Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Planet Waves (1974)

Planet Waves
(1974, Asylum Records)


(rosemary potatoes, lentils, and tempeh strips in buffalo cheddar sauce).

WELCOME BACK.... is something I should say to myself first. I bet you thought I'd died. Huh? Be honest. Thank you to all who sent donations in lieu of flowers to my family. They were very confused, upset, and then overjoyed when I confirmed I wasn't yet dead. Thanks for making this guy feel alive again! Well, a lot has happened since I last posted in December. A half a year has passed in fact. During that time, I ate many dinners. Sometimes as many as two a night because I am a glutton. I listened to much music, underwent a major residential move, took on a big promotion at the big job for a small increase in pay, and lost but then found one of my 3 cats. Yes, I've been keeping busy, but not so much in blog land (a strange universe full of encrypted texts and shitty opinions).  And to you, the reader, I offer this; WELCOME BACK!

Here at Dinner with Dylan, we strive for excellence. Delicious vegetarian meals for 1 (me), shitty pictures of said food (for you), and a rundown of each Bob Dylan LP. For tonight's meal, I have prepared myself some rustic looking rosemary potatoes, a hard-on-the-eyes heaping of lentils, and vegan tempeh strips smothered in a buffalo cheese sauce. Bone app a teet.


No, friends. This Planet Waves you see before you is not a Beach Boys' record I decided to slip in as some sort of rock review rues, and such a rues shall never come to be. It's Bob Dylan's 14th LP recorded with his old backing band... uhhhh, The Band. You might remember the band for helping "take a load off [of ol'] Fanny" and being Bob Dylan's band in the late '60s when people where shouting things like "Judas!" and "Robbie Robertson is a weird name!" at Bob Dylan.

But first, where was I? Well, I just sat down to eat my dinner and review Mr. Robert Dylan's half-decent album, when all of a sudden, my feline friend Mitzi decided to drop a couple of her post dinner bombs in her litter box below my computer's desk. Always at our most triumphant times of solitude, the stench of reality creeps in. Woof! It's getting rank in here, so I'll get right to the point, and light a scented candle or two. 

After, or in the throes of, Bob Dylan's intentional throwaway, contractual-olbigation album Dylan, he made the move to David Geffen's new record label Asylum. The stay wouldn't last long. With his next proper LP, Blood on the Tracks, he'd be back on Columbia Records for good, where he continues to age oddly. David Geffen would go on to pose as the world's coolest record exec.; jumping out of airplanes, attending Lakers' games in front row fashion, and signing Sonic Youth to a major label contract, eventually allowing the band Nirvana to become a band your parents could happily fear. Nice work Lord Geffen.

First off, this LP is called Planet Waves. Let's not mince words here, folks. That's a really stupid name. Like incredibly bad. So what I've done is try to piece together some examples of Waves and Planets over the years to make sense of it.

Here's some famous Waves for reference:

(a Beach Boys cover band)

(the band Wavves, which is spelled incorrectly)

(a frightening movie about Waves)

(famous people and their famous hair Waves)

(The Pope giving a Wave to the herd)

Get the picture? Good.  Here's some famous planets...

(Mars is one of the greatest hits of Planets)

(Saturn? A good Planet, most would say)

(footage from the Planet Tatooine... a place that existed a long time ago, and far far away)

(a Planet made of Pizza)

(a Planet with great gas mileage?)

So now that we all know what Planet Waves is all about, what's the overall legacy of Dylan's 14th LP? Well, at the time, fans went nuts for the record, being his first "real" album since 1970's New Morning, and his first in which he announced an actual accompanying tour. Now-a-days, Planet Waves is more of a... "Oh, have you heard Dylan's 14th record, Planet Waves? Oh you did, huh? Wow, cool. Wanna go to Planet Honda and buy a car so we can eat breadsticks over at Pizza Planet?" Happens every time. 

Grab your boards and find a planet. LET'S FEAST, and ride the wave...

On a Night Like This- Let the roots rock take hold and sink into ya baby. This is a swinging' shuffle, Dylan sounding well rested, years away from a motorcycle accident he probably made up anyway. The Band backs him up, and does the Zim a real solid on this. Boarders on cornball, but a little bit out of left-field and fairly tight. I'll take it.

(this is what Bob Dylan's motorcycle accident might've looked like, if he was smart enough to wear a helmet)

Going, Going, Gone- Also known as "Dylan Invents the Home Run Call" among baseball aficionados who love to talk Dylan in between innings.

(Muscular Zimmy swings for the fences, in a computer game)

However, let's not joke too much, because this song is about suicide. However, if M*A*S*H* taught me anything, it's that "suicide is painless," so it's back to being okay to make jokes.

First, TIME OUT... time to tackle this dinner. Well, these potatoes sure are starchy. You can always count on that with our friend, the potato. Also, this rosemary is really making it. I love rosemary. Let's talk about some other rosemary's I enjoy for a second: Clooney, Baby, that song that's also about thyme.... So many classics. The cheddar sauce on this tempeh is exceptionally rich and delicious. The lentils, while gag worthy to ogle, are hearty and attack the taste buds with delight despite their muddy texture. GREAT combo here.

In the song department though, this song's got the feeling of getting over a fever; you don't wanna be touched, the lights hurt your eyes, and spooned soup is a viable remedy. In that regard, I think The Band and Dylan conjured up some subtle suicidal feelings quite nicely. Although, that title kind of makes suicide seem like a homerun which is often looked upon fondly in the game of baseball. Often, they're referred to as "dingers!"

Tough Mama- Dylan and The Band decide to get a lil' funky here, probably because the word "Mama," is used in the song title. However, the song's anything but "tough." It's more of a domestic cheese that hasn't aged all that well. The Band is struttin' 'round the dance floor, flashin' that funk-rock with a country slant. But I gotta say, through the stench of the Funk (yes, with capital "F"), Dylan is dialing in one strong vocal showing. Also, this song does feature the lyric from our recent Nobel Prize winner, "it was a-hotter than a crotch," so that's a good thing.

(For reference on "a-hotter than a crotch")

Hazel- 2 This has got '70s coke sadness dripping from every pore. You can almost see the smoke collecting above the lounge stage. It's last call people! The ruffled pink tuxes worn by the band are dripping with night old sweat accented by the gaudy tri-colored stage lights. You can't feel the heat, but they've sat through it all night playing this stuff for you people. It feels so wrong to keep staying, but you don't wanna go home, so "Hazel," it is. Unfortunately, the next morning you won't remember this song anyway due to your debilitating lounge hangover. There, I saved you the time of listening. Sleazy Dylan and the boys rock a forgettable, yet barely passable one. 

Something There is About You- Zimmer-MAN sings four parts, as The Band just kind of plays inoffensive roots rock alongside. So inoffensive, I'm deeply offended. If you want some mind-fodder to snack on while floating along a lazy river at your local water park, turn this on in your (waterproof) cans. Musically, lyrically... it's not turning heads, but ride the chill wave.

(Zimmy getting ready to ride a wave with a very large Cheeto)

Forever Young- This is NOT the song Faces' singer Rod Stewart would eventually sing. If you swear it's Rod's song, then matters are actually WORSE than they seem. Rod Stewart actually RIPPED IT OFF. Eventually, the two of these aging beauties (Dylan and Rod) would settle out of court on the matter of said song. But let it be known, all you weepy eyed Aunts and Uncles who love a good wedding reception, Dylan claimed "Forever Young" first. Also, how ironic someone would rip off Dylan so blatantly! How does it feel Mr. Zimmerman. That IS your real name, isn't it? Anyway, Dylan apparently wrote this for his son Jesse, a nice gesture for a world famous poppa with a big Cheeto. This is a slow building, sentimental prickly country tinged, roots rocker. Sentimental to a fault, at times, but keep it in your hearts for a rainy day. It's okay to be a concerned parent, at all times, even if you don't have kids. 

I get ready to flip to side B as I fork around a second helping of this cheese covered tempeh. For those who don't know, tempeh is a hardened block of fermented soy beans, which sounds revolting to no end. However, you can transform this block of bean rock into a substantial protein based chunk of deliciousness. Batter it, fry it, smother, cover, toss, chop, slice, serve and chomp. As you can see, it's quite versatile. Anyway, I'm going to grab a quick helping of potatoes and jump right back into a NEW song.

Forever Young- 3 WHAT? "Forever Young" again? New song, my rear! Also, the potatoes have gone cold and have gotten rather spongey. Ahhh, to hell with them. I'll keep pocking at my fermented soy bean strips. Yummmm.
Back to the muzak.  Zimny, have you gone mad with outtakes or somethin'!!!?? If you didn't get the message the first side around, flip over the record where you will be relectured by dementia suffering Zimmy dishing out more songs to his son. Dylan must've wanted young Jesse to understand that he must Fucking stay forever young! Like, this shit is imperative son! Goddammit Jesse. Listen to Daddy Dylan. Stay FOREVER YOUNG.  Eventually, Jesse moved to Neverland much to the dismay of his father, because it doesn't actually exist.
This version is the exact same song with a more upbeat feel, backed by the organ. Basically, take your pick. Do you want to stay "Forever Young," while feeling schmaltzy or corny? For me, I pick the former cause it can help bring out the grandma in all of us.

(Forever Young is also a movie with Mel Gibson before he started calling people things like "Sugar Tits" and "Christ")

Dirge- Dylan was ahead of his time in many ways, including naming songs one word titles a sludge metal band would think clever. But this is a FAR cry from sludge metal, as is oddly every song in the Bob Dylan discography. This is a simpleton piano track backed with Robbie Robertson's acoustic, classical guitar plucking. The whole thing goes on for about 10 years, which is vintage Dylan. Zimmy's vocals cut on this overlong, simplistic studio-jam. Also, the lyrics imply Dylan's storybook romance to then wife Sara was on the skids (more on that when we hit Blood on the Tracks. Ouch).

During this song, I was unhappy to report, I choked a little on my fermented soybean strips. Lodged in my chest. Perhaps it was the cold starch of the potatoes. Oh christ, tempeh, you are no good for my acid reflux!!!

(me upset at Tempe, AZ for no good reason)

You Angel You- 2 This is some poppin' standard fair with a silly title. A song that just says, "Hey buddy. Smile." Well, noone tells me to smile except maybe one of those family portrait photographers or my future therapist, so back off. The lyrics are flat out crummy. The Band backs Dylan with some blah-upbeat crud. So average, you'll want to smash Robbie Robertson in the face with a DVD copy of The Last Waltz. 

(me upset at picture of a DVD cover of The Last Waltz because it's really long if you don't like the music of The Band)

Never Say Goodbye- Robbie Robertson plays some cool, effects affected leads as everyone takes it easy on this one. Dylan's lyrics are much better here compared to "You Angel You." Short and sweet, like a roll of Smarties.

Oh, I've finished my dinner a while ago, and have now reverted to flipping off pictures of things online and posting about them. Delicious meal by the way. How do I do it, you ask? Little effort, my friends. 

Wedding Song- If "Forever Young" was a plead to Dylan's son Jesse to stay a young, diaper wearing, wide-eyed toddler who spits up oatmeal, this is a song to his wife Sara, letting her know he's always loved her to the fullest, might make you weep and tingle over a plate full of tempeh. However, just stay tuned for Blood on the Tracks. Interesting, Dylan mentions "blood" in this song. Soon, it'll be spilled all over those proverbial tracks. Ouch. Watch out Sara. BLOOD! TRACKS! ON THE!.... Anyway, this long closer is a Dylan folk throwback; acoustic guitar with a killer vocal offering by Zimmy. The pick clunking is a wonderful unaffected nuance throughout, and even Dylan's oldest friend, Mr. Harmonica, makes a welcomed unadulterated return. Nice wrap up!

ALRIGHT... Thanks for coming back for more indigestion down musical memory lane. Got a lot of road left ahead, especially since Dylan just released a triple album of covers. I can hardly wait to fall face first in a plate of spaghetti and suffocate to diner death out of boredom when we cross those tracks. But until then, join me next time when I tackle one of Dylan's most renowned works, Blood on the Tracks. So famous, school kids across Minnestoa sing the entire thing after the "Pledge of Allegiance" in public schools, leading to a 52 minute delay before tackling arithmetic.  Until next time...
(Bob Dylan searching for blood....and finding it!!!!)

1 comment:

  1. Welcome back... again! You have more comebacks in you than The Mighty Zimm himself!

    Mostly agree with your assessment of "Planet Waves" (yes, dumbest name for an album in history, and that's really saying something). There are one or two songs I might rate slightly higher than you do, but not by much. A good, mostly fun and enjoyable Dylan album, but strictly second-tier overall. But hey, some of the Dylan albums I listen to the most are his second-tier stuff.... weird but true.