Introducing a new category, “Not Quite Random Favorites”:
Beginning with My Favorite Fantasy Album, just beating out Al Green Sings the Delta Blues, which should have occurred along about 1978.
The Shangri-Las Do Dylan (which should have occurred along about 1966)
Preferably with this for the cover photo.
Inevitably, of course, the humorless plugs in legal and marketing would have liaisoned and changed the title to The Shangri-Las Sing Bob Dylan’s Golden Hits or something. No matter. I would have settled for any compromise if it meant hearing Mary Weiss take on “I Want You,” which she once listed as one of her ten favorite records.
As for how the enlightened would have dealt with any of that (under any title or any cover), you can check this fascinating little time capsule from The Village Voice published in the immediate aftermath of Dylan “going electric” to a chorus of boos at Newport in 1965. (Unfortunately, you have to squint and read the article as a reproduction. I found it worth the effort but in case you don’t here’s the relevant statement: “The irony of the folklorists and their parochial ire at Dylan’s musical transgressions is that he is not Guthrie or the Shangri-Las, but this generation’s most awesome talent. And in 60 years you will read scholarly papers about his themes (terror, release) and the images (so similar to the disharmonies and exaggerations of a William Burroughs). And those learned men will be benefited by the most comprehensive set of readings that any poet ever provided.”
Of course, the Shangs’ reference is buried in contemporary hipster post-ironic irony (or something along those lines) delivered in the style which exists so that any inferred meaning can be accepted or denied as the situation calls for.
Meaning one is going out on a limb to say for absolute certain that it’s not a compliment.
Believe me. It’s not a compliment.
One of these days I’ll write about Dylan’s version of “Talkin’ World War III Blues” from Volume 6 of his official bootleg series, which captures his concert at the Philharmonic in the fall of 1964 (one of the greatest concert recordings ever, incidentally). That includes the bit where he slapped the Shangri-Las and Martha and the Vandellas up side the head and got one of the biggest laughs of the night. It may, among other things, explain why a Village Voice writer would not-so-randomly pull the Shangri-Las out of the air and stick them between Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan. But for now, I’ll just dream on…and then look at things like this and wonder who the real revolutionaries were. (As Weiss once said about the London rivalry between the Mods and the Rockers: “I got off the plane dressed in black leather. They definitely knew where I stood!” Got her clothes in the Village by the way.)
Next up: My Favorite Murder Ballad.