Home > Uncategorized > Kehr has been thinking about Dylan too..

Kehr has been thinking about Dylan too..

I was thinking. I should be writing but all in good time. I think it was Every Grain of Sand that got me depressed and made me take my pencil and burn it and never want to write again because….well never mind.

Anyway my buddy Kris Kehr opines on Sir Bob…..(and sends along an awesome pic too)

  Big Pink - 1I’ve always been a day dreamer- perpetually unhappy with where I was and the ‘real’ world around me, and an only child living in the country can force that upon you; living inside your own Technicolor head. Something about music warmed me early on and started projecting three dimensional feelings inside said head, and I’ve been chasing that dragon ever since.

 Learnt guitar to start making my own projections and, growing up in the 70’s like I did, became drawn to the vast guitar revolution going on inside the music business at the time. Hearing Dire Straits’ Sultans of Swing’ constantly on the radio filled me with grand happiness; I could not get enough of that song. The Straits second album was darker and even more to my liking. There was also something about the clean strat tone, and so I became a life-long Mark Knopfler fan.

 When I read in Rolling Stone that Mark was producing albums and had just finished helping legendary songwriter Bob Dylan complete his comeback album Infidels (after his right turn into christiandom for a few years) I traveling to Reading’s Record Revolution and, after holding the vinyl in my hand at the store and reading all that could be seen on the outside cover, purchased said album and took it home. I strapped on my headphones in my solitary bedroom at the end of the hall and spun that thing endlessly. There was a lot of heavy shit there that my young mind was not equipped to wrap itself around. You could teach a course on the opening track, Jokerman, and the video that accompanied was filled with even more rabbits to follow. But Sweetheart Like You, the second track, was something my young mind and heart could readily dive into. For me, it’s a cautionary tale for a female friend or lover – there has been some argument over this song but at the time I just saw it for its sweetness, and still do.

 A couple of heavies came next, world view songs with lyrics that served to momentarily distract me from the awesome guitar tones of Knopfler and ex-stone Mick Taylor. Eventually I would circle back around with a more worldly-informed mind to gather deeper understanding from those songs, but more on that later.

 But then there was I & I, still one of my favorites. What only/lonely child at home with his headphones on could not follow that ‘duality of personality’ path in their imagination?  Listening to that song still leaves me awestruck, staring at the sunset trying to comprehend the meaning in its mysterious beauty, but the beauty easily enjoyed on its surface. Actually many of Bob’s songs (and others) leave me with that feeling. The final song, one of longing called Don’t Fall Apart on me Tonight, was perhaps the culprit in starting me on a life of living relationships out in my head. Or at least a youth full of them: “I need you, yes I need you!”

 And so I picked up the thread or followed the rabbit down the hole into the vast, deep universe that is Bob Dylan’s music. It was the beginning of a life-long involvement, a pure well that always quenches my thirst when I need or want to return. I spent years and years just circling that place, picking up the pieces as they illuminated themselves to me, at just the right time for me, I suppose, one bread crumb to the next. That depth to his work is an endless source of various types of inspiration to me. And like all great works of art, the longer you stare at it the more you see.

 Oh, there were plenty of other musical things I picked up on after that- mostly about magic and mystery amongst the lyrics and songs. When I started recording my first album ‘Long Year’ with producer Tom Edmonds he took me to his old haunt of the Woodstock area of New York to record with Band guitarist Jim Weider. I was pelted with many stories about that slice of Americana and American music – Tom started his Woodstock days as Levon Helms lawn boy and eventually took care of the guys, running them for various supply runs and eventually worked with many creative souls up there before becoming an engineer under Todd Rundgren at the infamous Bearsville Studios. He took me to Big Pink and snapped the photo you see of me here. Right around this time I was really getting into my album/disc collecting, going to the Village in NYC and buying all manner of oddball recordings in any of the string of cool record stores the blotted the area, when I found a new bootleg release called A Tree with Roots. Greil Marcus’ book Invisible Republic came out around this time too and together, my mind was blown further. The complete collection of all known Basement Tapes and a book about what they mean only served to mystify the man, and drew me into the world of the Band as well or at least further in. But it was this peek behind the curtain that also taught me about process, how songs come to be and how you can record together with friends over time and climb to new heights through that kind of process. There was a point in my career when I lived with Stone Poets’ keyboardist James Harton where our house was fashioned around this creative ideal, and we were far from alone.

 It was around this time that I discovered the Genuine Bootleg Series, from the same bootleg label that gave us Tree with Roots (Scorpion), a 4 volume set that collected out takes and unreleased gems from Dylan’s recording career, spawned on by the vast wealth of this stuff and perhaps Columbia’s inclusion of some outtake on 1985’s Biograph, which included such things from the prismatic black hole that was the Blood on the Tracks sessions. The fact that these immense, incredibly magnetic albums had a process and that things were left along the way had been leaked, and for those of us personally touched by Dylan’s’ works this added a new dimension to the whole saga.

 In 1991 Columbia succeeded in releasing the first in what would be an on-going official collection of such things, The Bootleg Series. The first three volumes were released together and included early works, middle period works (the 70’s) and later works (at that time), including some incredible gems from the Infidels sessions. Also included were more gems from Blood on the Tracks and a few other great albums from the period, although Biograph included probably the best example, Up to Me. Always around were the tracks of already released songs with markedly different lyrics or feels, or both but the real gems for me were the unreleased songs Mr. Flannery has been talking about. I think trying to be empathetic with a songwriter/recording artist, there is a goal of carving out a piece of art that ages well and you have to keep an open mind and keen connection to your gut as to which songs work best together and form some kind of linear truth, or goal, or complete painting. During this process things are disposed of, perhaps in some cases set aside for future use, sometimes not. I don’t think any artist thinks about legacy during this process, certainly not pre-Dylan, the muse continues moving forward and the eye remains on the ball. The record company saw an opportunity in the wake of the vast bootleg market with guys like me and started compiling and officially releasing.

 “What is it about guys your age and Dylan?” – Ronna Beckman, character on the West Wing

 While Tom and I were having our late night Dylan discussion about this stuff recently he sounded exasperated at the thought that someone could write such incredible music and leave it off the album. I think it’s simpler than that. I think it’s a path you follow as an artist, no looking back, always moving forward. The fact that not only myself but Tom, and many, many others thirsted for more of a perspective on the incredible art this guy was making created this importance, or even a vacuum; daydreamers, at home at their windows contemplating the great meaning of things. And so we all have this to listen to and contemplate anyway despite not on the original album releases. I don’t think Bob was sacrificing anything by leaving that stuff off the albums, just trying to do what he does as best he could at the time, following his instincts and perhaps some other outside forces at times to make the best album he could. What he couldn’t see at the time, but we eventually could, is the importance of this stuff in the end. The thirst really was started with the first bootlegging of the Basement Tapes, ‘demo song’ acetate leaked and eventually reviewed in RS. But Dylan is so good that this legend took on a life of its own, and got its own album series. These releases now are on par with any new material albums he releases. The value of this outside work has reached at last come to fruition.

 The fact that Dylan has created this aura of mystery around a bunch of his works only further proves what an incredible recording artist the man is. Dylan has started several times that while growing up in Minnesota he lived inside his own head, the lyrics to old folk songs and early roots, blues and rock & roll fueling his imagination and creating his inner world and moral structure. I have rifled through those things and while enjoying them on a deep level and understanding where bob is coming from, that world becomes Technicolor for me through Bob’s prism. Bob drew on all those things to inform his world, and soul, and in turn has left this endless landscape of the same, interpreted for us. I guess that makes him my patron saint.

–Kiris Kehr

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Elaine
    October 29, 2013 at 9:38 am

    Thank you for sharing…. love this. Dylan too.

  2. jimbob
    October 30, 2013 at 10:00 am

    and you called lou reed a has been

    • October 30, 2013 at 4:51 pm

      i would never do such a thing…

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s