Bob Dylan, Sara

Posted in Bob Dylan on May 17th, 2012 by Willie

“Sara,” is Bob Dylan’s most honest song.  Its probably the only personal song he addresses to a real person directly, his wife Sara.  The lyrics are incredibly intimate and, apparently, true to life.  ‘Sara’ a gorgeously pained ballad of desperation, fittingly included as the closer to an album he named Desire.  That record came out in 1976, and it should come as no surprise that Sara divorced him a year later.  Their marriage was on the rocks, evidenced by all the songs found on Blood on the Tracks.  I love this songs melody, at once both graceful and earthy.  The lyrics, which I also love, are mix of passionate pleadings and cosmic reverence for this woman, a brave and true piece of work, but hey, what else would you expect from Mr. Bob Dylan?  The video itself, is an incredible document of washed out 70s home movies and live performances capturing the desolate mood of the song perfectly. So, in the end, there is nothing else for us to do but press play a few times and let this sink in our souls.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

John Lennon and Bob Dylan, Together in a Cab

Posted in Bob Dylan, John Lennon, The Beatles, Youtube Favs on January 10th, 2012 by Willie

There are a lot of great moments in rock and roll history that go unrecorded.  The first meeting between Bob Dylan and the Beatles is one of them.  Not only was it the occasion when the Beatles met one of their musical heroes, but its also the first time the Beatles seriously smoke marijuana.  Apparently they had a ball, and obviously the experience influenced them to no end, both musically and personally.  On that personal level, imagine how fantastic if the first time you smoked pot, 1964 era Bob Dylan was the one initiating you.  It’s a total dream time scenario.  Anyway, it’s actually a good thing that the meeting wasn’t caught on tape because in the one instance when John Lennon and Bob Dylan were filmed, it was beyond awkward.  You would think that two icons of ultra cool all time hipsterdom would be savvy and super interesting under the lights, but clearly they are uptight and nervous.  The film from which this video is culled, Eat the Document, was a documentary of Bob’s 1966 tour of the UK.  The scene with John was a deleted bootleg.  John had this to say about it, “both in shades, and both on fucking junk, and all these freaks around us… I was nervous as shit. I was on his territory, that’s why I was so nervous.”  John said that in Rolling Stone magazine, obviously paranoid about what was going to be shown, as he had not yet seen the movie.  The reality is, Bob looked way more whacked out and nervous then John, high on something very strong, with John trying to calm Dylan down in a funny way saying, “Do you suffer from sore eyes, groovy forehead, or curly hair? Take Zimdawn!…Come, come, boy, it’s only a film. Pull yourself together.”  Despite the disjointed conversation, and otherwise unrevealing dialog, the film is just amazing for being what it is.  If anything, both guys probably realize the phoniness of the situation as the film clicks away, and that in itself is very enlightening.  So, check out this precious moment in rock history, and let me know if you can decode any secret messages I might have missed.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

John Lennon, India, India

Posted in John Lennon, The Beatles, Youtube Favs on September 27th, 2011 by Willie

Sorry for the disturbing lack of updates, but I was busy packing up my Brooklyn apartment and heading north for Maine.  I’ve got three weeks in beautiful Portland before I head across the world to South Korea and Australia.  I’m happy to be out of the city and hear crickets out my window, as four and a half years in New York really drains the nature out of you.  I couldn’t be more excited for my trip across the Pacific, and I’m reminded of four other guys who had to get away from it all, the fab four.  The rare song you are about to hear was NOT recorded by the Beatles, but rather its a solo John number from 1980 that he made reflecting on the journey he took just 12 years prior.  John was beginning to feel sentimental about his life, emotions reflected strongly in his last record Double Fantasy.  “India, India” didn’t survive the cutting room floor of that record, but luckily it survives the cutting room floor of history.  It’s a pretty psychedelic folk ballad with a wistful haunting melody.  Enjoy.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Neutral Milk Hotel, In The Aeroplane Over the Sea, King of Carrot Flowers Parts 1-3

Posted in Neutral Milk Hotel, Youtube Favs on September 21st, 2011 by Willie

Jeff Mangum’s “Neutral Milk Hotel” was the third founding wing in the Elephant 6 Collective.  If the Apples in Stereo represented the happy side of the Beatles, and Olivia Tremor Control were the, ahh, trippier side of the Beatles, then Neutral Milk Hotel was Elephant 6’s approximation of Blonde on Blonde’s Bob Dylan.  Mangum’s breakthrough record, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, was produced by founding Apple Robert Schneider, who matched Mangum’s intensely personal songs about childhood, sex, and death, with a New Orleans marching band on acid.  The album also is said to contain a loose concept concerning Anne Frank, World War II, and the holocaust.  While the lyrics are very abstract and practically impenetrable, Mangum sings them with such clarity and emotion, that somehow, these themes are evoked.  When the album was released in 1998, it was a smash hit in the indie world, and Mangum was in high demand.  Having sold over 200,000 copies of the LP, and offered an opening slot for fellow Athens natives R.E.M., Mangum decided to go into recluse mode, effectively breaking up the band, and only making sporadic live appearances in the last 13 years.  It is rumored that he is on the verge of releasing some new material through this website,, where you can stream the song “Little Birds (Unfinished Version 2),” a haunting psych ballad.  Besides that track, you can also listen to two of the strongest tracks from his now legendary album below.  The first song is the title track of the LP, is a swirling emotional journey through the sky, and the second, “King of Carrot Flowers Parts 1-3,” is just as adventurous and bizarre.  A lot of people either love or hate this band, but I fall somewhere in the middle.  I’m intrigued by Mangum’s obvious talent and singing style, but have always wanted more songs to get a more complete picture of the guy.  As it is, there exists only two records, some scattered songs, and not much else, which creates a scattered portrait of man only really known by his close friends. I actually think that’s a pretty cool feet for a musicians like Mangum.  Stay tuned tomorrow as we begin to explore the E6’s auxiliary members!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Skip James, Devil Got My Woman

Posted in Skip James, Youtube Favs on September 13th, 2011 by Willie

Skip James was one of the original Delta Bluesmen.  Like many of these original pioneers, he disappeared into obscurity after his rather obscure debut in the 1930s.  The blues rock renaissance in the 1960s rescued him from oblivion, and allowed him one last chance to shine.  One of the songs that emerged from his exile was “Devil Got My Woman,” a haunted country blues ballad about love and Satan.  It’s a perfect Robert Johnson like tune with a ghostly vibe that just might send shivers down your spine.  Here are the lyrics, steeped in blue.

I’d rather be the devil, to be that woman man
I’d rather be the devil, to be that woman man
Aw, nothin’ but the devil, changed my baby’s mind
Was nothin’ but the devil, changed my baby’s mind
I laid down last night, laid down last night
I laid down last night, tried to take my rest
My mind got to ramblin’, like a wild geese
From the west, from the west
The woman I love, woman that I loved
Woman I loved, took her from my best friend
But he got lucky, stoled her back again
But he got lucky, stoled her back again

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Willie Simpson, Another Broken Heart (pt. 7)

Posted in Willie Simpson's Original Music, Willie's Live Youtube Performances, Youtube Favs on September 2nd, 2011 by Willie

I wrote this song last fall, recorded it in the winter, started the music video in the spring, and put it away till..well…today.  The reason it’s the 7th part is because it took 7 mixes for me to get it just right.  Musically, this song was inspired by John Lennon’s “Julia,” and George Harrison’s “Not Guilty.”  I was going to call it, “The Road to Mandalay,” but I realized that British pop star Robbie Williams already had a song by that name, and the appeal of such a title went out the window.  The guitar picking was done on my ’75 Yamaha acoustic, and the guitar solo was played on my Epiphone Casino.  I really wish I could have made a beautiful live version video of the song, but I don’t have the money to arrange for it to be done perfectly. What you get instead is a charming little exercise in the wonder that is Microsoft Paint.  I gave up making the video many months ago because creating all the titles for the lyrics was so tedious that I lost interest until today, when I realized that I’m now unemployed, and it would have been a shame to not get it done when I had the chance.  I hope you enjoy it, and if you have any questions don’t be afraid to ask.  Oh, and of course, please vote me as NYC’s best local blogger in the CBS contest where I am a finalist.  Thanks.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Bob Dylan, Shelter From the Storm (Live)

Posted in Bob Dylan, Youtube Favs on August 2nd, 2011 by Willie

The year was 1976, and Bob Dylan was in Colorado at Hughes Stadium singing one of his greatest songs ever, “Shelter From the Storm.”  Originally from Blood on the Tracks, the song was being filmed and recorded for Bob’s live record Hard Rain.  “Shelter From the Storm” is one of Bob’s most enduring poems.  Its a universal anthem that blithely crosses nostalgia with tall tales of true romance and bitterness.  The video below is taken from NBC’s hour long film of the concert and showcases what Dylan would  do in a live setting for the rest of career, namely never playing his classic songs the way you heard them on record.  This version of “Shelter From the Storm” is transformed from a somber acoustic ballad into an upbeat rocking rave.  It’s also a sight to see Bob play that incredibly unique electric guitar with a slide no less!  This is a wonderful rendition, and a must watch for fans of Bob’s middle eastern head gear phase.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Simon and Garfunkel, The Sounds of Silence

Posted in Paul Simon, Simon and Garfunkel, Youtube Favs on June 21st, 2011 by Willie

It’s part 96 of my youtube countdown, and we are getting so close to the end!  This time I have Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sounds of Silence,” from the album of the same name.  When I was crafting the title of this entry, I noticed that the original version of the song was not titled, “The Sound of Silence,” as I had thought, but was pluralized.  Both the plural and singular version of the song are correct however as later releases were known as the “The Sound of Silence.”  Paul Simon originally wrote this haunting folk ballad write after John F. Kennedy’s assassination, but the song was not an immediate hit.  When the song started to become a hit in the mid 60s, Simon and Garfunkel were no longer working together, but the success of the tune, reworked by producers to give it a more pop sound, reunited the boys and launched them into the mainstream of cultural significance.  The live performance I found here reflects the original version of the song with its minimalist beatnik production.  In it, the guys are so young and dorky, Garfunkel gives a real proto-hippie moralizing speech, and of course they flawlessly play the song, achieving that perfection they always shot for.  Check it out!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Neko Case, Buckets of Rain

Posted in Bob Dylan, Neko Case, Youtube Favs on April 9th, 2011 by Willie

In part 32 of my youtube countdown, we find Neko Case covering Bob Dylan’s Buckets of Rain from Bob’s “Blood on the Tracks” album.  There are two things you need to understand.  First, Neko Case is my favorite female singer in the world.  Her voice is just a soaring laser beam of power and clarity.  Second, Buckets of Rain is among my favorite songs ever.  It’s just a gorgeous poem of love and devotion.  I was planning to record a video of me playing Buckets of Rain, but there’s some guy operating a power drill outside my window right now, so that will have to wait for another day. In lieu of such activities, you’ll just have to enjoy Neko’s golden voice giving life to Bob’s golden words for now.  I’m so sorry. ; )



Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,