Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Twelve Days of Listmas: Day One

25 Kevin Ryan, Dylan Hears a Who

Whoever he is, Kevin Ryan held the world – or at least the world of online music blogs – in his hand for a short time earlier this year. He painstakingly constructed a brilliant parody (homage? mash-up? commentary?) and floated it out onto the web, then stayed silent as the attention mounted. The perfectly constructed back story had a circa ’66 Bob Dylan paying tribute to the works of Dr. Seuss by recording seven Seuss stories as songs the way only Bob could play ‘em. Then, the story went, the album was scuttled by nervous label suits, and was thereby lost. Ryan’s Dylan impersonation is solid, but the real selling job comes from the music, which is nigh on indistinguishable from the real thing, with authentic sounding tape hiss and crackle, perfect instrumentation, and a mixing job that sounds like a studio floor recording from the period. Add to that wonderful (downloadable) cover art that looks eerily like something Columbia would have produced, with well photoshopped images of Dylan sporting the cat’s striped hat, and the whole thing seemed just plausible enough to make you wonder if it wasn’t legitimate. It helps, of course, that a million Dylan bootlegs are floating about, even “official” ones issued by Sony. There’s no shortage of hoaxes and user-generated parodies online, but few are noteworthy enough to attract the attention of the conventional press (i.e. Entertainment Weekly) and the ire of the estate of the late Dr. Seuss (the Dylan Hears a Who website shut down after receiving a cease and desist from a phalanx of lawyers representing the interests of arguably the world’s most famous children’s author). It’s an impressive musical accomplishment, as well as a fascinating example of the way in which fiction can trump reality.

24 John Coltrane, My Favorite Things: Live at Newport (reissue)

I already wrote about this here, so why repeat myself, right? I remember thinking that title – What a Difference Roy Haynes Makes – was pretty darned clever at the time.

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