Thursday, December 25, 2008

GMVW # 51: "Counter Culture Foundations"

Gem Music Video of the Week # 51: Counter Culture Foundations
Song: Love is Just a Four Letter Word by Bob Dylan
Covered Here By: Joan Baez
(Songwriter: Bob Dylan)       
December 25, 2008

Harvard Square
has seen its share of great places come and go. There was the dark, bordering on gloomy, two-floor Bavarian restaurant, the Wursthaus, a true bohemian hideout if there ever was one, which met its demise about 10 years ago.  Along with the Wursthaus, the wrecking ball took out the very tiny diner, The Tasty (I ate there twice > the night before my wedding and the night before Charlotte was born).  There was also a favorite restaurant of Nancy & I, Grendel’s Den, and the original House of Blues (where we once celebrated a boisterous Gospel music breakfast with Mom & Dad).  All these locations are nothing but a wide range of eclectic memories now. 

However, a number of long standing places still survive.  There’s the Globe Corner Book Store, where I have purchased many a globe, map and travel book (and still the best place to get USGS topographic maps).  There’s Shay’s Pub, the wine bar where Mac & I connect over a few glasses of port wine every Christmas season.  The Border Café still stands, where Amy and Paul treated Nancy and I to dinner the night of their engagement. There’s Leavitt & Pierce Tobacco, still a great place to buy cigars in bulk for a first-time Dad.  The Hong Kong remains the home of the best of all scorpion bowls (and numerous related memories).  There’s also Charlie’s Kitchen, The Brattle Theatre, Out of Town News, Cardullo’s Gourmet Shoppe, The Harvard Coop, and The Harvard Museum of Natural History.  All continue to give
Harvard Square
that certain charm that can be found nowhere else.

There are some places that also give
Harvard Square
a secure place in American music history.  Club Passim ranks at the top of the list.  Passim, which has survived
Harvard Square
’s frequent overhauls, has for many years hosted the best that the folk scene has to offer.  Along with the Iron Horse in Northampton, it’s the perfect venue to see folk music (as was the long-gone Old Vienna Kaffeehaus in Westborough).  The musician who more than any other gave Passim its long-standing reputation is Joan Baez, who played there quite often in the 60’s.  This week’s Gem is a Baez cover of the Dylan song ‘Love is Just a Four Letter Word’.  I first heard her cover this song on the album ‘Any Day Now’, which is an entire album of Dylan songs covered by Baez.  Joan Baez has always been mesmerized by Bob Dylan’s talent (although a great songwriter in her own right), and it certainly is apparent in her delivery of his songs on that album and in this live version of ‘Love is Just a Four Letter Word’.

I have to credit good friend, Jeff Strause for opening my eyes to folk music.  One great thing about a folk show (solo or festival) is that the crowd really does bond in a way that is hard to replicate at larger and louder rock events.  There’s often a nice interchange between artist and audience.  A good folk musician feeds off the crowd and allows them to be part of the show.  Jeff should know.  He’s been to more folk shows than the musicians themselves. 

Below the Joan Baez Gem are links to a few other folk singers who have inspired Jeff (and I) over the years.  Below those links are the lyrics to ‘Love is Just a Four Letter Word’.

- Pete

Gem of the Week ‘Love is Just a Four Letter Word’

Utah Phillips ‘Banks of Marble’

Nancy Griffith and Carolyn Hester ‘Boots of Spanish Leather’

Shawn Colvin ‘Wichita Skyline’

Tom Rush ‘No Regrets’

The Nields ‘When I Let you into my Closet’

‘Love is Just a Four Letter Word’ lyrics

Seems like only yesterday
I left my mind behind
Down in the Gypsy Café
With a friend of a friend of mine
She sat with a baby heavy on her knee
Yet spoke of life most free from slavery
With eyes that showed no trace of misery
A phrase in connection first with she occurred
That love is just a four-letter word

Outside a rambling store-front window
Cats meowed 'til the break of day
Me, I kept my mouth shut,
To you I had no words to say
My experience was limited and underfed
You were talking while I hid
To the one who was the father of your kid
You probably didn't think I did, but I heard
You say that love is just a four-letter word

I said goodbye unnoticed
Pushed towards things in my own games
Drifting in and out of lifetimes
Unmentionable by name
After searching for my double, looking for
Complete evaporation to the core
Though I tried and failed at finding any door
I must have thought that there was nothing more absurd
Than that love is just a four-letter word

Though I never knew just what you meant
When you were speaking to your man
I could only think in terms of me
And now I understand
After waking enough times to think I see
The Holy Kiss that's supposed to last eternity
Blow up in smoke, its destiny
Falls on strangers, travels free
Yes, I know now, traps are only set by me
And I do not really need to be assured
That love is just a four-letter word

Strange it is to be beside you, many years the tables turned
You'd probably not believe me if told you all I've learned
And it is very very weird, indeed
To hear words like "forever" plead
so ships run through my mind I cannot cheat
it's like looking in a teacher's face complete
I can say nothing to you but repeat what I heard
That love is just a four-letter word.

About the video: Austin City Limits show, not sure of the year (late 90’s?).  The band includes a 2nd guitarist and a bongo drummer.

Video Rating: 1

Best Feedback: Tom

Pete - you never cease to amaze me ... even on Christmas day you're sending the weekly out faithfully.  Hope yours was a good day, and that Charlotte and Peter both enjoyed their new gifts.  Thomas of course had a blast - his being very much into art drawing etc.  He also got a bunch of Spiderman and Batman stuff - with his love of superheroes too.  Will be up to see Steve and Tim this coming week.

Of your latest, I recall walking by the original House of Blues - having tried to get into a concert there once (I believe BB King, my having seen him and Johnny Lang in CT in mid-90's and loving it).  The Coop is a familiar stomping ground too, with lunch at John Harvard's with a couple of their brews.  But all these other mentioned places sound swell - will keep as a list of good places to eat etc in the future.

If I don't talk to you before - Happiest of New Year's to you, Nancy, Charlotte and Peter.


Also: Madeline

Thanks Pete! I feel like going to the Square right now!

Are you guys up to seeing your 'ol New Years friends this year???

Let us know!

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