May 14: Legendary producer the late Bob Johnston was born in 1932

Photo by Al Clayton

“Is it rolling, Bob?”
– Bob Dylan at the beginning of To Be Alone With You (Nashville Skyline)

“Johnston had fire in his eyes. He had that thing that some people call ‘Momentum.’ You could see it in his face and he shared that fire, that spirit. Columbia’s leading folk and country producer, he was born one hundred years too late. He should have been wearing a wide cape, a plumed hat, and riding with his sword held high. Johnston disregarded any warning that might get in his way. … Johnston lived on low country barbecue, and he was all charm.”
– Bob Dylan, Chronicles: Volume One

“I had the best in the world in my hand – there was no place I couldn’t go with him, so that’s where I went. I think Blonde On Blonde is the best record Dylan ever cut… Blonde On Blonde was the first symphony cut in Nashville!”
– Bob Johnston (Uncut magazine)

Donald William ‘Bob’ Johnston (born May 14, 1932, Hillsboro, Texas, died August 14, 2015) was an American record producer, best known for his work with Bob DylanJohnny CashLeonard Cohen, and Simon and Garfunkel.

Great interview from youtube (by Harper Simon):

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May 13: Happy birthday Stevie Wonder (born 1950)

stevie-wonder_10

 

Do you know, it’s funny, but I never thought of being blind as a disadvantage, and I never thought of being black as a disadvantage.
~Stevie Wonder

“If anybody can be called a genius, he can be. I think it has something to do with his ear, not being able to see or whatever. I go back with him to about the early ‘60s, when he was playing at the Apollo with all that Motown stuff. If nothing else, he played the harmonica incredible, I mean truly incredible. Never knew what to think of him really until he cut Blowin’ In The Wind. That really blew my mind, and I figured I’d better pay attention. I was glad when he did that Rolling Stones tour, cuz it opened up his scene to a whole new crowd of people, which I’m sure has stuck with him over the years. I love everything he does. It’s hard not to. He can do gut-bucket funky stuff really country and then turn around and do modern-progressive whatever you call it. In fact, he might have invented that. he is a great mimic, can imitate everybody, doesn’t take himself seriously and is a true roadhouse musician all the way, with classical overtones, and he does it all with drama and style. I’d like to hear him play with an orchestra. He should probably have his own orchestra.”
~Bob Dylan (Feb 1989, Rolling Stone Mag. – featurette on Stevie Wonder)

Superstition (1974)

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May 12: The Rolling Stones released Exile On Main St. in 1972

 

More than anything else this fagged-out masterpiece is difficult–how else describe music that takes weeks to understand? Weary and complicated, barely afloat in its own drudgery, it rocks with extra power and concentration as a result.
~Robert Christgau (http://www.robertchristgau.com)

..It’s the kind of record that’s gripping on the very first listen, but each subsequent listen reveals something new. Few other albums, let alone double albums, have been so rich and masterful as Exile on Main St., and it stands not only as one of the Stones’ best records, but sets a remarkably high standard for all of hard rock.
~Stephen Thomas Erlewine (allmusic.com)

Let It Loose:

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May 10: The late “Mother” Maybelle Carter was born in 1909

“Mother” Maybelle Carter (May 10, 1909 – October 23, 1978) was an American country musician. She is best known as a member of the historic Carter Family act in the 1920s and 1930s and also as a member of Mother Maybelle and the Carter Sisters.

Perhaps the most remarkable of Maybelle’s many talents was her skill as a guitarist. She revolutionized the instrument’s role by developing a style in which she played melody lines on the bass strings with her thumb while rhythmically strumming with her fingers. Her innovative technique, to this day known as the Carter Scratch, influenced the guitar’s shift from rhythm to lead instrument.
—Holly George-Warren

Mother Maybell Carter performing “Black Mountain Rag” live on The Johnny Cash Show:

Johnny Cash Mother Maybelle Carter – Pick The Wildwood Flower – Johnny Cash Show:

– Hallgeir & Egil

May 8: Blues Legend Robert Johnson Birthday

 

“Just look at the picture of him with the acoustic guitar: His fingers are in the weirdest position. If you’re a guitar player looking at that, you know this is a guy who’s not even thinking; he’s just there. … The soul of his creative originality plays a huge part in music making for everyone who’s ever written a song and really known what they’re doing.”
~Neil Young

“You think you’re getting a handle on playing the blues, and then you hear Robert Johnson — some of the rhythms he’s doing and playing and singing at the same time, you think, ‘This guy must have three brains!’ ”
~Keith Richards

Favorite album? I think the Robert Johnson album. I listen to that quite a bit still.
~Bob Dylan (Rockline interview – June 1985)

Cross Road Blues:

I went to the crossroad, fell down on my knees
I went to the crossroad, fell down on my knees
Asked the Lord above “Have mercy, save poor Bob, if you please”

Yeoo, standin’ at the crossroad, I tried to flag a ride
Standin’ at The Crossroads, I tried to flag a ride
Ain’t nobody seem to know me, everybody pass me by

Check out:

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Muddy Waters & The Rolling Stones – Live At The Checkerboard Lounge (videos)

On 22 November 1981, in the middle of their mammoth American tour, the Rolling Stones arrived in Chicago prior to playing 3 nights at the Rosemont Horizon. Long influenced by the Chicago blues, the band paid a visit to Buddy Guy’s club the Checkerboard Lounge to see the legendary bluesman perform. It didn’t take long before Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood and Ian Stewart were joining in on stage and later Buddy Guy and Lefty Dizz also played their part. It was a unique occasion that was fortunately captured on camera. Now, restored from the original footage and with sound mixed and mastered by Bob Clearmountain, this amazing blues night is being made available in an official release for the first time.
-The Rolling Stones’ YouTube channel

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