Loudon Wainwright III: Talkin' Bob Dylan

Weekend Music

Today is Dylan's birthday. He's 72. Loudon Wainwright III, as you may know, was one of several artists who were briefly touted as "the new Dylan" in the early 1970s.


The kid he refers to in the last verse is presumably Martha Wainwright, herself a worthy artist, I think somewhat less well known than her brother Rufus, who is a gay star (that is, not just a star who is gay, but a star for whom being homosexual is a significant part of his matter and presentation--or at least that's the impression I have from seeing him on TV a couple of times).


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a genuinely funny talking blues song! Quite a rarity.

I thought Dylan's Talking World War III was funny back when I was in high school and college. Haven't heard it for a long time, though.

Talking World War III even made my parents laugh. But somehow, talking blues makes me think of heroically forced laughter.

I need to listen to it again and see if I still think it's funny. But of course now I'll be studying my own reaction.

"heroically forced laughter"--that made me think of a piece I read not long ago about Tom Lehrer, and how extremely funny he is. But I always thought h.f.l. was going on there, too. What I heard of him certainly didn't strike me as brilliantly funny.

Rufus is a talented musician and singer. But it seems that "happens to be gay" is not allowed to happen anymore...

You got your dead skunk in the middle of the road...

The guy is very witty.

That's a funny song that I hadn't heard before, and very appropriate. I like "Talkin' World War III Blues" a lot, but my favourites of Dylan's talkin' blues are "Talkin' Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues" (from the first installment of the Bootleg Series) and "I Shall Be Free No.10" (From Another Side). Both are hilarious.

I don't remember either of those clearly enough to have an opinion, especially the one from Another Side, an album I never much liked, though probably it will come back to me if I hear a line or two. But there's another "I Shall Be Free" on The Freewheelin' that I thought was pretty funny. Not quite a talking blues but similar.

"99, 100, 101, 102,
Your Pa won't even recognize you"

Not fond of Another Side? But Mac, it includes "To Ramona", "Boots of Spanish Leather", "It Ain't Me Babe", "My Back Pages", and "Chimes of Freedom". Maybe time for another listen?

I remember now--yes, it is pretty funny--I've sometimes threatened to grow my hair down to my feet so strange so I look like a walking mountain range, but had forgotten what song the line came from. I was wondering as I listened just now whether people younger than roughly my age would get the Cassius Clay/Muhammed Ali takeoff there. Little taunting rhymes like that were one of his things.

"Boots" is on The Times They Are.... But the others...well, ok, they're pretty good songs, but have never been among my favorites. But I love "Black Crow Blues." It's my favorite song on the album, which probably puts me in a minority of one. A couple of the songs, e.g. "Motorpsycho Nightmare," used to strike me as just plain terrible and sort of colored my view of the whole album.

"I'd just finished my coffee when I heard something jerkin'
There stood Rita looking just like Tony Perkins"


Agree with Craig

Well, OK, that is a bad couple of lines, and I did make a mistake about "Boots of...". Still, to my mind it's a pretty great record. "To Ramona" probably ranks in my Top 5 Dylan songs; there's something irresistibly bittersweet about it.

And even that Tony Perkins line is sorta-kinda justifiable insofar as the whole song is a riff on Hitchcock's Psycho. But, true enough, on its own merits it earns an "ugh".

Did I ever tell you about the time I sat with my high-heeled sneakers on, waiting to play tennis in the noonday sun? I had my white shorts rolled up past my waist and my wig-hat was falling in my face, but they wouldn't let me on the tennis court!

Okay, that's enough, I know...

Gosh, I must've missed something in "To Ramona"--it never made any impression on me at all.

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