Bob Dylan's punk period

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should it have lasted longer than two days?

lukevalentine, Tuesday, 8 December 2009 00:33 (thirteen years ago) link


lukevalentine, Tuesday, 8 December 2009 00:34 (thirteen years ago) link

woah that jokerman is dope

IT WASN'T NOT FUNNY! (M@tt He1ges0n), Tuesday, 8 December 2009 00:58 (thirteen years ago) link

Bob has always been more punk than just about anyone.

It's Favre O'Clock Somewhere!!! (leavethecapital), Tuesday, 8 December 2009 01:13 (thirteen years ago) link

"Don't Start Me Talkin" and that "Jokerman" perf are two of the best live clips I've seen. Dylan even smiles when Letterman jokes about inviting them back!

Hell is other people. In an ILE film forum. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 8 December 2009 01:14 (thirteen years ago) link

I am now imagining an alternate punk Dylan 80s, w/no Arthur Baker or the Dead or "Sylvio."

"Don't Start Me Talkin" (the song itself) is punkasfuck no matter who does it.

uninspired girls rejoice!!! (Hoot Smalley), Tuesday, 8 December 2009 01:27 (thirteen years ago) link

I am now imagining an alternate punk Dylan 80s, w/no Arthur Baker or the Dead or "Sylvio."

I know, in a way it's kind of depressing thinking about what might have been

I feel bad for all the suckers who saw this Letterman performance and rushed out to buy Infidels

and got the soggy version of Jokerman

lukevalentine, Tuesday, 8 December 2009 01:33 (thirteen years ago) link

Eh -- I like Empire Burlesque fine.

Hell is other people. In an ILE film forum. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 8 December 2009 01:33 (thirteen years ago) link

...and the version of "Jokerman" on Infidels is wondrous: some of his best singing, over a sinuous rhythm section to boot.

Hell is other people. In an ILE film forum. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 8 December 2009 01:34 (thirteen years ago) link

I can almost hear Dylan thinking "I'll lure 'em in by rocking out, and then, blammo-- Mark Knopfler!"

uninspired girls rejoice!!! (Hoot Smalley), Tuesday, 8 December 2009 01:36 (thirteen years ago) link

haha exactly, I like the studio version of Infidels fine

but surely this perf. is a bit misleading

oh well, Dylan is a crafty devil

lukevalentine, Tuesday, 8 December 2009 01:40 (thirteen years ago) link

good luck pam gibson

omar little, Tuesday, 8 December 2009 01:41 (thirteen years ago) link

those letterman performances are killlllller .... the PLUGZ.

tylerw, Tuesday, 8 December 2009 01:56 (thirteen years ago) link

Yeah, I was about to say: the Plugz. And I think this is the only time they backed him.


Yes, that is Liberace.

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 8 December 2009 02:15 (thirteen years ago) link

that part where he is trying the different harmonicas during the song is truly, deeply weird and great

iago g., Tuesday, 8 December 2009 02:23 (thirteen years ago) link

jokerman doesn't sound punk, it sounds like the boss!!

being being kiss-ass fake nice (gbx), Tuesday, 8 December 2009 02:54 (thirteen years ago) link

To me it sounds like Petty, but it's great here any way you slice it.

Mark, Tuesday, 8 December 2009 02:56 (thirteen years ago) link

i kinda thought it sounded like television, but hey ....

tylerw, Tuesday, 8 December 2009 02:58 (thirteen years ago) link

no it does sound like televison, but seriously after like :40 he starts singing like springsteen

being being kiss-ass fake nice (gbx), Tuesday, 8 December 2009 03:01 (thirteen years ago) link

That's not the Plugz, just their drummer, Charlie Quintana. He backed Dylan for quite a few years I think, post-Plugz, while Tito Larriva was trying to go arena-roots-rock with the Cruzados.

neither good nor bad, just a kid like you (unperson), Tuesday, 8 December 2009 03:25 (thirteen years ago) link

oh yeah? i always thought it was the plugz, who's the rest of the band ..?

tylerw, Tuesday, 8 December 2009 03:29 (thirteen years ago) link

looks like the plugz to me

but my knowledge of 80's latino punk is negligible

lukevalentine, Tuesday, 8 December 2009 03:43 (thirteen years ago) link

apparently that "don't start me talkin'" is completely off the cuff -- they'd never played it before! that whole Letterman set is like ground zero for Dylan-maniacs ... it just sort of suggests the brilliant possibilities, the surprises that come when you least expect them ...

tylerw, Tuesday, 8 December 2009 03:51 (thirteen years ago) link

According to this crazy obsessive website I just Googled up:

22nd March 1984 (“David Letterman Show”, NBC Studios, Rockefeller Center, NYC)
Justin Jesting (guitar)
Tony Marisco (bass)
Charlie Quintana (drums)

neither good nor bad, just a kid like you (unperson), Tuesday, 8 December 2009 03:54 (thirteen years ago) link

so, where was Tito?

either way, Dylan should have taken these cats on the road

lukevalentine, Tuesday, 8 December 2009 04:22 (thirteen years ago) link

appaently Dylan has covered the Clash in his sets before, which I didn't know

too bad his voice is too effin' shot to sing this anymore

lukevalentine, Tuesday, 8 December 2009 04:23 (thirteen years ago) link

How shot must your voice be to not do Joe Strummer justice?

EZ Snappin, Tuesday, 8 December 2009 04:32 (thirteen years ago) link about alternative universes!

Imagine Dylan singing the Strummer/ Jones songbook -Did yew lo-o-ove li'l Janie Jones, woah....

sonofstan, Tuesday, 8 December 2009 04:35 (thirteen years ago) link

blowin' in the wind/i'm so bored with the usa medley would pwn

WmC, Tuesday, 8 December 2009 04:48 (thirteen years ago) link

Imagine if he went hxc

unified theory of objectionable thoughts (latebloomer), Tuesday, 8 December 2009 07:14 (thirteen years ago) link

yeah he did that snippet of London Calling as a one-off in London after Strummer died. Too bad he didn't do the full song! Sounds cool to me. I think Dylan is on the record as a Clash fan from very early on -- maybe he saw them live in the 70s? Something like that anyway.

tylerw, Tuesday, 8 December 2009 15:41 (thirteen years ago) link

According to the Heylin book, he and his oldest son took in a lot of punk and New Wave shows when Dylan stopped touring in the early eighties.

Hell is other people. In an ILE film forum. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 8 December 2009 15:44 (thirteen years ago) link

this IMDB entry for "JJ Holiday" says JJ Holiday is also "Justin Jesting"

wonder if it's the same dude?

IT WASN'T NOT FUNNY! (M@tt He1ges0n), Tuesday, 8 December 2009 15:47 (thirteen years ago) link

"License to Kill" from the same Letterman performance

IT WASN'T NOT FUNNY! (M@tt He1ges0n), Tuesday, 8 December 2009 15:51 (thirteen years ago) link

it is so fun to see how *excited* Dylan is during this performance. Kinda the opposite of what his 1984 euro tour ended up being ...

tylerw, Tuesday, 8 December 2009 15:53 (thirteen years ago) link

doing Roy Head's "Treat Her Right" from soundcheck earlier that nite:

IT WASN'T NOT FUNNY! (M@tt He1ges0n), Tuesday, 8 December 2009 15:53 (thirteen years ago) link

According to the Heylin book, he and his oldest son took in a lot of punk and New Wave shows when Dylan stopped touring in the early eighties.

It makes sense to me that Bob would like punk and new wave, as alot of it shares the same energy and emotional directness as the rock and roll & roll and folk he grew up with

as well those same qualities in his own music

I mean, Dylan's "Thin Wild Mercury sound" seems like an antecedent to punk in both sound & attitude

lukevalentine, Tuesday, 8 December 2009 16:01 (thirteen years ago) link

this IMDB entry for "JJ Holiday" says JJ Holiday is also "Justin Jesting"

wonder if it's the same dude?

― IT WASN'T NOT FUNNY! (M@tt He1ges0n), Tuesday, December 8, 2009 9:47 AM (13 minutes ago) Bookmark

yeah from what I can tell Justin Jesting is JJ HOlliday who I think is in some bands called Imperial Crowns. The only article I found just called him a "local punk musician."

So, my question is, should I listen to Cruzados?

lukevalentine, Tuesday, 8 December 2009 16:03 (thirteen years ago) link

two months pass...

in response to:
" this IMDB entry for "JJ Holiday" says JJ Holiday is also "Justin Jesting"
wonder if it's the same dude? "

I can verify those 2 names are in fact "the same dude", yes. Justin Jesting who appeared with Dylan in 1984 on Letterman IS the same guy as the JJ Holiday you have listed above. There are a few JJ Holiday's out there these days, but these 2 listings are definitely the same guy for sure.
In 1984 he was a young weird punky, folky musician and a big fan of old, old blues who played guitar, and who used to change his name almost daily as well as his choice of hair dye colors (and kooky headbands, haha!) back then. Today, he is a bit older, and still is a rather odd, punky, folky musician who plays the guitar. He is still quite a big fan of old, old blues, hillbilly & rock & roll as well as a bunch of other musics. He also collects old blues & gospel 78s from the 1920's mostly. He has settled on a darkish color of hair dye for the most part. He plays music mostly these days live with some local L.A. musicians like Chuck E Weiss here and there and he had a cool touring band called the Imperial Crowns... He also plays currently with some other L.A. musicians with names like Jimmie Wood & Joe Sublett, plus several others, in the Sacred Hearts Band... who have been the backing band for the current Blues Brothers, Dan Aykroyd & Jim Belushi, since about 1994.

Thanks for the videos and for letting me get the facts straight here on your website,
JJ Holiday

JJH, Wednesday, 17 February 2010 09:53 (twelve years ago) link

hey thanks for the info i'm glad you are still the same dude! :)

good luck w/everything and you guys KILLED it with Dylan on letterman, too bad you didn't play with him for longer

El GarBage (M@tt He1ges0n), Wednesday, 17 February 2010 16:07 (twelve years ago) link

yeah, thanks JJ! definitely a bummer you guys weren't Dylan's band for more than the Letterman gig, but if you're going to appear with Bob in the 80s, that would be the time to do it! Nicely done!

tylerw, Wednesday, 17 February 2010 16:11 (twelve years ago) link

I'd never seen those clips before but they are fierce. The 80s are my last frontier of Dylan fandom.

begs the question, when is enough enough (Euler), Wednesday, 17 February 2010 16:14 (twelve years ago) link

Hi again,
I don’t want to overstay my welcome, but I’d like to add a few bits of rambling trivia as a little follow-up here.
Firstly, I do thank you for your kind enthusiasms. We are all big Dylan fans, no doubt.

It's odd and funny to me now, I have often thought that our 2nd gig with this same band would have been just great after this quirky not-so-little-nationally-televised-warm-up. haha! Unfortunately or not, that NEXT gig just never transpired. As you might already know, there WAS to be a somewhat incognito (non-"Dylan") South American tour with Mr.D & us 3… plus maybe a couple more members added later... who knows?... and yes, THAT would have been great fun for all. I am quite sure of that! That tour with us obviously did not happen due to the sudden big-time Real Live European tour done with way more seasoned pros of the time, quite naturally. Our tour-that-never-happened is in fact the reason we were playing together at all in the first place… as well as the fact that I believe Dylan was curious and exploring just what was going on out in the streets with various younger musicians at the time. This after maybe feeling a bit less in touch with it all in his most recent, prior years. I think it was a pretty cool move on his part. In retrospect, by all accounts WE had a very unique & personal experience with the man in our casual get-togethers up in Malibu. I cherish this very lucky period of time I was able to spend, at such a young age and with such a great artist as Bob Dylan. We had done a series of casual and scattered jams that he had scheduled with us over a period of a couple/few months before this one-time appearance. During those, I learned a lot by just observing what was going on in the room, as we played and in between. HE was more than gracious to me at all times… both as a young guitarist trying to find a style and as a fledging young human being for that matter… and he was the same to the other guys too, from all I saw. I greatly admire him. He was really good in that way with younger cats, in the same tradition as were many older Southern blues musicians I myself had sought out at an even younger age, being the huge country-blues fan I was and still am. I put Dylan in the same highly regarded league as all those other other heroes of mine. It is all in the great tradition of our Folk musics around the world. I have since taken similar care with younger musicians I've met along the way as well for this same reason. It IS important to pass the torch on I believe... as an artist, as a musician and as a human being in society. ....ha!... sorry for my philosophical soapbox… I digress… ha! Anyway… I have read all sorts of comments and information out there and that friends have sent to me over the years about this one-time, fluky appearance on TV... of all places.... ha! ... some of it is quite insightful and correct & some is quite the opposite & rather misinformed. Such is life.

All I can say is that this period of time is that it was a wonderful moment for me personally, filled with great memories. I am proud of it all, with all it's flaws and bumps and live energy. No other artist I know of would be so bold as he was then to risk-the-biscuit with a bunch of rag-tags as we were then. I applaud it. There is a great story I've just recently learned of behind that famous incorrect harp he is handed... Tony Marsico, the bassist, has a small indie semi-bio book out where his research describes that particular and more. You can find it for sale out there with a little digging. It is fascinating. Dylan has had a super-great core band for many years now and I love that he does, and I think that is something he shines best in front of. I saw him fairly recently at the Palladium in Hollywood.... a GREAT show it was.

As a sidelight: In addition to playing music these days with the organizations or films or whatever mentioned above, I am now also part of a certain film production company in L.A. and through it much of this particular experience from 1983-4 has come full-circle for me personally in some very strange & unexpected ways. Life is a great trip, and it never ceases to amaze me just how small this world really is and how our all-too-short lives are SO intertwined... whether we know it or not.

I will have to check back here now and then. I do appreciate your website here and that this little moment w/the rehearsals are on youtube.. wow! So cool.

Thanks again! JJ Holiday, Justin Jesting, Just Ingesting or just whatever you like, ha!

JJH, Wednesday, 17 February 2010 21:27 (twelve years ago) link

awesome thanks justin

El GarBage (M@tt He1ges0n), Wednesday, 17 February 2010 22:07 (twelve years ago) link

yeah, thanks for sharing!

tylerw, Wednesday, 17 February 2010 22:19 (twelve years ago) link

thanks for sharing that, Justin!

This is a better version of the Letterman show (vocals in synch and allround better sound quality):

Duke, Wednesday, 17 February 2010 22:41 (twelve years ago) link

holy shit, new wave dylan!

you kind of get the feeling that throughout this period he had warring instincts and often didn't choose the best of these.

by another name (amateurist), Wednesday, 17 February 2010 23:48 (twelve years ago) link

I'm not a big Dylan fan but that live clip of Jokerman is fantastic.

brotherlovesdub, Thursday, 18 February 2010 00:26 (twelve years ago) link

wow, thanks for sharing JJ

I am a big fan of these performances w/ Dylan on the Letterman show

lukevalentine, Thursday, 18 February 2010 03:05 (twelve years ago) link

I like Bob's delayed reaction to Letterman's question at the end

lukevalentine, Thursday, 18 February 2010 03:07 (twelve years ago) link

four years pass...

The YouTube links upthread are broken, here's a newer one

Brad C., Saturday, 7 June 2014 19:23 (eight years ago) link

"Best new music" right there

licorice oratorio (baaderonixx), Sunday, 8 June 2014 09:04 (eight years ago) link

he should have stuck with it too, how dreadful was the 10th anniversary thing

just sad.

good example of what not to do with dylan in a live situation.

niels, Sunday, 8 June 2014 11:39 (eight years ago) link

Oof, I remember that. Everyone else onstage is embarrassingly overcompensating for Dylan's (understandable and justified) "Ugh, this shit again" attitude.

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Sunday, 8 June 2014 14:33 (eight years ago) link

Great thread, thanks! Hope to see more writing by JJ, will have to check the Web. Highway 61 Revisitedis punk as fuck; would be even more so if he'd chosen the fast version of "It Takes A Lot To Laugh," but the slower version provides effective contrast. Maybe someday as a bonus track. think there are other goodies from those sessions? Meanwhile, the fast 'un is on Series of Dreams. Lots of attitude on Tempest too: "So much," he sneers, "for the wasted years."

dow, Sunday, 8 June 2014 14:50 (eight years ago) link

four years pass...

I still don't know Dylan's punk period but I am once again listening to EMPIRE BURLESQUE (1985) every day.

the pinefox, Monday, 13 August 2018 08:48 (four years ago) link

SO, are those youtubes gone, or is it just my work filter?

Mark G, Monday, 13 August 2018 09:24 (four years ago) link

is it this one?

niels, Monday, 13 August 2018 10:53 (four years ago) link

You guys ever hear about this? In the 90s Bob Dylan got super into Jerry Lewis and tried to pitch a slapstick comedy series—starting himself—to HBO.

Trϵϵship, Monday, 13 August 2018 12:11 (four years ago) link

Love that Jokerman arrangement. Got back into reading about/listening to Bob Dylan this weekend after not thinking about him for a while. Most people my age that I meet seem to not be enthusiastic about him or think he is a charlatan or something, which is really disappointing to me. At the hipstery bookstore where I used to work everyone was upset when he won the Nobel Prize.

Trϵϵship, Monday, 13 August 2018 12:16 (four years ago) link

a charlatan at what, being the greatest musician of the 20th century

j., Monday, 13 August 2018 12:17 (four years ago) link

I think he is just seen as some kind of lame baby boomer emblem, which is absurd because he was famously not seduced by the mythology that grew around him and has spent the past fifty-plus years doing whatever felt right to him, artistically.

Trϵϵship, Monday, 13 August 2018 12:20 (four years ago) link

Might just be I only know losers but since high school my love of all things Dylan has often seemed a solitary enthusiasm

Trϵϵship, Monday, 13 August 2018 12:22 (four years ago) link

there is this weird thing that persists where some people still see him as the old timey protest singer and not the decades of being an awesome weirdo crank

The Desus & Mero Chain (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Monday, 13 August 2018 12:27 (four years ago) link

Yeah, that. Very odd as the weirdo crank phase arguably began like two years after he became famous.

Trϵϵship, Monday, 13 August 2018 12:39 (four years ago) link

one year passes...

Canucks re-imagine Infidels if it had been recorded by Dylan & The Plugz.

"...And the Gods Socially Distanced" (C. Grisso/McCain), Wednesday, 27 May 2020 01:39 (two years ago) link

sounds pretty good! (lol at them replicating Dylan's harmonica fuckup on the Letterman "Jokerman")

tylerw, Wednesday, 27 May 2020 02:04 (two years ago) link

This got me to look up the Letterman performance, and here's a YouTube comment posted three weeks ago. It's Dylan-related, so it could just be an imaginative tall tale. (I cleaned up some of Henry's quotation marks and spacing.)

Henry Edwards
3 weeks ago
THE REALSTORY BEHIND “HARMONICA-GATE”. I was the person who handed Bob Dylan the harmonica during this performance on David Letterman. My name is Ed and back in the day I worked for one of the biggest rock and roll production managers in the country Michael Ahern who in turn worked for Bill Graham. At the time Bill Graham was doing production for Bob Dylan. I got a call from Michael saying Dylan was appearing on the David Letterman show the following week ( I think it was a Thursday) and could I take care of his “back line duties.” Backline means setting up the drums, amps, guitars etc. and taking care of whatever technical needs the band might have. Bob was scheduled to perform two songs on the show that night. On the second song he told me to have a harmonica in a certain key sitting on his Marshall amplifier so he could pick it up and play it towards the end of the song. He used it and everything worked out perfectly. At that point I figured my job was pretty much over for the night, you know wait for the show to finish pack up the gear and go home. Then all of a sudden I was told (by Bob’s son) that Letterman asked Bob to do a third song to close the show and I should have a harmonica ready again. He said it should be in the key of D (if I remember correctly). Now Bob’s son was still a teenager at this time and I was a little wary of the messenger so I took it upon myself to backstage to the dressing room to ask Bob personally. When I got there he was really busy speaking with friends and industry types and I said something to the effect of “hey Bob your son said you need a harmonica in the key of D for the last song”. Bob turns to me and says “ah yea that’s right”. So I figure great end of story, but no not end of story because Bob mistakenly (because he was busy with his guests) told me “ah yea sure”. So I set up everything the way I was told and the third song started. Halfway through the song Bob takes off his guitar hands it to me picks up the harmonica starts blowing immediately stops looks left to me and says “what the fuck it’s the wrong key”. I say “what key do you need?”. He says “G”. I think to myself oh shit that harmonica is on the other side of the drums, so I go running (on camera) behind the drummer to fetch the right one. It took about twenty seconds but seemed like a fucking lifetime! After the song was over I turned to Bob and said “what happened what happened”. He said “I got mixed up”. All of a sudden Bob’s manager Mick Brigdon was all over me saying “what the hell just happened?”. I said Bob asked for the wrong harp”. He said “don’t you move, wait right here”. He came back two minutes later and said “never mind”. I started to pack up the gear thinking shit these guys are never going hire me again! A month later I got a call asking me if I would go on the up coming European Tour as his guitar tech.

clemenza, Wednesday, 27 May 2020 11:44 (two years ago) link

that's fantastic

Yanni Xenakis (Hadrian VIII), Wednesday, 27 May 2020 13:40 (two years ago) link

Great story, thanks! Came back to say that I think punk period also incl. John Wesley Harding, challenging sentimental and escapist elements of folk, proto-Americana, etc: "Note to self and others: back to roots incl. back to assholes," although he leaves plenty room for inference that it's the whole, not just boondocks, American-to-AmeriKKKan corrupt, good-ul' boy status quo he's got his eye on (and some confessions of complicity in there too). Jon Landau's review: "Dylan has felt the War"---he meant Vietnam, but in Chronicles, D talks about going to the New York Public Library early on, and reading way back in the newspapers, from Revolutionary times maybe, certainly the Civil War and what led up to it and "away" from it, incl, stuff talked/written around in the papers.
Also in Chronicles, he claims he made Self Portrait to get the worshipful crazies off his back (also off his porch at 3 am, he said in the book or elsewhere), and it's extreme enough (always was, but we now know from Another Self-Portrait[ and related sessions on Travelin' Man, that the original SP could have been a lot better), to count it as a big fat hock-a-loogie fuck you.

dow, Wednesday, 27 May 2020 15:51 (two years ago) link

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