Cover of "Idiot Wind" Words and Music By Bob Dylan

I cannot describe the number of ways I love the song "Idiot Wind," by Bob Dylan. In particular, I was knocked out with the latest Bootleg Series, which focused on the album Blood on the Tracks, one of the greatest mid-career Dylan albums. And this song has it all - it's filled with the vitriol of a middle-aged artist who has had enough with the hall of mirrors that fame was delivering as the 1970s were about to crash into the 1980s. Let me re-introduce you to the masterpiece that is Bob Dylan's "Idiot Wind."

I used an early version of lyrics, ones which resonate more with me that what was published on "Blood On The Tracks." One of the most fascinating things about diving deep into Bob Dylan over years and decades now, is that you see clearly the choices he made both from a literary composition perspective with the words he continues to choose, but the key, signature, rhythm, melody and swing. Turning any of these (or all them as Dylan does) into variables of art created in the moment is a lesson for all artists of all ages. Have faith in your choice in the moment as long as it is rooted in the light, it will never be wrong.

Cover Of "Take It Where You Can Get It" Words and Music By Miranda Sound

If you were to ask me who the best songwriters are that I've ever personally met, well I'm going to tell you that it's Dan Gerken, Billy Peake, Sean Sefcik, and Dan Bell. The music they wrote as Miranda Sound and performed all over the country, but mostly here in the Midwest and Central Ohio, defined what was happening inside the guts and gizzards of so many of us in our 20s and 30s. And in retrospect, they produced an alternative soundtrack of George W. Bush's America, which seems awfully sane and muted now, but back then it felt like the world was on fire, and I guess it's always felt that way.

But Miranda Sound had sweet moments as well and this is my sloppy but well-intentioned cover of their incredible song "Take It Where You Can Get It," a beautiful acoustic lullaby on their "Western Reserve" masterpiece album. I wanted to see how it would work as more of an anthem, but the song kept drawing me back to its quiet places, and perhaps that says more about me in my mid-40s than it does about the song.

Even nearly a decade and a half later, this ballad delivers such sweetness that I was loathed to even dare to try recreating it at all. But my love for the band and how this song cooks up my insides kept me progressing. This is meant as a compliment and a thank you to a band that defined much of my early 30s, a fist bump to the young men who became old men through their art. Dan, Billy, Sean and Dan - this one's for you! I hope you feel the love coming through even though it's my voice and guitar on the other end.

I am including the lyrics as I have heard them in my head for these many years. They may be wrong, but I have written mythologies about them in my brain and so this is my interpretation. Apologies for any errors. I'll do better next time.

Please go buy all of the Miranda Sound's records and downloads you can find. Let them bleed into your soul like they have mine.

Cover of Bob Dylan's "What Good Am I?"

Bob Dylan wrote the lyrics to "What Good Am I?" on the "Oh, Mercy" album after seeing a homeless man being harassed by NYC police officers while his starving dog looked on helplessly. These are some of the most painful lyrics he ever wrote. After serving food to 500 destitute people on a recent trip to San Francisco, I was moved to return to this song and it moved me to tears. Never as good as the original, this tribute is what came from inside me when I pay respect to the verse.

"Love Minus Zero / No Limits" Bob Dylan Cover

In this series of going through and reimagining Bob Dylan's lyrics in unique musical compositions. I've been learning how to compose using Apple's Logic Pro X. I start with a drummer track, find the right tempo. Then I'll throw some keyboards or just a bass line on (sometimes both) and then I go hunting in my big book of Bob Dylan lyrics. For this one, the lyric in this about the Bankers nieces seeking perfection and all the gifts that wise men bring just knocks me out. The vocals here were from the third take, and you can hear me reach at one or two spots but this is what happens when you take Nobel Prize lyrics and put them on an amateur composition. 

 

Ain't Talkin' (Bob Dylan Cover)

Modern Times is the album I listened to as I rushed to the hospital to meet my daughter for the first time. Over time, Ain't Talkin'  has become one of my favorite songs on the album. The harshness of the narrator coupled with the deeply transparent statement about trying to be best to other human being, "But Mama, it's not going so well," is just a masterful lyric. 

Like any of these Dylan covers, I lay the tracks down first and then go looking for Dylan lyrics that fit the mood and stanza spacing. This one fell into place once I listened back to the second guitar track. I actually started humming the chorus and I just knew it was a gift. 

"Careless Fires" Words & Music by JB Minton

Careless Fires

Careless fires start in a flash
Burn out the rim and move in to crash
The opening blast burned off your face
And now you could be anyplace

Carless fires never burn very long
But they'll burn to the end of the song

Careful fires wait to ignite.
They bend into darkness and bring out the light.
The end of the flame brings out the dawn
Scatter the ash and prepare to move on.