My arch-blogrival Bighead Needleman came into my office this morning throwing yogurt and dissing Bob Dylan. If I were Bob Dylan, I'd write a song about it, rather than a blog entry. It'd be something like this:
Well, Bighead she come down the corridor
She got the medicine made from a toxic spore
And I say, my lacto-intolerance can't tolerate no more
I aint no health food saint or craft-services movie star--
But she just look at me and said, you ain't? what you mean you ain't, of course you are
The thing is, I think if I could just put together the perfect mix of Dylan songs, she'd see the light. I told her I might just do it. But of course I won't. But if I did -- is that too O.J. Simpson? -- I'd start with the young Bob.
Off the first couple of albums, I'd take these two songs:
1. Tomorrow Is A Long Time
2. Don't Think Twice, It's Alright
Simple, see, so you get the taste and the lactobacillus without having to stir the fruit up from the bottom just yet. We'll avoid stuff she's already heard and found overrated ("Like A Rolling Stone"). But I'd pull something off Highway 61 Revisited to complicate things a little:
3. Tombstone Blues
And then I'd goose the complication with something narrative from The Times They Are A-Changin':
4. The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Then back to simple, with Nashville Skyline:
5. Lay Lady Lay
As we enter the middle Bob phase, it gets trickier.
We must keep her interest, yet show some range. She's a humorist, so we can remind her that Bob is, too. But we also need the tunefulness, see. From Blonde on Blonde:
6. Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat
7. Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands
And I'd include
8. Visions of Johanna
but it'd be the live version off of Biograph, not the Blonde on Blonde version. Similarly, I MIGHT throw in
9. Percy's Song
also from Biograph. It's not the greatest lyric ever, but along with that live Visions of Johanna, it'll lay to rest any doubt she may have about his musicianship. It's like the guitar, harmonica, voice, and words are all one organic thing on those two. Hands down, his best harmonica playing ever. Damning with faint praise, I know.
Then we have to do a couple from Blood On The Tracks:
10. Tangled Up In Blue
11. Buckets of Rain
Then we'd jump right past the identity crisis and lame posturing of the 1980s -- not that there weren't some good tunes here and there, but jeez. What might get to Bighead from the later Bob?
I think we go all the way to the mid-'90s, Time Out Of Mind. What is that, about '96, '97?
12. Not Dark Yet
13. Make You Feel My Love
And then we round it out with the sublime Love and Theft:
15. Po' Boy
16. Summer Days
Then she'll see that Bob is really the love-child of Rimbaud, Steven Wright, and Jimmy Durante. Now that's a three-way I'd buy tickets to see. I'd add a couple of songs from the new album, too, but I haven't listened to it enough yet to decide which ones.
Suggestions? Edits? Jeers?