mountain exist
Before it's washed to the sea?
Yes, 'n' how many years can some people exist
Before they're allowed to be free?
Yes, 'n' how many times can a man turn his head
And pretend that he just doesn't see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind

The folk movement in America was comprised of a number of influential songwriters whose songs rang out prophetically, calling out the abuse of power and shining a spotlight on stories generally hidden from the wider public, lost in the media mishmash. Standing on the shoulders of those who preceded him, he made us aware., helped us better understand how broken our nation was. Like a prophet, he was attuned to the times and indeed these times were a-changin’

Bob Dylan signed and scribbled on pages of Daniel Kramer photos. 
It was no accident that Bob Dylan & Joan Baez were selected to sing during Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1963 March on Washington for Civil Rights. Nor was it an accident that this event took place with the Lincoln Memorial as a backdrop.

And so, to reiterate, it's fitting that the exhibition of Dylan memorabilia from the Bill Pagel Archives should share this museum space with a Karpeles collection featuring our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln.

Included in the exhibit are original handwritten lyrics for Desolation Row, Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues and other songs, original letters, a rare 45 that he recorded with his friends in 1958, and other unusual rarities.

"Which One is the Real Bob Dylan" will be on display at Karpeles in Duluth through August 1.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Andy Warhol Screen Test: Dylan Did It, I Did It. You Can Do It, Too.

Between 1964 and 1966 Warhol and his assistant, Gerard Malanga, used a 16mm Bolex camera to make 472 short films of people, both famous and obscure, who came to visit his "Factory" on East 47th Street in New York. The idea of calling them "Screen Tests" was something of a joke, according to Malanga. "None of these screen tests amounted to giving those people the opportunity to go on in the underground film world," Malanga said in a 2009 interview. "It was kind of a parody of Hollywood." 
--Andy Warhol’s ‘Screen Test’ of Bob Dylan: A Classic Meeting of Egos

FROM WIKIPEDIA:
The Screen Tests are a series of short, silent, black-and-white film portraits by Andy Warhol, made between 1964 and 1966, generally showing their subjects from the neck up against plain backdrops. The Screen Tests, of which 472 survive, depict a wide range of figures, many of them part of the mid-1960s downtown New York cultural scene. Under Warhol’s direction, subjects of the Screen Tests attempted to sit motionless for around three minutes while being filmed, with the resulting movies projected in slow motion. The films represent a new kind of portraiture—a slowly moving, nearly still image of a person. Warhol's Screen Tests connect on one hand with the artist's other work in film, which emphasized stillness and duration (for example, Sleep (1963) and Empire (1964)), and on the other hand with his focus after the mid-1960s on documenting his celebrity milieu in paintings and other works.



THE ED NEWMAN SCREEN TEST
The Andy Warhol Museum features all the channels by which Warhol expressed himself. One of these was the famous Screen Tests. In a small room on the third of fourth floor the museum has set up the equipment enabling patrons to take three minute Screen Tests themselves. Same camera, same setup, and naturally I was all in.

OK, so it had been a few years since I watched any of the Screen Tests that Warhol generated, and as a result I had forgotten that Warhol did not record sound when doing these three minute gigs.

I myself had taken a Hollywood screen test when trying out for a talking part in Iron Will, the Disney production filmed here in the Northland in 1993.  It's a casting selection kind of thing. The Hollywood version involved three minutes of talking.

Because of this previous experience, I assumed I was supposed to talk. I also assumed that there would be a signal indicating when the film was rolling. I was wrong on both these counts. When I realized the camera was running I began talking to the camera, which becomes comical after awhile. If you know of any professional lip readers capable of writing out what I said, please add that to the comments below. Here's the link to Ed's Screen Test.

* * * *
Here's the Bob Dylan Screen Test from 1965


More Elvises than you can shake a stick at.
Related Links
The Andy Warhol Museum: Reflections of the Contemporary American Soul
Andy Warhol's Elephant in the (Basquiat) Room
Random Thoughts on Warhol

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Duluth Dylan Fest Art Exhibit at Zeitgeist... and the Week Rolls On

Monday evening was the opening reception for our Duluth Dylan Fest art show. 
Art was always included as a part of Hibbing's Dylan Days and as fans are aware,  
Dylan himself has always been active in the visual arts.
Thank you to all the artists who contributed to make this event special.

"Finding Shelter from the Storm" -- Kathryn E. Lenz
"Head in the Clouds" -- Kris Nelson
"Her Neighbors Understood" -- S. Flip
"Keeping Time" -- Kim Buskala

"Washed Ashore" -- Kris Nelson
"The Origen of Progenies" -- Tim Beaulier
"Bob" -- Margie Helstrom
"Around and Further" -- Adam Swanson
* * * *
Tom O'Keefe and Friends
Tom Franzig, Darryl Yahnke, Tom O'Keefe and Scott Junkert
AFTER THE RECEPTION 
there was an open jam at Carmody's.
Photos courtesy Michael Anderson

Zane, Ed & Mark

Full schedule of upcoming events can be found at BobDylanWay.com

THIS WEEK ONLY 
Enter HERE to win a One-of-a-Kind 
Dylan-Themed T-Shirt Quilt

Mark Bennett Shares Backstory on the Bob Dylan Review Reunion Concert... Plus update on other DDF Happenings

I liked Batman even before I learned he was a Dylan fan.
The opening reception for our art show was again a very special time, with Dylan music provided by Tom O'Keefe and Friends.  After the 5-7 reception at Zeitgeist we all moved to the next block over and spent the rest of the evening at Carmody's Pub singing and performing Dylan songs, open jam style. The back was packed, with guitar pickers and jugband players. Special thanks to Leslie Black for assembling the songbooks and chord arrangements so we could be (mostly) on the same page. 

Tonight there will be more music at Sir Ben's with Greg Tiburzi and friends. Wednesday is our poetry night, followed by still more music. Thursday Joan Osborne will be performing an evening of Dylan covers to kick off three evenings of Dylan-themed music at Sacred Heart, with Friday being our ever popular Singer/Songwriter contest and Saturday the Bob Dylan Revue.

In between there will be other events including the "cutting of the cake" on Friday afternoon at 3:00 p.m., in the front yard of the Central Hillside home where the infant Robert Zimmerman once lived.

* * * *
Mark Bennett helped assemble the reunion concert of May 25th at Sacred Heart Music Center at 7 PM.

EN: What's the backstory on this concert for those who weren't there in the beginning.

Bob Dylan Review Poster Shot from back in the day.
Mark Bennett: Back in 1993, inspired by the Columbia 30th anniversary Concert for Bob Bob Dylan, myself and co-worker Paul Larson decided to put together a band and perform a night of Dylan music. So on May 14th, 1993 the Bob Dylan Review played its first show at RT Quinlan's in Duluth. Over the next 10 years each May we would do the same.

Venues, formats and band members would change. All were local musicians who for the love of Dylan music made our shows very special. I thank them all. 

Fast forward to 2019. I was approached by the Duluth Dylan Fest to reunite The Bob Dylan Review for this years Dylan Fest. The timing seemed right. I was so pleased that 8 original members from the first years are on board for 2019. Paul Larson on Guitar and vocals, Todd Larson on drums, Tom Bard on keyboards, Steve Johnson on violin, mandolin, vocals, David Slattery on pedal steel, Gail Bennett vocals, Sue Spencer vocals, Brian Wells on bass and myself on guitar. It has been 17 years since our last show. So excited for May 25th at Sacred Heart.

EN: How did you come to be a fan of Dylan's music. 

MB: I first connected with Dylan at age 12. (1973)It was from an album my brother had got that Christmas.(greatest hits vol.1). It was very new to me, this folk thing. Then the following year I bought Blood on the Tracks. The very broad strokes to some of the lyrics (some lines that could point you somewhere you would not of dreamed of) pulled me in for good. His music has continued to do this all my life. Always searching, no direction home.

EN: Do you have any favorite albums or songs?

MB: Oh Mercy, Free wheeling, Hard Rain, Tempest

* * * *

Related Links
Details about Tomorrow Night's Poetry Event
Full Duluth Dylan Fest Schedule
Tickets for Joan Osborne
Tickets for Rolling Thunder Revue 
Enter to Win a One-of-a-Kind Dylan-Themed T-Shirt Quilt



Monday, May 20, 2019

Enter to Win a One-of-a-Kind Bob Dylan T-shirt Quilt


Enter for a Chance to Win 
this One-of-a-Kind Bob Dylan T-shirt Quilt
made from the collection of the late John Bushey
(125 tickets available – 25 online and 100 from committee members)

Click to enlarge.
See select Bob Dylan Way Committee members for Raffle Tickets. $10 each.
Or purchase here through Eventbrite:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/duluth-dylan-fest-john-bushey-quilt-raffle-tickets-62168521722

Raffle ends on Sunday, May 26th 
(need not be present to win)
All Proceeds Directly Support 
the Duluth Dylan Fest

We will ship if there is an out of town winner
(Shipping overseas may incur a small additional cost.)


A Few Details on the Duluth Dylan Fest Poetry Event at the Zuccone Wednesday Eve plus Tonight's Happenings

"Bob" by Margie Hellstrom
Well, hey.. The sun came out. Nice. Despite the weather, Cowboy Angel Blue performed to a packed out Cedar Lounge last night, performing a straight run-through of Dylan's Blood on the Tracks, from side one track one to the very end.

Just a few notes about events tonight and Wednesday for Duluth Dylan Fest. The images on this page are from the art show. There is also a quilt that will be raffled off this week.

North Country Inspirations Art Show Opening Reception
with live music by Tom O’Keefe and Friends
Zeitgeist Atrium
5:00-7:00 PM | Free

Dylan Fest Acoustic Jam Session with host Leslie Black
Bring your instruments or voice
Carmody Irish Pub
7:00-9:30 PM | Free

* * * *

On Wednesday May 22
Visiting Bob: 100 Poems Inspired by the Life and Work of Bob Dylan
There will be readings from the book Visiting Bob, edited by Thom Tamarro and Alan Davis. Featured poets will include MN Poet Laureate Joyce Sutphen & John Bushey Memorial Lecturer David Gaines.

It's an impressive volume 100 poems by 100 poets inspired by the life and works of Bob Dylan. Notable contributors include Robert Bly, Charles Bukowski, Johnny Cash, Diane di Prima, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, Tony Hoagland, Yusef Komunyakaa, Dorianne Laux, Paul Muldoon, Linda Pastan, Patti Smith, and Charles Wright.

The event will include readings by:

--Marge Barrett, who teaches at the Loft Literary Center.

--Margaret Hasse, winner of the 2016 Midwest Book Award in poetry with her collection of poems called Between Us.

--Tim Nolan, who holds an MFA from Columbia and has published three collections of poetry including, most recently, The Field in 2016.

--John Reinhard, who teaches at South Central College in Faribault and has published two poetry collections.

--Linda Back McKay, who has published two poetry collections. Her 2012 non-fiction book, Out of the Shadows: Stories of Adoption and Reunion inspired the play, Watermelon Hill in St. Paul.

--Joyce Sutphen, the current Minnesota Poet Laureate whose 2015 collection of poems, Modern Love and Other Myths was a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award.

--And David Pichaske, who was a featured guest lecturer last year as part of the John Bushey Memorial Lecture Series.

Kyle Ollah, a multi-instrumentalist folk musician, will also be performing, mostly out of the American folksong tradition.

The program is a departure for Dylan Fest because the poetry is all taken from one book. In years past, there have been many poets reading from many collections.

FOR A COMPLETE SCHEDULE OF DULUTH DYLAN FEST EVENTS
visit http://bobdylanway.com/pdfs/DuluthDylanFest2019Line-up.pdf

Meantime, if you see me, say hello!

Michael Shannon checking out Dylan memorabilia from the Bill Pagel archives
at Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum on 1st Street across from St. Lukes.

* * * *

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Local Art Seen: Waves of Creativity at Pier B Yesterday

"Serenity" -- Watercolor by Edna Blanchard
This weekend a group called Artists of Minnesota (AoM) had their Spring Show down on the waterfront at Pier B here in Duluth. Founded in 1959 as the Minnesota Rural Artists Association, the AoM has as its stated purpose the promotion of fine art by artists of all levels. Among other things AoM facilitates connections between arts organizations and conducts an annual conference in various locations, this year being here in Duluth.

A portion of the event was open to the public and I had an opportunity to walk through, and vote on, the artwork displayed. One feature of the weekend that would have great appeal to artists was the live demonstrations by professional artists. Saturday features demos by Louis Lundin of Hibbing and Wendy Rouse of Ely. Sarah Brokke, the Show Judge, is director of the art program at College of St. Scholastica. Ms. Brokke will be giving a talk and demonstration today.

What follows are a few of the pieces I saw yesterday at the Pier B ballroom.

"My Brain" -- Mixed Media by Lily Atwel
* * * *
"Face Value -- Wire on Canvas by Linda Glisson

"Sisters" -- Mixed Media, Sue Rauschenfels
* * * *
"Stormy Journey I" -- Oil, DeeAnne Najjar
* * * *
"Mars, the Mysterious Planet" -- Acrylic, Margaret Ehling
* * * *
"Out of Bounds: Nature Print" -- Golden Open Acrylics, Mary Kloss
* * * *
"Isabel" -- Charcoal and White Pastel by Dale Lucas
* * * *
"Ballerina on a Mission" -- Watercolor by Erin Renier
*
If you are an artist, or someone who simply has wished to develop skills in the visual arts, here is the website for AoM:  https://artistsofminnesota.org
Locally in the Twin Ports you can also find classes available at the Duluth Art Institute. The DAI website is here at https://www.duluthartinstitute.org/

EdNote: Tomorrow, Monday evening from 5 to 7 p.m. there will be an opening reception in the Zeitgeist Atrium for North Country Inspiration, a Dylan-themed exhibition as part of the Duluth Dylan Fest. Live music with Tom O'Keefe and Friends.... and art.

Art goes on all around you. Get into it.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Thoughts in Response to Christa Lawler's DNT Story "We asked for the worst Bob Dylan song. You got pretty mad."

Image by S Flip
This weekend is the beginning of Duluth Dylan Fest and as has been the custom our local paper, the Duluth News Tribune has again offered up some ink in conjunction with the week's activities. Schedules can be relatively boring, and the last thing newspapers want to do is bore their readers with re-hashed press releases, so writer Christa Lawler put this spin on her Arts & Entertainment page story Thursday: "We asked for the worst Bob Dylan song. You got pretty mad."

What the DNT did was place a survey online (crowdsourcing) asking folks to name Bob Dylan's worst song. It was a fun read, at times surprising, and worth making a few comments about, which is what I am doing now.

The proverb "One man's trash is another's treasure" came readily to mind when I saw the various songs being slammed. The article begins with "Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts" from Blood on the Tracks. That's one that many fans find to be something akin to a joyride, a story in song that rumbles forward like a fast-moving freight train. If you thought that Lily was long, try "Highlands" at near double the length.

Here are some of the other songs selected for the honor of "worst" with accompanying anecdotes.

Rainy Day Women #12 & 35
About 25 years ago, while on a business trip in St. Louis, I was in a massive karaoke bar with about 400 patrons. Rainy Day Women was the song I selected to sing, not because it gives one the opportunity to showcase silver vocal chords, but because it just seemed like the mood of the place that night. When the horns kicked in at the open, the crowd was all in, joining in on each chorus. As I sang, the MC pulled out some Zig Zags and began rolling a joint which he then pretended to toke. Dylan's best? No, but it is what it was, a raucous "in your face" kind of anti-establishment statement by the Youth of the day.  Remember, this was 1966. This was a very different tune from the number one Billboard single that year, "Ballad of the Green Berets."

Wiggle Wiggle
This wasn't the first time we've seen "Wiggle Wiggle" get called out as Bob at his worst. It's my understanding he wrote it for kids, or grandkids. He's just like all of us grandpas. Some would say it falls into the same category as "Man Gave Names to All the Animals." It is what it is.

Gotta Serve Somebody
It's apparent that when it comes to discussions about the songs of his Gospel period, there's a pretty large rift there. Despite the fact that Slow Train Coming won a Grammy, there's a philosophical animosity toward some of the content. Bob himself has played the song 476 times in concert now, right up till just this past month in Germany, Switzerland and Spain.

Must Be Santa
Well, gosh. I love this song. It's just Dylan having fun. The album Christmas in the Heart took a lot of heat when it came out -- see my review here -- but this is the good track. You can decide for yourself here after you watch the video.  For those who enjoy the accordion, an underrated later album that I enjoy is Together Through Life. After listening to more than 50 years of Dylan music the title certainly feels apropos.

Ralph Gleason, helped
create Rolling Stone.
A few other songs mentioned in the article included "Forever Young" (Really? A wonderful benediction for the end of any concert.) and "Like A Rolling Stone." (This person is evidently not a Dylan fan... might have been a song they heard at the local karaoke bar, so they knew the name of it. If such a bad song, why did Jann Wenner and Ralph Gleason adopt it for the name of their magazine?)

The song "All the Tired Horses" which opened Self-Portrait was also mentioned, receiving an infamous brickbat from Greil Marcus when he reviewed the album for Rolling Stone. "What is this sh**?" And yet, even this unusual Dylan song was resurrected like a Phoenix when I heard Gaelynn Lea's phenomenal rendition during a Duluth Dylan Fest concert a few years back.

* * * *

All this to say thank you to Christa Lawler for the fun read, and to the DNT for their support of Duluth Dylan Fest 2019. Christa has agreed to be one of the judges in our annual Singer/Songwriter contest next Friday at Sacred Heart.

For the full schedule of events, visit BobDylanWay.com. If you like music, there will be plenty, including an evening with Joan Osborne at Sacred Heart May 23. (Tickets here.)

My favorite "event" is the Bill Pagel archives at Karpeles Manuscript Museum Library. There's always something new to see each year and this year is no different.

Meantime, when you're out on the street... if you see me, say hello. 

Related Links
Bob Dylan's Amazing Balancing Act
We asked for the worst Bob Dylan song. You got pretty mad
Gaelynn Lea: Duluth Treasure to National Treasure
Full Duluth Dylan Fest Schedule