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I was influenced by Bob Dylan even though I was a Minnesota collegiate for far less than a year. (I made my getaway as soon as the weather broke, which was not until late, late March, might-as-well-say April.) How influenced? Well, I remember owning . . . two of his albums.

 

 

Books by Kalamu ya Salaam

 

The Magic of JuJu: An Appreciation of the Black Arts Movement  /   360: A Revolution of Black Poets

Everywhere Is Someplace Else: A Literary Anthology  /  From A Bend in the River: 100 New Orleans Poets

Our Music Is No Accident   /  What Is Life: Reclaiming the Black Blues Self

My Story My Song (CD)  /  Men We Love, Men We Hate  / Ways of Laughing

 

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Jimi Hendrix—"Like A Rolling Stone”

 Breath of Life Music Commentary by Mtume ya Salaam &  Kalamu ya Salaam

 

Bob Dylan’s 1965 recording of “Like A Rolling Stone” has been called the best song of his illustrious career. Rolling Stone magazine even called it the greatest recording of all time, period. As for me, I find it difficult to even listen to it all the way through.

It’s not the song itself. I agree with everyone else - by any measure, “Like A Rolling Stone” is a great song. There’s so much to like about it: the unusual length of each line coupled with all of the internal rhyming; the powerful, memorable hook of the chorus; and, of course, the complex yet entrancing lyrics (which are ostensibly written about a young lady of Dylan’s acquaintance but may very well be about Dylan himself as he dealt with the fallout following his move from acoustic folkie to electric rock star). The problem is, Dylan plain can’t sing.


In 1967, when Jimi Hendrix performed at the Monterey Pop Festival, it was his first time back in the U.S. since defecting to the U.K. several years earlier. He left as a promising but unknown session and back-up guitar player, he was coming back a star. The playlist that day included several of Jimi’s original numbers (“Purple Haze,” “Wind Cries Mary,” etc.), some blues covers (“Rock Me Baby,” “Killing Floor”) and a cover of Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone.” Hendrix loved Dylan’s work. He would later record a blistering cover of Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower” for his Electric Ladyland LP and he was also known to perform other Dylan songs such as “Drifter’s Escape” and “Could You Please Crawl Out Your Window.” In addition to the covers, the surreal imagery and tangled metaphors of Hendrix’ own lyric-writing sometimes seems to take a page out of the Bob Dylan songbook.

The truth of it is, Jimi can barely sing himself. He can at least hold note though – something Dylan proved over and over that he couldn’t do – and that’s one of the reasons I love Hendrix’ cover of “Like A Rolling Stone” even while I can barely stand the original. I also like the roaring power of Hendrix’ guitar, the way he adds heft to the hook. Hendrix pauses and sometimes shifts the tempo in the same places Dylan rushes straight through. On the negative side, Hendrix skips an entire stanza of the song (“Yes, I know I missed a verse, don’t worry”), probably due to nervousness. Plus the sound mix isn’t the best. But hey, it was 1967. The sound engineer was probably high on acid and we’re probably lucky the recording sounds as good as it does. "Like A Rolling Stone" is available on Live at Monterey.

A year after Monterey, Hendrix returned to the Dylan songbook, recording a cover of Dylan’s enigmatic and apocalyptic tune “All Along The Watcher.” With its Biblical references, multiple characters and changes in tense, it’s hard to understand what the song is supposed to mean no matter who’s singing it. Despite all of that, the Hendrix version—which Hendrix obsessed over, recording and re-recording the guitar and bass until the last possible moment—was a revelation, not just to Hendrix fans but to Dylan fans as well and even to Dylan himself. "It overwhelmed me, really,” Dylan said about Hendrix’ cover of “All Along The Watchtower.” “He had such talent, he could find things inside a song and vigorously develop them. He found things that other people wouldn’t think of finding in there. He probably improved upon it by the spaces he was using. I took license with the song from his version, actually, and continue to do it to this day" (Wikipedia).

How’s that for strange? Jimi redid Dylan’s song so well that when Dylan plays it now, it’s almost as though he’s covering Hendrix instead of the other way around. According to Wikipedia, in the booklet to Dylan’s Biograph collection, Dylan says: “I liked Jimi Hendrix’s record of this [‘All Along The Watchtower’] and ever since he died I’ve been doing it that way… Strange how when I sing it, I always feel it’s a tribute to him in some kind of way."

I also want to throw in an early recording by the Wailers. They’re covering “Like A Rolling Stone,” supposedly, but the only thing that remains the same are the lyrics and melody of the chorus. The verses are much shorter, as is the song itself, and the words bear no resemblance to Dylan’s original lyrics. This version is taken from One Love – At Studio One, a collection of early Wailers sides.
Mtume ya Salaam


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Keep On Rolling                

I wish Jimi had covered many more Dylan songs. He didn’t. That’s me just being greedy to hear more of Jimi’s magical ability to create platinum and uranium out of gold. Jimi Hendrix.

So anyway, the feature is “Like A Rolling Stone” and as is my usual wont I have a favorite Jimi version: Live at Winterland +3 (which unfortunately is out of print). It’s in the jukebox and discussed a little more in the Covers section.

Apropos of my personal inclinations: Obama, keep on rolling!
—Kalamu ya Salaam

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Jimi Hendrix “Like A Rolling Stone”

September of 1964 I was going to school at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota (but only for a hot minute—by April ’65 I was gone). Little Bobby Zimmerman is from Minnesota. Folk singing was happening. I ran into a good number of folkies at Carleton. I was a blues neophyte. At that time I liked John Lee Hooker and Lightnin’ Hopkins, Mississippi John Hurt and even a little Skip James, and, of course, Taj Mahal.

Taj Mahal was the only young man among the bunch of blues references. The only one who was college educated. The only one who even remotely seem to have any commonalities with the folk singers at Carleton who were, to a man, young, white and of questionable singing abilities, except for one guy who was a senior and had that weather-beaten look and laconic terseness we associate with Texas songsters. Think Willie Nelson. All of the singers of note seemed to be male although there was a gaggle of female camp followers and even a few had that plaintive, long-haired, hang-dog looking, Joan Baez air about themselves. Come to think of it, there was even one who had the Janis Joplin thing going.

Of course I’m relying on hazy memory that is probably as reliable as a George Bush speech. I believe what I’m saying but I’m also confident that some (maybe even a lot) of the details don’t exactly match up. But anyway, my point is, I was around when Bob Dylan was “the” musical icon for white youth.

I was influenced by Bob Dylan even though I was a Minnesota collegiate for far less than a year. (I made my getaway as soon as the weather broke, which was not until late, late March, might-as-well-say April.) How influenced? Well, I remember owning—I believe—two of his albums. I never could listen to either one all the way through although as a then budding poet and prose writer, I really did enjoy reading the lyrics on the back of the record covers. But you know then came Black Power, Jimi Hendrix, P-Funk, Soul, Stax (especially WattStax), full out soul music, James Brown, a military stint in Korea and Texas, etc. etc. Plus, most important of all, a life sustaining (and life sustained) love of jazz.

As Mtume noted: Bob Dylan can’t sing. By the time I was back in the world there was no earthly reason for me to listen to Bob Dylan mumble, stumble and scowl his way through songs, not even songs as beautifully written as many of his were.

This preamble/ramble sets up my 17-deep mixtape of Bob Dylan covers. The one odd fact is that I did not include any jazz covers (and yes there were some). I decided to concentrate on vocalists. Ok? So here goes.

We open with Stevie Wonder doing “Blowin’ in the Wind” taken from Bob Dylan The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration. Stevie’s spoken introduction insightfully contextualizes the song. Back in the day Dylan was known as a “protest” singer/songwriter. Stevie had a minor hit with this one as a young teenager. At six seconds shy of nine minutes it’s an understatement to say this is a long version of a short song but Stevie pulls it off.

Reggae “Cool Ruler” Gregory Isaacs slides in with a sensuous reading of “Mr. Tambourine Man” complete with harmonica flourishes. I have no idea of how Isaacs connects to the lyrics but Isaacs makes it sound so natural. Isaacs convinces that he feels the importance of the poetic lyrics. As a concept, reggae versions of Dylan songs would seem to be an odd fit but, hey, never underestimate the ability of Jamaica to make everything (anything) irie.

“Just Like Tom Thumb Blues” by Nina Simone in her folksy bag is strikingly beautiful. Sotto-voiced, Simone sensitively stretches syllables, injecting heavy emotion into a reading that easily could have veered off into an uninspired drone. In keeping with the narrative of the lyrics, Ms. Simone sounds like she is writing her memoirs, late at night with a chilled glass of wine and a penchant for truth telling. When is a whisper louder than a roar? When Nina gets down like this. In my mind I am transfixed by her famously hypnotizing stare. Her eyes wide open, peering without sentiment into a hard past and ending the hypothetical tale with the painful revelation:

The joke was on me
There was no one there even to bluff
I’m going back to New York City
I do believe I’ve had enough

Mavis Staples, another truth-teller, also singing in an understated manner, follows Nina. Mavis runs the realist line: irrespective of who you are or what you do, “You Gotta Serve Somebody.” Mavis is a gritty, Mississippi-born, Chicago-reared gospel-based neo-blues artist most often presented as a Soul singer. But like an earlier generation of street-singing gospel and blues bards, Mavis really is a purveyor of life-based aphorisms and morality tales. She tells it like it “T-I-Is” (i.e., old-school Black vernacular for unsentimental declarations of social reality). It doesn’t hurt that Dylan offers refreshingly frank mini-portraits of diverse characters that span the range of social characters. But ultimately it’s Mavis beautiful voice and impeccable phrasing that makes the finger-snapping interpretation so moving.

On the other hand, who consistently does romance better than The Isley Brothers? That’s like asking how much is one plus one. These cats have a lock on love songs. They make seduction (Lay, lady lay / Lay across my big brass bed) sound not only inviting and inevitable but also sincerely spiritual. Or like the lyric says and the Isley successful emote: “you can have your cake and eat it too.” Wow. Who doesn’t want that? “Lay Lady Lay” along with thirteen other equally effective soft songs are contained on an Isley Brothers collection called Beautiful Ballads.

Nina returns for a song that seems written for her. “The Times Are-A-Changing” is uttered as though it were Biblical prophecy. There is a rock-solid aura of certainty girding Ms. Simone’s song-sermon. This version even includes an organ interlude with church bells, just in case you didn’t catch the import of the song.

Tracy Chapman follows with her rendition of the same song. Ms. Chapman is the closest we come in recent years to a genuine “folk singer.” Unlike most female folk singers, Tracy has a super-thick sister voice, sort of in the vein of Odetta. Accompanying herself on guitar, Tracy Chpaman has a wonderfully subtle vibrato that leavens what would otherwise be a voice of doom and gloom.

It’s no secret I love Jimi Hendrix. Over in the Classic section, Mtume picked an earlier Jimi Hendrix rendition of “Like A Rolling Stone” but I really, really prefer this stately version. First of all, the song is taken at a slower pace but invested with more dynamics, more turmoil. It’s both softer overall and louder in specific parts. I guess you could say the dynamic range is wider. Moreover, Jimi’s vocal work is more passionate, more confident. He nails the hooks and paces himself with the profound timing of a professional who is never tempted to rush a good thing even when it gets ear-splittingly loud. Check the churning and roiling intensity of the out chorus; on a scale of one to ten, this is a twenty.

I would pick this version as the feature but Mtume has already picked Jimi’s Monterey take as the Classic feature. But then, hey, what the heck, the song is out of print. Maybe there are folks out there like me who would really, really like to be able to play this one loud, loud on a Friday night or a Sunday morning, not to mention all day one lazy Saturday!

And now it’s back to Jamaica with Max Romeo doing With God On Our Side.” The song is basically a capsule American history course and would seem to resist a foreign interpretation but Romeo sounds downright homey as a sings down the years. Mtume has already discussed the song’s interior twists and u-turns. Dylan is always good for a subversive riposte. In this case, Bob states that if God is on our side then God will stop the next war. I guess we’re on our own.

Here comes Nina again. This time accompanied folk-song style solely by a guitar as she orates the sad story of Hollis Brown who killed his wife, his five children and himself. But it was not a spur of the moment act. The song lays out how the economic hardships over the years drove him up a cul de sac. Once he hit the wall, his response was sacrifice himself and his family rather than die the desolate death of starvation. The song ends on a note that could be interpreted as either futility or hope, depending on one’s belief system. Counting up the deaths, the narrator tells us somewhere another seven people are born. Typical of Dylan he gives no hint of the conditions under which these new seven people enter the world, nor does Dylan even hint at their future. The Neville Brothers’ ghostly rendition of "The Ballad of Hollis Brown" over in the Contemporary section has the stillness of an abandoned farm after-the-fact; Nina’s version reads more like the morning news. It’s unsettling.

Folksinger Richie Haven kicks off five versions of “Just Like A Woman,” one of Bob Dylan’s signature songs. I’ve never been a fan of Richie Havens; in fact, I used to make fun mimicking his style of singing. Very passionate. Very flat. The rapturous response from the audience undergirds Haven’s popularity as perhaps the most famous male folk singer who happens to be Black. I include Havens because he is so highly respected and offers us a quintessential example of a folk approach to Bob Dylan, which approach is after all the root of Bob Dylan.

Back to Jamaica with Beres Hammond giving us a lovers rock, sensual version. Note the way Beres caresses the syllables, the ache in his voice like he’s begging even though it’s not a begging song. Though it’s difficult to resist Hammond down-on-one-knee plea, I really, really dig the dub version. Check it out.

And now here is the last of four appearances by Nina Simone. Nina opens with an abstract piano intro before painting a portrait in blue that mixes third-person and first-person narration, which rather than confusing us, actually heightens the veracity of Nina’s telling of the tale. The concluding chorus offers us a sense of Nina’s internal vulnerability, a vulnerability that includes a not usually apparent fragility.

Roberta Flack takes the opposite tack. Whereas Nina Simone sounded like an experienced woman looking backward over her life, Roberta voice floats with the youthfulness of a twenty-something at the end of her first major romantic affair. Another way to put it, Nina’s version is the novel, Roberta offers us the soundtrack to a Hollywood romance—we don’t know whether Nina will love again, we’re confident that love will win out for Roberta, or so it seems listening to the two versions back to back.

Now here is the screwball of the set—the O’Jays with a little known Dylan song that was the title of their 1991 comeback album, “Emotionally Yours,” although this live version is from the Dylan 30th Anniversary album. The voicing is typical O’Jays, the intertwining of passionate tenor from gravelly-voiced Eddie Lavert with the falsetto and backing voices of his cohorts Walter Williams and Eric Grant. This is perhaps the least recognizable as a Bob Dylan song.

We conclude with a personal favorite, Randy Crawford, the direct heir to Esther Phillips. She has that blues tone in spades, an unmistakable blues vibration resonates through her voice that cuts with the pleasure of a lover’s confident embrace: simultaneously strong and tender, unyielding and yet totally giving. Hers is one of the iconic examples of blues tonality; a tonality that goes both ways, i.e. up and down, and side-to-side, or at least that’s the way the blues people do it.

Randy captures our attention with her assay of Dylan’s famous anti-war song “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.” Given the state of the world today, it’s appropriate that we end the Dylan covers with a song that suggests it’s possible that we can end war in our lifetime. It’s time to put our guns into the ground. What a great image.
—Kalamu ya Salaam

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Jimi Hendrix. "Like A Rolling Stone"

 

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Dylan is an awesome, awesome lyricist           

I liked some of these covers; but I didn’t like most of them. Dylan’s lyrics are always so strangely at odds with what one commonly hears in pop. I don’t like when people perform Dylan’s lyrics without seeming to understand what he’s talking about. (And with Dylan, that’s pretty easy to do. As much as I like Dylan, I have to admit I’m frequently confused by him too.)

Let’s talk about some of the songs. Max Romeo’s re-write of "With God On Our Side" is interesting, but the performance itself is pedestrian. Gregory Isaacs’ version of "Mr. Tambourine Man" is hilarious. He’s singing all the words, but I’d bet half a paycheck he has no idea what he’s singing about. (Not that I know either. As I mentioned, Dylan is often inscrutable and "Mr. Tambourine Man" is certainly one of those times. I’m sure some institution of higher learning somewhere has a class named Dylan Lyrics Present and Past. I’d love to take it.)

Stevie is a great, great musician and songwriter. One of the few who might legitimately be called a genius of song. But here, Stevie was way into that period where he played so carefully, so unwilling to make mistakes, that it’s just boring. Stevie, circa Fullingness’ First Finale or Talking Book often played fat, funky, hot chords and sloppy, powerful rhythms, stuff that makes your woofer cones do weird things, stuff that makes you wonder (no pun) how he ever came up with such strangeness in the first place. But by the nineties, Stevie had become a walking, talking museum piece. Boooooooring.

Nina Simone. What can I say? Sometimes, I embarrass myself by liking Nina so much. Let me tell you how skilled Nina is as an interpreter of song. When Nina sings, "I’m going back to New York City / I do believe I’ve had enough," I’m sitting there, thinking, "Yeah, Nina. Go on back. You don’t have to put up with all this madness. What are you doing in Mexico anyway?" And frankly, I don’t know what the hell "Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues" blues is about. I don’t even know what the title means. My point is, when Nina sings, you’re drawn into the song, the characters, the situations. You feel yourself drawn into the world of the song even if you’re lost, a stranger in that world.

By contrast, as I listen to Mavis Staples sing "Gotta Serve Somebody" or the O’Jays sing "Emotionally Yours," even though I like the lyrics, I don’t get into the spirit of the song. It’s just people singing and playing. Singing and playing very well, mind you. But when Nina sings (and Jimi too, and both of those Nevilles interpretations), you don’t just hear it, you FEEL it.

Now, Ronald Isley is on some other shit. I’m convinced the man is a pimp. Not in the literal sense of one of those detestable scumbags who prostitutes women. I mean it in the metaphorical ghetto sense of a man who has such a way with women that they seem to virtually line up to put themselves at is considerable disposal; a man who talks so sweetly that the heart (not to mention other things) cannot resist; a man who, in matters of romance at least, can get a with murder.

I don’t know exactly what Dylan had in mind when he penned "Lay, Lady, Lay," but Ronald claims it and remolds it into the one thing he knows best—a seduction theme. On the page, Dylan’s lyrics read personally, specifically, even quietly. It reads like one man talking to one woman. It reads like the sort of thing that would be best spoken in a whisper. Ronald gets hold of it and, as pretty as it is, he could be singing it to any of his girls. The ‘lady’ in Ronald’s interpretation is as general as the ‘lady’ in the original is specific.

One other quick comment: I’m with Kalamu on the Beres Hammond. The song itself is ok, but the dub is really special. It’s a keeper.

Anyhow, no matter what either Kalamu or I thinks about any of these interpretations, the one thing I think anyone reading this should take away from this week’s songs, is that Bob Dylan is an awesome, awesome lyricist and craftsman of song. Other than the great Joan Armatrading and maybe Bob Marley, I can’t think of any modern lyricists who measure up to Dylan, no matter the musical genre. If, like me, you can’t stand Dylan’s singing, and you don’t have the time or resources to track down a bunch of Dylan interpretations by other artists, check out one of the books of his transcribed lyrics. They read like poetry, and good poetry at that.
—Mtume ya Salaam

Like A Rolling Stone

                  Lyrics by Bob Dylan

Once upon a time you dressed so fine
You threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn't you?
People'd call, say, "Beware doll, you're bound to fall"
You thought they all were kiddin' you
You used to laugh about
Everybody that was hangin' out
Now you don't talk so loud
Now you don't seem so proud
About having to be scrounging for your next meal.

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be without a home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?

You've gone to the finest school all right, Miss Lonely
But you know you only used to get juiced in it
And nobody has ever taught you how to live on the street
And now you find out you're gonna have to get used to it
You said you'd never compromise
With the mystery tramp, but now you realize
He's not selling any alibis
As you stare into the vacuum of his eyes
And he says do you want to make a deal?

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?

You never turned around to see the frowns on the jugglers and the clowns
When they all come down and did tricks for you
You never understood that it ain't no good
You shouldn't let other people get your kicks for you
You used to ride on the chrome horse with your diplomat
Who carried on his shoulder a Siamese cat
Ain't it hard when you discover that
He really wasn't where it's at
After he took from you everything he could steal.

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?

Princess on the steeple and all the pretty people
They're drinkin', thinkin' that they got it made
Exchanging all precious gifts
But you'd better take your diamond ring, you'd better pawn it babe
You used to be so amused
At Napoleon in rags and the language that he used
Go to him now, he calls you, you can't refuse
When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose
You're invisible now, you got no secrets to conceal.

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone ?

album: "Highway 61 Revisited" (1965)

Jimi Hendrix - Like A Rolling Stone @ Monterey Pop

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All Along The Watchtower

                            Lyrics by Bob Dylan

"There must be some way out of here" said the joker to the thief
"There's too much confusion", I can't get no relief
Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth
None of them along the line know what any of it is worth.

"No reason to get excited," the thief he kindly spoke
"There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke
But you and I, we've been through that, and this is not our fate
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late."

All along the watchtower, princes kept the view
While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too.

Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl
Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl.

album: "John Wesley Harding" (1967)

All Along The Watchtower—Jimi Hendrix

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Blowin' In The Wind

                           Lyrics by Bob Dylan

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
How many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, how many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they're forever banned?
The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

Yes, how many years can a mountain exist
Before it's washed to the sea?
Yes, how many years can some people exist
Before they're allowed to be free?
Yes, how many times can a man turn his head
Pretending he just doesn't see?
The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

Yes, how many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky ?
Yes, how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry ?
Yes, how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died ?
The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

album: "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan" (1963)

Stevie Wonder—Blowin' in the Wind

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Ballad Of Hollis Brown

                                Lyrics by Bob Dylan

Hollis Brown
He lived on the outside of town
Hollis Brown
He lived on the outside of town
With his wife and five children
And his cabin brokin' down.

You looked for work and money
And you walked a rugged mile
You looked for work and money
And you walked a rugged mile
Your children are so hungry
That they don't know how to smile.

Your baby's eyes look crazy
They're a-tuggin' at your sleeve
Your baby's eyes look crazy
They're a-tuggin' at your sleeve
You walk the floor and wonder why
With every breath you breathe.

The rats have got your flour
Bad blood it got your mare
The rats have got your flour
Bad blood it got your mare
If there's anyone that knows
Is there anyone that cares ?

You prayed to the Lord above
Oh please send you a friend
You prayed to the Lord above
Oh please send you a friend
Your empty pocket tell you
That you ain't a-got no friend.

Your babies are crying louder now
It's pounding on your brain
Your babies are crying louder now
It's pounding on your brain
Your wife's screams are stabbin' you
Like the dirty drivin' rain.

Your grass is turning black
There's no water in your well
Your grass is turning black
There's no water in your well
Your spent your last lone dollar
On seven shotgun shels.

Way out in the wilderness
A cold coyote calls
Way out in the wilderness
A cold coyote calls
Your eyes fix on the shortgun
That's hangin' on the wall.

Your brain is a-bleedin'
And your legs can't seem to stand
Your brain is a-bleedin'
And your legs can't seem to stand
Your eyes fix on the shortgun
That you're holdin' in your hand.

There's seven breezes a-blowin'
All around the cabin door
There's seven breezes a-blowin'
All around the cabin door
Seven shots ring out
Like the ocean's pounding roar.

There's seven people dead
On a south Dakota farm
There's seven people dead
On a south Dakota farm
Somewhere in the distance
There's seven new people born.

album: "The Times They Are A-Changin'" (1964)

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Just Like A Woman

                       Lyrics by Bob Dylan

Nobody feels any pain
Tonight as I stand inside the rain
Ev'rybody knows
That Baby's got new clothes
But lately I see her ribbons and her bows
Have fallen from her curls
She takes just like a woman, yes she does
She makes love just like a woman, yes she does
And she aches just like a woman
But she breaks just like a little girl.

Queen Mary, she's my friend
Yes, I believe I'll go see her again
Nobody has to guess
That Baby can't be blessed
Till she finally sees that she's like all the rest
With her fog, her amphetamine and her pearls
She takes just like a woman, yes she does
She makes love just like a woman, yes she does
And she aches just like a woman
But she breaks just like a little girl.

It's was raining from the first
And I was dying there of thirst
So I came in here
And your long-time curse hurts
But what's worse
Is this pain in here
I can't stay in here
Ain't it clear that.

I just can't fit
Yes, I believe it's time for us to quit
When we meet again
Introduced as friends
Please don't let on that you knew me when
I was hungry and it was your world
Ah, you fake just like a woman, yes you do
You make love just like a woman, yes you do
Then you ache just like a woman
But you break just like a little girl.

album: "Blonde On Blonde" (1966)

Richie Havens—Tupelo Honey—Just Like A Woman

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The Times They Are A-Changin'

                                 Lyrics by Bob Dylan

Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won't come again
And don't speak too soon
For the wheel's still in spin
And there's no tellin' who
That it's namin'
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside
And it is ragin'
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin'
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'.

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin'
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin'.

album: "The Times They Are A-Changin'" (1964)

Nina Simone—The times they are a changing

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The Death of Emmett Till

                                    Lyrics by Bob Dylan 

'Twas down in Mississippi not so long ago,
When a young boy from Chicago town walked through a
Southern door.
This boy's fateful tragedy you should all remember well,
The color of his skin was black and his name was Emmett Till.

Some men they dragged him to a barn and there they beat him up.
They said they had a reason, but I disremember what.
They tortured him and did some things too evil to
repeat.
There was screaming sounds inside the barn, there was
laughing sounds out on the street.

Then they rolled his body down a gulf amidst a blood-red rain
And they threw him in the waters wide to cease his
screaming pain.
The reason that they killed him there, and I'm sure it
ain’t no lie,
He was a Black skin boy so he was born to die
And then to stop the United States of yelling for a trial,
Two brothers they confessed that they had killed poor
Emmett Till.
But on the jury there were men who helped the brothers
commit this awful crime,
And so this trial was a mockery, but nobody seemed to mind.

I saw the morning papers but I could not bear to see
The smiling brothers walkin' down the courthouse stairs.
For the jury found them innocent and the brothers they went free,
While Emmett's body still floats the foam of a Jim Crow southern sea.

If you can't speak out against this kind of thing, a crime
that's so unjust,
Your eyes are filled with dead men's dirt, your mind is
filled with dust.
Your arms and legs they must be in shackles and chains, and
your blood it must cease to flow,
For you let this human race fall down so God-awful low!

This song is just a reminder to remind your fellow man
That this kind of thing still lives today in that
ghost-robed Ku Klux Klan.
But if all us folks that thinks alike, if we gave all we
could give,
We could make this great land of ours a greater place to live.

The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan

 *   *   *   *   *

The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll

                                                 Lyrics by Bob Dylan

 

William Zanzinger killed poor Hattie Carroll
With a cane that he twirled around his diamond ring finger
At a Baltimore hotel society gath'rin'
And the cops were called in and his weapon took from him
As they rode him in custody down to the station
And booked William Zanzinger for first-degree murder
But you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears
Take the rag away from your face
Now ain't the time for your tears.

William Zanzinger who at twenty-four years
Owns a tobacco farm of six hundred acres
With rich wealthy parents who provide and protect him
And high office relations in the politics of Maryland
Reacted to his deed with a shrug of his shoulders
And swear words and sneering and his tongue it was snarling
In a matter of minutes on bail was out walking
But you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears
Take the rag away from your face
Now ain't the time for your tears.

Hattie Carroll was a maid in the kitchen
She was fifty-one years old and gave birth to ten children
Who carried the dishes and took out the garbage
And never sat once at the head of the table
And didn't even talk to the people at the table
Who just cleaned up all the food from the table
And emptied the ashtrays on a whole other level
Got killed by a blow, lay slain by a cane
That sailed through the air and came down through the room
Doomed and determined to destroy all the gentle
And she never done nothing to William Zanzinger
And you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears
Take the rag away from your face
Now ain't the time for your tears.

In the courtroom of honor, the judge pounded his gavel
To show that all's equal and that the courts are on the level
And that the strings in the books ain't pulled and persuaded
And that even the nobles get properly handled
Once that the cops have chased after and caught 'em
And that ladder of law has no top and no bottom
Stared at the person who killed for no reason
Who just happened to be feelin' that way witout warnin'
And he spoke through his cloak, most deep and distinguished
And handed out strongly, for penalty and repentance
William Zanzinger with a six-month sentence
Oh, but you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears
Bury the rag deep in your face
For now's the time for your tears.

album: "The Times They Are A-Changin'" (1964)

*   *   *   *   *

Rolling Stone names Jimi Hendrix the ‘Greatest Guitarist of all Time,’—Jim FarberNew York Daily News—Jimi Hendrix has been proclaimed the “Greatest Guitarist of All Time” by a panel of musicians wrangled by Rolling Stone Magazine—Though dead for more than 40 years, Hendrix’s fiery and distinct style clearly continues to inspire, and intimidate, six-string pluckers the world over. “His playing was effortless,” wrote Rage Against The Machine axe man, and poll voter, Tom Morello, in an appreciation of Hendrix’s technique that will be printed in an issue of the magazine out Friday. “There’s not one minute of his recorded career that feels like he’s working hard at it — it feels like it’s all flowing through him.” Other guitarists in the vaunted list of Top 100 tip heavily towards British players who rose during the ‘60s, eating up the rest of the top five: Eric Clapton (2), Jimmy Page (3), Keith Richards (4) and Jeff Beck (5)—NYDailyNews

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

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Non-fiction

#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
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#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

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#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

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#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

*   *   *   *   *

The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michele Alexander

Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama's political success and Oprah Winfrey's financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today... than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits. Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don't know the truth about mass incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.—Publishers Weekly

*   *   *   *   *

Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis 

Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America. This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."

*   *   *   *   *

The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues


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Enjoy!

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

*   *   *   *   *

The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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posted 11 February 2008 

 

 

 

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