The artist re-tunes some songs from the Sixties
In 1965 when I was 10 and my much, much older sister Debi was 11, part of what we were forced to do in order to be allowed to live in our family’s house on Vuelta Grande Avenue was wash and dry the dishes each evening, scraping away the remains of what was probably an undefinable dinner made up of whatever our mom was trying to get rid of before it went from bad to worse.
Sometimes the two of us would yodel songs like “Five O’Clock World,” and sometimes we would listen to rock and roll on KRLA, KHJ or KFWB on my Magnavox transistor radio.
That radio, always tuned to Top 30 radio or Vin Scully and the Dodgers, was a combination of my most prized possession and my best friend. My grandfather gave it to me, probably in some sort of bartering gambit with the Magnavox dealer down the street from his tuxedo shop. We were a Magnavox family: Magnavox console TV, Magnavox console record player/radio in the dining room. When our dad was dying, one of the last people who regularly came to visit him was Frank the Magnavox guy.
In 1965, the best thing that could happen when my sister and I were sweating over a hot sink was KRLA playing the long version of Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone,” to which the two of us would sing along, “How does it feeeeeel…” At six minutes and three seconds, the song was long enough to almost get us through our post-prandial chore (as opposed to the more frequent and loathed radio cut that sliced the play time in half).
And now here I am nearly six decades later, having seen him live a half-dozen times, listening to Dylan’s latest album, “Shadow Kingdom,” from his 2021 streaming concert film of the same name in which he, as is his wont, de- and reconstructs 13 of his popular songs from the mid-1960s through the mid-70s to various effect. Some of the album is brilliant, starting with the completely retooled “When I Paint My Masterpiece,” through the near-closing “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue.”
It’s an interesting album, with some songs rendered in a strange-sounding hybrid of a cowboy saloon and a French cabaret/bistro; adding particular Frenchification is the accordion work of Jeff Taylor, while guitarist T-Bone Burnett and pedal-steel player Greg Leisz keep things a bit more western. Dylan’s voice? It’s what the word “phlegmatic” should mean, but doesn’t. Still, it’s quite a bit better than how it’s been sounding in concert for the last decade.
The record is worth a listen on Spotify or Pandora, perhaps less so as a purchase.
What you don’t need to watch
Back when the century turned, Jared the Subway Guy was all over the TV, appearing in some 300 ads touting the fact that he lost 245 pounds by substituting Subway sandwiches for the 10,000-calorie junk-food diet that caused him to bloat up to 425 pounds.
You might recall that the whole promotional escapade was weird, and if you thought much about Jared Fogle, it was that he was sort of a nerd, but, you might also recall, it turned out he was much worse.
In 2015, the toothy, grinning Fogle, who had become a celebrity and millionaire because of his work with Subway, was found to be an evil clown when he pleaded guilty to possession or distribution of child pornography and traveling across state lines to have commercial sex with a minor. He is now serving a 15-year sentence at a Colorado prison.
How that all happened and how he was discovered is the subject of a three-episode true-crime documentary, “Jared from Subway: Catching a Monster,” streaming on Discovery+.
It is, like way too many true-crime documentaries, a tawdry, prurient mess, and I needed to give a heartfelt apology to myself for having watched it. To my credit, however, I did it for you. Spend your time more wisely.
I devoted most of Sunday to reading David Grann’s “The White Darkness,” continuing a bit of a mini-binge on the New Yorker writer’s books. Last month I wrote about his latest saga, “The Wager,” about the horrors and perils of the HMS The Wager and its crew in the mid-18th century, which had the effect of making me cross “Sail Around Cape Horn” off my bucket list.
Now, with “The White Darkness,” I’ve erased “walk across Antarctica” off my Dumb-things-I-Have-to-Do planner.
Just like “The Wager,” except with snow and ice instead of the sea and storm, “The White Darkness” tells in close detail of the intense misery and struggles associated with a team of three explorers, led by Henry Worsley, a devotee of 19th-century Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton, crossing the brutal ice continent.
Then, almost unbelievably, Worsley attempts to make the same bitterly tortuous journey by himself.
It’s another riveting and brilliant book by Grann (who has another couple of books I guess I have to read now) depicting the lengths some people will go to in pursuit of their dreams, no matter how nightmarish those dreams become.