Tuesday, August 6, 2013
After reading Keith Richard's autobiography "Life", I found myself liking him even more than I already did. I like his writing very much and I especially like the way his mind works around music. I was reading a special Rolling Stone edition celebrating 40 years of interviews with Bob Dylan and came across a section called "The 100 Greatest Dylan Songs" (How many writers even have 20 decent songs?)...and they had Keith write #30 "Girl From The North Country".
While the British invasion was going on, Bob Dylan was the man who really pulled the American point of view back into focus. At the same time, he had been drawing on Anglo-Celtic folk songs, and that's certainly true of "Girl From The North Country". It's got all the elements of beautiful folk writing without being pretentious. In the lyrics and the melody, there is an absence of Bob's later cutting edge. There's none of that resentment. He recorded it again later with Johnny Cash, but I don't think it's a duo song. Bob got it right the first time. In a way, I see "Girl From The North Country", "Boots of Spanish Leather" and "To Ramona" as a trilogy. Is Ramona the girl from the north country? Is she the same chick who sends the boots of Spanish leather? There's some connection between them. Also, the guitar picking is almost the same lick in "Boots of Spanish Leather" and "Girl From The North Country". It's like an extension of the same song. Before he went electric and submitted himself to the discipline of a rhythm section, there was a beautiful flow in Bob's songs that you only get with just a voice and a guitar. He can float across a bar or let certain notes hang, and it doesn't matter because it all goes with the song. He's the most prolific writer: I think he's written more songs that I've had hot dinners. So, Bob, just keep 'em coming! He's an inspiration to us all, because h he's always trying to go somewhere new. I love the man-and I love that he rock and rolls too!
This passage in particular really struck me:
Before he went electric and submitted himself to the discipline of a rhythm section, there was a beautiful flow in Bob's songs that you only get with just a voice and a guitar. He can float across a bar or let certain notes hang, and it doesn't matter because it all goes with the song.
I really liked this passage because it spoke directly to why I prefer my "just a voice and a guitar" format, even when "submitting to the discipline of a rhythm section" would make my music much more commercial. I play with other musicians, including percussionists, and I do enjoy it quite a bit, but the heart and soul of what I do is one voice, one guitar. If I were more ambitious, I would probably "submit", but I'm not. I'm middle-aged, I hate traveling and I want little to do with "the business", so I prefer not to give up the "beautiful flow...that you only get with just a voice and a guitar."
Thanks for helping me nail it down Keef.