My Top 10 Favorite Live Albums

I’m more of a studio guy when it comes to listening to bands but there are a few live albums I really like. This is my top 10 and a few honorable mentions at the bottom. Very few artists can improve on the studio version but sometimes some manage to pull it off.

10. Led Zeppelin –  How the West Was Won – After the disappointing live album The Song Remains The Same, this album released in 2003 contained Led Zeppelin live in 1972 from two shows in top form.

How the West Was Won (Live) (3-CD)

9: Simon And Garfunkel – The Concert In Central Park – This was big for me when it was released. I had by this time worn a groove out in their greatest hits. The band was great and their harmonies were as good as ever.

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8: George Harrison – The Concert For Bangladesh – Fun to listen to George freed from the Beatles and he sounds great with Dylan, Billy Preston, Ringo, and other friends.

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7: The Band: The Last Waltz – One of the best live albums ever. The Band’s last concert with Robbie with a host of talented famous friends. I still don’t get the Neil Diamond selection…nothing against Neil…he didn’t fit in with this atmosphere.

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6: The Allman Brothers Band “At Fillmore East” – This album floats up and down this list depending on my mood. It was at number 2 when I first made this list a couple of weeks ago. This band was probably one of the most talented bands in the seventies. I didn’t start heavily listening to them until around 5-10 years ago. They are better live than in the studio. There was not a weak link in this 6 piece band…especially in the Duane version but later incarnations were almost as strong.

At The Fillmore East (2LPs - 180GV)

5: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, ‘Live/1975-85’ – I listened to this so much in the 80s that I knew the stories Bruce would tell by heart. Later when listening to the studio version of a song I would expect the story that went with it.

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4: Paul McCartney  Wings Over America – This triple album set was a live greatest hits. The songs had some edge to them thanks to Jimmy McCulloch the young prodigy guitar player.  Paul even broke his silence on the Beatles and included five Beatle songs. Blackbird, I’ve Just Seen a Face, Yesterday, The Long and Winding Road, and Lady Madonna. Unlike the other 3 albums ahead of this on in the list, Paul didn’t mess with the songs too much from the original studio recordings.

Wings over America

3: The Rolling Stones – ‘”Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out!” – This tour and the 1972  tour were the Stones at their live peak.

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2: Bob Dylan – The Bootleg Series, Vol. 4: Bob Dylan Live 1966, The “Royal Albert Hall” Concert – I have seen Dylan 8 times but if I could pick a tour to see him on…I would go back and this would be the one. With The Band backing him up…minus Levon Helm but Mickey Jones on drums is very powerful.

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1: The Who – ‘Live at Leeds’ This album highlights The Who at their best. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a rock band so tight. The power of the performance is huge. Pete Townshend told his soundman Bob Pridden to erase all other shows on this tour at the time…Bob did… much to Pete’s regret later on.

The Who - Live at Leeds By The Who

 

 

Honorable Mentions

Beatles Live At The Star-Club in Hamburg Germany – The quality of the recording is pretty bad but it’s exciting to hear the punkish Beatles before Beatlemania hit.

The Kinks – One For The Road

Neil Young & Crazy Horse –  Live Rust

Johnny Cash – At Folsom Prison

The Band – Rock of Ages

Cheap Trick – At Budokan

Elvis (68 Comeback Special)

 

Traveling Wilburys – Congratulations

This will be it for this Wilbury Weekend…one more tomorrow.

Congratulations for breaking my heart, Congratulations for tearing it all apart
Congratulations, you finally did succeed, Congratulations for leaving me in need

This appeared on their first Album Vol 1. This was the B side of the single End of the Line. Dylan sings this song of despair.

There is not a song on either of their two original album that I don’t know by heart. This one was played a lot in my car…which I seemed to livein… going in between a girlfriend and friends.

 

Congratulations

Congratulations for breaking my heart
Congratulations for tearing it all apart
Congratulations, you finally did succeed
Congratulations for leaving me in need

This morning I looked out my window and found
A bluebird singing but there was no one around
At night I lay alone in my bed
With an image of you goin’ around in my head

Congratulations for bringing me down
Congratulations, now I’m sorrow bound
Congratulations, you got a good deal
Congratulations, how good you must feel

I guess I must have loved you more than I ever knew
My world is empty now ’cause it don’t have you
And if I had just one more chance to win your heart again
I would do things differently, but what’s the use to pretend?

Congratulations for making me wait
Congratulations, now it’s too late
Congratulations, you came out on top
Congratulations, you never did know when to stop

Congratulations
Congratulations
Congratulations
Congratulations

Traveling Wilburys – Handle With Care

This was the hit that kicked the Wilburys project off the ground. George Harrsison and Jeff Lynne started the ball rolling… Initially an informal grouping with Roy Orbison and Tom Petty, they got together at Bob Dylan’s Santa Monica, California studio to quickly record an additional track as a B-side for the single release of Harrison’s song This Is Love. This was the song they came up with, which the record company immediately realized was too good to be released as a single B side. They also recorded “You Got It” at the session, which helped convince them to record an album together.

The song made it to #2 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs Chart in 1988.

The title Handle With Care came when George Harrison saw the phrase on the side of a cardboard box in the studio.

Tom Petty on Bob Dylan: “There’s nobody I’ve ever met who knows more about the craft of how to put a song together than he does. I learned so much from just watching him work. He has an artist’s mind and can find in a line the keyword and think how to embellish it to bring the line out. I had never written more words than I needed, but he tended to write lots and lots of verses, then he’ll say, this verse is better than that, or this line. Slowly this great picture emerges. He was very good in The Traveling Wilbury’s: when somebody had a line, he could make it a lot better in big ways.”

Handle With Care

Been beat up and battered ’round
Been sent up, and I’ve been shot down
You’re the best thing that I’ve ever found
Handle me with care

Reputations changeable
Situations tolerable
Baby, you’re adorable
Handle me with care

I’m so tired of being lonely
I still have some love to give
Won’t you show me that you really care?

Everybody’s got somebody to lean on
Put your body next to mine, and dream on

I’ve been fobbed off, and I’ve been fooled
I’ve been robbed and ridiculed
In daycare centers and night schools
Handle me with care

Been stuck in airports, terrorized
Sent to meetings, hypnotized
Overexposed, commercialized
Handle me with care

I’m so tired of being lonely
I still have some love to give
Won’t you show me that you really care?

Everybody’s got somebody to lean on
Put your body next to mine, and dream on

I’ve been uptight and made a mess
But I’ll clean it up myself, I guess
Oh, the sweet smell of success
Handle me with care

Byrds – You Ain’t Going Nowhere

A great song by The Byrds that was written by Bob Dylan. The Byrds released this song in 1968 and it was on their classic album Sweetheart of the Rodeo. Their version was released 3 years before Dylan commercially released a version of the song on his Greatest Hits Vol 2 album in 1971.

You Ain’t Going Nowhere peaked at #74 on the Billboard 100 in 1968. This country-rock song has been covered many times by different artists.

Dylan’s original Basement Tapes demo of this song contained the lyric “Pick up your money, pack up your tent”, which was mistakenly altered by McGuinn in the Byrds’ version to “Pack up your money, pick up your tent.” Dylan took note of this lyric change in his 1971 recording of the song, singing “Pack up your money, put up your tent McGuinn. You ain’t goin’ nowhere.” McGuinn said: “It was an honor to be in a Bob Dylan song! I got the words wrong and he changed all the words for his version of it. He and I have always been kind of like that. He likes to poke fun at me.”

From Songfacts

The likely influence on this song was Dylan’s 1967 motorcycle accident, which severely limited his mobility. The song was recorded in the basement of a house where members of The Band lived, and played with Dylan while he experimented with new sounds. The Basement Tapes album was not officially released until 1975, but the songs were circulated and this one drew the attention of The Byrds, who released it on their 1968 album Sweetheart of the Rodeo

The Byrds released “You Ain’t Going Nowhere” as the first single off the album peaking at #45 in the US and #74 in the UK. Guitarist and singer Roger McGuinn recalled to Uncut that their record label, Columbia Records (which was also Dylan’s record label), sent their producer Gary Usher some demos from Dylan’s Woodstock sessions. Among them were “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” and “Nothing Was Delivered” (which the Byrds also recorded), 

Roger McGuinn said “I thought they sounded really good,” he said. “You didn’t know what Bob was up to; and far as I knew, he was just laid up from a motorcycle accident. But I think it was probably a reaction to the psychedelic thing. It just got to be too much and everybody wanted to back off.”

You Ain’t Going Nowhere

Clouds so swift
Rain won’t lift
Gate won’t close
Railings froze
Get your mind off wintertime
You ain’t goin nowhere
Whoo-ee ride me high
Tomorrow’s the day
My bride’s gonna come
Oh, Oh are we gonna fly
Down in the easy chairI don’t care
How many letters they send
Morning came and morning went
Pack up your money
Pick up your tent
You ain’t goin nowhere
Whoo-ee ride me high
Tomorrow’s the day
My bride’s gonna come
Oh, Oh are we gonna fly
Down in the easy chairBuy me a flute
And a gun that shoots
Tailgates and substitutes
Strap yourself
To a tree with roots
You ain’t goin nowhere
Whoo-ee ride me high
Tomorrow’s the day
My bride’s gonna come
Oh, Oh are we gonna fly
Down in the easy chair

Now Genghis Kahn
He could not keep
All his kings
Supplied with sleep
We’ll climb that hill no matter how steep
When we get up to it
Whoo-ee ride me high
Tomorrow’s the day
My bride’s gonna come
Oh, Oh are we gonna fly
Down in the easy chair

 

Favorite Lines from Songs Part 2

I did Part 1 over a year ago and it was a fun post. I’ve been meaning to do this again. I remembered some of the lyrics suggested by my friends hanspostcard and allthingsthriller on the last post…I have added those to list. Thanks to both of you.

I saw her from the corner when she turned and doubled back, And started walkin toward a coffee colored Cadillac… Chuck Berry

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Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose, And nothin’ ain’t worth nothin’ but it’s free Janis Joplin/Kris Kristofferson

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And I need you more than want you, And I want you for all time Jimmy Webb

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Doesn’t have a point of view / Knows not where he’s going to / Isn’t he a bit like you and me…The Beatles

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Met myself a coming county welfare line, I was feeling strung out, Hung out on the line…Creedence Clearwater Revival

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And you’ve got to learn to live with what you can’t rise above…Bruce Springsteen

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He’d end up blowing all his wages for the week / All for a cuddle and a peck on the cheek…Kinks

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Well it’s too late, tonight, To drag the past out into the light, We’re one, but we’re not the same, We get to carry each other, Carry each other…U2

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You can blow out a candle but you can’t blow out a firePeter Gabriel

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Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see…The Beatles

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Where you drink champagne and it tastes just like cherry cola, C-O-L-A Cola…Kinks

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It was gravity which pulled us down and destiny which broke us apart…Bob Dylan
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A drunkard’s dream if I ever did see oneThe Band

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And the sign said, The words of the prophets, are written on the subway walls, and tenement halls… Simon and Garfunkel

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I lit up from Reno, I was trailed by twenty hounds, Didn’t get to sleep that night
Till the morning came around…Grateful Dead

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When I said that I was lying, I might have been lyingElvis Costello
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Though nothing will keep us together/We can be heroes/Just for one day…David Bowie
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Lose your dreams and you. Will lose your mind…Rolling Stones

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It’s a town full of losers, I’m pulling out of here to win…Bruce Springsteen

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The motor cooled down, the heat went down, and that’s when I heard that highway sound…Chuck Berry

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We were the first band to vomit at the bar, and find the distance to the stage too far…The Who

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Bob Dylan – Ballad of a Thin Man

And you know something’s happening but you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mr. Jones?

There is a lot of power in just that one line and the song. Not only the lyrics but the intensity that Bob sings it. When it was released everyone wanted to know who Mr. Jones was and people still wonder. Bob Dylan set it straight like only Dylan does with this statement…“I could tell you who Mr. Jones is in my life, but, like, everybody has got their Mr. Jones.” 

“Ballad Of A Thin Man” was recorded on August 2, 1965, at the same session as “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues,” “Queen Jane Approximately” and “Highway 61 Revisited,” when you get those songs out of a session…you are doing alright.

The song was on the great album Highway 61 Revisited. The album peaked at #3 in the Billboard 100 and #4 in the UK in 1965.

From Songfacts

While speculations remain rampant as to who “Mr. Jones” is and what exactly this song is supposed to mean, there is no definitive answer at this time. The closest thing we’ve seen to an answer from Dylan himself appears in an interview given in Keys to the Rain: The Definitive Bob Dylan Encyclopedia, where Dylan asserts that the “Mr. Jones” in question is a real person not known by this name, who is a pinboy, wears suspenders, and “puts his eyes in his pocket” which might mean that he wears glasses.

Before launching into this song in Japan, 1986, Dylan said, “This is a song I wrote in response to people who ask questions all the time. You just get tired of that every once in a while.”

Of the many references to “Ballad of a Thin Man” found throughout media, are the lines “feel so suicidal, just like Dylan’s Mr. Jones” from the Beatles’ “Yer Blues,” “Mr. Jones is a man who doesn’t know who Mr. Jones is” from Momus’ “Who Is Mr. Jones?,” “I wanna be Bob Dylan, Mr. Jones wishes he was someone just a little more funky.” from Counting Crows’ “Mr. Jones,” and “Mr. Jones won’t lend me a hand” from Country Joe and the Fish’ “Flying High.” While we cannot speculate on the true identity of Mr. Jones, it can be said that the name “Mr. Jones” has come to symbolize for the music world the kind of old-guard “square” who “doesn’t get it,” similar to our modern usage of the mythical “Joe Sixpack.”

This is the song which Bob Dylan and his band played at the Forest Hills concert of 1965 in an attempt to soothe the unruly crowd. As Al Kooper recounts in Backstage Passes and Backstabbing Bastards, “It had a quiet intro, and the kids persisted in yelling and booing all the way through it. Dylan shouted to us to ‘keep playing the intro over and over again until they shut up!’ We played it for a good five minutes – doo do da da, do da de da – over and over until they did, in fact, chill. A great piece of theater. When they were finally quiet, Dylan sang the lyrics to them.”

A 1966 cover of this song (titled “Mr. Jones (Ballad of a Thin Man)”) was the first single for The Grass Roots. At the time, the group was led by P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri. Sloan credits Bob Dylan for sticking by him when many other musicians and industry insiders dissociated themselves from him. Sloan was an up-and-coming songwriter/producer when he wrote the incendiary hit “Eve Of Destruction,” which went to #1 in 1965, but caused a great deal of controversy and made it very difficult for him to find work.

According to Al Kooper, Bob Dylan took from Ray Charles’s “I Believe to My Soul” for “Ballad of a Thin Man.”

In a September 22, 1966 interview in Austin, Texas, a reporter asked Dylan if “Ballad of a Thin Man” was about “a newspaper reporter or something.” Dylan, who spent the entire interview mocking and evading the questions, responded with a single line: “No, it’s just about a fella that came into a truck stop once.”

The opening line, “You walk into the room with your pencil in your hand,” was at one point, “You walk into the room with a hatchet in your hand.” This was revealed in a lyric sheet that is part of Dylan’s archives in Tulsa.

Before and after their speeches, Black Panther founder Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale regularly played this song over the PA system. Insiders reported they listened to it almost obsessively. The two men felt it was speaking about the black struggle in America.

Ballad of a Thin Man

You walk into the room with your pencil in your hand
You see somebody naked and you say, “Who is that man?”
You try so hard but you don’t understand
Just what you will say when you get home
Because something is happening here but you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mr. Jones?

You raise up your head and you ask, “Is this where it is?”
And somebody points to you and says, “It’s his”
And you say, “What’s mine?” and somebody else says, “Well, what is?”
And you say, “Oh my God, am I here all alone?”
But something is happening and you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mr. Jones?

You hand in your ticket and you go watch the geek
Who immediately walks up to you when he hears you speak
And says, “How does it feel to be such a freak?”
And you say, “Impossible!” as he hands you a bone
And something is happening here but you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mr. Jones?

You have many contacts among the lumberjacks
To get you facts when someone attacks your imagination
But nobody has any respect, anyway they already expect you to all give a check
To tax-deductible charity organizations

Ah, you’ve been with the professors and they’ve all liked your looks
With great lawyers you have discussed lepers and crooks
You’ve been through all of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s books
You’re very well-read, it’s well-known
But something is happening here and you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mr. Jones?

Well, the sword swallower, he comes up to you and then he kneels
He crosses himself and then he clicks his high heels
And without further notice, he asks you how it feels
And he says, “Here is your throat back, thanks for the loan”
And you know something is happening but you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mr. Jones?

Now, you see this one-eyed midget shouting the word “Now”
And you say, “For what reason?” and he says, “How”
And you say, “What does this mean?” and he screams back, “You’re a cow”
“Give me some milk or else go home”
And you know something’s happening but you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mr. Jones?

Well, you walk into the room like a camel, and then you frown
You put your eyes in your pocket and your nose on the ground
There ought to be a law against you comin’ around
You should be made to wear earphones
‘Cause something is happening and you don’t know what it is
Do you, Mr. Jones?

Bob Dylan – Duquesne Whistle

This song was off the 2012 album Temptest. Bob wrote this song with Robert Hunter, the Grateful Dead lyricist. The album peaked at #3 in the Billboard Album Charts. My son is who called my attention to this one. Unlike some other older performers, Bob somehow stays relevant to the times.

The memorable video is directed by Nash Edgerton. Bob looks just really cool in this video as he leads some kind of gang.

The song refers to the Duquesne train service that used to run between New York Penn and Pittsburgh Penn Stations, which was named after the 18th century Fort Duquesne in the latter city. That route is now served by the daily Amtrack Pennsylvanian service.

From Songfacts

The bluesy song  The lyrics show Dylan’s distaste at times a changing’. “Listen to that Duquesne whistle blowing,” he demands. “Blowing like it’s gonna sweep my world away.”

The Nash Edgerton-directed music video is set on the streets of downtown Los Angeles. Dylan appears briefly throughout the clip.

The line, “I’m gonna stop at Carbondale and keep on going” refers to Carbondale, Pennsylvania, in the northeast corner of the state. Like all of the region, it’s now a small rust belt town, but at the time when the Duquesne train line was running, Carbondale was fat off the anthracite coal industry.

Duquesne Whistle

Listen to that Duquesne whistle blowing
Blowing like it’s gonna sweep my world away
I’m gonna stop at Carbondale and keep on going
That Duquesne train gon’ rock me night and day

You say I’m a gambler, you say I’m a pimp
But I ain’t neither one

Listen to that Duquesne whistle blowing
Sound like it’s on a final run

Listen to that Duquesne whistle blowing
Blowing like she never blowed before
Little light blinking, red light glowing
Blowing like she’s at my chamber door

You smiling through the fence at me
Just like you’ve always smiled before

Listen to that Duquesne whistle blowing
Blowing like she ain’t gon’ blow no more

Can’t you hear that Duquesne whistle blowing?
Blowing like the sky’s gonna blow apart
You’re the only thing alive that keeps me going
You’re like a time bomb in my heart

I can hear a sweet voice steadily calling
Must be the mother of our Lord

Listen to that Duquesne whistle blowing
Blowing like my woman’s on board

Listen to that Duquesne whistle blowing
Blowing like it’s gon’ blow my blues away
You’re a rascal, I know exactly where you’re going
I’ll lead you there myself at the break of day

I wake up every morning with that woman in my bed
Everybody telling me she’s gone to my head

Listen to that Duquesne whistle blowing
Blowing like it’s gon’ kill me dead

Can’t you hear that Duquesne whistle blowing?
Blowing through another no good town

The lights on my native land are glowing
I wonder if they’ll know me next time ’round
I wonder if that old oak tree’s still standing
That old oak tree, the one we used to climb

Listen to that Duquesne whistle blowing
Blowing like she’s blowing right on time