Category Archives: Books

Looking To Get Lost – Book

Adventures in Music and Writing

By Peter Guralnick

Looking to Get Lost is a great book of stories and partial biographies of the lives of a great number of performers Here is the list:

  • Robert Johnson
  • Skip James
  • Ray Charles
  • Merle Haggard
  • Bill Monroe
  • Lonnie Mack
  • Dilbert McClinton
  • Joe Tex
  • Dick Curless
  • John R. Cash
  • Tammy Wynette
  • Lee Smith
  • Doc Pomus
  • Colonel Thomas A, Parker
  • Henry Green
  • Leiber and Stroller
  • Willie Dixon
  • Chuck Berry
  • Elvis Costello and Allan Toussaint
  • Solomon Burke
  • Jerry Lee Louis
  • Howlin’ Wolf
  • Eric Clapton

What I really enjoyed was the reference to influences and interactions with other artists and the paths that took me down. I may add more context to that statement as I read on but for now here are some tunes this book inspired me to listen too.

Don’t Start me talking – Sonny Boy Williamson

The version listed was by Sonny Boy Williamson and its one of my all time favorite. The Chicago Climax Blues Band updated version while true to the original adds a little more polish.

Two More Bottles of Wine – Delbert McClinton with Emmy Lou Harris

I really didn’t know much about Delbert McClinton other than The Blues Brothers paid homage to him by covering B-Movie. You have to respect Delbert McClinton for doing what he wants to do and loving live performing vs the recording business. That may explain his lack of mass market success in terms of hits. EmmyLou Harris recorded “Two More of Wine” by Delbert McClinton. Here are the two of them doing it so you can get a feel for the song.

A couple of versions worth a listen include EmmyLou’s version which features piano intro and lead or Delbert’s version featuring twangy guitar intro.

Lesson In The Pain of Love – Delbert McClinton

I was thinking Delbert McClinton was a blues star given my previous exposure but clearly he’s more on the country swing side of things. This song is perhaps one of my favorites in that genre:

Another search for Delbert songs had me finding a duet of a song Delbert McClinton wrote “Easy From Now On” ” made popular by EmmyLou Harris. Admittedly this took me down a path with little to nothing to do with the book but you may enjoy.

Easy from Now On – EmmyLou Harris

As long as I’m thinking of EmmyLou Harris I have to say I’ve always loved the song “Easy from Now On” even though I thought it was called Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town. That’s actually the album title so I guess EmmyLou liked that line too.

This is sort of where I really went off the rails. Nothing to do with the book but more a stream of consciousness brought on by the memories of listening to a Neil’s record collection in Louisiana. So being a cajun from Lake Charles (right near the Texas Louisiana border) Neil’s tastes leaned towards country swing with fun lyrics. Here are a few of my favorites from Neil’s collection to finish off with.

It Should Have Been Me – Commander Cody

Here is another version with some interesting guitar work in it.

Route 66 – Asleep At The Wheel

Bob Dylan – Chronicles Volume 1

Bob Dylan Chronicles Volume 1 is a very enjoyable collection of ramblings by Bob Dylan about his trajectory into a performer and his thoughts and influences along the way. What I found most interesting was the naming of multiple musicians on the “folk scene” and references to traditional folk music. With that in mind I decided to capture some and provide links for further exploration. I hope you buy the book and enjoy this companion post.

Without a doubt Woody Guthrie is the most referenced influence in the book. It’s fascinating how Dylan figuratively follows Woody as an influence up to befriending him and visiting him in in hospital during the end of Woody’s days. Obviously I was off to check out as much Woody Guthrie as I possibly could. I found that in 2013 a 3 CD box set entitled “Woody at 100” was released.

I believe the next most referenced influence may be Dave Van Ronk. I’m not including any spoiler alerts so without going into detail on Van Ronk’s influence or involvement in Dylan’s career I just need to mention that Dave Van Ronk had a huge impact with respect to the revival of folk music, as a facilitator, musician and as the so called “Mayor of MacDougal Street” which was where the “scene” was taking place. The most popular and reflective of the period album by Dave Van Ronk is FolkSinger though “The Mayor of MacDougal Street” compilation released in 2005 may be a more interesting listen with more obscure tracks (notes as rarities in the albums subtitle), There is also a book also entitled “The Mayor of MacDougal Street” which I’m going to check,

John Henry Hammond, a prominent record producer at the time, is also listed as influencing in terms of exposing Dylan to music as well as getting him his first recording contract. Once I started looking into John Hammond the producer I was blown away by the stories. I wrote a separate post detailing just a few of the things we owe thanks to John Hammond for in addition to that first Bob Dylan recording. The references to John Hammond are short but important to the book and Dylan’s success. I highly recommend reading The Producer: John Hammond and the Soul of American Music for an entertaining time learning about John Hammond’s influence over the music we can all enjoy to this day.

Thanks for reading. I’ll add to this post with additional research on the more prominent influences mentioned in the book so please check back.

Soul Mining – A Musical Life – Daniel Lanois

For a really fun introspective to a music producer’s mindset you really should read Daniel Lanois’ book “A Musical Life“. Lanois puts you in the studio in various situations and references many great insights as to what he admires, attempted to do or just heard.

As I read the book I enjoyed so many passages and was led to explore or revisit so many wonderful sounds. For example many detailed explanations of what made U2 sound so unique from the hammer on in intro to “One” which I suspect we all know to the pedal steel solo by Lanois at the 3:40 which I inserted below. This and the addition of how Bono came up with the lyrics.

This is just one of the insights and there are many for U2. Sometimes I could listen to the references on YouTube other times I had to actually go out and buy the CD so I could really appreciate the nuances.

A great nuance that I can honestly say I had not experienced in a long time was brought to my attention with comments about the the Bob Dylan Album “Time Out of Mind” . I love this album and while I thought this was mainly due to the acoustic instruments, which I do love, but as Lanois explained he was going for “depth of field. While its subtle this really does bring the album to life. Lanois mentions he was inspired by Dr. John recordings where instruments come from different places in the room. You can really hear this effect on Dr, John’s Right place wrong time. You can hear the effect on Dr. John’s Right Time Wrong Place on youtube but it’s just a hint of the sonic effect compared to a CD on a decent stereo.

These are trivial examples of the insights and almost every page has a description of an experience that had me picking up music because it was recorded in the same room as as another recording or had the same second drummer on it. Then there are the historical references like how reggae that we all love actually was born out of effects and not a traditional folk sound in Jamaica as we may believe. Sure its got a groove but check this video of Lee “Scratch” Perry, a producer in his own write and watch how busy the effects guy is to transform that groove and take it to a whole new level.

Another historical reference that emphisies Lanois treatment of drums is the inspiration drawn from Arthur Alexander and the high hat treatment in the song Anna. Lanois mentions this was long before The Beatles got hold of this sound and introduced it to all of us.

These are not the highlights of the book. Every page is filled with references that will have you searching the internet, music sites and even stores to find the treasures documented in this wonderful book. Do yourself a favor and enjoy a musical journey in your favorite listening spot and have your computer and stereo handy while reading Daniel Lanois’ book “A Musical Life“.

John Hammond – The Producer

From Wikipedia “Hammond was instrumental in sparking or furthering numerous musical careers, including those of Bob DylanBruce SpringsteenBenny GoodmanHarry JamesCharlie ChristianBillie HolidayCount BasieTeddy WilsonBig Joe TurnerPete SeegerBabatunde OlatunjiAretha FranklinGeorge BensonFreddie GreenLeonard CohenArthur RussellJim CoppAsha PuthliStevie Ray Vaughan and Mike Bloomfield. He is also largely responsible for the revival of delta blues artist Robert Johnson‘s music.”

Wow that’s quite a list. Several of my favorite musicians whose careers took off with John Hammond’s assistance, To think where we’d be without him. Also father to John P. Hammond and awesome performer in his own right. I think I owe this John Hammond (Senior) a world of thanks.

In Bob Dylan’s Chronicles Volume 1 Dylan explains how John Hammond loaned him a record, Robert Johnson – King of the Delta Blues. Dylan analyzed and obsessed over Robert Johnson’s songs for a period of time. Columbia had acquired the Robert Johnson recordings through an acquisition and it was Hamond’s decision to re-release them. That’s what I’d call a two-for as in two for one. Inspiring Dylan and providing the world the opportunity to hear Robert Johnson.

The Producer: John Hammond and the Soul of American Music is a great book about John Hammond. So many great contributions to our world of music. The tales seem endless from re-releasing Robert Johnson recordings to bringing Springsteen in under the guise of recording and acoustic album but releasing Greetings from Ashbury Park NJ and everything in between including Benny Goodman to Bessie Smith. Also there were the “From Spirituals to Swing” concerts presenting African-American music from early spirituals through to blues, jazz and swing. This did more than preserve and promote the music. With its racially integrated cast and audience it demonstrated a progressive understanding of and promotion of equality. What an incredible story.

Bob Dylan Songs Open D Tuning

Open D tuning ( D A D F♯ A D ) has a wonderful sound to it. It is frequently played with capo on the second fret to get open E (apparently easier on the guitar than tuning open E). Blood on the tracks is probably my favorite Bob Dylan album and I’m pretty sure this is what fueled my fondness of open D. Could be a chicken and an egg thing, really not sure.

So with all that said here are my favorite Bob Dylan tunes to play in Open D tuning.

  • Favorite Open D Bob Dylan Tunes to Play
    • Simple Twist of Fate
    • You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go
    • Buckets of Rain
    • Tangled up in Blue

  • Some others I’ll need to check out
    • Idiot Wind
    • Corina Corina