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sam:
To hell with crickets. Lately I’ve been listening to:

sam:
My wife gives me songs. I don’t mean she picks up a guitar, or sits down at a piano, and says “This one’s for you.” Her gifts are youtube links. She’ll hear something and say, “This might be a cycling song.” It usually is. She knows me well.

The latest is The Way I Feel, by Keane, from their album Cause and Effect. The line which caught her attention: A broken link, a missing part, a punctured wheel.

A reference to the faerie isn’t enough to make it a cycling song for my purposes. It needs a good hook, a great beat, and something else indefinable (or not) to give it access to my constantly changing playlist. Tunes falling into the genre of personal nostalgia can gain free admittance, but likely passed those tests decades ago.

Keane formed in 1995, the same year we moved to the UK. They’re from Battle, not far from home.


I don’t suppose they got that rope from Webb's Home & Garden StorE.

sam:



Chip who?

Who knew Jon Voight was such a good singer.


Close call for the multitalented entertainer


Wondering if he's just fucked one of the perfect people

sam:
Bob Dylan. What do you think when you hear the name? 60s greatness? Nobel madness? Indecipherable warbling?



My introduction to Dylan was in the 80s, when I was working as a dishwasher-turned-baker at a fancy restaurant in Ohio. (They served shark. There aren’t a lot of sharks in Lake Erie.) The head chef bade me lend an ear to Tangled Up In Blue. This I did, growing entranced. It started a listening love affair with the lyricist which has lasted ever after.

It’s impossible to name a favourite, but it wouldn’t be something from his early heyday, heart-thumping as some of those old standards are. I came in a bit after Empire Burlesque, not one of his best reviewed albums: Tight Connection to My Heart went straight to the top of my personal charts, and is intertwined with memories of that time. (I’d link to the video, but it’s terrible.*)  Possibly Tight Connection. No, Brownsville Girl. No, Nettie Moore. No, Jokerman. No, Mississippi, definitely Mississippi. Maybe...

That he could still mine gold during his much-derided born again period speaks to his talents.

His catalogue is incomprehensibly huge, bigger with every new iteration of a song, as some of them turn into almost completely different songs. There’s one for every mood, provided his vocal instrument isn’t a deal-breaker and give you the blues in the first place. “I was born with the gift of a golden voice,” sang contemporary Leonard Cohen. Little Bobby Zimmerman wasn’t. I don’t care. It aged to perfection, at least in the studio; not sure I could sit through a live show now in that neverending tour of his.

I bumped into Bob, almost literally, when I was at Scribner’s bookstore in Manhattan shortly before it vanished. Scribner’s was a grand institution, though its glory had faded before I arrived. It attracted all sorts of celebrities over the years. Patti Smith even used to work there, before she became that Patti Smith.

One day the floor manager informed a few of us that that we were in the presence of Dylan, and so we were. I grabbed an armfull of bestsellers and headed out. Spotted him. Bustled by, which necessitated his having to move out of my way, bending over a table of I’m going to say Trump’s latest ghostwritten memoir, to add colour, but who knows. That’s not a story I’ve been dining out on. He bought a whole stack of books, including one on lesbian nuns. (Probably this one.)

As one of those young interns at The Village Voice, I once had a short chat with Nat Hentoff about him. The noted jazz aficionado and civil libertarian had written the liner notes to The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. If I remember right, he didn't seem much interested in anything that had come out of the bard since Blood on the Tracks.

Here’s today’s offering, from the album Time Out of Mind, exquisitely produced by Daniel Lanois. It's not a turn it up kind of song: it needs the volume just so, to insinuate itself into the soul.


* As are most of his official videos. Must Be Santa is amusing though.

sam:

Letters from Rome has been a favourite ever since I heard it on Treme. At some point I gave this a listen, then set it aside… only to pick it up again the other day. Probably not a great cycling song, I thought, until I queued it right after Not Dark Yet, as if daring myself to fall either asleep or into a pothole of introspection.

It turns out to be brilliant on the road, if you're happy with a placid metronome. I’ve never followed racing, but it made me think of Miguel Induráin’s unrushed, durable heart beating as he won Tour after Tour.

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