One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later) (1966)
by Jochen Markhorst
“I always liked songs with parentheses in the title,” says host Dylan in episode 47 of his radio show Theme Time Radio Hour, on the announcement of Sonny Stitt’s “Fools Rush In (Where Angels Fear To Tread)”. These are not any empty words: a minimum of 68 occasions within the 104 episodes, the radio maker chooses such a music title. And Dylan’s personal catalog also incorporates greater than twenty titles with parentheses, from “Suze (The Cough Song)” to “High Water (For Charley Patton)”. Not till the 21st century, after 2001, the grandmaster finally seems to be tired of it.
But then again: the poet just isn’t reluctant in the autobiography Chronicles (2004). On average, one pair of parentheses per ten pages, whereby he superfluously typically locations full sentences in parentheses. “Okay, we were going to forget about “Dignity” for a while. (We by no means did go back to it.)”, for instance.
Dylan doesn’t appear to use a system. Typically the explanatory addition solely contributes to the impenetrability, like in “Señor (Tales Of Yankee Power)” and “I’m Not There (1956)”, and typically it clarifies, like “High Water”, but often a phrase from the refrain or the refrain verse is in parentheses: “I Don’t Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met)” or “Coming From The Heart (The Road Is Long)”.
And “One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later)” of course, Dylan’s fifth music with parentheses within the title.
It’s one of his favorite songs, the grasp reveals within the Rolling Stone interview in 1969, and one during which, particularly by Dylan requirements, an distinctive amount of love has been invested. The twenty (!) attempts, rehearsals, misses and options on discs 11 and 12 of the unsurpassed The Chopping Edge – Collector’s Edition (2015) illustrate this in a captivating means. It is hardly shocking that the accompaniment modifications in the course of such a session, but that the music additionally fans out so radically on the other fronts (lyrics, melody, tempo) is an eye-opener.
The studio speak, especially within the first two rehearsals, reveals intimate details concerning the artistic process. Apparently Dylan has already had a first pre-rehearsal with Al Kooper. He searches his notes, finds them once more, asks for help (presumably from the piano-playing Kooper) “How is the chorus?”, sings along a couple of phrases that will disappear later (“I’m glad it’s through, you’re mad it’s through”) and then interrupts: “That’s not right, Al. I don’t get it.”
Kooper answers one thing unintelligible, Dylan asks “What’s the tempo?” and then begins, fairly slowly, with the groundwork of the first verse as we know it: “I didn’t mean to hurt you so bad.”
Hardly arrived on the refrain, Dylan interrupts as soon as more, and again addresses Kooper: “Are you sure we played it at that tempo?”
It ought to be even slower… The primary 4 strains now take 47 seconds. For comparison: in the remaining, 24th take, this primary verse is played eleven seconds quicker, in three-quarters of the unique time.
It’s compelling and virtually blatantly voyeuristic, as close because the listener is to the process of creation.
On the sixth rehearsal, Dylan continues to be having doubts: “Is that the way it was?’, the song then seems to slide into its final form, the thin wild mercury sound even sparks for a moment, but disappears again at rehearsal no. 9. The maestro hears that too. “I don’t think that’s the right way. You think so? I think we ought to do it quieter.”
Round that time, the enjoying of pianist Paul Griffin begins to shine – the magical, ultimate piano half continues to be a great distance off, but the contours are beginning to get clear. Griffin (1937-2000) can principally go as he pleases and might, at his own discretion, tinker together with his keyboard enjoying that, as the hours move, culminates in a fascinating combine of shyness, menace, drama and attract. Critic Jonathan Singer places it better: “Half Gershwin, half gospel, all heart”, and Al Kooper lacks superlatives to honour “probably Paul Griffin’s finest moment.”
In the mean time, January 1966, Griffin is already a musician’s musician – the connoisseurs have recognized him because the late 1950s. He has played on an entire collection of (principally soul) hits, even gifted keyboard participant Burt Bacharach gets up from his piano stool to let Griffin play together with his Dionne Warwick or a Chuck Jackson (the hanging organ half in “Any Day Now” is Griffin), Solomon Burke considers him his own personal keyboard participant and Dylan already knows him from the idiosyncratic strolling and hopping on “Like A Rolling Stone” and “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues”.
But Kooper is true: “One Of Us Must Know” evokes him to his easiest moments. Within the following years, Griffin sometimes comes near this peak. His contribution to Van Morrison’s masterpiece Astral Weeks (1968), the work he supplies for Steely Dan (particularly on “Peg”, from the album Aja, 1977) and the supporting half and the distinctive frills on Don McLean’s world hit “American Pie” (1971).
And while Dylan seeks tempo, melody and orchestration, he continues to work on the lyrics. Fairly radically, too – nothing of the unique chorus is maintained:
Now you’re glad it’s by means of
And I’m feeling so mad
Now that I let you cry
I didn’t imply to hurt you so dangerous
… is one of the early variants. Although the couplets change less drastically, however still effortlessly sufficient to place an finish to the pretty broad belief that the textual content is anecdotal.
The cooled down lover Dylan right here dumps Warhols Magnificence No. 2, Edie Sedgwick, that is the preferred interpretation. For a biographical, anecdotal interpretation a number of information converse, that a lot is true. Definitely compared to the encompassing songs on Blonde On Blonde, it’s an unusually dry, unadorned monologue, with no inscrutable secondary characters like those shady docs, preachers or jelly-faced ladies. Even the rare, probably ambiguous passages (the headscarf that hides the mouth, the blinding snow) might symbolize emotional cold and social discomfort, but are in reality so little bizarre that they could truly be actual remembered photographs.
The relative transparency of the words permits the idea that the poet stays near house, in any case. And certainly, the poet has achieved rock-divine status in current months, with the next overdose of consideration from excited women and teenage fanatics without sense of perspective. An amalgam of these groupies then becomes the you on this music and will get discarded by the protagonist. Recognizable are the clumsy clichés like “I understand you so well”, the speedy, complete surrender at the first meeting with the idol and the awkward embarrassment of His Worship (“I didn’t realize how young you were”), who sober and cruel diminishes: “You just happened to be there, that’s all.”
Anyway: it’s a lovely music and it’s rightly being released as a single. After the mega hit “Like A Rolling Stone”, “Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?” did flop. Now “One Of Us Must Know” ought to make advantage of the momentum and yield Dylan one other hit.
That doesn’t work, unusually enough. The only does nothing within the US, grazes the charts in Europe. The artist appears to be bothered by that, identical to he is later, with the debacle of “Baby, Stop Crying”: the track disappears from his setlist for years and only after flattering sales pitches by sympathetic followers like the journalist Larry Sloman, it’s picked up again – in 1976, ten years later.
Others have fewer reserves, however not often know learn how to seize the sweetness within. The Boo Radleys produce an unique however tiring combine of trash and stillness on the tribute album Outlaw Blues (1992), the singer of Merely Pink, Mick Hucknall, retains it protected and pleasant (Chimes Of Freedom, 2012) and the Dutch rockers and Dylan adepts Jan Barten and Fons Havermans are doing fairly nicely, but not more than that.
The 2 covers that still stand out somewhat can be discovered on tribute albums. One on Blues On Blonde On Blonde from 2003. Clarence Bucaro, an otherwise fairly mediocre singer-songwriter from Brooklyn, opts for a roaring twenties arrangement, with clarinet, upright bass and acoustic jazz guitar, thus giving a pleasant nostalgic and melancholic touch to at least one of Dylan’s inexorable masterpieces.
Probably the most engaging cowl, by far, is on Mojo’s 2016 Blonde On Blonde Revisited tribute, on the occasion of the monument’s fiftieth anniversary, by veteran Chip Taylor.
The seventy-six yr previous legend starts the track as an American Recording by Johnny Money; talk-singing over a wavering guitar. A bit afterward, the track is sparsely dressed up with a modest, mercury organ, then a discreet bass, mild accompaniment on the ground tom and a goosebump-inducing second voice. The old style mellotron within the background, halfway by means of, is particularly elegant.
It is a fantastic rendition by an oldtimer who ought to have gotten his place in the Rock & Roll Corridor Of Fame a long time in the past – not solely did Chip Taylor write “Angel Of The Morning” and “Son Of A Rotten Gambler”, however most of all: he is the writer of the indestructible basic “Wild Thing”. And from that different monument with parentheses within the title, Janis Joplin’s “Try (Just A Little Bit Harder)”.
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