August 27, 2012

"The music starts faintly, as if in a vintage pleasure palace..."

"... with the band — the stalwarts who've played with Dylan for a while and join him on the Never-Ending Tour — playing rock and roll ragtime off in the corner. The electric guitars sound almost like clarinets. Everybody's swinging! But what's that in the distance? Dylan himself unleashes the rubbery guitar chord change that repeats for the rest of the song...."

You can pre-order the new album, "Tempest" here. The song at the link, which you can play in full, is "Duquesne Whistle."

ADDED: While over at Amazon, I happened to click on another link and see this new Art Garfunkel 2 CD set, "The Singer," which becomes available tomorrow. Funny, seeing "Duquensne" in the Dylan song got me thinking about a conversation Meade and I were having earlier this morning about the Simon and Garfunkel song "America." That came up in the context of the post from last night about the WaPo writer "searching for the 'authentic America'" in Madison, Wisconsin (of all  places). In the comments, Pogo did a parody of the old S&G song:

Emily said as we boarded a Greyhound in DC
"Madison seems like a dream to me now"
It took her four days to hitchhike from Washington
She's gone to look for America

"Emily, I'm lost," I said, though I knew she was drinking
I'm empty and aching and I don't know why
Could be those cheese curds from authentic supper clubs
WaPo's gone to look for America
All gone to look for America
All gone to look for America
Meade had been singing that and, referring back to the old Paul Simon lyrics, began musing about why it took "four days to hitchhike from Saginaw" (to, apparently, Pittsburgh), and we were talking about songs that named a lot of places. I seemed to know that Simon used "Saginaw" because he liked the sound of the word. Yes, I vaguely remember blogging about that. Ah. Here. Now, I see it's that he declined to cancel a concert in Saginaw because "he said he had to see what a city named Saginaw looked like." Hey, that's a crazy old post from last month, tripping from topic to topic. That's the kind of post that this blog is really about. Did you know that?

Anyway. Back to today's conversation. Songs that contain the names of places. I was saying "Saginaw" is a cool name. What are the other songs where the writer liked the sound of a place name? Maybe "Duquesne Whistle" is one.

Meade brought up that song "I've Been Everywhere," and I dismissed it on the ground that it just named a lot of songs, but looking at the list of place names, I can see they're pretty amusing names. Muckadilla, and so forth. Wait. That's the Australian version. Australia has some funny sounding place names. The American version is more just a lot of names, thought I like Baraboo and Kalamazoo (and Baraboo is in Wisconsin). But if you're going to have Baraboo, Kalamazoo, why not Waunakee, Kankakee?

There are lots of songs with place names. Don't be naming all of them. I want songs with place names where you genuinely believe the place was named because the songwriter loved the sound of the word. 

50 comments:

EMD said...

So ... how much is Robert paying you?

William said...

Naomi Wolfe's orgasms and Dylan's guitar chords. Can anything in life be more sublime? It's not so much that I have never experienced anything that sublime as it's that I don't believe anything that sublime truly exists. I'm an intruder in the dust choking on my own banal existence, but it's good to watch the eagles fly by.

Surfed said...

Just finished working out all the guitar and vocal parts to "If Not for You" with the girlfriend. "Duquesne Whistle" will have to be further down the list of songs to work on. Going on 50 years now of delving into Bob's playbook.

Mark O said...

That has to be Louis Armstrong, or a strangled cat.

Bryan C said...

Is the vintage pleasure palace within walking distance of the supper club?

Rocketeer said...

When I read "vintage pleasure palace," why did Madonna pop into my head?

Tyrone Slothrop said...

Donald Fagen to release Sunken Condos on October 16.

Rob said...

Pardon me, boy
Is that the Chattanooga choo choo?
Track twenty-nine
Boy, you can gimme a shine.

creeley23 said...

"Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again."

Memphis, being Memphis, is prosaic, but Mobile is inspired.

Dylan is hard to beat for being America's commentator.

creeley23 said...

"Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again."

Memphis, being Memphis, is prosaic, but Mobile is inspired.

Dylan is hard to beat for being America's commentator.

Tyrone Slothrop said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tyrone Slothrop said...

Oh, Lord, stuck in Lodi again

Lodi is actually a pretty nice place, which John Fogarty, a Californian, probably knew. But it sounds good.

creeley23 said...

And there's no getting past "The Anaheim, Azusa & Cucamonga Sewing Circle, Book Review And Timing Association" from Jan and Dean for the sheer nutty sound of those city names.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

K-A-L-A-M-A-Z-O-O what a gal
in Kalamazoo...

CJinPA said...

I just listened to a Bob Dylan song the whole way through. Haven't done that since A Rolling Stone. Nice.

Valentine Smith said...

Sounds like Armstrong but reminds me of Bing Crosby.

Palladian said...

Meet me in the morning, 56th and Wabasha
Meet me in the morning, 56th and Wabasha
Honey, we could be in Kansas
By time the snow begins to thaw

Surfed said...

What's the old saw? Everybody can sing Bob Dylan songs and everybody can dance to the Grateful Dead.

traditionalguy said...

I still love to listen to the Kingston Trio singing "Oh Shenandoah, I long to see you. Away I'm bound away across the wide Missouri....Oh Shenandoah I love your daughter."

Why that appeals to me after all these years is a mystery. Maybe it is the places and people left behind that who are still remembered with deep emotions.

And eventually we will all cross the river.

Surfed said...

When I was up in Wisconsin this summer from Florida we would have sing arounds in the old way. passing a bottle of wine with the guitar and picking/singing from a great selection of tunes - Tambourine Man, Last Train to Clarkesville, Trailer for Sale or Rent, Jackson, Can't Find My way Home, etc. Do people still do that anymore or is it just old folks like me?

CJinPA said...

"What am Doing Hangin' Round?" Mike Nesmith and the Monkees.

"I should be riding on that train to San Antone..."

Calla said...

"Willing" Linda Ronstadt

"And I've been from Tucson to Tucumcari
Tehachapi to Tonopah"

Surfed said...

We did both of those though Willin' was the Lowell George/Little Feat version with my voice...

Surfed said...

Ever driven from Tucucari to Tonapah? Lonely drive...done it twice on my way to California to surf...back in the day of course.

EMD said...

Let's go to Luckenbach, Texas
With Waylon and Willie and the boys
This successful life we're livin'
Got us feuding like the Hatfields and McCoys
Between Hank Williams' pain songs and
Newberry's train songs and Blue Eyes Cryin' in the Rain
Out in Luckenbach, Texas ain't nobody feelin' no pain

creeley23 said...

Most of the great sounding place names, like Saginaw and Tucumcari, come from Indian languages.

Here's one from south of the equator: "The Girl from Ipanema."

Mark O said...

There is nothing like the Kingston Trio singing “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” or “Greenback Dollar” or Mason Williams’ “Yes I Can Feel It.” Dylan can write; he can’t sing.

Rob said...

Though the song uses the name of a railroad, the railroad takes its name from three cities whose sounds couldn't be more poetic:

Do you hear that whistle down the line?
I figure that it's engine number forty-nine,
She's the only one that'll sound that way.
On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe

See the ol' smoke risin' round the bend,
I reckon that she knows she's gonna meet a friend,
Folks around these parts get the time o' day
From the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe

firstHat said...

Not a popular song, but a spoken piece for choral production is entirely based on the way place names sound. I performed this as a kid an had tremendous fun doing it:

The Geographical Fugue

Trinidad!
And the big Mississippi
and the town Honolulu
and the lake Titicaca,
the Popocatepetl is not in Canada,
rather in Mexico, Mexico, Mexico!
Canada, Málaga, Rimini, Brindisi
Canada, Málaga, Rimini, Brindisi
Yes, Tibet, Tibet, Tibet, Tibet,
Nagasaki! Yokohama!
Nagasaki! Yokohama!

firstHat said...

The Wichita lineman is still on the line

Tyrone Slothrop said...

"I've Been Everywhere"

I was totin' my pack along the dusty Winnemucca road,
When along came a semi with a high an' canvas-covered load.
"If you're goin' to Winnemucca, Mack, with me you can ride."
And so I climbed into the cab and then I settled down inside.
He asked me if I'd seen a road with so much dust and sand.
And I said, "Listen, I've traveled every road in this here land!"

[Chorus:]
I've been everywhere, man.
I've been everywhere, man.
Crossed the desert's bare, man.
I've breathed the mountain air, man.
Of travel I've had my share, man.
I've been everywhere.

I've been to:
Reno, Chicago, Fargo, Minnesota,
Buffalo, Toronto, Winslow, Sarasota,
Wichita, Tulsa, Ottawa, Oklahoma,
Tampa, Panama, Mattawa, La Paloma,
Bangor, Baltimore, Salvador, Amarillo,
Tocapillo, Baranquilla, and Perdilla, I'm a killer.

[Chorus]

I've been to:
Boston, Charleston, Dayton, Louisiana,
Washington, Houston, Kingston, Texarkana,
Monterey, Faraday, Santa Fe, Tallapoosa,
Glen Rock, Black Rock, Little Rock, Oskaloosa,
Tennessee to Tennesse Chicopee, Spirit Lake,
Grand Lake, Devils Lake, Crater Lake, for Pete's sake.

[Chorus]

I've been to:
Louisville, Nashville, Knoxville, Ombabika,
Schefferville, Jacksonville, Waterville, Costa Rica,
Pittsfield, Springfield, Bakersfield, Shreveport,
Hackensack, Cadillac, Fond du Lac, Davenport,
Idaho, Jellico, Argentina, Diamantina,
Pasadena, Catalina, see what I mean-a.

[Chorus]

I've been to:
Pittsburgh, Parkersburg, Gravelbourg, Colorado,
Ellensburg, Rexburg, Vicksburg, Eldorado,
Larimore, Admore, Haverstraw, Chatanika,
Chaska, Nebraska, Alaska, Opelika,
Baraboo, Waterloo, Kalamazoo, Kansas City,

Issob Morocco said...

Did he play "neighborhood bully"?

creeley23 said...

Trying to get out of the Indian rut: "Scarborough Fair." I first heard the Simon & Garfunkel version and it entranced me.

I'll bet there was nothing special about the real Scarborough Fair but to me the name will be forever magic.

Ann Althouse said...

"That has to be Louis Armstrong, or a strangled cat."

Or Tom Waits.

Ann Althouse said...

"Flagstaff, Arizona/Don't forget Winona..."

Craig said...

William Hofstra, son of a Dutch immigrant, built his first pulp mill in Saginaw. Ted Roethke was born and raised there, the son of a German immigrant florist.

Mark Daniels said...

My favorite "place name" lyric of all time is:

"I'll look for you in old Honolulu,
San Francisco, Ashtabula"

That's from Dylan's 'You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go.' I love the line because it's so remorselessly bad rhyming, yet wonderful at the same time.

Mark Daniels said...

The melody of "Duquense Whistle" sounds a lot like "City of New Orleans."

creeley23 said...

Up On Cripple Creek, you send me.
If I spring a leak, you mend me.

-- The Band


I notice there are no new songs mentioned here aside from "Duquense Whistle," which is from our favorite septuagenarian.

Great sounding place names are word play and it often strikes me how unplayful today's music is.

Mark Daniels said...

Mark O is right. As on 'Together Forever,' Dylan frequently affects a Louis Armstrong vocal style.

This, of course, is nothing new for Dylan. He's been a great impersonator all his life. The thing about him though, is that unlike other impersonators, he usually takes the vocal, musical, and lyrical styles and turns them into something else.

But it does seem to me that the older he gets, the more derivative Dylan becomes.

By the way, I enjoyed 'Together Forever.' 'Duquesne Whistle' doesn't make me want to get 'Tempest.' Dylan seems to be plowing some of the old ground. That's his prerogative, of course. But I don't need to shell out any of my cash to hear him do a collection of reprises.

Fritz said...

"Oh Lord, Suck in Lodi, again"

Resonates with me because, well, I got stuck in Lodi once, but fortunately not for very long.

While traveling from LA to Eureka, we coasted into Lodi with a with a sheared off bolt on our alternator. I watched in amazement as a Hispanic mechanic used a punch to back out the broken off bolt to replace it. The first quarter of a turn was agonizing.

Bee W said...

Another one that liked the sound of my hometown, and Stevie Wonder's--Johnny Cash covering Lefty Frizzel's "Saginaw, Michigan": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPtY-DgIeOw

creeley23 said...

All along the southbound odyssey
The train pulls out at Kankakee
Rolls along past houses, farms and fields.

-- "The City of New Orleans" Steve Goodman

Mark O said...

Well, I'm a standing on a corner
in Winslow, Arizona
and such a fine sight to see
It's a girl, my Lord,
in a flatbed Ford
slowin' down to take a look at me.

Ah, Winslow. Does anyone else know what's there?

Mary Beth said...

What is the difference between a vintage pleasure palace and a current one? And why would the music there be faint?

The Crack Emcee said...

I couldn't finish it. Not adventurous enough, though the guitar line and his croaky vocals are charming. Everything's mixed too loud, once the drums kick in, and no, it doesn't swing, which is kinda weird.

Oh well, it beats that garbage by Cat Power they're also promoting,...

creeley23 said...

Cat Power did a fine cover of Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again. You could say it was derivative, but still tons o' fun for someone new to take that song out for a spin.

When Ruthie says come see her
In her honky-tonk lagoon
Where I can watch her waltz for free
'Neath her Panamanian moon
And I say, "Aw come on now
You know you know about my debutante"
And she says, "Your debutante just knows what you need
But I know what you want"


"Panamanian moon" is good. Dylan is great for using place names as condiments in his lyrics.

As my whimsy leads me.. said...

John Prine: And Daddy, won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County, down by the Green River where Paradise lay?

John Denver: Saturday night in Toledo, Ohio is like being nowhere at all.

Glenn Miller hit: I've got a gal in Kalamazoo.

Merle Haggard: I'm proud to be an Okie from Muskogee.

Toy

Unknown said...

I've always felt that American (that includes Canadian) songwriters had an unfair advantage over their British counterparts because of the euphonic American place names. British names like Durham, Scarborough, Birmingham et al are simply not as evocative as Wicsonsin, Saginaw, Alberqueque.

The song that I always remember when I think about this is Bobbie Gentry's "Greyhound Going Somewhere" where the coda at the end of the song is simply a recital of American placenames

city said...

thanks for sharing.