Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 237
Wed. Oct. 16, 2013
“Maggie’s Farm (live from Hard Rain’s Rolling Thunder Revue)”
up in the
In his book, Bob Dylan: Behind The Shades Revisited, the American Bard told author Clinton Heylin his response to playing electric at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, when Dylan said “I did this very crazy thing. I didn’t know what was going to happen […] You could hear it all over the place.” This very meaningful quote also reflects the reason why Dylan chose “Maggie’s Farm” as the song to lead off the set of his newly remastered edition of Hard Rain with “Maggie’s Farm.” With the lyrics of “♫ Well I wake up in the morning/fold my hands and pray for rain, ♫” there’s no wonder why Dylan chose this vintage tune to open the 1976 show that captures the tumultuous atmosphere of the second leg of Bob Dylan’s historic Rolling Thunder Revue tour.
The crazy thing that Dylan did in 1976 was unleash this very raw concert recording featuring a new and every more electrified version of the song that Mike Marqusee described as “laced with antiauthoritarian venom, class and generational resentment.” Thanks to David Bowie’s glam guitar guru Mick Ronson, this live version of “Maggie’s Farm” expands on the mindset Dylan had during the latter half of this 1976 tour could also be reflected in Daniel Mark Epstein explanation of the genesis of Bob’s fuming Chuck Berry riff, as heard in “Maggie’s Farm,” when he wrote in his book, The Ballad of Bob Dylan: A Portrait, “Dylan was heartsick and he was angry—you could hear this in the slashing intro of “Maggie’s Farm” a Chuck Berry riff that came to Dylan by the way of the Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards.”
You will notice Ronson’s luscious guitar licks slyly channeling Berry’s ‘tangled up in blues’ riffs sounding as if Keef himself was on stage brining his Stonesy inspiration alive on stage— on this 1976 day where the rain was falling so heavily that Dylan, Ronson and the rest of his band were trying to avoid being electrocuted fed into the furious electricity of this 1976 version of “Maggie’s Farm.”
Listening to this majestic and very spirited rendition from Hard Rain I am reminded of Daniel Kramer’s impressions of hearing the first playback of the original take of “Maggie’s Rain” when he described in Heylin’s book, Bob Dylan: Behind The Shaded Revisited, “It was obvious from the very beginning that something exciting was happening and much of it happened spontaneously. When the playback of “Maggie’s Farm” was heard over the studio speakers, we were elated. There was no question—it swung, it was good music, it was Dylan. The musicians were enthusiastic.” It was the grueling aggravation that fueled Dylan’s original rage to spawn the writing and recording of this 1965 epic comes alive on this epic performance on this live stage as reflected on Hard Rain. You can tell from the scenes of the NBC special that Bob and his band mates are drenched with exhaustion and our using this energy collectively to bring alive this very highly charged rendition of “Maggie’s Farm” to life.
You can understand now why Bob chose this particular song to open Hard Rain. This 1976 version of “Maggie’s Farm” captures the imperfect but collective band spirit that came together despite the rain, fatigue and fury to recreate one of the most original renditions of “Farm” ever captured on tape. Some purists may prefer the original version but I always reach for this 1976 rendition that has a punkish spirit that comes alive on stage during this second leg of Dylan’s historic Rolling Thunder Revue tour of 1976.
This newly remastered Hard Rain LP, part of The Bob Dylan Collection to be released during this holiday season, is the perfect gift for the true die hard Dylan aficionados. Now sonically cleaned up you can experience the sound and the energetic inspiration that brought to life this very electrified version of Dylan’s classic 1965 song.
In Like a Rolling Stone: Bob Dylan at the Crossroads, author Greil Marcus described the original version of this Bringing it All Back Home track like this, ““Maggie’s Farm” was a protest song about factories, sweatshops, offices, jobs, chores, classrooms, and despite wordplay that would keep it on fans’ lips for years, Dylan sounded bored as he sang it.” In this 1976 version, Dylan is no longer bored but brings new life in the guise with the same exhaustive intensity that sparked the original songwriting spirit of this masterwork; Bob and his band recreate on this very electrified version that imperfectly documented the turbulent electricity from the second leg of Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue tour. Get ready to let the fiery genius of this 1976 rendition electrically wash over you. Keefer, I hope you enjoy the reflective sparks of Hard Rain’s “Maggie’s Farm,” you will be thanking me for this one.