Friday, March 24, 2017
By Randy Lewis
March 22, 2017
Bob Dylan (EFE)
One particularly enlightening passage in author Clinton Heylin’s authoritative biography of Bob Dylan, “Behind the Shades,” describes rehearsal sessions he conducted early in the new millennium.
As drummer David Kemper related to Heylin, Dylan would gather members of his band and rehearse many of his favorite songs by other artists — from Dean Martin and Big Joe Turner to the Stanley Brothers and country duo Johnnie & Jack.
“We would work it up just like the [original] record,” Kemper recalled. “And then we would put all of that music away, and we never would revisit it. We would never play it again.”
At first mystified by Dylan’s curious methodology, Kemper finally figured out what was happening. “Oh my God, he’s been teaching us this music [all along] — not literally these songs, but these styles.”
With the March 31 arrival of “Triplicate,” a three-disc collection constituting Dylan’s third, fourth and fifth albums drawn from the body of mostly pre-World War II music known as the Great American Songbook, it seems clear that this is at least partially his objective for his fan base as well.
If we truly want to understand the essence of Dylan’s monumental impact on contemporary music, it’s crucial to understand not just his own songs, but those that shaped him.
“If you like someone's work, the important thing is to be exposed to everything that person has been exposed to,” Dylan told The Times in 2004. “Anyone who wants to be a songwriter should listen to as much folk music as they can, study the form and structure of stuff that has been around for 100 years. I go back to Stephen Foster.”
He also goes back to Cole Porter, George and Ira Gershwin, Richard Rodgers, Johnny Mercer, Jimmy Van Heusen, Sammy Cahn and other great composers and lyricists.
He’s doing so in the most ambitious way yet in this batch of 30 more songs that encompass classics such as “As Time Goes By,” “September of My Years,” “Stormy Weather” and “Sentimental Journey” as well as considerably less-familiar tracks such as Alec Wilder and Edwin Finckel’s “Where Is the One” and Jack Lawrence’s “It’s Funny to Everyone But Me.”
Others have noted that the vast majority of the songs Dylan included on 2015’s “Shadows in the Night,” last year’s “Fallen Angels” and now this follow-up were popularized by Frank Sinatra.
It’s therefore probably no coincidence that in form, content and title, “Triplicate” echoes Sinatra’s latter-years magnum opus, “Trilogy,” a three-album 1980 release organized with a different theme for each disc: “The Past,” “The Present” and “The Future.”
In Dylan’s case, the separate discs are individually themed “’Til the Sun Goes Down,” “Devil Dolls” and “Comin’ Home Late.”
One key difference in this latest — final? — batch of standards is that he’s expanded the largely stripped-down instrumental accompaniment from core band —guitarists Charlie Sexton and Dean Parks, bassist Tony Garnier, drummer George Recile and the musician who arguably is the star of the show, steel guitarist Donnie Herron — with horns, albeit only on the opening cuts of each new disc.
Dylan mines a deep vein of anguish in “This Nearly Was Mine,” from the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical “South Pacific.” Dylan can’t — and likely doesn’t care to — match the purity of tone or commanding vocal technique of the Italian opera singers most closely associated with the song: Ezio Pinza in the original Broadway cast and Giorgio Tozzi for the 1958 movie.
But Dylan’s weathered voice, with a touch of his recent-vintage gravel, heightens the human dimension in this tale of a missed romantic opportunity, and the regret that accompanies it.
Herron’s contribution across the expanse of these 50 tracks can’t be understated — along with the savvy choice to emphasize the instrument made by Dylan, who again produced the album under the pseudonym Jack Frost.
Herron’s steel guitar alternately sings, sighs, uplifts and weeps, embodying the pain that’s sometimes on the surface, sometimes implied from deep within songs written in the years following World War I, during the Great Depression and some during and after World War II.
The newly minted Nobel prize winner for literature immersed himself early on in all strains of pop, blues, folk, gospel, country, jazz and R&B music, and his ear for a great song is shown again here.
The insight into a heart that’s been wounded in Jimmy Van Heusen and Carl Sigman’s “I Could Have Told You” comes on two fronts at once: a guy who has been betrayed by the object of his affection, and the guy singing the song and watching another sucker go through what he’s suffered.
“I could have told you, she’d hurt you,” he sings with the resignation of the one who’s already been down the same path.
He also prizes great melodies, and few songwriters have ever matched, much less topped, the exquisite beauty of another Van Heusen classic, “Here’s the Rainy Day,” which he wrote with lyricist Johnny Burke. Its arching melody soars over a heartbreaking progression full of major seventh chords that musically contain a world of emotional complexity.
Whether it’s exactly what Dylan intended, he’s given us a bittersweet summation of a life on planet Earth, with all the ups and (more often) downs it has to offer, a journey he caps with Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II’s “Why Was I Born.”
“Why was I born, why am I livin’?/What do I get, what am I givin’?/Why do I want a thing I daren’t hope for?”
This compendium of existential questions — which never made the Hit Parade back in the day when Sinatra recorded it in 1947 — may have been in the back of his mind when he wrote something similar for 1989’s “Oh Mercy” album, “What Was It You Wanted,” a song that offered no answers, just queries.
There’s always clamor, understandably, for a new Dylan album full of new Dylan songs, something he hasn’t delivered since 2012’s “Tempest.” But the world is undeniably richer for his guided tour through the trove of songs that helped lay the foundation for American music.
Thursday, March 23, 2017
By Ann Coulter
March 22, 2017
Hours before it was to take effect President Donald Trump's revised travel ban was put on hold by U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson in Honolulu. (George Lee/The Star-Advertiser via AP)
Liberals are ecstatic that a judge in Hawaii is writing immigration policy for the entire country, and that policy is: We have no right to tell anyone that he can't live in America. (Unless they're Christians -- those guys we can keep out.)
As subtly alluded to in the subtitle of Adios, America: The Left's Plan to Turn Our Country into a Third World Hellhole, the goal of liberals is for the poor of the world to have a constitutional right to come here whenever they want.
I can't help but notice that the Third Worlders aren't moving to liberals' neighborhoods.
After nearly 1 million Rwandans were murdered by other Rwandans in 1994, our government asked itself: Why not bring more of this fascinating Rwandan culture to America? Ten thousand of them poured in. So far, nearly 400 have been convicted in the United States of lying on visa applications about their role in the genocide.
And that's why we have to tighten our belt, America! Massive international investigations don't come cheap.
Almost every immigration case is a con, something we find out every time there's a San Bernardino shooting and half the family turns out to have scammed our immigration officials. One hundred percent of the "humanitarian" cases are frauds.
Earlier this month, Rwanda's Gervais Ngombwa was convicted for lying on his immigration application by claiming to have been a victim of the 1994 genocide. In fact, he was a well-known perpetrator -- even featured in Rwandan newspaper articles as a leader of the genocide.
For most of the last two decades, Ngombwa has been living in Iowa with his wife and eight children in a house built by Habitat for Humanity -- because no Americans need houses. He came to the authorities' attention a couple years ago by setting that house on fire after a domestic dispute, then filing a fraudulent $75,000 insurance claim.
Another Rwandan genocidalist living in America was featured in Adios, America: Beatrice Munyenyezi, granted refugee status as an alleged victim of the genocide, even though she, too, had helped orchestrate it.
Munyenyezi was living safely in Kenya when she applied for a refugee visa to America. The welfare is way better here. And, luckily for us, she had a "chronic medical condition" that required constant attention from a New Hampshire hospital.
Hesham Mohamed Hadayet arrived in the U.S. on a tourist visa, then immediately applied for "asylum" on the grounds that he was persecuted in Egypt -- for being a member of an Islamic terrorist group.
Being a member of a noted terrorist group cannot be used to block you from coming to America, thanks to Barney Frank's 1989 amendment to the Immigration and Naturalization Act, because liberals love this country so very, very much. Being a talented neurosurgeon from Switzerland, however, is disqualifying.
Hadayet's refugee application wasn't denied until he'd already been living here for three years. When he was called in for a visa overstay hearing, he didn't show up, and the INS didn't bother looking for him. After allowing Hadayet to mill about America for another year, our government granted him permanent residency and a work permit.
On the Fourth of July following the 9/11 attack, Hadayet shot up the El Al ticket counter at the Los Angeles International Airport. I guess the Egyptians were right!
As bodies were being cleared away from the ticket counter, including Hadayet's, his wife blamed America for the attack, denying her husband had anything to do with it. "He is a victim of injustice," she explained. "In America, they hate Islam and Arabs after Sept. 11.”
At least immigrants are grateful.
Immigration bureaucrats are so determined to transform America without anyone seeing what they're doing that the INS initially refused to release Hadayet's file to congressional investigators, in order to protect his "privacy.”
Of course, anybody could miss Egypt's designating someone a terrorist. And maybe the INS's test for Rwandan "refugees" is: Would this person be able to convince Rolling Stone magazine that "Haven Monahan" raped her?
How about Rasmea Yousef Odeh? She waltzed into America after having been convicted and imprisoned in Israel for a supermarket bombing that left two Hebrew University students dead, and also for the attempted bombing of the British consulate in Israel.
She was released in a prisoner exchange -- whereupon Odeh made a beeline for the U.S.
True, Odeh wasn't subjected to the Inquisition-like vetting accorded the humanitarian cases, like the Boston Marathon bombers (we werewarned by Russia), Hadayet (we were warned by Egypt) or the Blind Sheik (same).
But how did our immigration authorities miss a CONVICTION FOR BOMBING IN ISRAEL?
Apart from the terrorism, welfare and fraud, what great things did any of them do for our country?
Ngombwa was a custodian at the Cedar Rapids Community School District in Iowa, a job that, evidently, no American would do. Munyenyezi had a job as an advocate for refugees -- just one of the many jobs being created by immigrants. Hadayet ran a failing limousine company and was $10,000 in debt. Odeh was an unemployed waitress and a Palestinian grievance activist. Recently, she's been heavily involved in anti-Trump, anti-white male protests, because who doesn't like incessant Third World unrest?
In 1960, 75 percent of the foreign-born in America were from Europe. Today only about 10 percent are. More than a third of all post–Teddy Kennedy act immigrants -- not just the wretched humanitarian cases -- don't even have a high school diploma.
What is the affirmative case for this? How is it making America better? Improving the schools? The job market? Crime? The likelihood of terrorism?
Can the liberals doing cartwheels over a district judge's announcement that everyone in the world has a right to come here (except Europeans and Christians), give us the cost-benefit analysis they're using? Twenty million Third World immigrants give us ( __ ) terrorists, ( __ ) welfare recipients, ( __ ) uncompensated medical costs, ( __ ) discrimination lawsuits, but it's all worth it because ( _________________ )?
COPYRIGHT 2017 ANN COULTER
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
By Mike Lupica
March 19, 2017
You could walk down the hall from the sports department in those years at the Daily News, and there was Jimmy Breslin in one office and Pete Hamill in the other, and all this cigar smoke and cigarette smoke in between them, and genius, and all the magic that made all of us want to write for newspapers in the first place. The soundtrack, always, was the glorious sound of their typewriters.
“If you don’t blow your horn,” Jimmy liked to say, “there is no music.”