By Aaron Galbraith
In this series we are looking at songs about Bob Dylan. Recently we have covered…
- Songs about Dylan part 1: The Joan Baez songs
- Songs about Dylan part 2: The country songs
- Songs about Dylan part 3: The comedians – Paul Simon, Loudon Wainwright
- Songs about Dylan part 4: The songs that criticise
- Songs about Dylan part 5: Cat Power and Laura Imbruglia
For our next trick…let’s look at some Americana tracks…
Rex Foster’s “Thinkin About Bob Dylan”
I must say right from the start that I love the Rex Foster track. The track appears on his second album “Artist” in 1991. The whole album is fantastic, his voice is like a warm hug, go check it out, and it’s available in its entirety on YouTube. It also includes an excellent take of “Song To Woody”.
Now here’s an interesting true story The song was playing on the radio station KFAN in the San Antonio area when someone called in and said he was Bob Dylan and wanted to know where he could buy Rex’s CD. Later that morning the owner of a local record store that carried the disc called the radio station to say, “Guess who was just in my store? Bob Dylan! and he just bought the Rex Foster album!”
Rex had a very interesting career, his first album “Roads of Tomorrow” came out in 1970 and then he attempted a follow up which didn’t appear. He moved into jewelry design (you can check out his work on line – he has designed for Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard and Sting amongst others). He then came back in 1990 and has since released 9 albums, including that long lost second album from back in the day, which also included an excellent version of “Only A Hobo”. I guess, as he said “he hadn’t come into my own time” yet.
Again, no lyrics available online for “Thinkin About Bob Dylan” so I had a bash at them myself. I couldn’t figure out one person’s name towards the end.
I’m sitting around thinking about Bob Dylan Get me in trouble quick You see old Bobby he’s a genius And around here they just call me Stick In the old days I tried to follow And I wrote a lot of strange lines But my images were hollow I hadn’t found my own time I hadn’t come into my own time Now he’s just a coupla days older than me And he learned his from the streets Me I was raised in the backwoods And I learned mine from the creek And I’m thinking about Bob Dylan And I think about old Hank Williams And I talk to Peter Rowan every chance I get About the end Or is it the beginning And I spent my time in the city Just to get a reference point And decipher all the screaming Get a feel for the joint And I found it was simple Yeah and I found it was true If I just get myself out of my way Then maybe I’ll know what to do Like unplug the television And unload my gun Spend time teaching my children About the days to come And I’m thinking about Bob Dylan And I think about Nostradamus And I talk to Townes Van Zandt every chance I get About the end Or is it the beginning Well now I love my old pal Bob Dylan And I hear he’s on the road again I hope he stops by the house To compare notes on the end Like is in going to be a hanging Or just another dance And is there really enough time left Or are we just going to kick back and grin And I’m thinking about Bob Dylan And I think about Crazy Horse And I talk to Jerry Jeff every chance I get About the end Or is it the beginning And I’m thinking about Bob Dylan And I think about Katsy Quadil (??) And I talk to Peter Yarrow every chance I get About the end Or is it the beginning And I’m thinking about Bob Dylan And I think about John Wayne And I talk to Mom and dad every chance I get About the end Or is it the beginning
Next Ryan Bingham – “Dylan’s Hard Rain”
Bingham is one of a select group of people (along with Bob Dylan) to win a Grammy, Golden Globe and an Oscar. Bingham’s was for the track “The Weary Kind” produced by T Bone Burnett for the acclaimed film “Crazy Heart”. As it is an excellent piece of work I might as well add it here.
“Dylan’s Hard Rain” appeared on his second album “Roadhouse Sun” in 2009. Again, check out the whole album as it is really something special
The song itself a fairly self explanatory anti war piece set to some Byrds-esque accompaniment. It very successfully brings Dylan’s own “Hard Rain” message up to date, almost 50 years later.
His fans later persuaded him to record a version of “Hard Rain” itself as part of his online Bootleg series.
Here are the lyrics to “Dylan’s Hard Rain”
Well, I'm a homeless man With my thumb in the wind I sure miss my kin but then again I'm on the road with a song for you I took a step, I lost a bet They cut off my tongue, now they're full of regret Careful what you say If they ain't gonna listen anyway Just make the cash, bet on the past Everybody's so afraid to be last You can't take back everythin' you leave behind Is everybody so ashamed For lettin' it all slide? Is everybody so afraid? Mr. Dylan's Hard Rain was fair warnin' On a shake down in the alley Breakin' people's faces, gonna start you up a rally I've never seen a day in the sun with the gun That's loaded for you There's some hippies in the back room Rockin' and a-rollin' and a-smokin' to an old tune Someone took the guitar and a match And set peace on fire Hey my brother, what is wrong? You lost all your money on the corner rollin' bones Give him your cash, motherfucker He's too fast for you Is everybody so ashamed For lettin' it all slide? Is everybody so afraid? Mr. Dylan's Hard Rain was fair warnin' On the TV, there's a white man Too much make up on his wife with God's plan I guess the religious vote made it to Congress And on the border of Tijuana People are growin' truck loads of marijuana Maybe someday our friends will be American farmers Then the necklace in the south A few hopeless people still hangin' it around The wind's gonna cut you down in the long run Is everybody so ashamed For lettin' it all slide? I won't be afraid Mr. Dylan's Hard Rain is where it's pourin' in, fair warnin' So can we save us from today? The hands of the wretched are the ones gettin' paid Everythin' stays the same, if you don't change it And all the dreams will bust at the seam It all goes down in the mighty machine You don't care now, but someday you might need it I heard the whistle start to blowin' Then I saw the mountain in the back come tumblin' Everybody's wishin' they could get out of the way Everybody's wishin' they could dig their ass out of the grave
Rod MacDonald – “ I Am Bob Dylan”
Next up it’s Rod MacDonald with his “I Am Bob Dylan”. He is an independent artist and has appeared on stage with amongst others Pete Seeger, Peter Yarrow, Odetta and Tom Paxton. Apparently he was the first American artist to tour the Czech Republic.
Anyway, this track appears on his 9th album “A Tale Of Two Americas” in 2005.
in the last ten minutes five people have asked me are you bob dylan? are you bob dylan? so i thought i'd come clean in case it was you who asked me i am bob dylan i am bob dylan and all i need to know is what are you lookin' at? yeah, what are you lookin' at? in the last two weeks ten people have asked me are you somebody? are you anybody? do ya think i look like bob dylan for nothin'? I am somebody yes, I am anybody and all i need to know is what are you lookin' at? yeah, what are you lookin' at? in the new millennium, the people will ask you are you with somebody? are you with anybody? so if anybody asks you, you can just tell them you're with bob dylan say you're with bob dylan and all i need to know is what are you lookin' at? yeah, what are you lookin' at?
He is also lead singer of the band Big Brass Bed which has released 3 albums of Dylan covers. Here is their take of “High Water”.
Now as a “bonus track” to the Americana songs I’ll throw Wilco’s “Bob Dylan’s 49th Beard” at the end here, just because I love it so much!
It’s an almost perfect break up song, here it is performed live and solo by writer Jeff Tweedy.
What else is here?
An index to our latest posts arranged by themes and subjects on the home page. You can also see details of our main sections on this site at the top of this page under the picture.
There is an alphabetic index to the 550+ Dylan compositions reviewed on the site which you will find it here. There are also 500+ other articles on different issues relating to Dylan. The other subject areas are also shown at the top under the picture.
We also have a discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook which mostly relates to Bob Dylan today. Just type the phrase “Untold Dylan” in, on your Facebook page or follow this link
And please do note The Bob Dylan Project, which lists every Dylan song in alphabetical order, and has links to licensed recordings and performances by Dylan and by other artists, is starting to link back to our reviews.