November 1, 2006

"Genghis Khan/He could not keep/All his men/Supplied with sheep."

Robert Christgau, utterly seduced by Maria Muldaur singing Bob Dylan songs, says: "I got a whole new idea of what those sheep are for."

Uh, yeah, but officially the lyrics to "You Ain't Going Nowhere" are:
Genghis Khan
He could not keep
All his kings
Supplied with sleep
Christgau's smitten. Touting Muldaur's sexiness, Christgau is pretty insulting to the Byrds -- "anything but sensual" -- and Linda Ronstadt -- "an ambitious ingenue at best."

(And if those "You Ain't Going Nowhere" lyrics made you think of John Kerry... should I be mean and say (Christgauchely): you're anything but sensual?)

Anyway, I've loved Maria Muldaur since the 60s, when I had all the Jim Kweskin Jug Band records, played them constantly, and made my friends care about them. On the clip at the first link, you can hear Maria singing "I'm a Woman," from back in those days.

Christgau's review is too much about how Maria found so much sex in Bob Dylan's lyrics, as if Maria and only Maria knows the true depth of sexuality. It makes him seem a little silly, but she still sounds great.


Elizabeth said...

I have a favorite memory of Muldaur on the King Biscuit Flour Hour in 1975 or 1976. I have tried to find a recording of it on the internet, with no luck. I particularly remember a transcendent gospel tune, backed by a black male quartet, "Walk Together Little Chidren," and a Boswell Sisters tune, "We Just Couldn't Say Goodbye." I can still hear the jazzy fiddle line in that one. I now live on the street where the Boswell Sisters grew up, though many blocks down from their old home.

Maria Muldaur spends time in New Orleans, and plays here fairly often. She's doing more gospel these days. I recently bought "Shout, Sister, Shout" a Sister Rosetta Tharpe tribute that she helped put together, with an amazing lineup including Rory Block, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Joan Osborne, Bonnie Raitt, Tracy Nelson, Phoebe Snow and others. It's on heavy iPod rotation and I heartily recommend it. I don't know if I'd call it sexy, though.

johnstodderinexile said...

Back in the 60s, a lot of singers and bands had their "...does Dylan" records -- and often showed zero comprehension of his songs. The trend died out a long time ago, but Dylan has written a lot of great songs since the 60s, so it's smart of Maria Muldaur to approach this incredible body of work again.

If this gets people to go back to the original "Wedding Song," that alone will be an accomplishment. It was sort of buried at the end of his so-so collaboration with The Band, "Planet Waves," but it's nothing like the rest of that album. It's more of a foreshadowing of the next album he did...(Casey Casem pause)..."Blood on the Tracks."

J. Peden said...

I believe I've only heard Bob Dylan sing "You Ain't Going Nowhere" without any reference at all to sheep, but instead to Ghengis Kahn's "brother, Don", on the popularized version, which I keep with me at all times; and *sleep*, not sheep, on the basement tape version, which I just found and listened to.

Joan Baez talked about "sheep", as in the "official" version, though, when she sang Bob Dylans songs.

I gave up on npr when they tried to tell me Steve Winwood sounded like Sam Cook.

J. Peden said...

Speaking of Francois Jon Carry, et al, the basement tape version states convincingly:

You ain't

A message to us all, but most especially to the pretentious - Ghengis Kahn, and his brother, Jon.

J. Peden said...

Check it out:

Ghengis Kahn and his brother Don
Could not keep on keepin' on
They'll climb that bridge
After it's gone
After we're way passed it

JohnK said...

I like the Byrds, especially Sweatheart of the Rodeo. That said, they did some just god awful Dylan covers. Granted. Mr. Tamberine Man is listneable but their cover is no where near as powerful as the Dylan version. You Ain't Going Nowhere is the one bad song on Sweatheart and the Byrd's version of "Lay Down Your Weary Tune" may be the worst cover of a great song in the entire rock era.

JZ said...

I like Maria Muldaur, but never mind her. This guy Christgau--who I have never heard of--better not say anything bad about Linda Ronstadt. She sang rock and roll and then, about the time of "Heart like a Wheel", she started to sing real songs. She is serious about singing and she sings an incredible range of songs. Standards. Mariachi. Her politics bother me, but she's a singer. Barbra Steisand doesn't compare!

paul a'barge said...

On Friday (tomorrow), Geoff Muldaur, Maria's ex is playing in Ft Worth. With her, he was part of that whole Kweskin thing. Here's his tour schedule .

I fondly remember Maria's Midnight at the Oasis, and Geoff's tour of duty with the Paul Butterfield Band.

If you're in Texas tomorrow night, try and make the Ft Worth concert. Let's hope Geoff brings his Martin 0-18 with him.

Anonymous said...

Christgau was a RollingStone critic at one time. I read some of his stuff when RS was still a newspaper.

He was probably high.

Bird Dog said...

The word is "sleep," not sheep.

Ann Althouse said...

Bird Dog: I know. See the original post.

jz: I agree. I thought her singing on the clip was really nice, too.

Paul: I have an old record of the two of them. He sings "Brazil"... very nice. I think it's the version that later got used for the movie "Brazil."

Elizabeth said...

I am crestfallen. I just realized Maria Muldaur had a gig here Monday night, at Tipitina's.

That's a link to a local review of the album and interview with Muldaur.

paul a'barge said...

Here's Maria's site so you can follow her career.

paul a'barge said...

Well, put a gun to my head and don't yell duck! Maria was just in Houston!!! Now, my life sucks also.

Here's a link to her tour schedule.

I hope you don't miss her like I just did.


Elizabeth said...

oh, paul. We're a coupla losers! Guess we'll have to buy the album and let that be a consolation.

TMink said...

I saw Maria in concert in Tuscaloosa, Alabama in 1974 or so. We got to go two nights in a row. One night was her regular backup band with some guy named "Freebo" playing bass. Turns out he also played on early Bonnie Raitt records.

The night before, some long hairs from San Francisco played with her. Weird name. Grateful somthing.

I have lost touch with her since then, but these posts brought back the memories of Jerry and the boys playing backup for her. It was transcendent, even for a 14 year old redneck like me.


paul a'barge said...

Elizabeth, you are sooo right! I've got Maria's new album in my Amazon shopping cart.

Also in my cart is the new 2nd generation 8GB Ipod Nano, so I'll have to wait until I can afford both before I can hit the "purchase now" button.

I'm looking forward to it, though.

On a related note, I wish there were a website that would catalog all musicians and allow you to select your favorites, and then send you an email or text message when each artist's tour is approaching your home city.

Wouldn't that be nice?

paul a'barge said...

Geez Trey, you so wrahk!

That reminds me of the Bob Dylan concert I attended in Ft Lauderdale, FL. His backup band was just called The Band. In other words, Robbie Robertson on guitar, etc, etc.

Even I had my Bic lighter out, waving it over my head in the dark!

paul a'barge said...

By the way, Elizabeth, related to Tipitinas, I learned to walk on Monkey Hill and to swim in Lake Ponchartrain!

Elizabeth said...

Paul, I think Monkey Hill is still the highest spot in the city. Remember when they used to cover it in fake snow and let kids sled down it?

The lake itself seems to be recoving well from the storm. I see lots of folks crabbing and fishing, and the water is beautiful. But the camps, the marinas, the restaurants--well, those didn't do so well. The site you linked to brought back some memories. Thanks.

Elizabeth said...

Also, Paul, if you use a Mac, there's an OS X Dashboard widget called On Tour that does something like what you are wishing for. It keeps track of when artists you select, and artists in your iTunes library, are coming to your area, and links to ticket info.

You can find it at Apple's website.

Alex said...

I don't know where or when this thread began but I have posted J. Peden's quote, "I gave up on npr when they tried to tell me Steve Winwood sounded like Sam Cook," on my facebook page. Great quote!