“Up to Me.”
Biograph. Side Tracks.
Recorded February 8, 2018.
This song was recorded in A&R Studios in New York City on September 16, 1974 in one take and September 19, 1974 in seven takes. The song was sandwiched between “Simple Twist of Fate” and “Idiot Wind” so… read into that what you will. (All renditions can now be heard on The Bootleg Series, Volume 14: More Blood, More Tracks and we recommend coupling that with Steven Hyden’s “An Ode to the Greatest Bob Dylan Song You Haven’t Heard” at The Ringer.) This has never been performed live.
Song Itself (10:00)
The song is a masterpiece. Like “Tangled Up in Blue,” it blurs the lines between who we are and who we want to be. In some ways, it’s no different than the surreal landscapes from the ’60s. For any other artist, this is a pinnacle song. For Dylan, it’s an outtake.
The guitar and bass of Tony Brown are familiar to any Dylan fan and instantly take you back to Blood on the Tracks, which is a good thing. It also just… starts… which puts this in rare company (“Hard Times in New York Town” and “Clothes Line Saga” are so close; “License to Kill” is a drumbeat away; “Maybe Someday” is, unfortunately, the only one that truly fits.)
Daniel breaks down the gems buried throughout the song, including the internal rhymes, Dylan’s vocal flourishes (Well I just can’t rest without your love, I need your company), lines that could begin epic novels (In fourteen months I’ve only smiled once and I didn’t do it consciously) and lines that could haunt dreams (The old Rounder in the iron mask slipped me the master key). And the ending, which would have closed Blood on the Tracks much different than “Buckets of Rain:”
And if we never meet again, baby, remember me
How my lone guitar played sweet for you that old-time melody
And the harmonica around my neck, I blew it for you, free
No one else could play that tune, you know it was up to me
Kelly’s interpretations (beginning at the 17:00 mark) are amazing and highly recommended. “Murder Bob” is definitely a vibe this season and he’s in his infancy here. Just when you thought you knew Dupree!!
Mixed Up Confusion
No official Mixed Up this week, but you can listen to my recording of “Up to Me” that I recorded back in the summer of 2005, when I was 19.
Kelly listened to… not Peter Gabriel but a playlist with all the ’80s feels (“Higher Love” by Steve Winwood; “In the Air Tonight,” by Phil Collins; “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel; “Every Little Kiss” by Bruce Hornsby; “Little Light of Love” Steve Sera).
Daniel read Dan Flores’ Coyote America. An excerpt below:
Coyote, in the earliest mythologies of North America, is not actually what one might call the Ultimate Cause god….His divinity is only semi, perhaps because he is present on Earth and engaged among humans. Most often in the stories, however, Coyote inhabits the world before humans are on the scene…….. So as a literary character, Coyote is the full monty. He is no simple caricature but rather a complex figure full of nuances of all sorts. Coyote is admirable, inspirational, imaginative, and energetic a whirlwind biophysical force with a large capacity for taking sensuous pleasure in life. He is also vain, deceitful, and ridiculously self-serving. And I should add that he is quite often envious, lustful to a degree of advanced, creative horniness, and possessed of an overconfidence that gets him into no end of fixes. Coyote’s commonest flaw in the literature is probably a consequence of the way his human traits, both positive and negative, combine. That is to say, he finds reasons sometimes because he’s admirable; more often because he suffers from various forms of narcissism never to be quite satisfied with the way things are. And because inevitably he is unable to predict consequences with any accuracy, his tinkering with the world usually produces disaster, especially for Coyote himself. The stories are funny because Coyote is a trickster who is forever falling for the oldest trick in the book.
RIP to Mickey Jones. There are 488 songs left. Kelly guessed #293. In a different world, we’d be listening to “Tears of Rage.” (We would listen to it this season, only with the Band during Band Month!) It’s #420. It’s “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean” from Bob Dylan.