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PostPosted: Sat July 4th, 2009, 04:01 GMT 

Joined: Sat August 16th, 2008, 21:48 GMT
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Location: Connecticut
Genius - This one blew me away from the first listen. This one live on the NET just hasn't done it for me. Perhaps Marker, Sphere or another can provide a date or posting to change the MEZ's mind. But if not, I can live with the 60's rendition. How can one not love this tune. I just think it's been difficult for him to pull it off correctly, but then again I've only heard 14-16 live NET's of it. What's others thoughts of the song overall and NET versions of it? MEZ


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PostPosted: Sat July 4th, 2009, 04:09 GMT 

Joined: Sat August 16th, 2008, 21:48 GMT
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Actually, I stand corrected the Brighton 2002 is good. I forgot that one. MEZ


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PostPosted: Sat July 4th, 2009, 04:24 GMT 
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Plenty of great live versions out there from different periods. Milwaukee 1989 is killer for straight acoustic version, as is the Bobfest version from 1992. More recently, he changes it up quite a bit, but I prefer versions when it has a harder edge to it.


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PostPosted: Sat July 4th, 2009, 04:25 GMT 
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Brilliant song. In my younger days it was always my stated 'favorite song.' I agree that the NET doesn't really do it justice. It always seemed like a young man's song to me, though--what the world looks like to a 23 year-old kid. Maybe that's partly why the old man voice doesn't quite work for it, I don't know.

My favorite version is from Wembley, October 5, 2000. There's a version from Chicago on October 31, 1999 with hilarious phrasing--a fun listen.


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PostPosted: Sat July 4th, 2009, 05:01 GMT 
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Location: Maybe it isn't a tour, maybe he's just lost.
The third set of verses reminds me of a section in Dylan’s magnificent “Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie.”

Compare this set of verses about half way through “It’s Alright, Ma…”

“Advertising signs that con
You into thinking you're the one
That can do what's never been done,
That can win what's never been won
Meantime life outside goes on
All around you.

You lose yourself, you reappear
You suddenly find you got nothing to fear
Alone you stand with nobody near
When a trembling distant voice, unclear
Startles your sleeping ears to hear
That somebody thinks
They really found you.

A question in your nerves is lit
Yet you know there is no answer fit to satisfy
Insure you not to quit
To keep it in your mind and not forget
That it is not he or she or them or it
That you belong to.”


…to this section of “Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie”

"Cause you can't find it on a dollar bill
And it ain't on Macy's window sill
And it ain't on no rich kid's road map
And it ain't in no fat kid's fraternity house
And it ain't made in no Hollywood wheat germ
And it ain't on that dimlit stage
With that half-wit comedian on it
Ranting and raving and taking yer money
And you thinks it's funny
No you can't find it in no night club or no yacht club
And it ain't in the seats of a supper club
And sure as hell you're bound to tell
That no matter how hard you rub
You just ain't a-gonna find it on yer ticket stub
No, and it ain't in the rumors people're tellin' you
And it ain't in the pimple-lotion people are sellin' you
And it ain't in no cardboard-box house
Or down any movie star's blouse
And you can't find it on the golf course
And Uncle Remus can't tell you and neither can Santa Claus
And it ain't in the cream puff hair-do or cotton candy clothes
And it ain't in the dime store dummies or bubblegum goons
And it ain't in the marshmallow noises of the chocolate cake voices
That come knockin' and tappin' in Christmas wrappin'
Sayin' ain't I pretty and ain't I cute and look at my skin
Look at my skin shine, look at my skin glow
Look at my skin laugh, look at my skin cry
When you can't even sense if they got any insides.”


I also hear strong similarities in the way this has to be sung and with “Subterranean Homesick Blues.” I’d love to discover a lost outtake in which that same band rocked-out on a version of “It’s Alright, Ma…” Try to imagine these lyrics sung on top of that driving electric band with Michael Bloomfield’s guitar at the wheel:

“While them that defend what they cannot see
With a killer's pride, security
It blows the minds most bitterly
For them that think death's honesty
Won't fall upon them naturally
Life sometimes must get lonely.

My eyes collide head-on with stuffed graveyards
False gods, I scuff
At pettiness which plays so rough
Walk upside-down inside handcuffs
Kick my legs to crash it off
Say okay, I have had enough
What else can you show me?”


“What else can you show me?” indeed. :D


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PostPosted: Sat July 4th, 2009, 07:58 GMT 

Joined: Thu August 30th, 2007, 22:44 GMT
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One of his most astounding, hard-hitting songs. The album version is jaw-dropping, I've simply never heard anything like it.

Yet, there have been many worthy versions as well: Before The Flood, At Budokan, these ones:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bjqYPH7rAo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzg8OZ6uelo

The latter is from Hard To Handle and was preceeded in concert by the following comments:

"Thank you. Well, I just read another concert review the other day. It said 'Bob sounds like a parody of himself. He sounds just exactly like he's imitating himself.' I'd sure like to know who I’m SUPPOSED to sound like, you know. [The audience laughs and applauds, and he continues sarcastically...] I know it’s hard; you know, so many people sound like me these days. But someday, somebody's got to tell some of these people that I’m still here. And I can’t sound like anybody else, I don’t know how to. If I did, I would..."

I've liked some recent arrangements instrumentally, but unfortunately the lyrics (which is where the true power lies for me) always seem to get lost these days.


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PostPosted: Sat July 4th, 2009, 14:34 GMT 

Joined: Wed June 25th, 2008, 22:49 GMT
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Location: Joliet, IL, USA
This one I always have had a tough time with.. there are times I like it.. there are times I skip it and can't wait to do it. Can't explain why.


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PostPosted: Sat July 4th, 2009, 15:08 GMT 
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I've always been amused at how each verse ends with a different ending, each of which is a variation on a theme:

And it's alright, Ma, I can make it.
I got nothing, Ma, to live up to.
But it's alright, Ma, if I can't please him.
But it's alright, Ma, it's life, and life only.

Yet the song's title never appears, implying that it sums up all the other verse endings.

Brilliant!


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PostPosted: Sat July 4th, 2009, 15:48 GMT 
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If there's one song to show people why the "genius" or "poet" or "big bubba of a generation" tag gets applied to Dyan, this would probably be it.

It's been performed regularly, and there are time I wish he'd play something else, but I think he himself considers this one of his best so who am I to say not to do it?

This version from Brookyln last year was pretty smokin':
http://www.humyo.com/F/6027741-784846759

Can't find the Halloween version at present, but I was there and it was magical, there's something about a "party" type holiday and a concert...have fun in South Bend today! Wish I was going.


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PostPosted: Sat July 4th, 2009, 16:26 GMT 

Joined: Sat May 23rd, 2009, 23:52 GMT
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The act alone of remembering nearly eight minutes of dense, quickly sung verse to me is amazing enough. And then there's the lyrical content itself & the way he sings it. It's a masterpiece.


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PostPosted: Sat July 4th, 2009, 21:16 GMT 

Joined: Sat April 12th, 2008, 02:05 GMT
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it's a 10. Never heard anything quite like it. I wish his newer stuff felt as fresh as this still does.


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PostPosted: Sun July 5th, 2009, 08:50 GMT 

Joined: Wed April 11th, 2007, 04:15 GMT
Posts: 1519
Location: City of Angels
John B. Stetson wrote:
Brilliant song. In my younger days it was always my stated 'favorite song.' I agree that the NET doesn't really do it justice. It always seemed like a young man's song to me, though--what the world looks like to a 23 year-old kid. Maybe that's partly why the old man voice doesn't quite work for it, I don't know.

My favorite version is from Wembley, October 5, 2000. There's a version from Chicago on October 31, 1999 with hilarious phrasing--a fun listen.


For myself, it has become more profound the older I get. I'm amazed every time I hear it by the sheer amount of universal truths that make up the song. Certain verses that used to confuse me or I simply found youthfully cynical, I now clearly see all around me. It's taken me a long time to come to grips with this chorus:

But I mean no harm nor put fault
On anyone that lives in a vault
But it's alright, Ma, if I can't please him.

It's one of the elements of Bob Dylan that continuously draws me back, that ability to delineate truth from bullshit and find the perfect line or word even that encapsulates it into a simple thought that fits within a grand design which speaks to me in an honest way. That being said, it's simply not natural for a 23 year old kid to write something like this.
Simply look at the set of verses he avoids later on.

For them that must obey authority
That they do not respect in any degree
Who despise their jobs, their destinies
Speak jealously of them that are free
Cultivate their flowers to be
Nothing more than something
They invest in.

While some on principles baptized
To strict party platform ties
Social clubs in drag disguise
Outsiders they can freely criticize
Tell nothing except who to idolize
And then say God bless him.

While one who sings with his tongue on fire
Gargles in the rat race choir
Bent out of shape from society's pliers
Cares not to come up any higher
But rather get you down in the hole
That he's in.

It's Alright Ma is the definition of Bob Dylan's art. I've discovered long ago that if you want an easy shortcut to show someone Dylan's genius, this song will speak to anyone in one way or another, whether it be a line that makes sense to them or the overall idea of the song which is truly heartbreaking when you think about the song being sung to a mother. It's a song forever haunted by death.

As far as the NET goes, the problem with this song starts the moment you add a band to it. As someone above noted, the sheer ability to get through the full song is an overwhelming experience...for both the singer and audience. What's so incredible about the song in its 60's form is that the music is not heard, it's felt. It's not upfront, it's like a drone that progresses downward into hell until the choruses in major allows the audience to feel momentarily OK before diving into another set of terrifying verses.
So a lot of the 90's and 00's simply don't work. I've hated the crappy blues arrangement he's given it over the last 10 years. All life is gone.
Any version I've ever heard just makes me treasure the originals that much more. The driving acoustic, the flashes of harmonica, and Dylan's flat, simple persistent vocal.
Don't get me wrong. There are good to great littered throughout the 70's-90's. But none of them have ever held a candle to the sheer weight of the 60's performances.

My favorites (beside the album cut of course):
May 2 1965 (beautiful video I just found!)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCNus_JP ... annel_page

For all my yammering about a band, I LOVE this version from the Les Blank radio show where it seems there is a Bloomfield-like electric beautifully augmenting a passionate vocal from our young Bob. Could that be Bloomfield? Anyway, love the song pick!

Feb. 17th 1965

http://www.sendspace.com/file/pqk9uv


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PostPosted: Sun July 5th, 2009, 19:19 GMT 

Joined: Wed February 25th, 2009, 01:44 GMT
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2001 was the best year for this song :D


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PostPosted: Sun July 5th, 2009, 20:29 GMT 
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It's the reason I first began to love Dylan -

I was 15 years old when "Hard to Handle" was shown on British TV - me & my friend watched it , it was on a Friday night when we used to get together after school had finished for the week - we'd HEARD of Bob Dylan, but didn't really know his stuff.

When he went into "It's Alright Ma..." , It LITERALLY floored me. I mean, I was on the x floor like I'd just been popped one from Ali.

I started to learn to play guitar the very next day & I ain't looked back.

For me that song ain't just good...or great..but actually life changing.

Still love the "Hard to Handle" version too.


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PostPosted: Sun July 5th, 2009, 21:32 GMT 

Joined: Wed January 18th, 2006, 00:55 GMT
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Location: Cornwall, England
A composition and performance (BIABH) that is pure genius - head and shoulders above anything I have heard from anyone else and the fact that it was written by a 23 year old leaves me astounded. The only things that come close are all by Bob.


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PostPosted: Sun July 5th, 2009, 21:35 GMT 
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Simple brilliance, from the bluesy guitar playing to the essentially perfect lyrics, not one out of place.


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PostPosted: Wed July 15th, 2009, 09:16 GMT 
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Its a song I struggled with when I first started listening to Bob because I wasnt used to long songs like Desolation Row its simply a great song. great poetry.


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PostPosted: Wed July 15th, 2009, 12:25 GMT 
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I don't think I've ever listened to the studio cut without being amazed, there seems to be some great unity in the performance.


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PostPosted: Wed July 15th, 2009, 14:16 GMT 
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as a previous poster stated it is possibly the only dylan song which can be life-changing, so much so that i think you can become to fixated on the lyrics.

nothing (by ANYONE) can compare to the original studio version but heres some good live ones anyway 8)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nrj9fam8MrY

http://www.humyo.com/F/164399-56389227


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PostPosted: Wed July 15th, 2009, 17:37 GMT 
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I agree with a couple others that this is the song of Dylan's that is life-changing. I actually only heard it for the first time in No Direction Home, watching him perform that just about blew my head off. Haven't looked back since.


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PostPosted: Mon July 27th, 2009, 16:50 GMT 

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I like the 1978 versions.


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PostPosted: Mon July 27th, 2009, 17:20 GMT 
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Location: Maybe it isn't a tour, maybe he's just lost.
hauke wrote:
I like the 1978 versions.


I suppose that was inevitable.


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PostPosted: Mon July 27th, 2009, 18:39 GMT 
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Dylan has a few songs that defeat any kind of commentary or judgement (though commenting or judging are perfectly fine to attempt), and this is one of them. One of the supreme items in his body of work.

I like the album version best. The live BBC version from 1965 is also good. The 1974 live version is historically interesting and well done. After that, it's a bit hit or miss. Since the song has almost no melody, Dylan ought to be able to perform it live well enough, but I'm not convinced he thinks himself up to the task, try as he might. In No Direction Home, he sounded a little alienated from that level of inspiration he once felt. I'm sure I could find some worthy live versions at home, but nothing comes to mind at the moment. Didn't he do a good version at the 1992 tribute concert? I hope I remember that correctly.

I love the fact the song is based on Wake Up Little Susie.


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PostPosted: Mon July 27th, 2009, 19:00 GMT 
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Location: Maybe it isn't a tour, maybe he's just lost.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kooAgqCH ... re=related


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PostPosted: Mon July 27th, 2009, 19:22 GMT 

Joined: Tue July 21st, 2009, 11:36 GMT
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Sorry, I'm pretty new to this game: but what does "Track Talk" mean? Is there a point of discussion, a question to answer or do we just talk about how much we like the songe and what we were doing at the time?
I'm not trying to be offensive I just want to know what we're supposed to be doing.

Yours truly
From a naked American president


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