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Bob Dylan Comes Back Strong with Rock LP, Possible Tour, TV

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"New Morning" – the title track. Studio rapping leads in: "Ok, here we go. Ok?" "Can't you hear that rooster crowing/Rabbit runnin' down cross the road/Underneath the bridge, where the water flows through/So happy just to see you smile, on this new mornin' . . . with you." Kooper's streaming organ precipitates a chunk – chunk – chunka – chunka, double beat chorus. Al Kooper, of a thousand faces, playing some French horn. Drums kicking in, organ jamming on them. Country sunshine, love, and rock and roll.

"Sign on the Window" – Dylan's crooner voice. About lost love, "her and her boyfriend gone to California" and Dylan says, "Looks like nothin' but rain," "hope it don't sleet," he sings, a hasp pulled across the top of his voice as he reaches for (and gets to) the high notes.

Photos: Bob Dylan Hanging With Joan Baez, Allen Ginsberg and More

"One More Weekend" – "Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat" inside up and backwards down, but done better. Blues piano and raunchy old Bob yelling "c'mon down to my ship, honey, right on deck . . . we'll go to some place unknown, leave all the children home." Jerry Lee Lewis runs on the piano. Buzzy Seitin gets off on guitar.

"The Man In Me" – La la la la. Dylan starts out. Wafting. Feels like "lovely Linda with the lovely flowers in her hair." A fusion of rock and sugar. "Storm clouds are raging all around, takes a woman like you to find the man in me." Piano and whistling organ. "The man in me will hide sometimes to keep from bein' seen/But that's just cause he don't want ta turn into some kinda machine."

"Three Angels" – Dylan talking country, his voice over a heavy church-like organ. A natural for Johnny Cash or Kris Kristofferson. Reminds you of "Deck of Cards" by Wink Martindale. Three angels on a lamp post blowing on horns as the world passes by beneath, not pausing to look up. Dylan's imagery so simple but brilliant, you might ignore it the first few times around.

"Father of Light" – Dylan's written a prayer. A tumbling piano, while Dylan sings "Father of day, father of night, father of black, father of white . . . father of wheat, father of rain, father of cold, father of heat . . ." Whom "we most solemly pray."

All of the songs are short, three minutes or thereabouts. All of the titles are lines from the songs. He's really into something here, staking out new territory, giving himself the right to fool around and play games with your head because most of the time the music he's making is so damn brilliant. On piano. Dylan sounds like a musician singing songs about his life, about things he knows. He's secure and at home, solidly into some new turf that's all his. He's beaten everybody who put him down for Self Portrait. And he says in "Sign on the Window" – "Build me a cabin in Utah, marry me a wife, catch rainbow trout/have a bunch of kids who called . . . me . . . Pa. That must be what it's all about."

That must be what it's all about.

Rumors of an upcoming tour were circulating in New York, with talk of one supporting band having already been contacted, at press time, but Dylan's friends and business associates repeatedly denied having any plans. The same people were less vehement in denying the possibility of a TV special. For what it's worth, the word is that Dylan may get 60 to 90 minutes of prime time for whatever he comes up with, on CBS.

This story is from the November 12th, 1970 issue of Rolling Stone.


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Song Stories

“San Francisco Mabel Joy”

Mickey Newbury | 1969

A country-folk song of epic proportions, "San Francisco Mabel Joy" tells the tale of a poor Georgia farmboy who wound up in prison after a move to the Bay Area found love turning into tragedy. First released by Mickey Newbury in 1969, it might be more familiar through covers by Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers. "It was a five-minute song written in a two-minute world," Newbury said. "I was told it would never be cut by any artist ... I was told you could not use the term 'redneck' in a song and get it recorded."

More Song Stories entries »
 
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