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March 2, 2009 Posted by | Sam Pekinpah, _ART, _CARTOON | Leave a comment

Bob Dylan – Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid (1973)


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Bob Dylan – Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid (1973)
Mp3 160kbps
Released July 16, 1973
Recorded January – February 1973
Genre Country / Soundtrack
Length 35:23
Label Columbia
Producer Gordon Carroll

Mama, put my guns in the ground
I can’t shoot them anymore.
That long black cloud is comin’ down
I feel like I’m knockin’ on heaven’s door.

An excellent, yet, strangely, much maligned, work by Bob Dylan and a fine soundtrack to the great Sam Pekinpah’s seminal western, which of course starred Dylan in the role of “Alias”.

As described in his wonderful memoir “Chronicles vol 1”, Dylan was in this period desperately trying to seek normality and escape the shackles of his celebrity past, a past that was constantly causing problems for him and his young family.

Dylan was trying to destroy the image that the mass public still held of him i.e. angry young protest singer with a political conscience; the provider of big answers.

One of the things Dylan did in that regard was to get involved in this great film, which also starred his acolyte and friend Kris Kristofferson in the role of Billy the Kid.

Initially hired only to write the title song, Dylan eventually wrote the full score and acted in the role of “Alias.” Apparently, Peckinpah had never heard of Bob Dylan (well, Sam was drinking a crate of whisky every day!), but was reportedly moved by hearing Dylan play the proposed title song and hired him immediately!

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Some background about Dylan’s involvement in this project.
Sometime in 1972, an old friend of Dylan’s, Rudy Wurlitzer approached Dylan about contributing music to Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. Wurlitzer had written the film’s original screenplay.

“Rudy needed a song for the script,” Dylan said in an interview taken in 1973. “I wasn’t doing anything. Rudy sent the script, and I read it and liked it and we got together. And then I saw The Wild Bunch and Straw Dogs and Cable Hogue and liked them. The best one is Ride the High Country…So I wrote [‘Billy’] real quick.”

Soon, Dylan was interested in contributing more than just the title track “Billy” (described by Clinton Heylin as “a fine return to the ballad form he had forsaken after John Wesley Harding”). Therefore, Dylan asked Wurlitzer if acting in the film was possible, an idea Wurlitzer was reluctant to support.

Around Thanksgiving Day, 1972, Dylan and his wife travelled to Durango, Mexico, where Peckinpah was filming Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. Dylan had always expressed an interest in Mexican culture, and he was more than willing to make the trip.

After his arrival, Dylan met with Peckinpah and played him “Billy” and “Goodbye Holly,” both written specifically for the picture.

According to Kris Kristofferson and James Coburn – each of whom were cast in one of the title roles – Peckinpah had not originally been enthusiastic about Dylan’s participation.

“Sam says, ‘Who’s Bob Dylan?,'” recalls Coburn. “‘Oh yeah, the kids used to listen to his stuff. I was kinda thinkin’ of that guy Roger whatsisname, King of the Road guy, to do it.’ And we all said, ‘What!! You gotta see Dylan,’… He said, ‘Okay, bring Dylan down.’

Coburn continues “… So the night we were over at Sam’s house and we were all drinking tequila and carrying on and halfway through dinner, Sam says, ‘Okay, kid, let’s see what you got. You bring your guitar with you?’ They went in this little alcove. Sam had a rocking chair. Bobby sat down on a stool in front of this rocking chair. There was just the two of them in there … And Bobby played [his songs]. And Sam came out with his handkerchief in his eye: ‘Goddamn kid! Who the hell is he? Who is that kid? Sign him up!'”

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Peckinpah then offered Dylan a role in film, but it was left to Wurlitzer to find one that was suitable. Wurlitzer ultimately suggested ‘Alias.’

Dylan would later claim “that there was nobody in that story that was the character I played.” However, as Heylin reports, “not only did Alias appear in Wurlitzer’s original version of the script, but he was a real historical character, mentioned by Garrett himself in his own Authentic Life of Billy the Kid. More than merely a member of Billy’s gang, he was Billy’s right-hand man.”

However, Dylan would spend two and a half difficult months in Durango, Mexico, filming his role.

During the course of production, his part was severely reduced. Wurlitzer claims this was done at Dylan’s request, but Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid was also plagued with conflict between Peckinpah and MGM Studios. This resulted in MGM refusing Peckinpah’s request to reshoot a substantial amount of footage lost to technical error.

“Somebody dropped the main camera and for a while we had focusing problems,” recalls Coburn. “The left and right of the screen were fine, but the bottom wasn’t in focus. We needed to reshoot when we finally got the camera fixed.” Peckinpah attempted to reshoot a portion of the tainted footage, but a majority of it was ultimately left lost.

The stress also took its toll of Peckinpah, and it would ultimately impact Dylan’s role in the film as well. “[Peckinpah] was never able to sit down and figure out what Dylan was in the movie,” recalls Kristofferson. “Bob kept sayin’ to me, ‘Well, at least you’re in the script.'”

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As Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid neared completion, Dylan held a recording session on January 20 at Columbia’s recording studio in Mexico City. Filming had been so difficult, both of the film’s stars and Wurlitzer accompanied Dylan out of Durango. Wurlitzer said at the time, “Sam knows he’s losing to Dylan … but I don’t care, man. I’ve got to get away.”

Backed by local Mexican musicians and members of Kris Kristofferson’s band, Dylan had difficulty recording a satisfactory take of “Billy.” Eventually, he began paring down the arrangement , and by the last take, he was backed only by bassist Terry Paul. This final take was used for the film and later included on the soundtrack album as “Billy 4.” A brief instrumental, “Billy Surrenders,” would also be featured in the film. The session would continue until 4 a.m., but it would not produce anything else that would be considered usable.

Meanwhile, Peckinpah hired Jerry Fielding to advise Dylan on his work. Fielding was experienced in film scoring, but he held very conservative views regarding popular music. Dylan was fully aware of Fielding’s opinions regarding his work (“a lot of nonsense which is strictly for teenyboppers”), but he did not resist Fielding’s recommendations on how to score the film.

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On Fielding’s advice, Dylan sang “a relevant verse” of the “Billy” ballad “as it fit the story at [four] separate points throughout the picture.” Fielding had also heard Dylan’s new composition, “Goodbye Holly,” which was written for an important scene involving the character, Holly. Fielding recommended dropping this song and writing a new one for a scene involving the death of Sheriff Baker.

“I set up two dubbing sessions,” recalls Fielding. “Dylan had this song [‘Billy’] he’d written for which he had a limitless number of verses that he would sing in random order… So I had to tape Dylan’s song, because he had nothing written down, and have it transcribed … At the same time I asked that he write at least one other piece of music because you cannot possibly hope to deal with an entire picture on the basis of that one ballad. So finally he brought to the dubbing session another piece of music – ‘Knock-Knock-Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.’ Everybody loved it. It was shit. That was the end for me.”

Dylan recorded the final version of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” at a session in February, this time on Warner Bros. Records’ soundstage in Burbank, California.

“It was very early in the morning,” recalls drummer Jim Keltner. “I think the session was 10 a.m. and again it all fell into place … There weren’t any overdubs on that, the singers were singing live, little pump organ, Roger McGuinn I think played [guitar]. This was for a particular scene in the movie when Slim Pickens is dying and that’s the first time I ever cried while I played. It was the combination of the words, Bob’s voice, the actual music itself, the changes, and seeing the screen … In those days you were on a big soundstage, and you had this massive screen that you can see on the wall, [with] the scene…running when you’re playing. I cried through that whole take.”

The sessions at Burbank lasted several days. Though they were much more relaxed and amiable than the Mexico City session, the process was still irritating to Dylan. At one point, he told producer Gordon Carroll that “this is the last time I work for anyone in a movie on the music. I’ll stick to acting.” Though Dylan would produce his own films and later contribute songs to other soundtracks, he would never take sole responsibility for an entire soundtrack again.

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We’ve already posted the extended sessions for this album in the boot Pecos Blues, where we get 24 outtakes from the sessions for the Billy soundtrack. Very nice!

Grab it HERE!

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As well as Dylan, there are some amazing musicians on here – the likes of Jim Keltner, Roger McGuinn and Booker T! Some guy called Jolly Roger also made his way into the studio!

The obvious highlight here is one of Dylan’s best known songs, the simple yet immensely powerful Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door, a timeless track that even the awful Axl Rose couldn’t fuck up!

However, as well as this masterpiece, the LP has some lovely and delicate instrumentals. Pared down pieces, in a style well ahead of its time.

Post-modern bands in the nineties were being gushed over by so-called critics for producing instrumental music of similar ilk!

Well, I say fuck those critics and their post-modern, post-rock darlings, and – much like the masterful film itself – let’s give this fine album the proper credit it so well deserves!

The film too was much maligned by dumb critics for years, until Peckinpah’s director’s cut, released in 1988, initiated significant reevaluation. Now, most film critics hail Peckinpah’s Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid as a classic of the western genre and one of the era’s best films!!

One of the problems with these herds of critic sheep is the heap of sheep shit that quickly builds up around them!!


Tracklisting & Credits

Main Title Theme (Billy)

Booker T, Bruce Langhorn, Bob Dylan
Tambourine — Russ Kunkel

Cantina Theme (Workin’ For The Law)

Roger McGuinn, Bruce Langhorn, Bob Dylan
Bongos — Russ Kunkel

Billy 1

Booker T, Bruce Langhorn, Bob Dylan

Bunkhouse Theme

Carol Hunter & Bob Dylan

River Theme

Booker T, Bruce Langhorn, Bob Dylan
Voices — Donna Weiss, Priscilla Jones, Byron Berline

Turkey Chase

Fiddle — Byron Berline
Banjo — Jolly Roger
Acoustic Guitar — Bruce Langhorn
Rhythm Guitar — Bob Dylan
Bass — Booker T

Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door

Terry Paul, Roger McGuinn, Jim Keltner, Bob Dylan
Voices — Caroll, Donna, Brenda Patterson
Harmonium — Carl Fortina

Final Theme

Guitars — Roger McGuinn, Carol Hunter, Bob Dylan
Voices — Donna & Brenda, Terry Paul
Recorder/Flute — Gary Foster
Harmonium — Carl Fortina
Cellos — Fred Katz & Ted Michel
Bass — Terry Paul
Drums — Jim Keltner

Billy 4 (Recorded In Mexico City)

Bob Dylan & Terry Paul

Billy 7

Jim Keltner, Roger McGuinn, Terry Paul & Bob Dylan


Music Published by Ram’s Horn Music (ASCAP)
Booker T and Priscilla Courtesy of A&M Records
Brenda Patterson Courtesy of Playboy Records

Songs by Bob Dylan
Produced by Gordon Carroll
Engineered by Dan Wallin
The Burbank Studios
Photography — Manuel Palomino.
Art Direction & Design — John Van Hamersveld
Dedicated to Sam Peckinpah

Here she be:

Bob, Pat and Billy

September 2, 2008 Posted by | Music_ClassicRock, Music_OST, Roykeanz, Sam Pekinpah, _BOB DYLAN, _CARTOON, _MUSIC | 1 Comment