Happy 70th Birthday Bob Dylan! (and my Top 10 Dylan Songs)

Bob Dylan

Happy 70th Birthday, Bob Dylan!

Ah, you were so much older then, you’re younger than that now… and may you stay forever young no matter how much the times, they are a’changin’, you rolling stone you!

Man, can you believe the Bob is 70???

I sure can’t… mostly because my main association with him is through his music, and that’s mostly timeless, never aging, so the icon seems that way to me.

For Bob’s 70th, Rolling Stone magazine did a huge number of features this month on him:

Me, I did a meme tribute on Facebook to share one of my favourite Top 10 Bob Dylan songs each day leading to his birthday today. Here is my list, which was generally presented in no particular order except for the last two being my favourite two Dylan songs. It gets too hard to separate the order of the others for me.

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X-men First Class Character Trailers (Beast, Mystique, Havok, Banshee)

Recently, a slew of brilliant one minute X-men First Class movie trailers came out, each focusing on a character in the movie. This was brilliant because while the X-men have their story, each character, of course, has his/her own story, struggling for acceptance, identity and place in a society that generally rejects them. You will struggle to find a good movie with so many individual story lines and strong characters. Even the minor characters have a whole history behind them that is intriguing because they have those elements of epic struggles for acceptance, identity and place to their character!

These short character trailers were so effective because add an additional dimension of intrigue and interest to the movie and makes it personal to the fan, creating a connection with each character. Originally, they were an MTV exclusive, but that lasted for about a day before someone captured it in high definition to put it on YouTube. Below is the collection thus far, along with a final longer X-men First Class trailer out a week before this post.

Get this music (Half the Man by Kopius Few and Methodic Doubt).

Banshee, or Sean Cassidy, possesses a “sonic scream” capable of harming enemies’ auditory systems and causing physical vibrations. However, it is the latter which he uses with incredible intelligence and power to do incredible damage and help himself fly on the sonic waves he generates.

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Watch the Entire Neil Young MTV Unplugged Concert

I love the Chinese video websites Youku.com and Tudou.com because they allow for really long videos, as well as skirt the You can find all sorts of great stuff on Youku and Tudou, like this Neil Young MTV Unplugged concert. This was my favourite MTV Unplugged concert, even though Bob Dylan is at the top of my list for singer/songwriters.

If you haven’t seen this, please do enjoy. If you have, it probably never gets old. It doesn’t for me.

Enjoy!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The concert play list includes:

1. The Old Laughing Lady
2. Mr. Soul
3. World On A String
4. Pocahontas
5. Stringman
6. Like A Hurricane
7. Needle And The Damage Done
8. Helpless
9. Harvest Moon
10. Transformer Man
11. Unknown Legend
12. Look Out For My Love
13. Long May You Run
14. From Hank To Hendrix

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Kanye — adj. as classless as possible, humanly or otherwise; n. such an act.

November 2009 follow-up:
See Taylor’s classy “revenge” with her Saturday Night Live Monologue. 🙂

“Yo Taylor, I’m really happy for you, I’ll let you finish, but Beyoncé has one of the best videos of all time. One of the best videos of all time!”

“Yo Taylor, I’m really happy for you, I’ll let you finish, but Beyoncé has one of the best videos of all time. One of the best videos of all time!”

I’d like to introduce a new word to the dictionaries of modern English and every other language known. But first, a little background for context.

At the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) last Sunday (Sep 13 2009), 19 year old Taylor Swift had just won a Moon Man award in the Best Female Video category for “You Belong With Me”, beating out Beyoncé Knowles‘ “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)”. Just a few sentences into her acceptance speech, though, rapper with a serious problem Kanye West came on stage to ruin her moment of a lifetime by interrupting her with a rant on how Beyoncé’s video should have won. Just watch about 90 seconds of the video below and ignore the rest to see. (Here’s a “nice try” to Viacom International, who has tried hard to eradicate every clean version of the video online, without all the fan rants. Ignorant old skool thinkers!)
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Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Kanye’s  was about as classless an act as I have ever seen or heard about, and definitely the most classless of public acts I’ve ever seen or heard about. It was so bad I don’t have words to describe it! So to do that, I’d like to propose a new word for the English language… or any other language for that matter cause I don’t think any language has a word for it yet.
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Kanye

adj. as classless as possible, humanly or otherwise;
n. as classless an act as possible, humanly or otherwise.

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Kind of like that was SO Kanye, or don’t pull a Kanye, man!

YouTube reactions to Kanye’s outburst just a couple of days later have been so fierce I had a lot of trouble just finding a video of the incident! Go ahead, try it! Just about everything about it that’s searchable about the incident on YouTube gives a video that is a reaction with people swearing up and down in tirades even worse than Kanye’s backstage meltdown following the incident (serious warning of offensive language!) However, Viacom wasn’t able to find everything so I have the videos here. Nice try!

On Twitter, Amy Grindhouse has amassed a nice collection of reactions among the famous. I must say I liked Pink‘s the most.

“Kanye west is the biggest piece of shit on earth. Quote me.”
Pink

As you wish, Pink one!

Even President Barack Obama weighed in, calling Kanye “a jackass”! Mind you, it was off the record (hear it onTMZ). Was. To be fair, though, the Prez was in a conversation where Ted Moran, the reporter, asked if Obama’s daughters were as upset as he was over the Kanye West/Taylor Swift incident. Some people might think that inappropriate of him, but I thought it was great. Maybe having the Prez call you a jackass will help change Kanye… though I know it’s going to take a lot more than that!

Kanye has since apologized, but he missed the point. He apologized on his blog and on Jay Leno (waste of time even to provide a link), rather than to Taylor. It was only after Taylor appeared on The View the day after to talk about it, telling the nation Kanye had not reached out in any way, that it ever occurred to him he maybe should apologize to the person he hurt. No class just like everything before it.
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Luckily for MTV, the night ended with some major class. During Beyoncé acceptance speech, she invited Taylor to come up to have her moment. Viacom, again, has tried hard to remove the video. Something about 4 reruns of the show already planned for lots of money had to do with it, I think. But not good enough, I’m afraid, Viacom!
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Vodpod videos no longer available.

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As for that sweetheart Taylor, she also reacted with class. No retribution or anything. Just told it like it was.

“I was standing on stage and I was really excited, because I’d just won the award, and then I was really excited because Kanye West was on stage, and then I wasn’t excited anymore after that.”
— Taylor Swift

Now there’s a genuine, good ole country girl!

No wonder people love her so much!

Oh, she also had to perform 5 minutes after the incident and she handled it like the pro she is!

See more of my Kanye West mockery.

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What’s Your Song of Love? (Part 6 of 7 of the World in Six Songs)

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Book and Theory Background

Daniel J. Levitin wrote an absolutely brilliant book called The World in Six Songs, supported by a great website with the many music samples referenced, among other great related material.

My basic paraphrasing of the concept is this. All the songs in the world could be fit into at least one of six categories providing an evolutionary benefit to humanity, often ultimately tied to our social nature.

The book and website offer far more detailed interpretations, of course, but I will expand on my paraphrasing with each post and the associated topic.

Daniel J. Levitin and The World in Six SongsIn a series of posts, I will describe each of the six categories in brief, one at a time:

  1. Friendship
  2. Joy
  3. Comfort
  4. Knowledge
  5. Religion
  6. Love

I will describe what the categories are about because they are not as limited in scope as the category names suggest. I will then supply one of my choices and ask all readers to do the same if they so wish. In the seventh post of the series, I will offer the chance to put the song choices all together so readers can read the entire set on one post. I do this because it would be a long post to describe all six categories at once, but to have all the answers in one place might be nice.

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This post focuses on Songs of Love

July 30th add-on in italics, from Dan Levitin in a summary article
Love songs serve as an expression of emotion, commitment, and honesty. They play a role in mating and bonding. Love provides an evolutionary advantage because it is altruistic, and corresponds with commitment, which leads to better care of children, which is an obvious fitness advantage. With altruism, the greater good comes before the individual, strengthening infrastructure.

Some may question whether there would be much to say in this chapter because intuitively, I don’t think anybody would say they couldn’t name a “love song”. But that’s a love song in their definition, or a romantic love song, not a song of love as Daniel defined it, backed up by some very prominent names. Indeed, the chapter opens with a quote by Frank Zappa that says “Romantic love songs are a sham that perpetuate a lie on unsuspecting young kids”.

Somehow, I don’t think it stops at young kids.

Frank further follows up with “I think one of the causes of bad mental health in the United States is that people have been raised on ‘love lyrics’.”

Polar opposite Joni Mitchell then jumps in to agree with “There’s no such thing as romantic love. It was a myth invented in ancient Sumeria, repopularized in the Middle Ages, and one that is clearly not true. Romantic love is all about ‘I’ this and ‘I’ that. But true love is about ‘other’.”

And if I were anybody, I’d have jumped in to agree, but I’ll just have to agree on my blog. Songs of love by Daniel Levitin’s theory, and in the purest sense of the word, are about intense feelings for another of any kind. That could be parental, friends, god (no caps on purpose), country, idea, etc. It is about something external and bigger than the self, and bigger than even we, never mind just me, like so many love songs are often about. And it is this something bigger and external to the self, the ideals we have in many aspects of life that develops pillars in our lives and society, that help create the social structure necessary for society and raising children (along the same belief that it takes a village to raise a child).

A note should be added here to clarify that while religion is also about something bigger and external to the self, it is about a search for meaning. Love songs are about the motivation and the doing, without that greater meaning of placement, using the something greater towards creating a favourable social architecture for increasing our chances of survival and evolution.

As for how romantic love songs fits into all of this, they are just a smidgeon of songs of love, and likewise, romantic love of love in the greater sense. The world is full of bad love songs, then, if you think of romantic love songs as representatives of the love song category, for the most part. They are still important, but think of it as strength in numbers rather than true strength within for the few. Many romantic love songs are just for the here and now, to get us there and hold us a bit until either another one comes along or something else comes along to help us. I don’t mean their popularity on the charts, but rather their relevance to us for a moment. They are also an “honest” signal harder to fake than language because it’s harder to hide an emotion via a song than in speaking a phrase. By the way, keep in mind we have only had recording devices to use songs the way we do today in about 0.0001% of our evolutionary history, so the honest signal theory  that we sang the songs ourselves to communicate, comparing to speech to say something, applies well to our history. Most of our ancestors could not request or play a song for someone like we can today.

To defend his point that romantic love is just a tiny part of love in the bigger sense, Daniel Levitin presented a very compelling physiological and neurological argument of how romantic love is just a chemical high. In contrast, the idea of love being about the “other” and not the self, is what truly drives us to raise our children, who take far longer and far more resources to develop into a self-sustaining adult than any other babies in the animal kingdom. Romantic love songs only use the “conveyance” component of language, the easy one to get to the here and now, not the computational component that is much longer term. Romantic love songs are about the moment, not the long-term future.

Love, in the real sense of the word that is about the “other” and not the self, is easily just as deep as religion, and the chapter shows it with a lot of deep material touching everything from the psychological, physiological, neurological, philosophical, evolutionary and other aspects of love. It is not challenging to read for reading level required, but the ideas will take time to think about and absorb if you read it seriously. Religion only seems deeper because of its theoretical boundlessness, and because simple romantic love songs have made love seem so trivial. However, I don’t think anybody would disagree that love is what ultimately binds us all together most, and to that end, the Beatles may well have been right that all you need is love. Well, maybe not all as life might still be difficult if that was all you had, but for sure, love is the most imporant thing we need.

Audio sample of songs from the Love chapter in The World in Six Songs can be found on the website. No direct link was available, but click on the Songs menu option and appropriate page number range link carrying pages 229 to 289. Please note that not all songs are meant as samples of Love songs. Some are just referenced material in the book text.

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Author Daniel Levitin chose

Bring ‘Em All In, by the Waterboys, not just as an example of a love song suitable to his theory, but also as the ultimate love song to fit the example (lyrics).

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My choice for Song of Love is

We are the World, written by Michael Jackson and performed by a collective of artists (listed with lyrics).

Of the many songs I love as love songs, all are of the romantic love song nature that is but a petty part of the songs of love defined by Daniel Levitin in his World in Six Songs theory. It is really tough to think of a song that unites us all in a caring cause, for the future as much as now. However, I think this one does pretty well, talking about the world, the children, in a call to action (now) for a brighter day (future). I am just very saddened listening to it to see how far Michael Jackson has fallen from a pop star with the often cited Greatest Album of All Time in Thriller (MTV, even in Apr 2009), to someone who could write a song as this, to what he is now.

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What is your choice for Song of Love?

Please leave your choice as a comment.

Lyrics and YouTube/audio link would greatly enhance your answer so readers can know more about your choice. They are not necessary, though, and not possible if no lyrics or version exist.

You can include songs you wrote as a choice, too!

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 10.1