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Bob and Edie and Andy and the Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat

Well, you look so pretty in it Honey, can I jump on it sometime?

– Bob Dylan

Edie had more problems than anyone else I’d ever met.

-Andy Warhol

I got my first introduction to heavy drugs at the Factory.

-Edie Sedgwick

Edie who?

-Andy Warhol (on hearing of Edie’s death)

“Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” is a classic Dylan track from his sublime 1966 album Blonde on Blonde.

Like many other Dylan songs of this period, it is characterised by a surreal, playful lyric set to an electric blues accompaniment.

“Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” was released in April, 1967 as a single on the Columbia label with the B-side being “Most Likely You’ll Go Your Way (And I’ll Go Mine)”.

The song had been recorded on March 10, 1966 and produced by Bob Johnston.

Dylan’s lyrics affectionately ridicule a female “fashion victim” who wears a leopard skin pillbox hat. The pillbox hat was a popular, highly fashionable ladies’ hat in the United States in the early-to-mid 1960s, and was most famously worn by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

Dylan satirically crosses this accessory’s high-fashion image with leopard-skin material, perceived as considerably more downmarket and vulgar.

The song was also written and released long after pillbox hats had been at the height of fashion, something that was very apparent to listeners at the time.

The song has been widely speculated to be inspired by the original “it girl”, Edie Sedgwick.

Edie was a very troubled and ill-fated actress/model, from a High Society – but extremely dysfunctional and psychologically ruptured – background, best known for her association with Andy Warhol and the Factory scene.

The beautiful, pale, aristocratic waif held a deep fascination for Warhol, who had Edie star in a number of his “movies”. The fascination would be short lived however and Warhol would soon want nothing to do with Edie. The Warhol disengagement was a contributory factor in the young Edie’s spiral over the next few years into drugs, darkness, psychiatric illness and ultimately death.

Edie Sedgwick some five years later died on November 15, 1971, aged only 28 ,in mysterious circumstances, from what the coroner called “undetermined/accident/suicide”.

The death certificate claimed the immediate cause was “probable acute barbiturate intoxication”.

Edie Sedgwick Interview & Clips

Sedgwick and Dylan are alleged to have had an intense, romantic entanglement in 1965/66 period (even though Dylan had wed Sara Lownds in November 1965) and she is often said to have been an inspiration for other Dylan songs of the time, particularly “Like a Rolling Stone” from Highway 61 Revisited.

Sedgwick and Dylan’s relationship ended when Sedgwick found out that Dylan had married Lownds in a secret ceremony – something that she apparently found out from Warhol during an argument at the Gingerman Restaurant in February 1966.

Edie was recently portrayed by Sienna Miller in the 2006 George Hickenlooper movie “Factory Girl“, a film which Bob Dylan took grave exception to. Apparently Bob threatened to pursue a defamation lawsuit against the producers claiming the film implicated him as having driven Sedgwick to her ultimate demise and eventual death.

In the movie, Hayden Christensen plays “Danny Quinn” – apparently a “composite” of three characters – but with trademark harmonica brace and cap as he performs, the character is most obviously Bob Dylan. There’s also the Dylan drawl while the name Quinn is also a none too subtle hint!

In fact, the original screenplay had apparently depicted the alleged relationship using Dylan’s real name, and also had suggested that Dylan had dumped Sedgwick which, in the words of Dylan’s lawyer, would lead “her tragic decline into heroin addiction and eventual suicide”.

Edie Sedgwick & “Bob Dylan” – from the movie Factory Girl

(note: NSFW !!)

song: Bob Dylan – Blood in my Eyes

December 14, 2006 — BOB Dylan wants to send “Factory Girl” to the glue factory – charging the upcoming Edie Sedgwick biopic falsely suggests he was responsible for the Andy Warhol ingenue’s suicide.

The famed folkie’s pit bull lawyers have fired off a letter to producers Bob Yari and Holly Wiersma, and screenwriter Aaron Richard Golub, demanding the flick not be released – or even screened – until they see it to determine if Dylan, who they say has “deep concerns,” has been defamed.

Sedgwick, played by Sienna Miller, was Warhol’s brightest young star before spiraling into drug abuse and killing herself with an overdose of barbiturates in 1971. She got to know Dylan while living at the Chelsea Hotel, and legend has it they hooked up.

The original screenplay depicted the alleged relationship using Dylan’s name, and suggested he dumped Sedgwick – which led to “her tragic decline into heroin addiction and eventual suicide,” Dylan’s lawyer, Orin Snyder, writes.

Although Dylan’s name has been changed to “Danny Quinn” and the character is reportedly a composite of Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison and Mick Jagger, Snyder says critics who’ve seen screenings say it’s unmistakably Dylan. A trailer shows Quinn, played by Hayden Christensen, wearing Dylan’s trademark harmonica brace and cap as he performs.

Snyder warns the filmmakers: “You appear to be laboring under the misunderstanding that merely changing the name of a character or making him a purported fictional composite will immunize you from suit. That is not so. Even though Mr. Dylan’s name is not used, the portrayal remains both defamatory and a violation of Mr. Dylan’s right of publicity . . .

“Until we are given an opportunity to view the film, we hereby demand that all distribution and screenings . . . immediately be ceased.” The Weinstein Company, which is releasing the picture Dec. 27, had no comment. Neither did Yari or Golub.

Oddly, Lou Reed, who was part of the Warhol scene, is portrayed as “Lou Reed” by Brian Bell. But taciturn Reed isn’t complaining – yet.

After the Dylan liaison and throughout most of 1966, Sedgwick was involved in a tumultuous relationship with Bob Dylan’s close friend, Bob Neuwirth.

During this period, Edie became increasingly dependent on barbiturates. Although she experimented with illegal substances including opiates, there is no evidence however that Sedgwick ever became a heroin addict.

In early 1967, Neuwirth, unable to cope with Sedgwick’s drug abuse and erratic behavior, broke off their relationship.

Edie Sedgwick documentary clip

Although he visited the factory on a few occasions, Dylan wasn’t exactly a huge fan of Andy Warhol! There is even a tale of Bob using one of Warhol’s paintings as a dartboard!

It’s believed that Bob intensely disliked Andy because he believed Warhol was a major catalyst in Sedgwick’s excessive drug use.

Apparently, Bob was at one point given a ‘Silver Elvis’ painting from Warhol, but traded it with his manager Albert Grossman for a sofa! This really upset poor Andy and he was quoted as saying;

“I even gave him one of my silver Elvis paintings in the days when he was first around. Later on, though, I got paranoid when I heard rumors that he had used the Elvis as a dart board up in the country. When I’d ask, ‘Why did he do that?’ I’d invariably get hearsay answers like ‘I hear he feels you destroyed Edie [Sedgwick],’ or ‘Listen to Like a Rolling Stone – I think you’re the ‘diplomat on the chrome horse,’ man.’

I didn’t know exactly what they meant by that – I never listened much to the words of songs – but I got the tenor of what people were saying – that Dylan didn’t like me, that he blamed me for Edie’s drugs.”

It’s also said that on one occasion, Warhol began filming Bob without permission, so Dylan took a painting from him claiming it was his pay for being on camera!

Bob Dylan (Andy Warhol 1965 film)

Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” melodically and lyrically resembles Lightnin’ Hopkins ‘Automobile Blues‘, with Dylan’s opening line of “Well, I see you got your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat,” echoing Hopkins’ “I saw you riding ’round in your brand new automobile,” and the repeated line of “…brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat,” melodically descending in the same manner of the Hopkins refrain “…in your brand new automobile”.

The Dylan reference to “the garage door” in the final verse of “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” may also be an allusion to the automobile of Hopkins’ song.

Bob Dylan began to include “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” in his live concerts with The Hawks in late 1965, and the song was one of the first compositions attempted by Dylan & the Hawks when in January 1966 they went into Columbia recording studios in New York City to record material for the Blonde On Blonde album. The song was attempted on both January 25 (2 takes) and January 27 (6 takes), but no recording was deemed satisfactory (one of the takes from January 25 was released in 2005 on The Bootleg Series Vol. 7: No Direction Home: The Soundtrack).

Frustrated with the lack of progress made with the Hawks in the New York sessions (only one song, “One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later)”, had been successfully realized), Dylan relocated to Nashville, Tennessee in February 1966, where the evening of the first day of recording (February 14) was devoted to “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat”.

Present at the session were Charlie McCoy (guitar/bass), Kenny Buttrey (drums), Wayne Moss (guitar), Joseph A. Souter Jr. (guitar/bass), Al Kooper (organ), Hargus Robbins (piano) and Jerry Kennedy (guitar).

Although earlier in the day Dylan and the band had achieved satisfactory, album-destined takes of “Fourth Time Around” and “Visions of Johanna”, none of the 13 takes of “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” recorded on February 14 were to Dylan’s satisfaction.

Dylan soon left Nashville to play some concerts with the Hawks, though he returned in March for a second set of sessions.

A satisfactory take of “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” was finally achieved in the early hours of March 10, 1966 by Dylan along with Kenny Buttrey, Henry Strzelecki on bass, and the Hawks’ Robbie Robertson on lead guitar (though Dylan himself plays lead guitar on the song’s opening 12 bars).

“Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” was a regular fixture in the setlists on Dylan’s extensive post-Blonde On Blonde 1966 tour with The Hawks (Dylan’s most notable backing group and predecessor to “The Band”) though it was rarely played in later tours before Dylan’s “Never Ending Tour” began in the late 1980s (which would see him playing over 100 concerts a year for the entirety of the 1990s and 2000s), in which it became a frequent occurrence.

Dylan chose to open his concerts with the song in late April and early May 1998, shortly after a Sotheby’s auction of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis memorabilia had dominated the United States media (in 1996, Dylan had pulled a similar stunt by opening with “Drifter’s Escape” at the height of interest in the O.J. Simpson trial).

Bob Dylan – Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat

Well, I see you got your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat

Yes, I see you got your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat

Well, you must tell me, baby

How your head feels under somethin’ like that

Under your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat

Well, you look so pretty in it

Honey, can I jump on it sometime?

Yes, I just wanna see

If it’s really that expensive kind

You know it balances on your head

Just like a mattress balances

On a bottle of wine

Your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat

Well, if you wanna see the sun rise

Honey, I know where

We’ll go out and see it sometime

We’ll both just sit there and stare

Me with my belt

Wrapped around my head

And you just sittin’ there

In your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat

Well, I asked the doctor if I could see you

It’s bad for your health, he said

Yes, I disobeyed his orders

I came to see you

But I found him there instead

You know, I don’t mind him cheatin’ on me

But I sure wish he’d take that off his head

Your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat

Well, I see you got a new boyfriend

No, I never seen him before

Well, I saw you

Makin’ love with him

You forgot to close the garage door

You might think he loves you for your money

But I know what he really loves you for

It’s your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat

Bob Dylan performs Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat in Essen, Germany on 1 June 1991.


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January 30, 2009 Posted by | Al Kooper, Edie Sedgwick, Sienna Miller, _BOB DYLAN, _CARTOON, _MUSIC, _POETRY, _VIDEO | Leave a comment

Al Kooper: A lot like a Rolling Stone

Interesting piece on Al Kooper, who’s been involved in some of the great music moments of recent times, none moreso than his seminal contribution to what Rolling Stone magazine voted The Greatest Single of All Time, Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone.”

Al’s memoir, the wonderfully titled “Backstage Passes and Backstabbing Bastards,” was reissued in an updated edition in 2008. If anyone wants to send us this mighty interesting tome, please feel free to contact us!!

Al Kooper: a lot like a Rolling Stone


Al Kooper’s memoir, “Backstage Passes and Backstabbing Bastards,” was reissued in an updated edition in 2008; the Zelig of the music world was on hand last night at Book Soup to take questions about his undeniable musical talent and his propensity for being in the right places at the right (and sometimes the very wrong) times.

But first: the story about the organ.

In 1965, the 21 year-old Kooper found himself at the recording session for Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone.” A number of session men had already been called in, but Kooper, a young Tin Pan Alley songwriter and no session stranger himself, was on the wrong side of the soundproof wall. Producer Tom Wilson invited Kooper to come watch the recordings, but that was it.

When, after running the song a couple of times, Dylan decided that the organ part would be more suited for piano, Kooper saw his chance and jumped in — even though he didn’t know how to turn the organ on.

The rest is history, or perhaps an eighth note behind history, because Kooper’s tentative organ melody came to be known — hilariously, to both him and Dylan — as the defining signature of Dylan’s new rock ‘n’ roll sound.

Kooper, attired in sunglasses and a swank black jacket, informed the audience that he’d lost 2/3 of his sight, so he would take questions in lieu of reading.

When someone in the audience asked where he got the guts to just hop on to an instrument he didn’t know how to play, Kooper offered, “I didn’t think of it as guts. I thought of it as ambition.”

Kooper’s book tells the ins and outs of his 51-year career in music. Always winking and never self-important, he talks about forming the supergroup Blood Sweat & Tears, only to be summarily kicked out. One night, he saw a promising young band from Atlanta and signed them to MCA, with the only catch being that they’d have to change the spelling of their name to Lynyrd Skynyrd.

In 1980, Kooper faced the mordant task of having to produce a George Harrison session the morning after John Lennon had been shot in New York city. Harrison, who Kooper describes as “visibly shaken,” nonetheless made a full day’s work out of it.

What it was like to play on the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” and more, after the jump.

Kooper spoke about playing on the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” He was supposed to have been on vacation when he got cornered on London’s High Street by a very enthusiastic Brian Jones. Kooper caved.

“After we were done recording it,” Kooper said, “they pulled up these two trucks full of food. It was like someone was getting married. I was very impressed. I had dinner and dessert.”

Asked about his feelings on the record industry’s current state, Kooper replied, “It’s dying, and I’m enjoying watching it die. I hope that I live long enough to attend each and every record company’s funeral.”

His “staff employee” status at Sony Records kept Kooper from making millions of dollars in producer’s royalties. This same loophole also bilked George Martin — the man who produced the Beatles but never saw a dime from it. “You’d think the Beatles would have thrown him something. Maybe they did. It must have been very quiet.”

The most interesting story of the night was how, at 12 years old, Kooper met an older boy at summer camp who told him that he should put down the ukulele he’d been strumming and pick up a guitar. “A guitar is much hipper than a ukulele,” the boy informed him. Kooper learned the guitar fast (“It’s only got two more strings.”) and the two became friends.

The older kid, whose name was Danny Schactman, eventually took an eighth-grade Kooper to a meeting with his musical manager. Yes, his manager. And that was how Kooper soon found himself a new member of the band The Royal Teens. You might have heard their big hit. It was called “Short Shorts.”

Of course, as Kooper pointed out, this story, like all the others, “is in the book.”

For more on Kooper, check out his 2004 interview on “Fresh Air”, and his website, which includes diary postings “South By Southwest Jr. A Slight Return” and “Jagged Little Brill.” It’s good stuff.

— George Ducker

Photo: Al Kooper at Book Soup. Credit: George Ducker.

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January 21, 2009 Posted by | Al Kooper, Rolling Stones, _BOB DYLAN, _LITERATURE, _MUSIC | Leave a comment

Al Kooper Tribute

Al Kooper mini-documentary produced for the Mix Foundation 23rd Annual TEC Awards in NY, October 2007. Al Kooper received the Les Paul award for his creative applications of audio technology.

Video includes his work with Bob Dylan, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Tubes, Blood Sweat and Tears, George Harrison and more.

Video directed & written by Jeff Scheftel with video editing, effects and compositing by Denise Gallant, who also created the graphics, courtesy of Universal Audio, for the entire award show. The video is narrated by Roger Steffens. To receive a DVD copy of the entire award show, contact

From: Video4dvd

July 4, 2008 Posted by | Al Kooper, _BOB DYLAN, _MUSIC, _VIDEO | Leave a comment