Saturday, 19 December 2009
I have been editing for a few weeks now, and I have successfully incorporated child footage. The narrative has a real nostaglic feel to it. Many of the clips are reversed and it feels like the act is looking back and remembering her childhood. With this more resolved narrative, I have also been working on my promotional album cover. I have decided to call the album 'Out of Focus', as I felt it summed up music video and worked well. It ties in with the use of blur, and the use of photography. It is revelant and works. I have also included a rewind sign on the front of my album cover. I am currently working on the track titles but I would quite like them to do consistent and I plan to use this running theme based on the notion of remembering.
Saturday, 5 December 2009
I have spent the last week editing - my concept has developed a lot more.
I feel I have perfected the pace, and there is a strong sense of nostagia present. My music video features several different shots, and it feels like my act is looking back (again returning to the 'When I was a child..' idea). Next week I plan to incorporate the children footage. I believe that everything has to be our own footage. The old tapes at home I found of myself are 8mm so it is proving quite difficult to upload, but I refuse to give up. I will be uploading it somehow next week!
Above are two photographs I am going to include in my music videos. I am warming more to the first one, I took a few shots like this from different angles. I may include another timelapse.
Friday, 4 December 2009
Wednesday, 2 December 2009
I was really eager to edit and I don't feel the need to do a one for this particular creative project. I suspect this is because I made an animatic, and was so ashamed of it. So I've gone straight into final cut pro. It seems to be going really well. I was a little frustrated at first as I thought I did not have enough footage. My music video opens with an establishing shot of the TV shoot. I shot this as one long establishing shot, so I have cut it down and placed piano cut aways in between - giving my video a fast, edgy feeling. I forgot how fast the tempo of the song actually is. I really, really don't want my video to be repetitive - despite the fact that most music videos are. When I need to repeat a shot, I always do something different to it. I have flipped a few shots, reserved and added effects too.
So early into the editing process and consistency is starting to show. A running theme of televisions, which is good.
Thursday, 26 November 2009
I wish to create something similar to this.
It will feature the album cover at the bottom of the page alongside details. I dislike the way they have used the same image twice. I plan to use a similar photograph, not the exact same.
Shutter Speed: 0.6
Saturday, 14 November 2009
It was very, very windy and there was light rain. Luckily, all the heavy rain happened earlier. I went out about eight in the evening, but I should have gone out later as it was not really dark enough.
I stood on a bridge over a motorway - there was so much light around: the light from the cars, and the street lights.
It took me many attempts to get what I considered a successful shot. I wanted something quite dark, but not too dark I guess.
In order to get my successful shot I chose to use a short exposure as there was a lot of movement in the photographs.
Everytime I create an album, I'm never happy with it so I am either going to do:
Thursday, 12 November 2009
I have piano footage and shots of gritty stuff.
I plan to do shoot some long exposure stuff tomorrow evening.
Throughout the song the lyric "When I was a child..." appears again and again, I was thinking of using some footage of a child or perhaps Hannah's home videos if I can get hold of some. I think this could possible be the missing link to my video, as I wanted a juxtaposition and as the song is slightly creepy the happy footage of Hannah's childhood could work quite nicely out of context.
Sunday, 8 November 2009
The first concept album I ever came across was Alice Cooper's Welcome to my Nightmare, my dad used to play it when I was younger and I remember it very vividly.
Released in 1975, this was Cooper's first solo album.
1 Welcome to My Nightmare
2 Devil's Food
3 The Black Widow
4 Some Folks
5 Only Women Bleed
6 Department of Youth
7 Cold Ethyl
8 Years Ago
10 The Awakening
The songs form a journey through the nightmares of a child names Steven.
A year later, the sequel album was released.
Alice Cooper goes to Hell
1 Go to Hell
2 You Gotta Dance
3 I'm the Coolest
4 Didn't We Meet
5 I Never Cry
6 Give the Kid a Break
8 Wake me Gently
9 Wish You Were Here
10 I'm Always Chasing Rainbows
11 Going Home
Welcome to my nightmare
I think you're gonna like it
I think you're gonna feel... you belong
A nocturnal vacation
You want to feel at home 'cause you belong
Welcome to my nightmare
Welcome to my breakdown
I hope I didn't scare you
That's just the way we are when we come down
We sweat and laugh and scream here
'cuz life is just a dream here
You know inside you feel right at home here
Welcome to my breakdown
You're welcome to my nightmare
Welcome to my nightmare
I think you're gonna like it
I think you're gonna feel... you belong
We sweat laugh and scream here
'cuz life is just a dream here
You know inside you feel right at home here
Welcome to my nightmare
Welcome to my breakdown
Get ready for the lady
She's gonna be a treat
Simmer slightly 'til ready
Make her soft too
Make her sweet
I kiss the tears off from your chest
[ Alice Cooper Lyrics are found on www.songlyrics.com ]
I felt the poison fright that's in your breath
I knew your precious life and I know your death
I squeeze the love out of your soul
All the perfect love that's in your soul
You're just another spirit on parole
& so on.
I decided to use a photograph of JUST Hannah's face. I used my one of my favourites from the black and white series and cropped it, so only Hannah's face was visible.
For the layer I used this photograph: http://www.flickr.com/photos/littleblackcloud-in-a-dress/4085694486/ and made it black and white.
These two attempts are my first, although I am happy with them I feel like I can produce something so much more better. I want to pay homage to an artist or a musican or something.
You can see that on my first attempt there are no track names.
I quite like the idea of producing a concept album, but I do not know how I would go about it.
Friday, 6 November 2009
Here is my first attempt. When I first did this, I wasn't happy with the front cover. It was too dark, and I felt it was really boring and I wanted to include a close-up shot Hannah took of the fuzzy television so I decided use it as another layer:
Although, I wanted to film everything all at once, I am happy that it is being postponed as it allows me time to prepare and get off with other things.
- Start researching post-production styles, and think about how I want my video to look.
- Organize and get props for film shoot.
- Get on and make my digipack.
Thursday, 5 November 2009
I have had some feedback from the roughcuts that I have taken into much consideration.
The one factor that everyone has spoke about critically is the lighting. You cannot see my act that clearly, as the majority of the establishing shots taken are only television lit. The room is black itself and my subject is wearing black also.
The concept of the video was that my act would be revealed at the end of the video, but I will still need to get some more shots anyway.
I plan to film again Friday 20th November, which is a staff training day. In the evening an event I am collaboratively organizing is taking place, Battle of the bands. The bands will be coming into school for rehearsals from the afternoon onwards so I will have to come in early.
Creating the mise-en-scene will be the only element that will take up most of our time. We have had a practice run and now know where everything is, so it should not take as long.
Plans for re-shooting
- Have my subjects perhaps wearing a colour not so different from black, such as: grey or white.
- Have a television out of the shot, but close to Hannah so she is visible.
- Use external lighting, such as a lamp from the art department (which I used when photographing). Need to move the lighting closer.
Wednesday, 4 November 2009
The first name I was drawn to was: Scart Twelve and The Blur, I feel it works better than Bad Weeds Grow Tall.
Sublimical is when a message is buried in another medium. Initially the technique is used to trick the audience to some extent, the idea is that the audience subconsiously take in the message. This technique is banned in advertising.
When applying this technique to a film advertisement you will often see flashes.
I like the way this is done, in a sublimical fashion. I wish to do this with my cut-aways.
The first time I ever saw it done was in Fight Club.
Tuesday, 3 November 2009
Yesterday I began my music video shoot. This was the only day I could get the broadcast camera and I wanted to get a head start as my setting is very experimental. I felt I would benefit from starting this early so I can decide exactly how I want my setting to be like. So really, the shoot was just to establish the mise-en-scene and to record a few establishing shots.
It took quite some time setting up the mise-en-scene as I used about six or seven televisions. The room I filmed in lacked plug sockets so about three extension cables were in use.
I tried my best to film all the footage I needed but I might have to shoot some more.
Next time round it will probably not take as long, as I will know exactly where to get the televisions from and the extention cables from.
I wanted to make the most out of having the broadcast camera so I filmed as much footage as I could. I want my music video to be dark, urban and gritty. It rained this morning so I got some footage of raindrops like I wanted to. This is quite a basic shot so I experimented with different focuses and angles.
I will probably include some of this footage in my pitch tomorrow.
Monday, 2 November 2009
I added another three pages of story boarding today and actually finished my animatic. :D
I really, really do not like the way animatics look in general. I cannot draw and I feel my animatic does not portray how I want my video to look. Having said that I do think animatics are vital when it comes to making a film. I like how they do so much more than storyboards. But with this one, I did it because I had to.
My animatic may come across as repetitive, but I can assure you, my video will NOT be at all repetitive.
I found that there was only so much I could draw, and the majority of the things I wish to do in my video I did not really know how to draw. When it comes to the pitch, I feel I was probably be able to explain my concept a bit better.
- At the beginning of the video, I would like to have some sort of establishing shot without any music. At the time, I wanted to start the video with a mid-shot of my act with her back to the camera, but now I want to start with an establishing shot of the room she is in with the televisions. I felt a fade transition would work best as the image fades out, the music will begin.
- Throughout the video, I had to repeat the same drawing of the piano. I did not think it mattered using the same drawing, but I guess it does look a little repetitive. I plan to use several cutaways of Hannah playing the piano. I want to use them in a subliminal fashion and have them appearing in between other clips. When it comes to post-production, I plan to edit them in a way which makes them appear and disappear quickly, I want them to look edgy and modern. When it comes to filming, I will shoot the same shot from different angles.
Sunday, 1 November 2009
I was planning to shoot on the first Monday back so I decided to start on my animatic. I had sheets and sheets of storyboarding that I scanned in, but I still didn't have enough for two minutes. I was really suprised to be honest and it was a little frustrating.
Another setback, MY METRONOME HAS BEEN LOST.
You can never rely on males.
Tomorrow I'm going to ask the music department if they have one. If not, I'll chase up the boy that has the metronome or I'll just have to buy one myself.
Over the halfterm I have been storyboarding, so I will continue with my animatic tomorrow.
After school I have the broadcast camera booked. As I am still metronome-less, I plan to film the projection footage and get it out of the way first.
I also hope to do a photoshoot with Hannah.
Wednesday, 21 October 2009
I hope I don't have the same problem as last year though. My cast being unreliable, when shooting a continuity task last year I was always running after my actors (as I needed to re-shoot). After weeks and weeks of failed chasing, I decided to use completely different actors, and start over. (http://videokid-media.blogspot.com/2009/02/continuity-piece.html).
It was worrying because this was such a small task, and when creating an opening title sequence last year I was worried I was going to run out of time and waste my time chasing up people. But I managed to create a opening anyway.
I plan to film the first day back after halfterm, after school.
We're supposed to be pitching our music video on the first lesson back after halfterm, which is the Wednesday.
If all goes to plan, I should have some footage I can show as opposed to an animatic, and all the planning stuff?
Friday, 16 October 2009
I want to create a real unique setting for my music video, but I'm not entirely sure how I want it to look. I have a few motifs that I want to be the main focus but at school my creative juices got flowing and now I want to do so many different things with my music video.
I'm definately going to include projection. I plan to record some footage of Hannah (my act) being deadpan, and then project it at some point during my music video.
I also wish to use this footage from this music video:
I want to use this existing sequence from a linkin park video What I''ve Done. The sequence is a short time lapse of weeds growing tall but rewound. It only lasts for a couple of seconds, and I thought it would be relevant as my act's name is called Bad Weeds Grow Tall.
Friday, 2 October 2009
2. Genre: Experimental
3. Brief description of artiste: English, piano-driven 19 year old, female.
4. Target audience: Teenagers who are nonconformists and who want an alternative as apposed to generic pop bands.
5. Biography: History: Grew up in Camden, Her parents were bohemiam and had their own pirate radio, she used to sing 70s and 80s covers. When her parents past away she got a job on a real radio station and worked her way up so she could have her own slot and initially started to sing on the air. Once she belted out a few covers and recieved postitive feedback she started to write her own material. A contact of the radio station recommended her to an independent record label. Music influences: include: Nico, The Cure, David Bowie, Patti Smith and many more. Discography: A cover album with a B-side of some demos. Up and coming tour/gig dates: Tribute to Nico tour. Making an appearance at an Andy Warhol exhibition.
6. How the artist's image will be constructed: Where do you propose to push the artist's image?: Besides it being very much piano driven, there will be a real independent feel to Hannah's music as she does not only use a piano, she uses a little box that contains several noises, a laptop and to accompany her challenging music she uses gruesome lyrics.
7. How will you use web-space?: There is a website set up to get a visual feel to her music. It also has gig updates and lyrics for fans to download. We shall also be setting up an official flickr account to show fans the making of music videos or general events and also a twitter account for fans to read Hannah's personal updates.
8. What other 'gimmicks' and PR stunts do you have in mind?: Appearing at many art exhibitions, Once the demos and new album is complete she will be doing a sampling in London, at Sketch.
9. Initial Gig Venues: Royal Festival Hall, Islington
10. Any alliances suggested or already forged - How will these be exploited?:
11. How do you propose to get the press involved?: Press Release informing them about the exhibition appearances
Sunday, 20 September 2009
Here is the song I wanted to use. Out of all the songs I jotted down, this was the song where I listened to lyrics and imagined a video to marry up with it. Little did I know that I had to market a brand new act alongside it. The singers in my song are two older men, David Byrne and Brian Eno. They are both amazing but where am I going to find two older men willing to be promoted? I feel it will be a lot more easier to do something different, in order to market a new act. So yeah, I am kind of back to square one (sorry Whittacker)..but it's not all bad, I have some sort of idea what I want to do.
I wish to use an obscure piece of music, but is there such a thing as being too obscure? I want my piece to be markable.
There is a few tracks by Soap&Skin I would love to use.
Their sound would be easy to market as it is just a 19 year old female on a piano. There would be a range of shots I could use, different angled piano shots I am thinking as the act has to feature in the video, doesn't have to be miming.
I also wish to play around with long exposure this term, I spent a year looking at it in photography now I wish to push the boat out a little and experiment with it a little differently, perhaps with traffic.
By long exposure I mean this:
This band is made up of six girls, all quite punky and quirky in appearance, but at the same time, they are very attractive. Generally they have behaved in public (they have done some public work in the local area - gigging in pubs and clubs and a spot or two on the local radio stations) although this could be an issue in the future. They play their own instruments and write their own material. They have been gigging in Glasgow where they hail from and have a fairly working class background. They already have a loyal following, mostly created through a grrls network and word of mouth. This needs formalising but is a strong aspect to follow up for them. The girl's ages are 19-23. They are all single. Their music is fast paced generally and their lead singer has a husky voice (rather than a reedy or 'thinner' sound). They have a drummer, a bassist, a guitarist, a lead singer and a violinist. Their lyrics focus on feminist issues. They are feisty and not tame although they could be channelled to a wider audience than they now enjoy. Their single to be marketed is called "Don't fit in your space".
Guidelines for your pitch
1) How the artist's image will be constructed
a. Your intended semiosis/meanings
b. WHERE you propose to push the artist's image
c. How you will create a BRAND identity
2) How will you use web-space?
a. What sites will you use and what style?
b. What other internet plans do you have?
3) What other 'gimmicks' and PR stunts do you have in mind?
4) Initial Gig venues/music outlets - how will you get their music heard?
5) Any alliances suggested or already forged - How will these be exploited?
6) How do you propose to get the press involved?
7) Practical Issues
a. Who EXACTLY is the target audience?
b. How will the merchandising work?
c. How will this extend the brand image?
d. What sort of CD and other promotional art styles and ideas have you got?
The band already have a niche audience consisting of males and females from age ten-eighteen. Their ideologic values, lyrics and attitude appeals to the girls and their image appeals to the male audience. In order to broaden the fanbase, we plan to set-up a twitter page for fans to see the band's updates and to hear about upcoming appearances. Twitter could also attract new fans. A music myspace will also allow the band's music to be heard and once again could attract a much, wider audience.
As the band have been doing local gigs their loyal fans and the new fans from the net will follow them to the small venues at first, like Islington, Camden Underworld initially attracting more of a fanbase. These gigs will be advertised on twitter and myspace, the gig venues will soon become bigger and bigger, from Roundhouse to Wembly! Having fans from all over the world coming to see them until they do a european tour.
Friday, 11 September 2009
Wednesday, 9 September 2009
Here is one experiemental musician I love.
Soap & Skin is the piano-driven musical project of 19-year-old Austrian artist Anja Plaschg. After releasing a string of songs on compilations and a series of live appearances throughout 2008, Plaschg released an untitled EP the same year, consisting of four tracks and including a cover of Nico’s “Janitor of Lunacy.” 2009 saw the first full length Soap & Skin album, “Lovetune for Vacuum”, released on Coach Records.
I just recently got into her stuff earlier this year. I went to see Patti Smith at the meltdown festival and Soap & Skin was her opening act.
I would love to do something like this. Projections again, you see.
He is frequently credited as Dave "Rave" Ogilvie, but should not be confused with Dave Desroches, who has used the stage name "Dave Rave" without an additional surname, or with Kevin Ogilvie (also known as Ogre) of Skinny Puppy. He has done remixes for Tool, Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, Puscifer, and David Bowie among others.
Early industrial music was known for featuring tape editing, stark percussion and loops distorted to the point where they had degraded to harsh noise. Vocals were often sporadic, early performances often consisted of taboo-breaking elements such as sado-masochistic imagery or symbolism. Industrial groups typically focus on transgressive subject matter.
The Birthday Massacre seem pretty normal now compared to this stuff, right?
I'm also worrying about the image I am going to protect through my music video.
For now, here is some of the modern music I do like:
The Birthday Massacre - a band I stumbled across in 2006 (my gothy stage obviously) via socialnetworking. This was the first song I heard by them: Blue. I really liked their sound. I had honestly never heard anything like it. I grew up listening to the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Elvis Costello. No-one I knew had ever heard of them, I loved it. I had always listened to my father's music and for the first time in my life I felt like I had my own sense of individuality as everyone thought I was crazy for liking them! It sounds really cheesy, but this is the reason I still listen to them.
I fell in love with frontwoman Chibi, when I went to see them at Islington in 2007. Their image can certainly be stereotyped I guess. I want to create an image that challenges stereotypes, something different. I don't quite know how I'm going to do this.
The videos they produce are quite different, this is what I like about them.
They are an amazing band, in 2002, they independently released a limited edition CD entitled Nothing and Nowhere. In July, 2004, they released a nin song EP entitled Violet and at the end of the year, re-released Nothing and Nowhere with new sleeve artwork. In the fall of 2004, the band was signed to Repo Records in Germany, and released a remastered version of Violet in Europe.
In 2005 the band signed to Metropolis Records and released Violet in the U.S.A., Canada, the UK and most of South America. In August, the band began a series of international tours taking them to Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Belgium.
Also in August, a DVD consisting of a video for the song Blue was released. (Which I have) It also includes behind-the-scenes footage, interviews, a studio performance of Nevermind as well as live performances of Violet and Video Kid. The centerpiece of the DVD was of course the Dan Ouellette- directed video for Blue.
In June 2007, the band began working on a new record with Canadian producer/engineer Dave "Rave" Ogilvie. The demo version of the song Kill the Lights (Walking with Strangers) was released on Vampire Freaks (http://vampirefreaks.com/u/thebirthdaymassacre) and MySpace (http://www.myspace.com/thebirthdaymassacre) in January 2007. Looking Glass (another single from the same album) was released on the social networking sites in August.
purple defines them
Monday, 7 September 2009
in all seriousness though, one of Dylan's first electric pieces - it was also notable for its film clip which first appeared in D.A. Pennebaker's documentary, Don't Look Back.
What's amazing about it, is the number of political digs the song features and the amount of artists it influenced.
The line's in the first verse are a reference to the production of LSD and the politics of the era.
The song also depicts some of the growing conflicts between 40-hour workers and the emerging 1960s counterculture. The widespread of drugs, and turmoil surrounding the Vietnam War, etc. The song also throws up a number of references to the struggles created by the American civil movement. "Bctter stay away from those/ that carry around a fire hose".
The song has been covered many times, in a range of styles.
Gregory Isaacs has covered it, Tim O'Brien, The Red Hot Chili Peppers too.
Elvis Costello's, Pump It Up was inspired by this song also.
Incase you haven't learnt by now, Bob Dylan is my favouritest person EVER
I'm not sure if I want to use one of his songs though,
Friday, 4 September 2009
The video opens with a very interesting close-up of Imogen looking through a transparent circle. A different way to open a music video, in my opinion. The camera then cuts to a close-up of what's on the other side. A point of view shot for the audience. This shot beautifully matches the opening lyric "bodies disengage..."
As she begins to sing, the camera pans out, making her face smaller and smaller. To me it seems that right away Heap is challenging the hegemonic values of miming in a music video. In most videos, usually the singer just sings to the camera. In this case, she is not actually interacting with the audience. The transparent object is like a barrier almost, keeping the audience intriguid.
Before she interacts with the audience, we are shown one last point of view shot of the bodies disengaging. There is a bright fade out and the audience have broken the barrier and are now in the picture. The people are repeated and blurry tieing in to the opening lyric of the next verse
"it's just an echo game...". She begins to mime directly to the audience, and the camera switches between her and the people.
"The urge to feel your face, and blood rushing to paint. My handprint". When it comes to her handprint, she mimes slightly aggressively, as she passes the camera.
The end of the second verse is built up of different cut-up angles of Imogen lip syncing. As the chorus starts, she begins to run. A sense of rush is built up, "first train home, I've got to get on it".
"Temporal deadzone, where clocks are barely breathing. Yet no-one cares to notice, for all the yelling, all night clamour to hold it together"
As she sings about no-one taking any notice, the walls that surround her move closer away. The use of the word 'clamour' anchors the idea of rushing.
"I want to run in fields, paint the kitchen and love someone"
As Imogen sings about her desires, the walls close in on her playing on the idea that perhaps she hasn't got enough time, and she is rushing to do all these things before the walls close in on her.
This idea is then anchored by: "No I can't do any of that here, can I?" As that lyric ends with a retorical question, it seems Imogen is telling the audience and perhaps if she was speaking in conversation she would expect you to agree.
She then breaks out of the box and continues to run as we return to the chorus.
Towards the end of the video, she seems a little frustrated as she runs around, sings to the camera, leans against a wall in a fed-up manor and waves her hands around sarcastically.
"What matters to you, doesn't matter, matter to me. What matters to me, doesn't matter, matter to you. What matters to you, doesn't matter matter to them. What matters to them, doesn't change anything"
There is something quite playful about the ending of this video. She watches herself running around, a point of view shot shows her playing with the circle in a hamster-like way. As the camera cuts between shots of her laying down in the circle and her playing with it, an idea is built up that other people's opinions do not matter. As she picks up the circle like a box, she goes home.
This record label is amazing really: Columbia is the oldest surviving brand name in pre-recorded sound (founded in 1888). It went on to release records by plently of notable singers, instrumentalists and groups.
From 1961 to 1990, it's recordings were released outside the U.S. and Canada on the CBS Records label before adopting the Columbia name in most of the world.
Today it is a premier subsidiary label of Sony Music Entertainment.
Steve Barnett and Rick Rubin are the co-heads of Columbia Records.
It features artists I like signed to the label such as: David Bowie, Patti Smith, Bruce Springsteen & Bob Dylan.
It also features a catalogue of new artists such as: Calvin Harris, Beyoncé and MGMT.
What's nice about the label is the fact they still have their 'golden oldies' as the majority of them are still creating records:
- Bruce Springsteen latest release being 'Working on a Dream', his 16th studio album which was released at the beginning of this year.
- Patti Smith latest release being 'Twelve', a cover album which came out in 2007.
Patti Smith's cover of Nirvana's 'Smells like Teen Spirit'.
The album also includes covers of The Doors, Bob Dylan, REM and The Beatles.
Johnny Cash: The Fabulous Johnny Cash After making a name for himself on Sun Records, towards the end of his three-year contract Cash started saving his better new material. The results appeared on Fabulous, his Columbia debut, with five great Cash songs including “Frankie’s Man, Johnny,” “I Still Miss Someone,” “Don’t Take Your Guns to Town,” and “Pickin’ Time,” and mostly well-chosen covers. Among the latter are Dorothy Love Coates’s gospel favorite “That’s Enough,” proving that producer Don Law’s promise that Cash would have more freedom regarding his musical direction than Sun’s Sam Phillips had allowed. Aside from the Jordonaires’ syrupy backing vocals, Law kept the arrangements surprisingly stripped down for a major-label country album, only adding subtle drumming to Cash’s group The Tennessee Two (guitarist Luther Perkins and bassist Marshall Grant) and, very occasionally, light touches of steel guitar and piano. As a result, this record largely sounds timeless.
Bob Dylan: The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan Dylan’s second album opened eyes because it unleashed his superb songwriting on the world with eleven brilliant, stylistically varied originals. For the socially conscious, it offered anti-war and pro-civil rights masterpieces: the acerbic “Masters of War” (arguably the most pointed anti-war song ever), the more philosophical “Blowin’ in the Wind,” the chilling “Oxford Town” (a then-topical look at an incident of racist violence in the Mississippi town of that name), and the poetic, dread-filled “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.” Dylan’s off-the-cuff humor was on display in “Bob Dylan’s Blues,” the post-apocalytic “Bob Dylan’s Dream,” and “I Shall Be Free.” Even more biting wit comes in the kiss-off “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.” “Down the Highway” offered Dylan’s take on raw blues. One of Dylan’s three best albums, this doesn’t have a weak track on it.
Bob Dylan: The Times They Are A-Changin' After the humor of the previous year's LP, this was a slap in the face, or a wake-up call: cold fury aimed at injustice and war. For all that, though, the raw, desolate sound of the album was more intimate lament than protest-song sing-along. Sam Cooke, among others, greatly admired the clarion call of the title track.
The Byrds: Mr. Tambourine Man and Turn! Turn! Turn!
The Byrds gave an American answer to the challenge of the Beatles with these two LPs, proving co-leader Gene Clark ("I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better," "Here Without You," She Don't Care About Time") a fine songwriter. But it was their #1 hit covers of Dylan (title track of the first album) and Pete Seeger (second album title track) that made the biggest waves, birthed folk-rock, and helped bring Dylan (five songs on the two albums) into the mainstream.
Bob Dylan: Bringing It All Back Home
This has a split personality: on side one, Dylan was controversially backed by a rock band, while side two returns to acoustic folk. Yet the songwriting was basically the same, and Dylan’s increasingly surreal lyrics were approaching new heights of inspiration. “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” was Dylan’s first Top 40 song, if barely (for one week at #39); its many memorable phrases (most famously, “You don’t need a weather man / To know which way the wind blows” and “Don’t follow leaders / watch the parking meters”) made a larger impact on the national consciousness than on the pop chart. Dylan’s meanings were becoming more allusive (and, for many, more elusive), but the song’s anti-establishment bent was nonetheless clear. The wild imagery of “Gates of Eden” was not folk music no matter how barebones the musical arrangement. This hit #6 on the album chart.
Bob Dylan: Highway 61 Revisited
This reached #3 and changed rock history. With its lead track, “Like a Rolling Stone,” Dylan even neared the top of the singles chart himself; the song changed rock forever and made Dylan a mainstream figure. At over six minutes, it was twice the length of most pop singles, but so compelling and pivotal that many radio stations played it all anyway. Full-bore rockers (“Tombstone Blues,” “From a Buick 6,” and the title track’s devastating but hilarious critique of modern society), rollicking shuffles of explosive, caustic poetry (“It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry,” and the searing dissection of the befuddled bourgeousie “Ballad of a Thin Man”), the scruffily beautiful and nearly uncategorizable romantic plaint “Queen Jane Approximately,” the mysterious, evocative “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues”; all offer layers upon layers of meaning across a variety of sounds and moods, capped by the closing “Desolation Row,” an acoustic ten-verse epic that takes over 11 minutes to hop around two millennia while mixing historical figures and characters from Shakespeare and the Bible in with Dylan’s.
Johnny Cash: Orange Blossom Special
Cash’s career took a surprising turn here with three covers of Dylan songs, most notably “It Ain’t Me, Babe,” which had made it to #4 on the Country singles chart in 1964 -- Dylan’s lyrics could speak to more demographics than expected. It presaged Cash’s turn to a more serious persona, though one that would always feature humor. The more traditional title track made it to #3.
A two-LP set when that was unheard of in rock, which shows how prolific Dylan’s inspiration was in this period, it reached #6 in spite of its greater expense. The amount of variety on it is dazzling, Dylan’s wordplay masterful, the music compelling in its loose exuberance. It opens with the deliberate, humorous chaos of “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35,” another #2 single, but also includes the personal and relatively straightforward “I Want You” (#20), finding Dylan sounding positively randy, and the tenderly perceptive yet unflinchingly detailed “Just Like a Woman” (#33), while a lot of songs suggest that the severe flux of his personal life was providing ample fodder for soong topics. There was room for ruminative epics (“Visions of Johanna” and the 11-minute relationship memoir “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands”), poetic and playful wordplay (“Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again”), sharp-tongued blues (“Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat”), absurdist blues (“Obviously Believers”), the circusy “Most Likely You Go Your Way and I’ll Go Mine,” and much more on a 14-song album. Kooper returns to anchor the sound on organ, while Hawks lead guitarist Jaime (AKA Robbie) Robertson slips into the Mike Bloomfield role with some burning solos, and Nashville sessionmen have the time of their lives rocking with a country roll that makes it all fun to listen to.
Simon & Garfunkel: Sounds of Silence; Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme
Tom Wilson (the same Columbia producer who shaped Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone”) took a promising song from Simon & Garfunkel’s unsuccessful debut, the folkie Wednesday Morning, 3 AM, added electric backing under the duo’s vocals and acoustic guitar while they weren’t around, and got a hit single from it that became the title track of their next album, Sounds of Silence, released in January. It hit #1 on the LP chart. Simon had been in England, where he had absorbed many influences, notably Jackson C. Frank (it’s obvious on Simon’s “Kathy’s Song”; Simon returned the favor by producing Frank’s debut LP) and Davy Graham (using the opening riff of Graham’s “Anji” for “Somewhere They Can’t Find Me,” then following it with a cover of “Anji” itself). Simon was also more literate (adapting an Edward Arlington Robinson poem for “Richard Cory”) than the average rocker, or folkie for that matter. So, while other folkies going electric drew on the Beatles, Simon had a different deck of cards to deal from. They all drew on Dylan, of course (Bob Johnston took over the LP’s production from Wilson, just as he had on Highway 61 Revisited); the organ on “I Am a Rock” is extremely reminiscent of Al Kooper’s contribution to “Like a Rolling Stone.” In October, S&G hit again with what I always think of as the herb album. Their success had earned them total control, and they became a bit less folk-rock, more art-folk-pop, as shown immediately by the harpsichord on "Scarborough Fair/Canticle" (the title track, sort of) and the way two songs are meshed in Ivesian fashion. There’s still Dylanesque organ and even wordplay (“The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine,” “A Simple Desultory Philippic”), still British influence (“The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)” is rather like skiffle with sophisticated production), and Simon once again wears his literary interests on his sleeve (“The Dangling Conversation”). Things occasionally teeter on the edge of pretension, but sheer beauty saves them.