"Lily had two queens, she was hopin' for a third to match her pair"
- Bob Dylan, "Lily, Rosemary And The Jack Of Hearts"
Few things in life are quite as uplifting and inspiring as the onset of an early summer - a week of glorious, sunny, warm, summer-like days right in the middle of April. Well, at least for those of us living here in the rain forest known as British Columbia. However, one thing does come pretty close in the whole uplifting and inspiring department and that's receiving - for free, no less - a $175 Bob Dylan CD. Especially one as good as the third disc of Tell Tale Signs: The Bootleg Series Vol. 8, Rare and Unreleased 1999-2006.
"I'm a man with a mission in two or three editions"
- Elvis Costello, "Everyday I Write the Book"
The best talk show ever. That's what I'd call Elvis Costello's new one-hour weekly show, "Spectacle: Elvis Costello with...", the first episode of which finally aired here in Canada over the weekend.
I know I said in an earlier piece that "Vagina Power", the show hosted by Alexyss K. Tylor and her mom, was the greatest talk show on TV, but what I really meant was that it was the most hilarious and bizarre talk show ever made, while Elvis' show is the most fascinating, at least for anyone who's a serious music fan.
Finally, more than two weeks into 2009, here they are: My Picks For The Best Music of 2008:
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
1. Bob Dylan: "Tell Tale Signs"
Who would have thought that a collection of outtakes and alternate versions of previously released tracks from the years 1989-2006 would be this good and would sound so little like a compilation and so much like an incredibly coherent album? But it does. And it's not just good, it's the Best Album Of The Year... an album that just gets better and better with each listen. Proof to any doubters out there that Bob remains as relevant, essential and important as ever.
"You think I'm over the hill
You think I'm past my prime
Let me see what you got
We can have a whoppin' good time"
- Bob Dylan, "Spirit On The Water"
Some might say that Bob Dylan is way past his prime and that all of his best work is well behind him, but anyone who would say such a thing clearly doesn't know much about good music. Either that or they've just been awoken from a 20-year-long coma.
"What I'm doing now, its a whole other thing. We're not playing rock music. It's not a hard sound. I don't know what it is." That's a quote from Dylan during the Highway 61 Revisited sessions back in 1965, but it just as easily could apply to the brilliant work of his Second Coming. That is, his resilient resurgence of the past 20 years, starting with the release of Oh Mercy in 1989 and continuing right on up until this fall and the release of Tell Tale Signs,
"It ain't no use to sit and wonder why, babe
If you don't know by now"
- Bob Dylan, "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right"
I've never before written two reviews of the same album, but this time, it seems, Bob's simply left me no other choice. And, yes, I know all the Dylan haters out there must be shaking their heads in bewilderment, but, as Bob himself once sang, "don't criticize what you can't understand".
The fact of the matter is, the more I listen to Bob's new album, Tell Tale Signs, the more I feel I have something extra I need to say. Something more substantial. Something more decisive. Something, perhaps, a bit more radical.
In my earlier piece, Bob's Back: Tell Tale Signs of Joy... and A Complete Lack of Judgement, I raved about this ninth installment of The Bootleg Series being a stunning classic, but, after a full month of listening bliss, I can now see that it's much more than just that. Which is why I'm now willing to go out on a limb and say that I think this 2-disc collection of 27 songs taken from the past two decades is - and this may strike some people as a tell tale sign of my own mental demise - possibly the best Dylan album of the last 20 years.
"Stick with me baby, stick with me anyhow
Things should start to get interesting right about now"
Bob Dylan, "Mississippi"
Tell Tale Signs, the eighth installment of Bob Dylan's Bootleg Series, came out earlier this week and after three solid days of listening pleasure, I'm ready to report that it's yet another classic.
Here they are, finally, My Picks For The Best 15 Albums and 40 Songs of 2007. I'm not necessarily claiming these are "The Best" albums and songs of the past year since there were thousands of albums and tens of thousands of songs released over the year and I simply haven't heard them all. What I am claiming, however, is that the selections you'll find below are my favorite tunes and discs from the past 12 months - damn good music, all of it. Enjoy! And let me know anything I've missed.
With just 3 days to go before X'mas I think it's high time I shared with you my secret to an especially joyful and happy holiday season. Because, hey, regardless of what your grandma may have told you, all that requisite joy and happiness can't come from rum and eggnog alone. No, sometimes you need a little something extra to get you through the holidays with a constant smile on your face. And I'm not talking about any illegal substances here either. What I am talking about is The Greatest X'mas Album Ever.
Kanye West is simply #$%*ing amazing! It's that simple and straightforward. There's just no denying he's one of the greatest artists working in the music industry today. Three classic albums in a row now. Three out of three. The first three of his career. Really now, how many artists have ever done that before?
1 Most Favorite and Hilarious Christopher Guest Film:
1. Best In Show
2 Favorite Michael Ondaatje Books:
1. The English Patient
2. In The Skin of A Lion
3 Greatest Angry Bob Dylan Songs:
1. Idiot Wind
2. Positively 4th Street
4 Favorite Woody Allen Movies (in no particular order):
- Crimes and Misdemeanors
- Hannah and Her Sisters
- Annie Hall