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Bob Dylan Tag

Fan's BannerA little over five years ago I moved to Rhode Island after spending my entire life up to that point in New Jersey. When many people, whether they are residents or exiles like me, want to conjure up the New Jersey that lives in their minds, they put on some Bruce Springsteen music. That was true for me too for a long time. But now, when I want to go back home for awhile I’ll just put on something by Rick Barry.

If you don’t live in New Jersey you might not be aware that the Asbury Park music scene did not come to a screeching halt when Springsteen entered the rockstar pantheon. To this day there is a vibrant scene in the shore town, led by a very talented corps of singer/songwriters. Most people would agree that Barry is at the top of the class of his generation of songwriters.

Bob DylanFive years ago a group of Popdose writers celebrated Bob Dylan’s 70th birthday with a massive, multi-page post. Each of us chose some of our favorite Dylan songs to write about. Reposting the entire thing would have been a huge undertaking since many of the video and audio links are now outdated.  Today Dylan turns 75, and I have edited just my section of the original post. I present it here in celebration of the occasion. I’ve included videos for all the songs except one, and chosen alternate or live versions when available. Although my list of favorite Dylan songs is ever-changing, five years after first making this particular list, these songs still stand up. What are your favorites? Let me know in the comments section.

Bob Dylan is 75 years old. That statement is at once momentous, and irrelevant. Irrelevant because Dylan has always seemed to stand apart from any mere concept of time. While he has certainly aged physically, he is as alive in the flesh, and in our memories, as he ever has been.

It is hard to think of a public figure who has been the object of as much speculation as Dylan. Some of it was honestly come by, other parts by digging through his trash cans for clues. When it came time for Todd Haynes to make I’m Not There, he had to cast six different actors to play Dylan because although no one really knows who Dylan is, he is everyone.

In a rare posting on his official website, Dylan said “Everybody knows by now that there’s a gazillion books on me either out or coming out in the near future. So I’m encouraging anybody who’s ever met me, heard me or even seen me, to get in on the action and scribble their own book. You never know, somebody might have a great book in them.”

Soul Serenade - The Bo-KeysOne of the greatest bands to emerge from the Memphis music scene of the 1960s was the Bar-Kays. Musically, they are best remembered for their 1967 smash “Soul Finger,” which reached #17 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #3 on the R&B chart. Unfortunately, they are also remembered for the tragedy that took the lives of all but two members of the band.

In 1967 the Bar-Kays were chosen as the touring band for Otis Redding. Redding was the crown jewel in the Stax firmament, and the assignment was a powerful recognition of the band’s greatness. As we know, it was an honor that ended in tears when Redding’s plane went down in Lake Monona in Wisconsin on December 10, 1967, killing Redding and all of the band members on board, except for trumpeter Ben Cauley, who survived the wreck. Bass player James Alexander also survived because a lack of room on the Redding plane forced him to take another flight.

[caption id="attachment_145644" align="alignnone" width="840"] Notable music highlights from 2015 included the hip-hop “Hamilton;” Adele’s omnipresent “Hello;” Katy Perry’s sharks; Elvis Costello’s book soundtrack (not to mention the book); and Ryan Adams morphing into Taylor Swift. Photos: Joan Marcus/The Public Theater; Virginia Sherwood/NBC; Wikimedia Commons; Courtesy

A Fan's NotesYou can never go wrong by giving me the gift of a book. I love to read, and in particular I love to read biographies of great musicians, or other music-related books. There were a number of excellent music books published in 2015. I’ve picked out a few here in the hope that it will serve as something of a gift- giving guide for the music-loving reader in your life.

While you can get these titles online, or at big book chain store, let me suggest that you support your local bookseller. They’re a vanishing breed, and much like the local record store, they very much need our support to keep going.

A Fan's Notes“The next song is a long one,” Brian Wilson said. “It’s about 20 minutes long.” Apparently Brian felt the need to apologize in advance for the length of the upcoming song. And when he had finished playing the emotional version of his masterpiece, “Surf’s Up” (which actually clocks in at just over four minutes), he seemed to apologize again. “It’s a long song,” he said. This kind of humility, combined with the brilliance of his art, goes a long way toward explaining why millions of people love Brian Wilson.

Let me start by wishing you a very Happy New Year. As I said last week, it’s been a difficult year for many of us. Statistics tell us that the economy is getting better, but in my state, Rhode Island, you’d never know it. Unemployment is still high because there aren’t enough jobs to go around. Politics remain highly partisan, there is anger on the streets of America, and things overseas don’t provide a lot of reason for optimism either. I don’t about you, but it’s all really been getting to me this year. I know I’m getting older, but for the first time in my life, I’m feeling old.

Yes, I’ve already run down my picks for the year’s standout albums, my 2014 mixtape suggestions and my ratings for new albums by artists over 50. But that's not everything that graced our earbuds this past year. Herewith, then, are the winners of the first annual

I love this time of year. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday, and the whole season between now and the end of the year seems magical to me. My original plan was to feature “Oh Happy Day” by the Edwin Hawkins Singers in today’s column in celebration of the day. Then the news came down from Ferguson on Monday night and suddenly “Oh Happy Day,” although a mighty and uplifting song, didn’t seem quite right.

Alright, I’m late with this. What can I tell you? It’s six discs long, and unlike some other reviewers, I like to listen to the whole thing, maybe a few times, before adding my two cents. There’s been a lot written about The Basement Tapes Complete (Sony/Legacy) so you already know that Dylan had a motorcycle accident in 1966. A few months later he summoned his backing group, still known as the Hawks, to Byrdcliffe, NY. Beginning in March, 1967, the assembled musicians began recording in Dylan’s living room there, which was known as the Red Room. That summer they moved to the basement of the house in Saugerties that was known as Big Pink.

For my last column from New Jersey last week I chose to recognize my time there by featuring Madeline Bell, who is a native of Newark, the state’s largest city. Now that I’m back in Rhode Island it only seems fair to feature an artist from this state’s largest city, Providence. Freddie Scott was last featured in this column back in 2011 with his epic hit single, “Hey Girl.” But that was not Scott’s only hit, and this week I’m going to take a look at a record that came out in 1966, three years after “Hey Girl,” and was an even bigger hit, at least on the R&B chart.

Four Seasons - The Classic Albums Box

Jersey Boys soundtrack

Audio with a G





In conjunction with this interview, one very fortunate reader is going to win a treasure trove of Four Seasons and Four Seasons-related music. The prize package includes:

Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons – The Classic Albums Box.This massive set includes 18 CDs of the albums that the group recorded between 1962-1992.

Jersey Boys: Music From the Motion Picture and Broadway Musical. Producer Bob Gaudio pulled together a compilation of original Four Seasons recordings and blended them with recordings by cast members from the musical, and the film for this collection.

Audio With a G: Sounds of a Jersey Boy, The Music of Bob Gaudio. This two-disc compilation includes songs that Gaudio wrote over the years. Aside from the Four Seasons, other artists in the collection include Frank Sinatra, the Walker Brothers, Diana Ross, and the Temptations.

It’s that time of year again. Beginning on Friday, some of the world’s greatest musicians will descend on Newport for two of the longest running and most prestigious festivals in the world. This weekend the Newport Folk Festival is in town, and next weekend is the 60th (!) annual Newport Jazz Festival. I’ll be covering both for Popdose, so be on the lookout for those stories.

There are several artists playing the Folk Festival this year who I am excited about seeing. Chief among those is Mavis Staples. I’ve seen Mavis many times, including several appearances at the Folk Festival, but this year she will be closing out the festival on Sunday night. It is an honored spot, one that was often given to giants like the late Pete Seeger or Levon Helm in the past. I can think of no one more deserving than Mavis of a place on that stage at that time on Sunday.

We lost Phil Everly late last week. Working with this brother Don, the Everly Brothers brought the sound of country music to rock and roll when it was still in its infancy. The vocal harmonies that the brothers became famous for influenced countless musicians who followed them, including John Lennon and Paul McCartney and Simon & Garfunkle, all of whom were quick to credit the influence of the Everly Brothers on their music.