Dylan’s Late-Career Classics: Not Dark Yet

In revious posts, we have discussed some of the classics song written by Bob Dylan late in his career. Recently, two of our favorite artists covered one such classic song when sisters Allison Moorer and Shelby Lynne recorded Dylan’s “Not Dark Yet.”

“Not Dark Yet” first appeared on Dylan’s Time Out of Mind album in 1997, and it later appeared on the soundtrack for Wonder Boys (2000) (which featured another Dylan gem, “Things Have Changed”). On an album with themes of aging and death, “Not Dark Yet” stands out as a great song tackling those issues.

Sometimes my burden seems more than I can bear;
It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there.

The song did not make the top 5 songs about death discussed in the movie High Fidelity (2000). But an alternate scene filmed for the movie did have John Cusack’s character Rob adding Dylan’s song to the list created by Jack Black’s character.

Allison Moorer and Shelby Lynne have chosen “Not Dark Yet” as the title track of their first album together. The CD features mostly covers, and “Not Dark Yet” does a great job of displaying the harmonies of the two sisters.

Their harmonies combined with an organ create a foundation for the song in gospel, a bit unlike Dylan’s more bluesy version. As NPR notes, the Moorer-Lynne collaboration give the song a “more searching sound.”

You can love both versions, and I do. Check out “Not Dark Yet” recorded by Moorer and Lynne.

The album Not Dark Yet hits stores and the Internet on August 18.

Check out our other posts on Dylan’s late-career classics. What is your favorite of Dylan’s late-career classics? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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    “More Than Words” From Jimmy Fallon, Jack Black, and Weird Al

    Recently Jack Black and Jimmy Fallon put together a shot-for-shot remake of the classic video of Extreme’s song “More Than Words” for The Tonight Show. The creators of the new video did a great job with both the singing and the images, even including the shot of the band member holding up a lighter.

    “More than Words” originally appeared on the 1990 album Extreme II: Pornograffiti. The ballad was a bit of a departure for the rock band, but it went to number one. While the Fallon-Black remake probably will not be a number one song, the video is already popular on YouTube. Check it out.

    The Fallon-Black remake is not the first time the video has been copied. “Weird Al” Yankovic did his twist on the “More Than Words” video with his video for “You Don’t Love Me Anymore.” The song appeared on Yankovic’s 1992 album Off the Deep End.

    While the original song by Yankovic was not a parody of “More Than Words,” some fans mistakenly thought it was. So when the record company insisted on a parody video to accompany the release of “You Don’t Love Me Anymore” as a single, Yankovic decided to use the “More Than Words” video as the basis for his video. Check it out (trivia: the piano player who gets the bow in the eye is singer Robert Goulet).

    If the parody/tribute videos leaves you wanting to see the original Extreme video, see below. Or you can play it simultaneously with the Fallon-Black one above.

    What do you think of the videos relating to “More Than Words”? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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    What if William Randolph Hearst Could Hack?

    For a short time, it looked like hackers (initially reported to be from North Korea) might prevent Sony from releasing the movie The Interview in theaters. According to early reports, out of fear, Sony was going to pull the Seth Rogen-James Franco comedy from distribution. Meanwhile, commentators debated the possibility of censoring the movie out of fear. But ultimately, freedom prevailed and Sony released the movie both in theaters and online.

    The controversy surrounding The Interview reminds me of William Randolph Hearst’s attempts to prevent the release of Citizen Kane (1941). Hearst did not like the way Orson Welles re-imagined Hearst’s career and relationship with Marion Davies (who in real life was a talented actress), so he took a number of measures to try to prevent the release of the film. Fortunately for us, he was unsuccessful, and one of the greatest movies of all time sits in a DVD case on my shelf.

    One good version of the story behind Citizen Kane is from The American Experience series on PBS. Below is part one of the episode The Battle Over Citizen Kane, and then the video can take you to other parts of the episode.

    If you prefer something much shorter and funnier, below is a short excerpt from Drunk History‘s retelling of the Citizen Kane story featuring Jack Black as Welles. Check it out.

    Unfortunately, technology has given censors a new avenue of attack, which is sad. But I suspect that humor and satire will find a way to survive.


    What do you think of Sony’s decision? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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    Sweet Duet on Recently Banned “Sweet Caroline”

    Jack Black played a member of a Neil Diamond tribute band called “Diamonds in the Rough” in the movie Saving Silverman (2001). It is one of those mindless comedies that can be fun to watch on a rainy Saturday if you do not expect too much. At the end of the movie, Neil Diamond made a guest appearance. Recently, Jack Black returned the favor and joined Diamond on stage in Los Angeles on August 23. Reportedly, Black was enthusiastically enjoying the show from his seat before he took the stage. In the video below, the two engage in a little banter before ripping into the Neil Diamond classic, “Sweet Caroline.”

    The inspiration for “Sweet Caroline” was Caroline Kennedy. When Neil Diamond was a struggling songwriter, he saw a magazine photo of President John F. Kennedy’s daughter wearing her riding outfit next to her pony. Diamond sat down in his Memphis, Tennessee motel room and wrote “Sweet Caroline” in an hour. Diamond recently concluded that the 1969 number one song was “probably is the biggest, most important song of my career.” The song has only become bigger, as it became a staple at sporting events, including Red Sox games.

    But “Sweet Caroline” will no longer be played at Penn State games. This Monday, a few days after the Jack Black and Neil Diamond duet on the song, Penn State announced they were removing “Sweet Caroline” from the playlist at Beaver Stadium. Officials explained they decided to remove it because so many other sports stadiums already play it. But The New York Daily News reported another possible explanation: In light of the recent child abuse scandal at the school, maybe officials did not want fans singing along to the lines, “Hands/ Touching Hands/ Reaching out /Touching me, touching you.”

    Whatever Penn State’s reason, Neil Diamond will survive and so will the song. If you would like a little bonus Jack Black and Neil Diamond, here is Diamond singing “Holly Holy” over the end credits of Saving Silverman with a little help from the movie’s cast. Maybe Penn State should consider playing this song at games.



    What do you think of the Jack Black and Neil Diamond duet? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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    Bernie (Short Review)

    Bernie (2011), which is now in theaters, is hard to characterize. Is it a dark comedy, a dramatic take on a true-life crime, a southern set piece, a documentary, a mockumentary, or something else? Maybe it is a little of each.

    In the film, Jack Black plays Bernie Tiede, an odd mortician who is beloved by many in the community of Carthage, Texas for his kindness to the bereaved and his respect for the recently departed. Eventually, he becomes close to an elderly millionaire widow played by Shirley MacLaine. When the widow is murdered, none of the local townspeople can believe when Bernie is accused of the murder.

    The movie is based on a real-life story that appeared in Texas Monthly magazine. The film features interviews with real townspeople (mixed in with some interviews with actors playing people of the town). Some viewers may find the generous use of such interviews distracting, but Director Richard Linklater sees much of the story in the way that the townspeople reacted to Bernie. Linklater, who is from East Texas himself, has said that he tried to be respectful of the citizens of the town, noting that he sees something human in their desire to see Bernie acquitted simply because they liked him.

    The movie is an odd gem, and it is not for everyone. What made the movie for me was the understated acting by actors who usually go over-the-top in other roles. Jack Black gives a subdued performance where you almost expect him to break character, much like watching Will Ferrell before he loses control. While I wish the film went a little deeper into Bernie’s character and his past, Black gives a three-dimensional performance of a character that could have easily drifted into a one-line joke. Similarly, Matthew McConaughey gives one of his most understated performances too, and Shirley MacLaine shows again how she can portray more emotion with her eyes and a few words than most actors can in a talky leading role.

    If you see the film, make sure to stick around for the credits. You get to see the real Bernie along with some additional interviews. If you are interested in more information about the true story, check out this video (warning: If you have not seen the film, there are spoilers.)

    Conclusion? Bernie is not for everyone, but a lot of people will be pleasantly surprised by the unusual little movie. If you are looking for something quirky and entertaining, even if it is not too deep and does not have many plot surprises, you should check out Bernie in theaters, or maybe just wait for it to come out on DVD.

    Bonus Music Information: If while watching the movie you recognize the music playing in the background — during the murder and near the end of the film — and wonder what it is, you might know it from Bach. Or you might know it from Paul Simon. The music is the hymn “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded,” which ended up in the music of Paul Simon’s “American Tune.” Perhaps Linklater chose the tune in an attempt to subconsciously connect the story’s tragic elements to something unique about America. Check out our post on the history of the song.

    Bonus Reviews Because Why Should You Believe Me? Bernie has a very respectable Rotten Tomatoes rating of 89% from critics and 87% from viewers. Jonathan Rossenbaum calls the movie a “masterpiece.” Tom Long of The Detroit News is a little more low key, calling the film “a pleasant little movie.” Saportareport says the film is the best of Jack Black’s career so far. The real Bernie Tiede seems satisfied with the movie, or at least with the fact that he got to meet Jack Black.

    What did you think of Bernie? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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