Cormac McCarthy: The Road
Tales From the Loop

Chrissie Hynde Sings Dylan

My friend Stu pointed out a series of videos in which Chrissie Hynde and James Walbourne cover Dylan songs. This is "Standing In the Doorway," from Time Out of Mind. (You're really getting old when you think of an album that came out over twenty years ago as "recent.")

I never really listened very much to The Pretenders, the group in which Chrissie Hynde became famous. Moreover, it was only a few years ago that I learned that "Brass In Pocket," their first (and most successful?) hit single, was by them. When it was on the radio, back in 1979 or '80, I thought it was Blondie.  I don't know that their music would appeal to me all that much now, whatever its merits, as it seems very...youth-oriented, by and for the young. In my experience, if you don't hear that kind of music when you're actually young, it doesn't have the same appeal and effect. 

But Chrissie Hynde (who will turn 70 next year) had and still has a great voice. I'm looking forward to hearing the others in this series. 

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You make a very good point, Mac. I was 14 when that first Pretenders album came out, and of course bought it which made me a lifelong fan. I'm pretty sure I first saw Dylan in concert in the early to mid-80s, when all of his albums were pretty subpar (nothing may be worse in his catalog than Down in the Groove). Therefore, Time Out of Mind remains my favorite, for I suppose the weird reason that it was the first one that made a real impact on me that I also purchased upon release. Purists will always say that his 60s (and most of his 70s) output is far superior. I love it when a musician takes another artist's songs and does something different, making it theirs too. It helps when you have a one-of-a-kind voice!

I will make the claim that Down in the Groove is worthwhile for three tracks:
"Silvio," "Ninety Miles an Hour," and "Rank Strangers." Of which Dylan wrote only one (co-wrote, actually, if I remember correctly), so certainly a low point. Isn't the worst one the one with "Wiggle Wiggle"?

I find it hard to evaluate his Big '60s albums in relation to something like Time Out of Mind, because they were so revolutionary. How much weight should we give that? At any rate they do seem to me to be on another level from almost all his later work. I wonder what we would think of him if his first album had been New Morning?

I'm not a great fan of either Dylan or Hynde, so I have nothing to comment upon there, but I will say that I've been a big James Walbourne fan ever since he first came on the scene in the late 90s playing with UK alt country singer Pete Bruntnell. I think Walbourne was still in his teens at that time. I haven't followed his career closely but I know he's played with a lot of different artists over the past 20 years, while still maintaining his original connection with Bruntnell.

I saw him live in 2002 in a show where he played lead with both Bruntnell, who was the opener, and the Pernice Bros., who headlined. At that time he still wasn't very well known, and everyone at the show was like, "Holy cow, who's this kid?"

Ha. I never heard of him till now.

Chrissie likes to introduce Walbourne as "the last great guitar hero". The first time I saw this Pretenders lineup he and his wife (Richard Thompson's daughter) played a folk set as the opening act. Then when the Pretenders came out he was dressed in a white track suit sort of like late-era Elvis Presley, and had transformed himself into a "rock god" of sorts. It was impressive.

Chrissie will also occasionally refer to Martin Chambers as "the world's greatest rock n roll drummer". :-)

I didn't know RT had a daughter, though I've heard a bit of his son's work.

I hesitate to disagree with Chrissie but I think there are some other guitar heroes still working.

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