I chose “Girl From the North Country” for the third installment of my short Dylan series. He recorded the song a few times, first on Freewheelin’ and second (with Johnny Cash) on Nashville Skyline. I’ll eventually explain why Dylan is my nominee for the Supreme Genius of the Twentieth Century Award, given only once in a lifetime by me.
The video is some footage I took last week while on a bit of a vacation in my hometown, Warren PA. My dad drove his truck while I sat on a bail of hay in the back. It was a nice night for that sort of thing. Maybe a little cold.
It’s one of Dylan’s more overplayed songs.
I couldn’t resist. It’s heartfelt and has some extraordinary vocal surprises. I tried to strip the song down a bit. Truth is, I had finished recording “Girl From The North Country” and it took about 10 straight takes. Figured it would be good to blow off some steam and do one “Baby Blue”. It popped off on the first take. It’s raw, unrehearsed and unrefined. It’s not how many probably think the song “should go”.
I plan to do a mini Dylan project in order to revisit some of his great music and do so reinvention. This project is, of course, only a warm up for the very ambitious attempt I have lined up to launch at the beginning of June. Stay tuned for details on that. And you should be getting a new video tomorrow. I’m excited about it.
Here it is! Let me know what you think.
In order to quietly finish my course load which consisted mainly of long papers, I’ve spent the last week blissfully secluded in the Allegheny hills of my hometown. Warren is a marvelous place. It’s like a third parent, in a way. It’s one of those towns that raises you, feeds you, scolds you, and rewards you.
My recent obsession with Bob Dylan will be expounded upon at a later date and with more depth. I’ve had a lot of time this week to spend with his music and really living in it. Last night, I took my camera and guitar up to a hilltop at sundown. I left out four verses of the original composition. I believe two to be outdated and one to be bad. The other I just forgot. I think Bob would be forgiving.
It’s a great song and before I take myself in new directions and make myself up, I need to understand the basics. It hardly gets more basic than strings and hollers on a windy hillside.
Those who appreciate a higher resolution can visit the posting on Vimeo by clicking here.
It’s strange that I forgot to wear my glasses during this taping.
Originally published 22 January 2011
A few weeks ago, I was Rickrolled. And not in the witty, ha-ha-you-got-me kind of way. Essentially, the experience ruined my aural mojo for the day.
Then I started thinking about how the Rickroll has come to embody a unique part of modern culture — Informational Noise. This is not the kind of noise that comes out of a radio or rushes in your window. Informational Noise is what happens when, just like listening to 9 songs simultaneously, our brain becomes so cluttered that we can hardly function. How many monks do you think suffer from anxiety?
Along the same lines, the internet has been a hub for constant access and attention since Facebook. We now have the ability to have at least a vague idea of what any person at any time at any place is doing. And depending on how smart they are, we can learn plenty of other things as well. Ever since the Rickroll began, it has been an icon of annoyance, brotherhood (the power of 4chan is staggering), nerdship, and, above all, overexposure. “Never Gonna Give You Up” is not a fabulous song by any means, but humans have proven that they can do much worse. The anger that comes out of a Rickroll is not because we aren’t fans of E Major when sung by young British gentlemen in beige raincoats — it’s because we are so remarkably sick of hearing the song. The first 15 seconds of that song have become Informational Noise, not music.
Since my last Rickroll coincided with my determination to become a baller DJ, I used Mr. Astley’s song to practice some skills and recycle some art. The piece addresses all my ideas about overexposure, annoyance, noise, blah, blah, blah. It is in three movements. The second is a ball of sound created by a randomization of every word in the whole song while the third is basically how I feel about cultural memes in general.
Originally published 17 December 2010
Here‘s a remix of the ‘Hallelujah’ chorus I’ve been working on for a couple days. I wanted it to thrive on fragments, but still retain the original structure. I love Messiah so much and would never tamper with any of the architecture. Turned out as a nice little minimalist nugget to boost your Holiday Nerd spirits.