Saturday, October 12, 2013

Rick Friel's 365 Albums: Bob Dylan's Debut Self Titled Album

Photo by Anna Knowlden 

What an amazing summer, I've been as busy filming the bands as they have playing and it has been a job on its own keeping up! This summer we got to see Rick reunite with his 80's band Shadow with Mike McCready, with a free live performance at Easy Street Records, and this month for Halloween his Queen Tribute Band Hallowqueen is playing at Seattle's Showbox Theater in downtown Seattle, there is a link below for the event and for thing is for certain about Rick, he's nowhere near to winding down, I think he just picked up his second wind and is going to be around and entertaining us for years to come! Today we bring you another one from the archives from his memory lane of albums, Bob Dylan's debut self-titled album released in March of 1962. 

Produced by Columbia's legendary talent scout John H. Hammond, who signed Dylan to the label, the album features folk standards, plus two original compositions, "Talkin' New York" and "Song to Woody".

" There's not many men that done the things that you've done " 

I saw a guy walk in front of my truck tonight in the rain. Crossed right in front of me. He was in own world. Around his neck he had an electric guitar and in his right hand he was holding an acoustic guitar. No cases. Just walking. In the rain. I don't even think he felt the rain. I don't think he felt getting wet. He had the light in his eyes. He has the passion in his eyes.
He had a smile on his face. I know that smile; that's the feeling that says-
I have a purpose.
I wrote a song.
I'm in a great band.
I'm playing a great show tonight.
I'm in love!
I'm happy. 

Those are the feelings you get from music. That's what music does. Music saves lives. Music saves your life. Music saved my life. 

 Seattle's Shadow circa 1986

I want to talk about desire. Like that guy had tonight. Like I've had. Where you have to play. You need it.
That's what I hear in Bob Dylan's first album. He has to. Needs to.

Bob Dylan with Joan Baez 

Had to sing it. Will play a guitar even if he can't. He will. He was going to sing these songs any way and we are just lucky John Hammond put him in front of an old microphone. You want to hear human gut bucket real? Listen to "You're No Good". You'll never hear anything like it. Never. It's like a minute long and all of human experience is wrapped up in every second. The first time I heard this was in my truck all by myself in the dark. I was awestruck. I wish I could see myself. I had been into Dylan for years but this was unlike any Bob I heard. This was hungry, in your face. I love this so much. This recording is what I was looking for. The real the raw the rock. This is it. Something special about a first album. 

John Hammond. That's all an artist needs is someone, anyone to care. Millions are out there right now dying to be heard but we'll never hear a peep. This is why I care so much about the albums. I know what a gift music is and how rare the good stuff is and how hard it is to get onto a record.
This album is Punk Rock before anyone had heard the word. Not folk. Bare bones. Ask your ears. Nothing compares to the first minute of the album but every song is so pure and rich and warm that I want to take you through the album the best I can. It's kind of hard to talk about Bob because I have built up a personal private relationship with his songs, but it's time to share. 

"Talkin' New York" has a sense of wonder about it. I know Bob is trying to be funny but there is truth behind the jokes about all the things he was seeing for the first time.
The way Bob wrestles with the guitar at the beginning of "In My Time Of Dyin'" is something to hear. It's the determination to play no matter what. I know it. I lived it. It didn't matter how well I could play or if I could play; I was going to. That's Bob Dylan here and through the album.
"Man Of Constant Sorrow" is a gentle blues with hypnotic harmonica that lulls me to a peaceful place. That's soft and sweet but "Fixin ' To Die" is as hard as it gets. Bob barks and plays the guitar until it sounds like it breaks in two. It's pretty devastating. 

"Pretty Peggy-O" is a perfect little campfire sing along. Darling.
"Highway 51" is so intimate. I feel like I am in a cheap apartment in New York with Bob. It sounds like he's just singing in a room. What a recording! Why don't people do this anymore?
"Gospel Plow" is just like the first song, one minute, pedal to the metal.
Fast. Furious. I know this feeling; you believe in what you're doing so much you have to do it. Now.
"Baby, Let Me Follow You Down" is one to sway to. I always do. So is "House Of The Risin' Sun". I knew this song but not like Bob does it and the way his voice wails and moans and growls is not like anyone. The Animals version is brilliant but this is the human essence begging to be heard. I love this version. It stops me. I can't have it on in the background. It's not party music, it's part of me music. 

 On "Freight Train Blues" his happy harmonica takes you on a trip down the railroad tracks. The first time I heard it I felt like I was in a box car and it was sunny and I was rolling down the tracks. Smelling the sweet air. He holds the word "blues" so long his voice distorts. I wait for it every time.
Same with "Song To Woody" for his hero Woody Guthrie. That's his guy.
He sings, "The very last thing that I’d want to do
Is to say I’ve been hittin’ some hard travelin’ too."

We all have our people we look up to and admire. I have a few. Bob is one for me. Most of us never get to say thanks let alone thanks in a good song. I wish I could thank Bob. I've yelled it a few times at shows when I've been up close; "Thanks Bob!"

"See That My Grave Is Kept Clean" ends a one of a kind album. It's full of tough emotions and a voice almost hoarse and bleeding from getting the words out. Voice shaking and breaking. Crying. Almost laughing.
It reminds me of the musician I saw in the rain, fully alive. He didn't see me but I saw him and I'm glad I did. I came home and played this on my iPhone. Me & Bob once again. And now, you too.

If you have ever jumped a freight train, written a song about it, or even dreamed about it..we'd love to hear about it! Leave your creative or interesting comments below...

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