Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Music: Subterranean Homesick Blues / Bob

In March 1965 Bob Dylan released an album, Bringing It All Back Home, which contained the song Subterranean Homesick Blues. That song was issued as a single the following month, reaching Number 39 in the American charts and Number 10 in the UK. One of Dylan’s first electric works, it was his first in the Top 40 in the US.
The song is a put down of a schoolgirl being unable to exist outside of an institutional umbrella and is particularly well known because of the film clip associated with it.
See and hear Dylan’s performance of it at:
The lyrics can be read at:
The video shows Bob Dylan with a series of cue cards with selected lyrics from the song. The video has been spoofed/reenacted many times, some notable ones including INXS's "Mediate" and Les Claypool's Fearless Flying Frog Brigade's "Buzzards of Green Hill."

Some points about the video:

The song was used in one of the first "modern" promotional film clips - the forerunner of what later became known as the music video.

Rolling Stone lists it as the 7th on its list of "100 Top Music Videos".

The original clip was actually the opening segment of D A Pennebaker's film, Don't Look Back, a documentary on Bob Dylan's first tour of England in 1965.

The video was filmed in an alley behind the Savoy Hotel in London.

The video shows the poet Alan Ginsberg talking to Dylan’s friend and fellow muso Bob Neuwirth in the background.

The cards were written by Dylan, Ginsberg, Neuwirth and Donovan (Donovan had the neatest writing and therefore wrote the most).

The cards contain intentional misspellings and puns.

Two alternate promotional films were shot: one in a park where Dylan, Neuwirth and Ginsberg are joined by a fourth man, and another shot on the roof of an unknown building (possibly the Savoy Hotel). The pics below show each of the 3 film locations.

The park video and rooftop videos can be seen at:


This, however, is all by way of introduction to a marvellous Weird Al Yankovic spoof of Subterranean Homesick Blues, a work called Bob, as much a masterpiece in its own right as is Dylan’s classic.
Weird Al’s song uses the same melody and intonation as Dylan’s but with different lyrics. Those changed lyrics are all palindromes, that is, reading the same forward as backward. The new lyrics rhyme and scan and will be sure to raise some laughs. It is ironic that, in their own way, they are reminiscent of Dylan’s lyrics and collections of scattered images.

Before looking at Weird Al’s video, have a look at Bob Dylan’s (link as above) if you have not as yet done so, then go to Weird Al’s at:
God! A red nugget. A fat egg under a dog.
Go hang a salami. I’m a lasagna hog…
Love it.


I, man, am regal - a German am I
Never odd or even
If I had a hi-fi
Madam, I'm Adam
Too hot to hoot
No lemons, no melon
Too bad I hid a boot
Lisa Bonet ate no basil
Warsaw was raw
Was it a car or a cat I saw?

Rise to vote, sir
Do geese see god?
"Do nine men interpret?" "
Nine men," I nod
Rats live on no evil star
Won't lovers revolt now?
Race fast, safe car
Pa's a sap
Ma is as selfless as I am
May a moody baby doom a yam?

Ah, Satan sees Natasha
No devil lived on
Lonely Tylenol
Not a banana baton
No "x" in "Nixon"
O, stone, be not so
O Geronimo, no minor ego
"Naomi," I moan
"A Toyota's a Toyota"
A dog, a panic in a pagoda

Oh no! Don Ho!
Nurse, I spy gypsies - run!
Senile felines
Now I see bees I won
UFO tofu
We panic in a pew
Oozy rat in a sanitary zoo
God! A red nugget! A fat egg under a dog!
Go hang a salami, I'm a lasagna hog

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