Category Archives: Mavis Staples

Bob Dylan Revelations

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You know your audience, especially as you grow older. Who will

listen to your singing, if not the ones who grew up listening and

singing along with your songs. I was so proud of my copy of the

February and March combination of “AARP Magazine.” I am

one who studies the cover, reveling in another famous face being

on the cover. This one has Bob Dylan. He expressly called and

asked to be interviewed saying he wanted to make this his ONLY

magazine interview of his newest  album, (oldest song choices.)

 

Bob Dylan looks intensely inside the magazine with deep blue

glowing and warm eyes. He doesn’t seem as old when you see

him in the photographs. The interviewer chosen for this special

time spent together talking, asking and answering questions is

Robert Love. This special assignment was one he will remember

for the rest of his life, an “exclusive” no one else is going to get.

 

At 73 years old, he is only a little over a dozen years older than

I am. With his sunglasses on, you may not expect him to have

such clear eyes. Those piercing blue, “bedroom eyes” on page

28 of the magazine will stop you in your tracks, man or woman

as the viewer. He was born to be a balladeer and storyteller,

through his ability to sing, connect with people and last through

all these years, coming to one of his Grand Finales.

 

Haunting, lyrical, beautiful and classical.  Everyone sings some of

the old songs, ones our parents knew and sang. Tony Bennett

captured Lady Gaga, making her his Queen or Princess over the

course of their recording sessions.

 

The songs Bob Dylan has chosen are only Ten in number. I will

get this album and listen to it, believing in his ability to carry

this off.

 

First, let’s listen to Bob Dylan’s own personal list of favorite singers

and musicians. Well, he added other people he respects for their

contributions to the world:

1. Frank Sinatra

2. Irving Berlin

3. Jimmie Rodgers

4. Billy Graham (for his ability to fill great stadiums and preach it,

along with Bob Dylan saying he feels, “Amazing Grace” is one of

his favorite songs of all time.)

5. Chuck Berry

6. Shakespeare

7. Johnny Mercer

8. Mavis Staples

9. Nancy Sinatra

 

Of his own favorites he has sung, Bob Dylan claims the best he ever

sang and ‘worthy of being considered someday a classic’ is:

1997’s “Love Sick,” which won three Grammy Awards, including

“Album of the Year” for “Time Out of Mind.”

Why is it magnificent? (My word, not the interviewer’s.)

He answers this, “The center theme is given as ‘it’s not dark yet, but

it’s getting there.'”

 

This is deep, you may wish t0 think about why the world is getting

darker. He went on to tell Robert Love if there were any other

profession he would have chosen to go into it would have been

to ‘do it all over again as. . .’

“A school teacher of Roman history or theology.”

 

Did you know that Darius Rucker sang a song Bob Dylan began and

had written most of the lyrics of? This old song, “Wagon Wheel,”

was completed by “The Old Crow Medicine Show” team of writers.

 

Here is Bob Dylan’s songs from his newest album, “Shadows in the

Night.”  These ten songs he considers Classic and Timeless. He calls

them clearly defined as part of the beloved American Songbook:

1. “I’m a Fool To Want You.”

2. “The Night We Called It a Day.”

3. “Stay with Me.”

4. “Autumn Leaves.”

5. “Why Try to Change Me Now.”

6. “Some Enchanted Evening.”

7. “Full Moon and Empty Arms.”

8. “Where Are You?”

9. “What’ll I Do?”

10. “That Lucky Old Sin.”

 

These song are ones you may have heard at your grandparents, you

may have heard on your parents’ stereo or maybe in your dreams.

I have heard almost all of these, know the lyrics and can sing along

to the words, my parents used to listen to these on the radio, as

we traveled down the road to visit my grandparents or going to

my aunt and uncle’s house. There is one I have included in a post

before. (“Some Enchanted Evening” from the musical, “South

Pacific.”) They may not be recognizable by their titles, but the

first notes will “call” to your soul, your heart or bring back a

memory.

 

Bob Dylan has written over the years, “dozens” of songs that

were made famous and performed by other artists. Here’s

just a few:

“You Ain’t Going Nowhere,” performed by The Byrds.

“The Mighty Quinn,” by Manfred Mann.

“I Shall Be Released,” by The Band.

 

I have never been to a Bob Dylan concert. For this, I am sad.

 

If you wish to read an intelligent man’s thoughts, listen to him

describe his roots and childhood, you will want to read more.

He is very articulate, descriptive and emotional. I felt like Bob

Dylan, himself, was sharing a pot of coffee with me and talking

directly with me! How smart and creative was Dylan? Well,

imagine this. . .

Bob Dylan has written, sung and performed all of these songs

before the age of 25!

~ “Blowin’ in the Wind,” (written in 1962, released in 1963 on

“Freewheeling Bob Dylan,” album.

~ “Mr. Tambourine Man,”

~ “Like a Rolling Stone.”

 

Speaking of “Rolling Stone,” I will tell you I have read their

magazine over many years. They have captured sides and

dimensions of Bob Dylan. You may wish to read their past

interviews to find out more about him, but this older and

wiser sounding Bob Dylan, in the “AARP Magazine” which

is Feb./March edition, is wondrous in its surprises, ones I

have left for you to find, ponder on and treasure.

 

Quick perceptions which I have not totally given yet to you

from my perspective. Bob Dylan is…

a. One of my favorite Legendary Singers.

b. Humble.

c. Grateful.

d. One of his famous appearances, winning a Presidential

Honor Award,  he walked around the room, greeted others

who were so excited he was there (other honorees), shook

hands, completed the ceremony then politely and quietly

exited.

 

To read the actual interview, the words Robert Love chose to

describe and the questions he asked and talked with Bob Dylan,

check the complete article on:

http://aarp.org

 

Did anyone ever get a chance to see his own personal gypsy

caravan?  Did anyone ever see the Rolling Thunder Revue, of

1975?  This was immediately after he produced, “Blood on the

Tracks.”

Do you know the stars that traveled around the country in this

fine group of musicians?

Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Roger McGuinn, T-Bone Burnett

and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott with Bob Dylan.

 

Would you please share your favorite Bob Dylan song?

 

 

 

Musical Legend: Mavis Staples

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Wishing an early “Happy Birthday to Mavis Staples!” Her birthday will be

July 10, 1939. Wow! In her 75th year of singing a rich and still fresh

combination of blues, soul, folksong anthems, and Gospel music, she

just put out another album in 2013!

Way to go, Mavis Staples!

Mavis’ newest album is titled, “One True Vine.” I learned more about

her personal journey through her life and also, a definite proposal

and romance I had no idea existed! You may not guess which famous

singer asked her “Pop’s” for permission to have her hand in marriage!

Mavis’ “Pop” put together the family singing act called, “The Staple

Singers” long ago, while she was at the tender, young age of 8 years

old! While the Peace Movement and Civil Rights Movement were the

ones who ‘took her there,’ the popular song, “I’ll Take You There,” was

what got the group on the top of music charts!

Listening to the lyrics, knowing it was originally a gospel song that

was intended for the listener to believe in going to a place called

“Heaven,” makes it even more spiritual and inspiring.

During the sixties, being on stage with Dr. Reverend Martin Luther King,

Jr. made her inspired and gave her so much encouragement for the

world. Her life was spent traveling around to big cities, performing and

feeling the wave of love and hope rising amongst African Americans.

On an interview with CBS Saturday Morning, (5/17/14), Mavis said that

being around MLK, Jr. was to feel ‘unbelievable joy.’ To be in his ‘presence’

brought her so much meaning to her life.

During this timely period in the United States, there was another

young ‘mover and shaker’ in the music industry. Mavis spent a lot of

time with that curly haired, good looking Bob Dylan.

There came a time, Mavis recounted that,

“Bobby told my Pops, ‘I want to marry Mavis.'”

Pops responded,

“‘Don’t tell me, tell Mavis!'”

While grinning happily, telling the interviewer this love story,

he asked with some excitement,

“What did you say to Bob?”

She reflected, smiling and said,

Well, remember I was very young, so I told him, ‘Let’s wait awhile.'”

She went on to say (the essence of this moment being the real meaning

in her words, paraphrased here):

She wondered what changes her life would have had, how marrying Bob

Dylan would have impacted her life and then used a phrase that I will

tell you the interviewer had to ask her to repeat and explain.

Mavis wondered what it would have been like to make ‘chrome-crushers’

with Bobby.

The words meant, children or babies with him. She was pondering this

and looking happy, still. She felt that she had been attractive, I

forget if she called herself a ‘fox’ or what, but he was definitely

someone she had love for and a huge crush on, too!

Mavis says that her life was spent ‘coming at it with her heart.’

When Mavis Staples won her first Grammy, she remembered that her

Pops had said not to worry about that but they were (basically)

singing for the Lord and “to reach people.” It was a great piece

of philosophy, not to worry about your awards in life, just what

actions you do and how it effects people.

At the 55th Grammy Award ceremony in February, 2013, Mavis Staples

won the Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award, looking very

stunning and vibrant. If you punch in her name and Grammy 2013, you

will see her the way she still looks. So beautiful inside and out!

She performed, by the way, in a tribute to Levon Helm, with the ‘likes’

of Elton John, Zac Brown Band and Mumford and Sons that fantastic

evening show to remember!

Mavis laughed, saying that she did, “Buy a stand for that Grammy,”

though!

The upbeat tone in her speaking and singing voice wins you over,

despite her vocal range not being as wide as I am sure it was in her

‘heyday!’ She has two songs that were very special to me.

I have sometimes, like many people do, worried about my appearance

and this song, “I Like the Things About Me,” including her comments

in the song disparaging her hair and her lips. She uses this verse,

“I like the things about me, that I once despised…”

“There was a time I wished my hair was fine…”

“There was a time I wished my lips were thin…”

In the end, the message was similar to today’s artist, Lady Gaga’s.

Mavis’ lifetime of having racial hurdles to overcome, make her

simple songs even more powerful. And timeless…

“Love yourself.”

(The essence of the lyrics was she came to the point in her life,

when she could accept ‘the me that I am.’)

The lively and pretty song, “Freedom’s Highway,” still has a world

wide application. As she mentioned the children (girls who were

kidnapped in Nigeria) and ‘everywhere looking at America to see what

we will do.’

“March each and every day,

Made up my mind and won’t turn around,

Made up my mind and won’t turn around.

There is just one thing,

I can’t understand, my friend.

Why some folk think freedom

Was not designed for all men,

Yes, I think I voted for the right man,

Said we would overcome.”

She repeated that ‘the whole world is wondering why America

is not stepping in to help those girls.’

Mavis Staples’ songs to look up on Youtube and listen to are:

“You Are Not Alone,” (2010)

“Eyes on the Prize,” (2007)

“One True Vine” (2013).

I was uplifted by Mavis’ energy and her loving nature shown in the

interview this Saturday morning. I needed only to see her face, to

remember that, not too long ago, Grammy Awards Show.

Where I had really listened to Mavis Staples’ singing and messages.

Adding to everyone’s loving voices raised in tribute to Levon Helm.

(If you were a fan of “The Band,” you were listening to his drumming

and percussion skills.)

Now go out, sing dance and march to the music!