Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Gotta Serve Somebody vs. Serve Yourself

Posted in Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Youtube Favs on August 4th, 2011 by Willie

John Lennon was really offended by Bob Dylan’s latest single, “Gotta Serve Somebody.” Dylan recorded the song for his 1979 album Slow Train Coming.  The album and the song was part of Bob’s short lived conversion to Christianity.  In his diary, John wrote, “The backing was mediocre by Jerry Wexler, the singing was really pathetic, and the words were just embarrassing.”  The Grammy people didn’t think so, they gave Dylan a huge spotlight at the 1980 awards, and let him take home the trophy for “Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Male.”  In a snide retort, John wrote/improvised a funny little rant called “Serve Yourself,” a track which never got an official release.  Well, the Grammys are a joke, and always have been, and I fully understand John’s sense of embarrassment and betrayal by Dylan, but I kinda love “Gotta Serve Somebody.”  I think the message is clever enough that it extends beyond the religious into the philosophical, and it sets up an interesting battle of ideas between the two rock gods.  I always suspected that “Gotta Serve Somebody” was Dylan’s response to Lennon’s line from ten years earlier when John proclaimed, “I don’t believe in Zimmerman [Dylan’s real name for the uninitiated],…I just believe in me” from “God” (Plastic Ono Band.)  It’s Dylan rejecting Lennon’s idea of discarding all figures of worship and idolatry and claiming that in the end, whether you like it or not, you are serving something, whether it be a God, a devil, or just a concept.  Lennon disagrees, and he makes no bones about making it known, or he would have had he lived.  Anyway, here are both tracks, in all their glory.  Who do you think wins?  Dylan, Lennon, God, or the devil?  Let me know.

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Marvin Gaye, Sexual Healing, 1983 Grammys

Posted in Marvin Gaye, Youtube Favs on June 9th, 2011 by Willie

Part 85 my soul people, back with more Marvin Gaye like I promised.  This time, its a special performance of “Sexual Healing,” sung live at the 1983 Grammys.  This was Marvin’s last worldwide smash hit, eventually peaking at #3 on the Billboard 100 after dominating the R&B charts.  There is a lot of tragedy and joy to be found in the creation of this record.  It’s a reflection of Marvin attempting  to embrace a healthier more peaceful life through sobriety, exercise, and  Sadly, just as he was in the midst of his triumphant comeback, he was gunned down by his father in one of the more bizarre rock and roll assassinations.  It reminds me a lot of John Lennon’s demise after he completed Double Fantasy. It’s really painful to think of the three icons; Marvin Gaye, John Lennon, and Bob Marley, all dying in the early 80s.  They left a tremendous void.  Anyway, this song was almost entirely produced by Marvin himself outside of the rhythm guitars.  It’s a true masterpiece that touched on elements of doo-wop, snythpop, reggae, funk and gospel.  This performance, a lot like the song, is a triumph.  Marvin reminds the music elite that he is an absolute God, taking them to school by defining what pop music is and can be.  RIP Marvin.

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