Philosophers, pimps and pale kings may argue for the better angels of our nature, but riled-up septuagenarian Bob Dylan is having none of that shit. His 35th studio album Tempest drips with tales of carnage, Shakespearean vengeance and unrequited desires — not to mention a winding 14-minute title track that deconstructs the Titanic sinking in surreal details. The death-obsessed landscapes Dylan paints are no country for old men, yet Tempest bears the true grit of a grizzled survivor’s defiance in the face of mortality: The more I die, the more I live. - Keith.
Over the weekend, Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips played a couple of shows in Asia (Taipei and Hong Kong) in which the pair performed songs from the back catalogue of Galaxie 500, the band fronted by Wareham that came to indie rock prominence during the late eighties. From the moment their Taipei show on Saturday evening kicked off with the arching dream pop of “Flowers”, we knew we were witnessing something quite incredible — this was, after all, the closest we may ever come to the Galaxie 500 reunion we have all been pining for. Dean, looking every bit like the weathered music veteran that he is, was in good spirits and seemed genuinely psyched to be revisiting his former band’s songs with Britta and drummer Anthony LaMarca. All the sediments of memory revolving Galaxie 500 just kept flooding back in that hour and a half — the spacey everything’s-swirling-slow aesthetics and the hallucinatory texture of the music, Dean’s ability to make the most apathetic concerns, such as standing in line outside a convenience store (“Strange”), sound absolutely sublime.
Before he launched into “Fourth of July”, Dean made a wisecrack about being in Taipei on the same day as pop diva Lady Gaga. Galaxie 500 didn’t last long as a band, but it is obvious enough to me that the music of their three near-perfect albums will last well beyond after Lady Gaga goes out of currency, if based on the strengths of “Fourth of July”. Like many Galaxie 500 favorites, “Fourth of July” abounds in tedium and restless mysteries. But there is a sense of uplift that the song invokes rather emphatically, the celebratory music breaking through the topography of loneliness disguised as misanthropic bravado (“I stayed at home on the Fourth of July, and I pulled the shades so I didn’t have to see the sky/ I decided to have a bed-in, but I forgot to invite anybody”).
After closing the main set with “Fourth of July”, Dean and Britta returned to the stage with a beautiful rendition of Bob Dylan’s “I’ll Keep It With Mine”, a cover version they have earlier recorded for the musical score to the 13 Most Beautiful: Songs For Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests DVD. I have always had special associations with this wry little ballad written by Dylan, first hearing the song via Bettie Serveet’s awesome cover on the I Shot Andy Warhol soundtrack when I was a teenager quite some years before I would be exposed to Dylan’s original on The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3. “ Back then, I guess I really kinda identified with the flippant attitude towards romance (“I can’t help it if you might think that it’s odd, if I say I don’t love you for what you are but for what you’re not”) in Dylan’s lyrics; now that I’m older, I’m not so sure about that sort of sentiment. Dean & Britta’s lovely version of the song immerses one in a more reflective mood, touched with a more mature ambivalence and a strange hopefulness that indeed, “everybody will help you discover what you set out to find”. - Keith.
i’ve been listening again and again to the low anthem‘s oh my god, charlie darwin, the band’s independently released album that’s finally gotten a wider distribution on nonesuch, and i can’t understand how i can be so drawn to a genre and style so far removed from what i can identify with. covering a broad range of americana, blues and folk, the band communicates in a manner that transcends the cultural boundaries that so often limit these music types. i suspect part of the answer has to be the versatile vocals of ben knox miller, who tackles both the rollicking, rowdier tunes and the softer, more delicate ballads with equal relish, invoking on different occasions the influences of dylan (“champion angel”) and tom waits (“the horizon is a beltway”), and together with the band recalling the more recent sublime harmonies of the fleet foxes. in the title track, which also opens the album, the voices are simply magical, with the sparse instrumentation giving the most room for the words to fill every corner of your room until it’s really all around you, like the cold and shapeless water and the lifeless life painted in the song’s mournful chorus.
after a thoroughly satisfying steamboat dinner with d and s (thanks for the treat) i headed down to catch watchmen with s. we arrived a little late, but in time for the opening credits screened to the soundtrack of bob dylan’s “the times they are a-changin’”. while the song’s original revolutionary message was somewhat decontextualized, it still fit quite well to the semi-historical sequence of events. as it turns out, dylan’s songwriting was to appear two more times in the film, first with hendrix’s classic cover of “all along the watchtower” and at the closing credits, an almost unrecognizable version of “desolation row” by my chemical romance, which provided a really jarring end to a film too high on action and too low on cohesive interpretation. i’m still undecided about how well these songs fit in the soundtrack, just as i’m unsure about how much i really enjoyed/disliked the film (the saving grace, really, is jackie earle hayley’s performance as rorschach), but one thing i’m certain about is the timeless legacy of dylan’s songwriting, which remains ever so relevant and moving today as it must have been back then. here they are, in their original versions, by the man himself.
i don’t usually talk about the photos i use for each entry, but this one is a personal favorite of a freewheelin’ bob dylan taken by rock & roll photographer jim marshall, from the proof collection my friends got me for my birthday this year. dylan had spotted a discarded tire while walking down seventh avenue in greenwich village, and marshall was quick enough to catch this single shot with a morning haze acting to filter the light. anyway, i finally caught murray lerner‘s the other side of the mirror this week, the film which traces dylan’s newport folk festival performances from a young starlet blowin’ in the wind in 1963 to his controversially ill-received electric statement in 1965, and found myself staring into the vacuum of his eyes in the confrontational close-up footage of his performance of “like a rolling stone”. the version i’m attaching here, though, is from a year later at the manchester free trade hall, an impetuous retort to his accuser’s allegation of “judas” which shows dylan at his arguably most electrifying.
sharon van etten:
Lately, I have been obsessed with this band from Montreal called Automelodi. I work at a record label (Ba Da Bing Records) and my boss, Ben, is constantly getting new records in. He knows I have a soft spot for 80s/90s post punk/early electro, vaguely alternative music... and so one day, he put on a Wierd Records compilation. It was a vinyl set of like 4 pieces or something. There were so many good bands on there... however, Automelodi stuck out in my mind as being an authentic, genuine, NON-cheesy version of the 80s I wish I was a part of. The song in particular that gets me going in the morning is called "Schéma Corporel".
mp3: automelodi - schéma corporel
bani haykal from b-quartet:
often enough, it’s the early morning rush which gets me excited about shutting my eyes. and by morning, we’re looking at the 4 a.m. time frame where all you hear is yourself in a foggy blur, thinking if sleep is really all that important because the early few are storming off for work. in all honesty, there is no ipod nor a single earplugging devicetron which i’d attend to. often enough, it’s someone else’s sonic leak i’m getting addressed by. but, i’m listening to Steely Dan’s “Babylon Sisters”. in my head, at least. sanity ‘from the point of no return’, personally. it’s a breath of fresh air. despite its age. everything is beautiful then.
mp3: steely dan - babylon sisters
naomi yang from galaxie 500:
The perfect song to start the day is “A Tonga Da Mironga Do Kabuleté” – the live recording from 1971 by Brazilian artists Vinícius + Bethania + Toquinho. It is like a beautiful sunrise – although I think that the lyrics are actually some sort of political commentary disguised as a Candomble/Afro-Brazilian curse – but whatever! And then you should just leave the CD on, and listen to the rest of the album while you have your coffee. And you will have a great day.
mp3: vinícius + bethania + toquinho – a tonga da mironga do kabuletê (live in buenos aires, 1971)
jamie stewart from xiu xiu:
i have a nico button on my guitar strap and her excess eyeliner has been burning the dirge "janitor of lunacy" into my waking ears as of late, at least 20 times in the last week. until yesterday we have been on tour in scandinavia, russia, poland, austria, germany and czech. these grey locations held hands with her harmonium perfectly.
mp3: nico - janitor of lunacy
justin ringle from horse feathers:
i have been obsessively listening and waking up to this tune by gillian welch called "annabelle". it's a song about a sharecropper in alabama and it is so sad, beautiful and timeless that I can't help but listen more than once in a row. the harmonies in the chorus make my hairs stand up... beautiful song.
mp3: gillian welch - annabelle
tracyanne campbell from camera obscura:
my favourite song at the moment is called 'one in a million' by steve miller. it's really beautiful. his voice is like honey in the sun and it totally melts my heart. the lyrics are quite simple and i guess
corny but it's a great tune and the production is so good it really doesn't matter. i wish i'd written it. in fact i'd love to do a cover version of it. i was recently in stockholm visiting my friend victoria (bergsman) from taken by trees and we were singing it in the flat and talked about recording it. watch this space...
mp3: steve miller band - one in a million
stuart murdoch from belle and sebastian:
every day when i leave the house and walk over the iron bridge and up to the glasshouses, i listen to “what for” by james. i have a habit of dropping back 20 years in my thoughts, and having a parallel soundtrack running in my head so that i may be walking in a street in 2008, but my head is in 1988. i don’t know why that is. this is an up and hopeful song of the period from a band i used to care for deeply.
as we slip into the autumn here, i am prepared to let my new song of obsession become “the game” by echo and the bunnymen.
“everybody’s got their own good reason why their favourite season is their favourite season”.
mp3: james - what for mp3: echo and the bunnymen - the game
alison eales from butcher boy:
I'm waking up to Labi Siffre, and wondering how I managed to stay asleep for so long. His songs are diverse, unpretentious, and performed with tangible joy. I'm literally waking up to him as well - I have 'It Must Be Love' set as my alarm, and it is proving to be a very nutritious musical breakfast.
mp3: labi siffre - it must be love
who we are
i love music, but i can't play it for the life of me, so i might as well try writing instead. hope you like it. i'm from singapore, where there really is good music if you look hard enough. i'd love to hear from you (yes, you): firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm a four stringing minstrel of doom, and hired gun for the odd band or two. Few things excite me more than music, and whiskey soaked vocals are a definite plus, so please be sure to send some my way. When I'm not contributing to I'm Waking Up To and MAP, you should follow my misadventures at http://litford.wordpress.com And yes! I'd love to hear from you too: email@example.com
your generous donation will contribute to the running of this site. thanks!