November 20, 2015

You may leave here after 70 years in this place/And after you're gone it's the same old space.

Did you notice the departure of P.F. Sloan?

Mickey Kaus makes 11 points about that passing of the man who left more footprints on Earth than that one big song, "Eve of Destruction."

Kaus gets bogged down around #5, which is the sad old topic of whether a singer could be better than — or almost like or the X version of — Bob Dylan. Kaus takes a swipe at Bob: "Dylan famously dissed him during a concert in LA. (Then again, didn’t Dylan diss his own son?)"

By the time Mickey gets to #11 — and I want a moratorium on goes-up-to-11 jokes —  he's talking about a party in L.A. that he attended: "As I’m leaving I learn that P.F. Sloan had been there, but I’d missed him. Left behind on the gift table was a signed copy of the sheet music for 'Eve of Destruction.'" I think the point is that for all the blowhardiness of "Eve of Destruction," P.F. was an L.A. man.

Think of all the hate there is in Los Angeles/Then take look around, it's pretty unscrupulous...

Anyway, what did Bob Dylan say about P.F. Sloan? I'm seeing:
"There are no more escapes. If you want to find out anything that’s happening now, you have to listen to the music. I don’t mean the words. Though Eve of Destruction will tell you something about it."
I don't think that's the quote Mickey was talking about. Interesting concept though, that you could find out what's happening now by listening to the sound of the instruments — not the words — of the music of today. Dylan said that in 1965, interviewed by Nora Ephron. I went looking for the completion of the concept. It's:
The words are not really gonna tell it, not really. You gotta listen to the Staples Singers, Smokey and the Miracles, Martha and the Vandellas. That's scary to a lot of people. It's sex that's involved. it's not hidden. It's real. You can overdo it. It's not only sex, it's a whole beautiful feeling.
But when did Bob Dylan insult his son?

21 comments:

traditionalguy said...

The chain of being goes on and on unbroken under the sun.

Carter Wood said...

I have been catching up on The Turtles recently. His songs made a big contribution to their success, especially "You Baby." A little ray of sunshine, indeed.

1965: "Let Me Be" The Turtles 28 #14 in Canada, P.F. Sloan (1966)
1966: "You Baby" The Turtles 20 #11 in Canada
1966: "Can I Get to Know You Better" 89

Ipso Fatso said...

Yes I did notice. I am glad that you did too. He had a hard life due to emotional and psychological issues. He was one of those very creative guys that got very very depressed. RIP.

EMD said...

But when did Bob Dylan insult his son?

He named him Jakob, with a K!

khematite said...

Althouse wrote:
Interesting concept though, that you could find out what's happening now by listening to the sound of the instruments — not the words — of the music of today.

"Any musical innovation is full of danger to the whole state, and ought to be prohibited . . . when modes of music change, the fundamental laws of the state always change with them."
(Aristotle, The Politics, translated by T. A. Sinclair, revised by T. J. Saunders, London: Penguin, 1981, book 8, section 5, page 466)

And earlier from Plato: "Any musical innovation is full of danger to the whole state, and ought to be prohibited. When modes of music change, the fundamental laws of the state always change with them."

These have come down to us in a more poetic form, frequently quoted back in the 1960s: "When the mode of the music changes, the walls of the city shake."

alan markus said...

Barry McGuire is the one who actually performed the song and made it famous (and he is like 80 years old). I suspect the blog author is confusing the two - here is transcript of two film reels from "Eat the Document" archives. It is Bob Dylan and John Lennon discussing Barry McGuire:

Dylan: No, I only know the lesser known ones.

Lennon: Barry McGuire's a great war hero.

Dylan: Barry McGuire? He's a good friend of yours, John, I understand.

Lennon: He met me through you, Bob, remember that. He's a great buddy,
Sergeant Barry.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Dylan: I've taken a few milligrams of Silkie once. (Dylan then tries to
recommence the previous, spectacularly unsuccessful Barry McGuire
routine). Barry McGuire tells me he's a great friend of yours.

Lennon: (In unmistakable Tito Burns-style voice - see Don't Look Back)
Well, I hate to say this about Barry, Bobby, but I don't know him at
all personally, but I did have a letter from his manager saying he
was very close to you, being on the bosom of the current
folk-a-rock-a boom.

Dylan: Yes, yes.

Lennon: That's the first thing I did hear about Barry himself.

Dylan: But you've never really exchanged correspondence...(breaks off to
addresss Pennebaker, pointing out of the car window) Oh, get those
two lovers over there...(To Lennon) You never did, as one of your
friends would wish you, you never did meet the chap. Haha!


Transcript of two film reels from the Eat The Document archives.

Ann Althouse said...

"Barry McGuire is the one who actually performed the song and made it famous (and he is like 80 years old). I suspect the blog author is confusing the two .."

You suspect wrong. This is a very well known fact. My mind clearly plays the video of McGuire on 60s tv... knee high boots, crouching over weirdly. I bought the single immediately and played it incessantly. It was soooo important. Unfortunately, McGuire had no sex appeal from my perspective.... as a 14 year old.

alan markus said...

You suspect wrong

PF Sloan wrote the song, and was a session player on the recording by Barry McGuire- the recording that made the song famous. My point was that perhaps the blog author (Mickey Kraus), when referring to Dylan dissing PF Sloan was conflating Barry McGuire and PF Sloan. I guess it would be helpful if he would have provided some documentation. The closest I came to was the transcript of the conversation between Bob Dylan and Barry McGuire - obviously at the time Barry was residing inside the heads of Dylan and Lennon.

Unknown said...

I can't believe nobody has mentioned "The Association"'s take on PF Sloan, which is definitive:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4aqm56f-CGI

alan markus said...

Darn comment moderation - at 12:20 meant to say "conversation between Bob Dylan and John Lennon", not Barry McGuire

alan markus said...

McGuire had no sex appeal from my perspective.... as a 14 year old.

From what I can gather, Barry McGuire was about 30 years old at the time.

Barry McGuire - Eve of Destruction (Hullabaloo - Sep 20, 1965)

khematite said...

Unknown wrote:
I can't believe nobody has mentioned "The Association"'s take on PF Sloan, which is definitive:

A matter of taste, no doubt, but I'd say the definitive version is that of the writer of the song, Jimmy Webb, who really felt deeply about what Sloan had undergone:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_R1US0RNi4

khematite said...

alan markus wrote:
My point was that perhaps the blog author (Mickey Kraus), when referring to Dylan dissing PF Sloan was conflating Barry McGuire and PF Sloan. I guess it would be helpful if he would have provided some documentation.

You can find a good example in Howard Sounes' Down the Highway (2001) of Dylan's toying with P.F. Sloan. It involves two topless women and a guy dressed like Zorro:

http://tinyurl.com/nk6fxg9

Ipso Fatso said...


Given the absurdity of television then and now, my guess is that the next musical act after Barry McGuire on Hullaballoo was Millie Small.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiuPND4W6KM

(This was Millie at about 27. She was quite the looker)

Static Ping said...

7) I bet Sloan had more Top 20 hits than Dylan.

Man, that would be hard to investigate. As an artist Dylan clearly has more - best I can tell Sloan's total is 0 though he did record and release music - but once you get into the world of songwriting, producing, session musicians, and the like it gets tough to gauge.

I did a very superficial analysis. Dylan had 6 Top 20 singles ("Like a Rolling Stone" (#2), "Positively 4th Street" (#7), "Rainy Day Women #12 & #35" (#2), "I Want You" (#20), "Lay Lady Lay" (#7), "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" (#12)) and wrote at least 5 songs that were Top 20 hits for other artists ("Mr. Tambourine Man" (#1, The Byrds), “All Along the Watchtower” (#20, Jimi Hendrix), “It Ain’t Me Babe” (#8, The Turtles), “Blowin’ in the Wind” (#2, Peter, Paul & Mary), “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” (#9, Peter, Paul & Mary)). There are probably more than I am missing. He was also sang with the "We Are the World" project which went to #1. That's a total of 12.

P.F. Sloan wrote 4 songs that became Top 20 for other artists (“Eve of Destruction” (#1, Barry McGuire), “A Must to Avoid” (#8, Herman’s Hermits), “You Baby” (#20, The Turtles), “Secret Agent Man” (#3, Johnny Rivers)). Add to that "Let's Live for Today" (#8) for The Grass Roots; he was co-producer and session musician. The Grass Roots had 4 more Top 20 hits, but he had moved on by that point. Add "Little Old Lady From Pasadena" (#3) where he sang Dean's part. I can get the number up to 6. There is probably more, but without being a musical wiz and perhaps knowing some insider information it would be difficult to research this further.

Interestingly, I learned that Bob Dylan co-wrote the song "Steel Bars" with Michael Bolton. Not a sentence I expected to write today, but most interesting.

dustbunny said...

I always thought Eve of Destruction was what non-Dylan fans thought of as a Dylanesque kind of song. Seemed way too obvious and lacking in wit to be comparable

Ann Althouse said...

@alan

Thanks. Yes, that's exactly the performance I remember.

Watching it again, I'm struck by the inappropriateness of McGuire's age. The lyrics are ridiculous coming from an adult. They're a perfect expression of teenage confusion about the world. Coming fron an adult, it's mental or stupid.

But McGuire sold ot, very theatrically. The singing is actorly, like he's in character.

Mickey Kaus said...

Dylan dissing Sloan: I read somewhere years ago (in Village Voice?) that Dylan had refused to meet with him or been rude to him backstage in LA when Dylan appeared here. Wasn't thinking of any quote.

Dylan dissing his son (Jakob): I remember reading about him criticizing the Wallflowers, and remember looking it up on Google some years ago. But I admit I didn't find it on Google when I looked the other day. Hence the question mark.

Point of the party story is that even though Sloan was more than Eve of Destruction and probably resented being known mainly for that, he himself leaves as a gift the thing the pigeonholes him -- i.e. he acquiesces in how posterity is going to limit him. He knew it was what he's known for.

I guess that wasn't clear!

khematite@aol.com said...

Mickey Kaus wrote:
Dylan dissing his son (Jakob): I remember reading about him criticizing the Wallflowers, and remember looking it up on Google some years ago. But I admit I didn't find it on Google when I looked the other day. Hence the question mark.

Here's my thought about what you might be describing. In a September 2006 Rolling Stone interview, Bob Dylan said the following to Jonathan Lethem:

"Brian Wilson, he made all his records with four tracks, but you couldn't make his records if you had a hundred tracks today. We all like records that are played on record players, but let's face it, those days are gon-n-n-e. You do the best you can, you fight that technology in all kinds of ways, but I don't know anybody who's made a record that sounds decent in the past twenty years, really. You listen to these modern records, they're atrocious, they have sound all over them. There's no definition of nothing, no vocal, no nothing, just like – static. Even these songs probably sounded ten times better in the studio when we recorded 'em. CDs are small. There's no stature to it. I remember when that Napster guy came up across, it was like, 'Everybody's gettin' music for free.' I was like, 'Well, why not? It ain't worth nothing anyway.'"

Quite a number of people at the time made "You listen to these modern records, they're atrocious. . . " the pull quote, which had the effect of making it appear that Dylan was turning into one more cranky old man complaining about the music made by young people--when in fact, Dylan's complaint was about the techniques of modern music production. Some of those who misunderstood Dylan's point then went on to ask whether Dylan wasn't thereby implicitly criticizing the music made by his own son's group.

I don't believe there was ever a statement by Bob Dylan explicitly dissing the Wallflowers or Jakob--which is why nothing turns up on Google.

Ann Althouse said...

"I guess that wasn't clear!"

That's okay. It was enigmatic.

I mean, why would he leave that as a present? It's kind of a bad present. It's not like he gave the original copy of the lyrics, just the signed sheet music. And apparently he didn't wrap it or anything.

Thanks for commenting, Mickey!

Mickey Kaus said...

Actually I think it was a good present because 1) Luntz loves 60s rock and roll -- he put on a concert featuring Billy Joe Royal and the guy who sang "Sugar Sugar," (singing "Sugar Sugar," which he does really well) -- and 2) Luntz collects mementos. Beats a fruitcake. I didn't bring anything. Thanks.