The album is mixed...I'm tinkering with the order of songs--even though I read an excellent article today at Slate.com about the 33 1/3 book series, which heralds the end of the album format. The writer talks about how the 33 1/3 series is like a last gasp for the form. Albums still matter to me.
I want mine to matter to you...or at least I want for you to listen to it. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.
032: The Rolling Stones – Let It Bleed (1969)
When people ask me what's the biggest discovery I've made with this project thus far, my answer has been The Rolling Stones.
Have you heard of them?
Why did I believe that I hated them before now? Perhaps I was told as a child to steer clear of these junky Satanists.
OK, I will say that I can't listen to Gimme Shelter without thinking of Merry Clayton coming into the studio during the middle of the night, wearing her Chanel scarf and fur coat, and belting out that amazing vocal part (as she describes in the wonderful documentary 20 Feet From Stardom). The first several seconds of the video below show her and Jagger responding to her amazing and soloed vocal track.
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/IJouW1R6i_0?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen]
I love their cover of the Robert Johnson song Love In Vain. The production is so perfect and clean. I really like the slide guitar parts and the mandolin.
There is something infectious about the title track, Let It Bleed. The sexual and drug references are here. Yep. The song is sloppy and unsettling. Yet it works.
I like Mick Jaggers harmonica on Midnight Rambler. Keith Richards' guitar parts are always interesting...and don't disappoint here.
Keith sings lead on You Got The Silver--one of my favorite tracks here.
Monkey Man, not one of my favorite songs overall, has an extremely modern feel (especially the intro). "All my friends are junkies -- that's not really true"... "I hope we're not too messianic, or a trifle too Satanic"... Mick and Keith (the songwriters) are certainly putting it out there--and daring you to judge them--or maybe ultimately hoping that someone will rescue them.
OK, I guess I will say one more thing about You Can't Always Get What You Want. Those descending piano lines are revelatory (just as he's singing "but if you try some time")...taking an already beautifully universal song to a whole other level.
031: Bob Dylan – Bringing It All Back Home (1965)
My girlfriend loves Bob Dylan.
She must have 30 some-odd books about him.
She loves him like I love Susan Sarandon.
So, I want to love him too.
I tried some before this year's project (and before meeting her). I ended up falling in love with Blonde on Blonde.
But this album, I don't love. Not yet, anyway.
Lyrically, there's no contest. He's doing things that had never been done with lyrics--things that few (if any) can pull off even now that he's blazed those trails.
She Belongs To Me is my favorite song on this album--perhaps because it's a good entry point to this otherwise surreal and verse-intensive album.
This album was famously Bob Dylan's break from the folk scene that embraced him, and that he elevated. This is when he "went electric".
On The Road Again sounds like it could be a Rolling Stones song--but has those biting and winking lyrics and that bent-up and nasal vocal delivery that could only be Bob Dylan. I love the build up and release of the final line "honey, how come you don't move?"
Bob Dylan's 115th Dream is a great example of his illusory lyrics and his impressively creative storytelling skills. Show me another song that successfully does what he does here. I've never heard it.
In the 9-versed Gates Of Eden, you can get a real sense of his mastery of rhythm and rhyme. He never allows himself to get locked in a set amount of syllables or rhythm--he adds syllables and takes them away at will...and yet when he hits that last line of every verse, it's perfectly aligned for that powerful impact.
The lyrics on some of the longer songs on the album remind me of trying to do the required reading for some of my master's courses--the more I focus on the meaning, the more I can't hold onto it. If only I could highlight the sounds as they float through my ears...using any tricks I can to make sense of the sensorial, like holding on to water.
I love The Rolling Stones more and more with the discovery of each new record--in spite of myself. Hard to believe there's only one more of their albums on the list: Exile On Main St (#7).
I want to love Bob Dylan. Beyond Blonde on Blonde. There's an undeniable brilliance here--with unparalleled lyrical precision and story-telling. There are three more albums of his on this list (including BoB)--so I guess I'll have the opportunity.
Don't blow it Jesse.
030: Joni Mitchell – Blue (1971) 029: Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin (1969)
Want to listen ahead, or see some posts you may have missed? Check out the full list of the 100 Greatest Albums here.