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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Funny How Things Never Work Out the Way You Had 'em Planned

I planned to have the weekend off, but I recieved a call Friday night saying that one of my employees was still stuck in New Jersey, so I got the pleasure of working all day Saturday. 58 hours this week, to be exact. That number will probably become the norm, soon, as my right hand man will soon be heading off to greener pastures & part time hours are being cut short. Oh well.

On to the issue of the day, the beautiful train wreck that is the song "Brownsville Girl" by Bob Dylan. The song is found on, what must be the worst Bob Dylan album ever, released in 1986. How someone ever listened to this piece of tripe & decided that it should be put in the marketplace blows my mind. Now, I've heard plenty of bad albums in my day, & usually a mediocre Bob Dylan album will trump anybody elses best album. This one, however, must be the worst album I've ever heard. It has all the earmarks of a real stinker, children's choirs, whispers in the background, female backing singers who don't know the lyrics to the songs, cheesy keyboards, cheesy saxophones. But it's Bob Dylan, so the lyrics must be pretty good, right? No. Check out this lyric from "Under Your Spell":

I'd like to help you but I'm in a bit of a jam,
I'll call you tomorrow if there's a phone where I am,
Baby, caught between heaven & hell.

Ugh. Rubbish, as our friends from across the pond would say.

Brownsville Girl has many of the same qualities to it, especially the backup singers who don't know the lyrics to the song (either that or they were given the lyrics to the song, & Bob doesn't sing them the right way, that's more likely). It's long, too, clocking in at 11 minutes. It's as if they recorded the song without doing any editing, & they decided that since they already spent that much time on it, they better just leave it the way it is. There's just something to this song that has always struck me, however. It's certainly no masterpiece, it's too incoherent for that, but it's the kind of song where your always left wondering what it's about, & it keeps you coming back.

This song goes back & forth between Bob describing a Gregory Peck movie & a story he's telling about him & the girl, the problem is, you can never really tell where he's talking about the movie or his own story. If nothing else, the song strings together a bunch of clever lines, that may or may not have anything to do with each other, but there some of my favorite lyrics from Dylan:

Well, we're drivin' this car and the sun is comin' up over the Rockies,
Now I know she ain't you but she's here and she's got that dark rhythm in her soul.
But I'm too over the edge and I ain't in the mood anymore to remember the times when I was your only man
And she don't want to remind me. She knows this car would go out of control.

After every verse, there's some sort of flourish from the backup singers, like "oh yeah???" or "oooooaaaoooooo".

Now I've always been the kind of person that doesn't like to trespass but sometimes you just find yourself over the line.
Oh if there's an original thought out there, I could use it right now.
You know, I feel pretty good, but that ain't sayin' much. I could feel a whole lot better,
If you were just here by my side to show me how.

The "original thought" line could be a hint of Dylan's fledgling songwriting at the time.

Strange how people who suffer together have stronger connections than people who are most content.
I don't have any regrets, they can talk about me plenty when I'm gone.
You always said people don't do what they believe in, they just do what's most convenient, then they repent.
And I always said, "Hang on to me, baby, and let's hope that the roof stays on."

Finally, he goes back to a Gregory Peck movie.

He's got a new one out now, I don't even know what it's about
But I'll see him in anything so I'll stand in line.

A clever jab, perhaps, towards the poor suckers who shelled out money for this album, simply because it's a Bob Dylan album.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Laid My Burdens Down-Mc Intorsh & Edwards, Anthology of American Folk Music "Social Music"

John the Baptist-Rev. Moses Mason, Anthology of American Folk Music "Social Music"

Judgement-Sister M. Nelson, Anthology of American Folk Music "Social Music"

If anyone ever copied the sound of hellfire & brimstone, I imagine it would sound like this. Amen!

Dry Bones-Bascom Lunsford, Anthology of American Folk Music "Social Music"

Four Strong Winds-Johnny Cash, American V

I envy my cousin Matt for discovering this music for the first time.

God bless Sunday. Church, breakfast & nothing much of anything at all. Have a good one, friends.



Joyce said...

Were you one of the suckers? I know what you mean about envying Matt discovering a song for the first time.

andrew! said...

Yes, yes I was.


Anonymous said...

That's a bummer about your Saturday. A foretaste of things to come without Dan?? I hope not. Mom

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Grand Haven, Michigan
the sun shines on a dog's ass every now & then...