October 25, 2016

"I’d always thought of him as a brother. Every time I’d see his name somewhere, it was like he was in the room." Wrote Bob Dylan about Bobby Vee.

Bobby Vee died yesterday, from Alzheimer's disease, at the age of 73. Here's the NYT obituary, which I first saw linked at my son John's Facebook page. John wrote:
I post a lot of obituaries, but this was the rare one where seeing it made me instinctively exclaim out loud: "Oh no!" I've loved his most famous song, "Take Good Care of My Baby," since I was a young child. It's quintessential early '60s, pre-Beatles pop. Bob Dylan fans in particular should read this to the end...
There's a good chance that I was the one the played him "Take Good Care of My Baby," when John was not much more than a baby. I got the idea early on that rock 'n' roll oldies were sort of children's songs. (I know the exact song that caused this idea: "Ya Ya" by Lee Dorsey.) I bought many rock 'n' roll oldies cassettes and we played them in the car all the time, and I guess "Take Good Care of My Baby" was in there somewhere. I wonder if we talked about the lyrics (which were written by Carole King).
Take good care of my baby
Be just as kind as you can be
And if you should discover
That you don't really love her
Just send my baby back home to me
I can imagine myself saying something like Why does Bobby Vee think that the other man has the power to send the woman where he chooses to send her? Wouldn't the woman just go where she wants to go? And why would she want to go back to Bobby Vee when he admits he cheated on her?

As for the Bob Dylan connection, for us big Bob Dylan fans, the first thing we think of when we hear "Bobby Vee" is "Bob Dylan." Here's what Bob Dylan wrote about Bobby Vee in his great book "Chronicles: Volume One":

Bobby Vee was from Fargo, North Dakota, raised not too far from me. In the summer of ’59 he had a regional hit record out called “Suzie Baby” on a local label. His band was called The Shadows and I had hitchhiked out there and talked my way into joining his group as a piano player on some of his local gigs, one in the basement of a church. I played a few shows with him, but he really didn’t need a piano player and, besides, it was hard finding a piano that was in tune in the halls that he played.

Bobby Vee and me had a lot in common, even though our paths would take such different directions. We had the same musical history and came from the same place at the same point of time. He had gotten out of the Midwest, too, and had made it to Hollywood. Bobby had a metallic, edgy tone to his voice and it was as musical as a silver bell, like Buddy Holly’s, only deeper. When I knew him, he was a great rockabilly singer and now he had crossed over and was a pop star. He recorded for Liberty Records and was having one Top 40 hit after another. He’d still be having songs hit the charts even right alongside The Beatles when they invaded the country. His current song, “Take Good Care of My Baby,” was as slick as ever....
Dylan talks about going to see Bobby Vee at the Brooklyn Paramount Theater:
He was on the top of the heap now. It seemed like so much had happened to him in such a short time. Bobby came out to see me, was as down-to-earth as ever, was wearing a shiny silk suit and narrow tie, seemed genuinely glad to see me, didn’t even act surprised. We talked for a little while. He asked me about New York, what it was like to be here. “Lot of walking. Got to keep your feet in good shape,” I said.
That was when Dylan was playing in the folk clubs, and Dylan thought that Bobby Vee wouldn't really get the NYC folk scene, since folk to him would have meant "The Kingston Trio, Brothers Four, stuff like that." Vee was "a crowd pleaser in the pop world," and Dylan "had nothing against pop songs," but they didn't seem as good to him anymore. So Dylan kept the meeting short. Bobby Vee had "throngs of young girls" waiting for him anyway. And:
I wouldn’t see Bobby Vee again for another thirty years, and though things would be a lot different, I’d always thought of him as a brother. Every time I’d see his name somewhere, it was like he was in the room.

29 comments:

madAsHell said...

Did your subscription to Tiger Beat magazine finally run out?

David Begley said...

A very nice story in The Star Tribune too.

traditionalguy said...

So even Bob Zimmerman had him a soulmate friend from his very early days of hoping to perform somewhere. There is nothing like the smell of acceptance early in the morning.

Earnest Prole said...

Dylan not only played in Bobby Vee's band but was also a child circus performer out in New Mexico

Joe said...

Um, you've mistranslated the lyrics from the original "guy-speak."

The second guy has no "power" to do anything (she chose him over the first guy, you know). Moreover (and more to the point), the singer is almost begging the other guy to not bad-mouth or otherwise damage his image in the mind of the girl. He's being a supplicant. In today's parlance, he's being very beta.

BTW, the lyrics also talk about "being true." In teenage-speak, that had more to do with holding hands than any sexual dalliance that would be implied today. The lyric was aimed to register with teens in 1961, back when John Kennedy was a "good" Catholic.

coupe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Skeptical Voter said...

I'm more of a "Rubber Ball" fan--an international number one hit for 18 year old Bobby Vee which was written by 20 year old Gene Pitney. In any case I enjoy listening to Bobby Vee---and Gene Pitney for that matter. Throw in a little Clyde McPhatter and Ben E. King and you've made my listening day.

Laslo Spatula said...

Brokedown Bobby Shakes says:

I tried me to write a few songs for that Bob Dylan fella once back in the sixties. I called one of them "Twelve Year Old Girls #12 & 35" and sent it to him, and then that pipe-cleaner sonuvabitch changed the words, recorded it and claimed HE wrote it.

Here's the song good ol' Bobby wrote:

Well, they're twelve years old when you're trying to be so good
twelve years old just a-like they said they would
twelve years old when you're tryin' to go home
twelve years old when you're there all alone
But I would not feel so all alone
Everybody must get a twelve year old

Well, they're twelve years old when you're walkin' 'long the street
twelve years old when you're tryin' to keep your seat
twelve years old when you're walkin' on the floor
twelve years old when you're walkin' to the door
But I would not feel so all alone
Everybody must get a twelve year old

See what I mean? He absolutely RUINED it.

The song was written about twelve-year-old girls, not getting "stoned": Brokedown Bobby don't condone none of that drug-head stuff.

And don't even get to asking me about my song "Lay, Twelve-Year-Old Girl, Lay (Lay Upon My Big Brass Bed)"…

So I live my life on the road, rockin' and rollin'. Who knows -- I might be comin' to your town, too, and if you come see me, do Bobby a favor: bring your granddaughters...


I am Laslo.

YoungHegelian said...

Jeez! Dying, not just manifesting symptoms of, but dying from Alzheimer's at 76! The poor man. Not a death I'd wish on anyone.

Then there was poor Virginia Lee, who developed Alzheimer's in her mid-fifties. Another sad tale.

Okay, I'll stop being depressing now.

Achilles said...

Dylan endorses Trump!


Carter Wood said...

Bobby Vee is in the North Dakota Rough Rider Hall of Fame, and there's a portrait.

He was inaugurated -- named by Gov. Schafer, that is -- a year after Warren Christopher.

Will Cate said...

Ann you probably already know this, but Bobby Vee was present at a 2013 Dylan show in Minnesota where Dylan gave a moving, spoken tribute to the man, and then played Suzie Baby.

BudBrown said...

What'd they have against the Kingston Trio?

Gahrie said...

https://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2016/10/24/the-left-turns-on-bob-dylan-for-his-pro-israel-views-refusal-to-acknowledge-nobel-prize/

Stephen said...

Think Goffin wrote the lyrics, King the music. That was the usual division of labor.

Basil said...

Because he still loves her. Jeez, Professor, how can you still be regurgitating that lefty identity politics crapola?

Forever, it seems.

Caroline Walker said...

Go basil.

Achilles said...

Gahrie beat me to it.

Those lovable nice leftists just can't help themselves. They have to attack and demean.

They will be mightily upset when we treat them like they treat us.

Smilin' Jack said...

I can imagine myself saying something like Why does Bobby Vee think that the other man has the power to send the woman where he chooses to send her? Wouldn't the woman just go where she wants to go? And why would she want to go back to Bobby Vee when he admits he cheated on her?

Too bad you missed your calling as a songwriter.

As for the Bob Dylan connection, for us big Bob Dylan fans, the first thing we think of when we hear "Bobby Vee" is "Bob Dylan."

Don't feel bad, Bobby. That's pretty much the first thing she thinks of when she hears anything.

harkin said...

Not trying to rain on the parade because I think BV was a fine artist but do people really describe his very good pop music as rock n roll? He makes Billy Joel sound like Dee Snider (I know I know the Miano Pan is in the R&R HOF but that's just more of the problem).

gadfly said...

"Bobby Vee and me had a lot in common, even though our paths would take such different directions."

Wow - that is heavy stuff from the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. "Bobby Vee and me . . . "

Grammar rules are being trampled by the illegal use of "me." Dave Barry explains:

Rule #1. The word "me" is always incorrect.
Most of us learn this rule as children, from our mothers. We say things like: "Mom, can Bobby and me roll the camping trailer over Mrs. Johnson's cat?" And our mothers say: "Remember your grammar dear. You mean: 'Can Bobby and I roll the camping trailer over Mrs. Johnson's cat?' Of course you can but be home by dinnertime."

tcrosse said...

It took me years to get Rubber Ball out of my head. The persistence of bubblegum music is amazing.

gadfly said...

Blogger Carter Wood said...
Bobby Vee is in the North Dakota Rough Rider Hall of Fame ...

Somehow the ND Governor hasn't got around to naming North Dakota State football coaches Craig Bohl and Chris Kliemer to the Hall of Fame.

Since 2011, the North Dakota State Bison have a record of 77–6 (.928) including an ongoing record 20 game playoff win streak, making them the most successful college football football program in Division I (FCS) this decade.

Lauderdale Vet said...

The Left Turns on Bob Dylan for His Pro-Israel Views, Refusal to Acknowledge Nobel Prize

Craig said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2KoIWEAdaM

wholelottasplainin' said...

Rumor has it that Bob Dylan was the unacknowledged lyricist who wrote "Yummy yummy yummy I've got luv in my tummy".

The "1910 Fruitgum Company" stole --- STOLE--- that song from him, the bastids!

Srsly.

BN said...

Sometimes I try to think of something snarky and I can't. I mean, there's so much potential here.

But this is actually kind of... well, i'm not exactly sure.

But something.

BN said...

Something good, i mean.

BN said...

I will try to be more precise: this was interesting.