The Man Behind the Organ in “Like a Rolling Stone”

Alan Peter Kuperschmidt, who became known as musician Al Kooper, was born on February 5, 1944. Kooper played a number of important roles in the history of music, such as work as a producer and writer and for organizing Blood, Sweat & Tears. But most people know his work from a chance role he played in one of the greatest rock songs of all time, Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone.”

On June 16, 1965, Kooper showed up for the second day of the production of “Like A Rolling Stone,” which was being produced by Tom Wilson. Kooper, who was a 21-year-old session guitarist, arrived merely as a guest of Wilson.

Initially, Kooper hoped to work his way into the session on guitar. But then he realized that guitarist Mike Bloomfield was more talented than him.

After Paul Griffin moved from playing organ on the song to playing piano, Kooper tried to get Wilson to let him play an organ part. Wilson rejected the idea. But when Wilson left the room, Kooper went into the session and took over the Hammond organ. Wilson let Kooper remain, and Kooper added the now famous organ riff to the song. When Dylan heard the playback, he reportedly asked for more organ.

The following video explains Kooper’s role in the recording of “Like a Rolling Stone,” including an interview with Kooper. Check it out.

Kooper went on to other amazing work, including playing organ for Dylan on tour and playing that instrument on the recording of “Just Like a Woman,” released in 1966.  Among his many other accomplishments, he discovered Lynyrd Skynyrd, producing and performing on their first three albums.  That’s him again on organ in “Free Bird,” even though he was officially credited under the name Roosevelt Gook.  He also played piano, organ, and French horn parts on The Rolling Stones’s “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

Kooper’s most recent solo album is WHITE CHOCOLATE (2008).

What is your favorite instrument on the recording of “Like a Rolling Stone”? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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    Eva Cassidy: “Time After Time”

    Singer Eva Cassidy was born in Washington, D.C. on February 2, 1963. She began singing at an early age, and eventually garnered attention in her hometown.

    Many came to admire her jazz and blues work.  But during Cassidy’s lifetime, her fame was largely limited to the DC area. While she was singing, she also worked at Behnke Nursery in Maryland doing greenhouse work between 1981 and 1995. In 1992, she released an album of duets with Chuck Brown, The Other Side. But on November 2, 1996, at the age of 33, Cassidy died from melanoma.

    Several months before she died, she released a live album, Live at Blues Alley. The album provided Cassidy with more fans, and it began to receive wider attention after her death. Additional posthumous albums added to Cassidy’s legacy. Artists such as Paul McCartney became fans, and a 2001 Nightline episode about Cassidy became one of the most popular segments ever on the show.

    Today, through the wonders of the Internet, many more music fans are familiar with Cassidy’s beautiful voice. Unfortunately, she never knew how much she would be appreciated. But fortunately for us, we have her music, as well as some camcorder video from a performance at Blues Alley in D.C. Check out Eva Cassidy singing Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time.”

    What is your favorite Eva Cassidy recording? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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    What is that song in “A Ghost Story”?

    I finally got around to watching A Ghost Story (2017), an interesting and somewhat unusual film about loss, love, death, and time.  The movie also features a beautiful song that plays a prominent role.  Upon hearing the song, I had to track it down.

    First, a few comments about the movie.  Without going into an extensive review, I found it fascinating.  As others have noted, it is a little slow, but if you are in the right mood and patient, you might get a lot out of A Ghost Story.  I found myself slowly getting sucked into where the movie had a big emotional impact.

    A Ghost Story stars Casey Affleck (as “C”) and Rooney Mara (as “M”) portraying a young couple living in a house when Affleck’s character is killed.  Without giving too much away, Affleck sort of rises from the dead as a ghost, returning to the house to haunt the house through time.  While one might expect the film to feature Affleck’s ghost interacting with his lover throughout the rest of the movie, the movie travels further through time, both forwards and backwards.

    Director David Lowery made an interesting choice to have Affleck portray the ghost underneath a sheet with two eyes.  Or so it appears at first, because the costume designed by Annell Brodeur is actually more complex.  But it is a simple, recognizable ghost image without distracting special effects, serving the simplicity of the story.

    There is little dialogue in A Ghost Story, as the ghost never makes any verbal sounds.  So, much of the movie plays like a silent film.  Again, some may find it boring, but if you are willing to invest in the movie, you might find it captivating.

    “I Get Overwhelmed”

    The movie also features a song that C plays for M when they are together.  And M later listens to the song after C has died.  Like the film, the song captivates you in a hypnotizing way.  The song is “I Get Overwhelmed” by Dark Rooms.

    Is your lover there?
    Is she wakin’ up?
    Did she die in the night?
    And leave you alone?

    Dark Rooms features Daniel Hart, a performer and composer from Dallas, Texas. Hart has created music for other films and TV too. Dark Rooms’ first album, which includes “I Get Overwhelmed” from A Ghost Story, is Distraction Sickness, released in September 2017. The band is working on another album in Los Angeles.

    Distraction Sickness is available from Dark Rooms’ Bandcamp website and at Amazon. A Ghost Story is now streaming on Amazon Prime. If you have already seen the movie and wonder how the song lyrics might play a bigger role in the movie, check out this discussion, which includes spoilers.

    What did you think of A Ghost Story? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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    What Tarantino’s “Star Trek” Might Look Like

    Star Trek fans have been curious since it was announced that Quentin Tarantino will be directing a new film in the franchise.  What would the director of violent films such as Reservoir Dogs (1992), Django Unchained (2012), and The Hateful Eight (2015) do to the beloved series?  Now, Nerdist presents a short preview for how they imagine the new film will look.

    The trailer features a narrator over scenes from the original series.  It also includes a guitar soundtrack that sounds right out of Pulp Fiction (1994).

    In Nerdist’s imagination, the Tarantino film will feature Captain Kirk and the rest of the gang blazing their way through the universe with guns and punches. Do not want to cross this crew.

    Check out the funny trailer for Quentin Tarantino’s Star Trek: Voyage to Vengeance. “Set your phasers to thrill!”

    As of now, the upcoming Star Trek film, which will be written by Mark L. Smith who wrote The Revenant (2015), does not have a release date.

    What is your favorite Star Trek film? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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    Warren Zevon: The Wind

    Singer-songwriter Warren Zevon was born in Chicago on January 24, 1947. He was one-of-a kind, and could blend his dark humor, important themes, and music better than anyone else before or since.

    Throughout his career, he crossed paths with other legends in various ways. While he was starting out in the early 1970s, he toured with the Everly Brothers as a piano player and music coordinator. In the mid-1970s, he lived with Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. And in 1976 Jackson Browne produced Zevon’s major-label debut album, entitled Warren Zevon.

    He continued to connect with other talented and legendary musicians and artists throughout his career. Later in his career, he became a regular guest and substitute bandleader on Late Show with David Letterman.

    His debut album included classics such as “Carmelita” and “Poor Poor Pitiful Me.” While he never received the success he deserved, he continued to record wonderful songs such as “Lawyers, Guns and Money” and “Werewolves of London.”

    Some of his most memorable work came on his final album, The Wind. Zevon created the album after doctors had diagnosed him with pleural mesothelioma. Zevon knew the cancer was killing him, but he wanted to create one last work of art. A number of musicians who admired Zevon’s work came to the studio to help out. Guests included Jackson Browne, Bruce Springsteen, Dwight Yoakam, Billy Bob Thornton, Emmylou Harris, and Tom Petty.

    The following documentary recounts the making of The Wind. The album was released on August 26, 2003. Zevon died at his home in Los Angeles on September 7, 2003 at the age of 56.

    The Wind, which featured songs such as “Keep Me In Your Heart,” went gold and won two Grammys.

    What is your favorite Warren Zevon song? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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