I've recently been on a bit of a Bob Dylan jag that started, I suppose, when I saw former Dylan running buddy Bob Neuwirth perform (see previous post), and then continued when I interviewed Bob Hilburn about his excellent Johnny Cash biography. Cash and Dylan had a mutual admiration society that included a riveting appearance by Dylan on Cash's TV show. Anyway...I just started reading Greil Marcus' collected writings about Dylan and it's led to all sorts of tangents. Like the time when Marcus went to Scorsese's house to watch a preview of "The Last Waltz," the concert film Scorsese directed about The Band's swan song concert (in which Dylan perfomed). After they watch the film, Scorsese and Robbie Robertson would rather talk about anything else but. Marcus writes:
Scorsese pulls out a Ray Charles album; the song he wants us to hear is "What Would I Do Without You," from 1957. It's a slow, tragic blues ballad; there's the assumption of a happy ending, or at least of resolution, in the lyrics, but not in Ray Charles' singing. "Leave out a few Billie Holiday tunes, and there's more heroin in that music than in anything you'll ever hear," Robertson says. "Heroin does something to your throat. It makes the voice thicker. Listen."
And so I did, for the first time in a while. And so should you.