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20 August 2005 at 16:48

not like a rolling stone

The world's rock and film stars recently decided that Bob Dylan's Like A Rolling Stone was the most important cultural moment of the last 50 years. Although it was a fantastic sound, for me they chose the wrong performer (but the right songwriter).

Many people already know that Dylan has said he actually preferred the Hendrix version of All Along The Watchtower, and it also ranks as #48 in Rolling Stone's list of 500 greatest recordings.

I'd go further than Rolling Stone, and say that after Hendrix recorded it, he and everyone else might as well have put away their gear, because nobody since then has come close to doing anything so new and wildly exhilarating. Not just his playing and singing, but the intro, the drumming, the barely-controlled energy, the use of discords for effect. And of course Dylan's words and tune. I heard it again on the radio last night, on a big A.M. radio just like when it first came out, and almost gasped at such mastery.

And I just noticed something else. Not only does the third Hendrix album contain this song, but its name, Electric Ladyland, contains the word Dylan. I can find no reference to this on Google, so if Google doesn't know about it, it means I've just had my first-ever original thought, and my life has not been a waste of time after all.

Some more trivia: Hendrix changed some of the words, nonsensically perhaps - "None will level on the line, Nobody of it is worth"

The correct lyrics are available at e.g. Mireille's blog, and there's discussion of their meaning here, a nice analysis of the recording here, and some opinions here.

I'm hoping for some opinionated comments here, arguing that Smells Like Teenage Undies, Corn In The Usa, and You Are The Wind Beneath My Kilt, etc. are works of superior genius.

Blogger hotboy said...

Adolf! I saw Hendrix at the Isle of Wight in 1970. He played two songs (one God Save The Queen) and then stopped to tune his guitar. That's when I fell asleep. (Well, I'd been having a busy time!)Not many people can say they fell asleep during a Hendrix concert! Hope this helps. Hotboy  


Blogger Heather said...

I keep thinking there is noting remotely as "emergently exciting" happening in the music scene now - not like when Hendrix was alive anyway. Everything today is so recycled and BTDT.

On the upswing, I am glad to see that my all tine favortie made the top 20.  


Blogger robmcj said...

Hotboy. Did you go to the Pink Floyd concert at the Edinburgh University pill centre? That's the only one I ever slept through, due to an altered state of consciousness.

Heather. Your favourite, Astral Weeks. I first heard that during another seriously-altered state, and as a result it was burned into memory, although I was actually wary of ever listening to it again. I remember it had a texture like honey.  


Blogger robmcj said...

BTDT - Before The Days of Terrorism?
Before The Deluge of Tripe?  


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