Bob Dylan obliges annoying fan in Berkeley by actually playing ‘Free Bird’

(via SFGate)

You’ve seen that guy.

He emerges from some dark corner of the audience, maybe drunk, gawkily shoving his way through the crowd as the audience stands contented, mesmerized by the rock god onstage. He leans forward next to your ear, brutishly disturbing your daydream with a shrill, piercing shout:

“FREE BIRD!”

Eyes roll in the audience. The man’s face snarls with wretched delight. He is the only one laughing.

But just before your disgust impels you to jam your elbow into this troll’s ribcage, a guitar rings out. Everyone turns to the stage.

Holy hell, Bob Dylan is actually playing “Free Bird.”

To the shock of a Berkeley audience, Dylan closed out his set at the Greek Theater last week — which featured covers of some of Frank Sinatra’s most famous songs from his newest album “Fallen Angels” —  with a take on Lynyrd Skynyrd’s 1973 hit “Free Bird.”

Did You Ever Realize…

hootie

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Videos of the Week: Bob Dylan’s IBM Ad…and its Parody

Bob Dylan’s IBM commercial (above) and the Funny or Die “Extended Edition” (below).

“Wagon Wheel”: Raiding Bob Dylan’s Wastebasket

old crow rucker

“Wagon Wheel” is a song with a very interesting story. It doesn’t sound like a typical 21st century country song. But it’s the kind of song 21st century country artists love to cover because it’s the kind modern country songwriters have so much trouble coming up with. Which is to say, it comes from a more instinctive place, taking the express track from the writer’s gut without that stop at the brain for mental market-testing.

whiskey river wagon wheel

“Wagon Wheel” sounds like the work of one of the great folk songwriters of the 20th century, say a Woody Guthrie or a Stephen Foster…because it is in fact the work of one of the great folk songwriters of the 20th century–at least in part. I direct you to Wikipedia for the story:

(The following reprinted from Wikipedia)

“Wagon Wheel” is a song originally sketched by Bob Dylan and later completed by Old Crow Medicine Show. Old Crow Medicine Show’s version was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America in November 2011.

“Wagon Wheel” is composed of two different parts. The chorus and melody for the song comes from a demo recorded by Bob Dylan during the Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid sessions. Although never officially released, the Dylan song was released on a bootleg and is usually named after the chorus and its refrain of “Rock Me Mama.” Although Dylan left the song an unfinished sketch, Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show wrote verses for the song around Dylan’s original chorus. Secor’s additional lyrics transformed “Rock Me Mama” into “Wagon Wheel.” Secor has stated the song is partially autobiographical. The song has become extremely popular since its inclusion on Old Crow Medicine Show’s major label debut, O.C.M.S. in 2004, although the song appeared in earlier form on the now out of print “Troubles Up and Down the Road” EP in 2001. Dylan’s song is often credited to “A. Crudup.”, and the official publishing information is Dylan/Secor.

Old Crow Medicine Show: “Wagon Wheel” (2004)

Dan Milliken, reviewing the song for Country Universe, gave it an A+ rating, calling it “one of country music’s all-time great sing-alongs”.

The song has since been covered by numerous artists, including: Darius Rucker, Chad Brownlee, The Menzingers, Nash Street, Great American Taxi, Against Me!, Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers, Chris Pureka, David McMillin, Jeremy McComb, Matt Andersen, Mumford & Sons, Bodega, Little Feat, Donegal X-Press, Pat Buzzard of Saving Jane, Little Big Town, and Samjack Boys. (Note: there are lots more versions besides.)

Darius Rucker joined Old Crow Medicine Show at the Grand Ole Opry July 6, 2012, “for a special rendition of ‘Wagon Wheel.’” The fans “went crazy over Rucker’s cover of the Old Crow Medicine Show hit,” setting the stage for his tweeted announcement: “Secret out after @opry perf. I recorded a version of ‘Wagon Wheel’ for my new record & @ladyantebellum sings on track.” The new album, True Believers, is his third solo project on Capitol Records. Rucker’s cover is the album’s second single.

Darius Rucker: “Wagon Wheel” (2012)

The song did not at first appeal to Rucker. “Somebody had played ‘Wagon Wheel’ for me years ago,” he says. “It was one of those things that I didn’t really get.” When the faculty band from his daughter’s high school performed it, though, it had a different effect. Relating the story . .

“So, I’m at my daughter’s high school talent show, and I’m sitting in the audience with my family. We were watching my daughter, and the faculty band gets up. It’s just the faculty from her school, and they play ‘Wagon Wheel.’ I’m sitting in the audience, and they get to the middle of the chorus, and I turned to my wife, and I go, ‘I’ve got to cut this song.’ I’m serious. This all happened in three-and-a-half minutes, four minutes, while they’re playing the song.”

Bob Dylan’s Label Releases Ultra-Rare Box Set to Exploit Copyright Loophole

dylan(Reprinted from The Guardian)

Only 100 copies of the singer’s new demos compilation were released to prevent the songs entering the public domain

by Sean Michaels

Bob Dylan’s label has made only100 copies of his latest box set. The singer’s new demos compilation, The 50th Anniversary Collection, is apparently designed to exploit a European copyright loophole.

The compilation’s official subtitle says it all: The Copyright Extension Collection, Vol 1. Delivered to a handful of “random” record shops in the UK, Germany, France and Sweden, according to Rolling Stone, the four-CD set comprises 86 songs recorded in 1962 and 1963, around the time of Dylan’s debut album. The packaging is plain, the liner notes almost non-existent. But fans are treating them as the rarities they are; bidding on eBay has topped £650.

According to sources at Sony Music, this compilation isn’t really meant for mass consumption. It’s essentially an attempt to keep these tracks from entering the public domain. Although the European Union has extended copyright terms from 50 years to 70 years, the extension only applies to recordings that have been released during the 50 years after they were made. Sony was therefore forced to release these songs – albeit in limited form – before the end of 2012, when their half-century was up.

“This isn’t a scheme to make money,” a source explained to Rolling Stone. “The whole point of copyrighting [this material] is that we intend to do something with it at some point in the future. But it wasn’t the right time to do it right after [Dylan] released Tempest.”

Perhaps Sony will eventually reissue Dylan’s 1962 debut with a series of outtakes, or collect decades of demos in another box set. Perhaps they just want to thwart the opportunist labels who can now legally sell any unreleased material from before 1963. The only thing that’s certain is that some British, German, French and Swedish Dylan fans got very, very lucky.

10 Albums That Almost Killed Careers

career kill

(Reprinted from Ultimate Classic Rock)

by Matthew Wilkening

Rock musicians, much like professional athletes and romantic partners, are constantly in danger of being asked, “But what have you done for me lately?” Even the biggest bands and solo stars can find themselves suddenly out of favor and plummeting down the charts if their latest album doesn’t live up to either their own legacies or fan expectations.

From Van Halen‘s ill-fated attempt to prove lightning can strike not just twice, but with three different lead singers, Kiss‘s mind-boggling attempt at creating a critic-pleasing concept album, the mighty Rolling Stones wandering too far from their strengths and many more, Ultimate Classic Rock and Diffuser.fm take a look at the 10 albums that almost killed the careers of some of rock’s biggest stars.

As you’ll see, luckily in nearly every case the “offending” artists were able to regroup, learn from their mistakes, re-connect with the magic that made us fall in love with them in the first place and resurrect their careers. Now let’s see exactly how and where they went wrong in the first place…

van halen

Van Halen: ‘III’

As far as selecting lead singers goes, the third time was definitely NOT the charm for Van Halen.

After racing straight to the top of the rock mountain with original frontman David Lee Roth, and miraculously managing to stay there for another decade after he was replaced by Sammy Hagar, Van Halen chose Extreme singer Gary Cherone as the group’s third vocalist. Their first (and only) album together, 1998′s ‘III,’ was a shapeless mess that was panned by critics and avoided by fans. It would be 14 years before the group returned — with Roth on the mic — with the triumphant ‘A Different Kind of Truth.’

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Kiss: ‘Music from the Elder’

After watching their reign atop the late-’70s arena rock scene disappear in a puff of disco smoke, Kiss knew they had to do something big and bold to get back in the game. Unfortunately, 1981′s ‘Music from the Elder’ was an even bigger misstep.

Producer Bob Ezrin, fresh off the success of Pink Floyd‘s ambitious concept album ‘The Wall,’ decided that the facepainted marvels, whose lyrical depth typically topped out with tracks like ‘Love Gun’ and ‘Christine Sixteen,’ should tackle an album-length suite of songs about a young medieval warrior’s epic quest to save the world… or something. The end product, while admirably daring, is one of the most universally panned and mocked records in rock history. To their credit, they righted their creative ship the next year.

stones

Rolling Stones: ‘Their Satanic Majesties Request’

OK, here’s where we stretch the boundaries of this list’s title right up to the breaking point. After all, it’s not likely that any one album could kill the Rolling Stones‘ career, even one as odd, out of character and poorly received as 1967′s ‘Their Satanic Majesties Request.’

But it definitely sent them back to the drawing board. Clearly influenced by the psychedelic music of the era — and some would say, overly focused on keeping up with the Beatles‘ ‘Sgt. Pepper‘ — the Stones delivered an ambitious but ultimately unfocused effort that made them look like followers instead of leaders — at least, until they kicked off perhaps rock’s most impressive four-album run ever with ‘Beggars Banquet’ the next year.

neil-young-trans-300x300

Neil Young: ‘Trans’

If ever a rocker has valued chasing the constantly changing sounds in his head over making commercially safe career choices, it’s Neil Young.

Young, who followed up his warm, lush commercial breakthrough LP ‘Harvest’ with the abrasively dark ‘Tonight’s the Night,’ dabbles in genres like rockabilly, country and R&B as quickly as others change shirts. Even by those standards, 1982′s ‘Trans’ stands out as his most risky move; a synth-heavy semi-concept album featuring heavily processed vocals that confused many fans. Together with 1983′s ‘Everybody’s Rockin’,’ ‘Trans’ led Geffen Records to sue Young for making “unrepresentative” albums. He won, and has continued marching to his own drum regardless of the chart results to this day.

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Bob Dylan: ‘Under the Red Sky’

Much like Neil Young, the creatively restless Bob Dylan has often — and seemingly willfully — tried to shake his fans loose from time to time.

Whether he was embracing electric guitars on 1965′s ‘Bringing it All Back Home,’ country and Americana on 1967′s ‘John Wesley Harding,’ or Christianity on 1979′s ‘Slow Train Coming,’ there have been plenty of times where Dylan risked alienating his listeners. But 1990′s ‘Under the Red Sky,’ filled with nursery-rhyme level lyrics and overly slick production, was the point where many wondered if the former visionary had simply lost the trail — or worse, given up. Luckily, the singer launched another (still going) winning streak with 1997′s ‘Time Out of Mind.’

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Smashing Pumpkins: ‘Machina/The Machines of God’

According to Billy Corgan, there are numerous reasons that Smashing Pumpkins‘ 2000 would-be swan song sold fewer copies than ‘Adore,’ the divisive electronic-tinged album that came two years earlier. First, it’s a concept album whose storyline went way over people’s heads. And then there was the timing. The band was in the midst of breaking up, and the alt-rock scene was then ruled by the loud and dumb likes of Korn and Limp Bizkit.

“So the combination of those elements was a career-killer,” Corgan said in a 2006 interview. “‘Adore didn’t alienate the audience, they were just sort of like, ‘Oh, it’s not the record I want.’ [‘Machina’] alienated people.”

Corgan waited seven years to revive the Pumpkins and issue a proper follow-up, ‘Zeitgeist.’ The album divided critics, but it reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200. Last year’s ‘Oceana’ seemed to fare better, at least critically, and many hailed the disc as Corgan’s finest since the early ’90s.

weezer-pinkerton-cover

Weezer: ‘Pinkerton’

After the success of Weezer‘s debut, 1994′s so-called ‘Blue Album,’ Geffen execs no doubt wanted more nerdy power-pop nuggets like ‘Buddy Holly’ and ‘The Sweater Song.’ Instead, mastermind Rivers Cuomo gave them a brutally honest, emotionally fraught song cycle based on the opera ‘Madame Butterfly.’ The tunes were catchy, but Cuomo’s sexual hangups and struggles with fame weren’t exactly the stuff of Top 40 singalongs. Critics balked, the disc peaked at No. 19 and Weezer went on hiatus.

When Weezer returned in 2001, it was with another self-titled effort, this one all about pop hooks. The ‘Green Album’ kicked off an unlikely second act that continues to this day. Interestingly, Weezer’s comeback was largely due to ‘Pinkerton,’ which had grown in stature throughout the ’90s. Whether better than ‘Blue,’ it trumps anything Cuomo has released since, though the middling likes of the ‘Red Album’ and ‘Raditude’ have done little to hurt the band’s standing.

REM-Around-Cover-Art

R.E.M.: ‘Around the Sun’

R.E.M.‘s unlucky 13th album missed the U.S. Top 10 and failed to yield a hit single. For the first time since the mid-’80s, the Athens alt-rock heroes found themselves outside of the mainstream, only this time, it wasn’t because they were a cutting-edge cult act awaiting a commercial break. As guitarist Peter Buck admitted, they were tired old superstars who’d lost the plot.

“[‘Around the Sun’] just wasn’t really listenable, because it sounds like what it is, a bunch of people that are so bored with the material that they can’t stand it anymore,” Buck said in 2008, the same year the band dropped ‘Accelerate,’ the first of two back-to-basics albums that reaffirmed R.E.M.’s relevance and ended their career on a relative high note. History was always going to look kindly on the group, but ‘Around the Sun’ would have been a dim end to the story.

U2-Pop-cover

U2: ‘Pop’

In the late ’90s, no flop was really going to kill U2‘s career, but ‘Pop’ was cause for concern. Following ‘Zooropa’ (1993) and ‘Achtung Baby’ (1991), the album capped a trilogy that saw these venerable stadium gods reinvent themselves as electro-rock experimentalists. The songs are built around loops, samples and the like, and while the band had made successful use of such techniques, ‘Pop’ suggested that Bono and the boys had run out of ideas and reached the end of a particular phase of their career. The public more or less agreed, and ‘Pop’ became U2′s lowest-selling disc since 1981′s ‘October.’

Having perhaps learned their lesson, U2 returned three years later with the more guitar-centric ‘All That You Can’t Leave Behind.’ The album spawned four smash singles and won seven Grammys, and to date, it’s sold more than 12 million copies.

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The Clash: ‘Sandinista!’

No record better encapsulates the Clash‘s story than ‘Sandinista!’ Brilliant, infuriating, bursting with ambition yet bogged down with bad ideas, this 36-track triple LP perplexed fans and angered execs at CBS, who were strong-armed by the band into selling it for the price of a single album.

‘Sandinista!’ may have been a bargain, but it hardly flew off shelves. At a time when Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon and Topper Headon might have become punk’s Fab Four, they went ‘White Album’ times 10, experimenting with soul, hip-hop, funk, disco, dub and even gospel, virtually ensuring there’d be no hits.

The Clash were already starting to splinter, and sessions for the follow-up, ‘Combat Rock’ (1982), proved extremely contentious. Remarkably, that album proved the band’s commercial breakthrough, and thanks to the singles ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go?’ and ‘Rock the Casbah,’ the “Only Band That Matters” found itself on the pop charts, if only briefly.

The Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions Read by Bob Dylan

From 2006 to 2009, Bob Dylan hosted the Theme Time Radio Hour on Sirius Satellite Radio. Each show featured “an eclectic mix of songs, from a wide variety of musical genres, … along with Dylan’s on-air thoughts and commentary interspersed with phone calls, email readings, contributions from special guests and an array of classic radio IDs, jingles and promos from the past.” That eclectic mix also gave us this: Dylan reading, in his distinctive, quirky way, a list of the most oft-cited New Year’s Resolutions, ones that we annually make and sometimes break.

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