Bob Dylan, Dion and 'King of New York Streets'
Torn right from the start, he had it magically together in the mythic sense
While perusing the booklet to the new box set by Dion, "King of the New York
Streets," I came across the following which is written by Bob Dylan which I
typed up for your enjoyment. By the way this box set includes two Dylan
songs, "Baby I'm In The Mood For You" and "Spanish Harlem Incident.
Anyway this is what Bob Dylan wrote:
The voice of Dion came exploding out of what Allen Ginsberg called the
"hydrogen jukebox" in the fifties -- the hush hush age. Torn right from the
start, he had it magically together in the mythic sense -- level-headed and
trustworthy, rhythmically there's no mayhem -- just a sense of wonder, in
his voice he tells the untold story in the seemingly secret language. How
else do you explain the soulfulness of "Teenager In Love"? An unknowing ear
would say it's a song about youthful claptrap but it's not, not any more
than Tampa Red's "Let Me Play With Your Poodle" is not about dogs. You can
hear it in his haunted voice -- street corner hokum sure, but also
barrelhouse blues, the honky-tonk world -- even the most sophisticated
crooner in the most articulate way -- it's all there to put a spell on you.
I saw Dion way back there when he followed Ritchie Valens and preceded Link
Wray and the Wraymen. Ritchie could pitch you over the fence and Link made
you feel like you wanted to take a grotesque despotic world and hang it with
barbed wire, but Dion was no less brilliant -- his level was cool-headed,
made you feel longing, excited and entranced. "Ruby Baby" is severe, round
the clock -- listen you'll see. Satire, cunning, fidelity, it's all there
in spades. Great singers pass us by like a parade of nobility. There's
just something about them that rises above superficial culture. Dion comes
from a time when so-so singers couldn't cut it -- they either never got
heard or got exposed quick and got out of the way. To have it you really
had to have it, no smoke and mirrors then -- not a minute to spare -- rough
and ready -- glorious and grand -- grieving with heartache and feeling too
much but still with the always "better not try it" attitude. If you want to
hear a great singer, listen to Dion. His voice take its color from all
pallets -- he's never lost it -- his genius has never deserted him.
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