SOUND BITES: A LIFETIME OF LISTENING (Muleshoe Press)
September 14, 2016
Interview with author Tom Wilmeth about his new book on music,
Sound Bites: A Lifetime of Listening (Muleshoe Press, 2016)
Question: Your new Sound Bites: A Lifetime of Listening book has a lot of Bob Dylan in it. How are these essays different from what’s already out there?
Tom Wilmeth: I try to look at a few unexplored topics. I have a piece that examines the edits made to Dylan’s introductory remarks just before his “Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie” recitation on The Bootleg Series.
Question: That sounds pretty obscure. You mean you compare the released Bootleg Series version of the work to the unedited, unreleased recording?
Tom Wilmeth: Right. Some interesting things were cut from that introduction. I also have an article that discusses Dylan’s use of different keys when playing songs in concert. That’s one where I learned a lot about Bob’s ability as a musician.
Question: How so?
Tom Wilmeth: It gets pretty involved, but I’ll summarize by saying that Bob’s guitar skills are underrated.
Question: What else do you cover in Sound Bites that relates to Dylan?
Tom Wilmeth: I include my 1978 interview with Eric Weissberg, where I ask him about his involvement with Blood on the Tracks. Both Weisberg and his band, Deliverance, had some interesting things to say about that session.
Question: I assume you have the normal stuff like concert and CD reviews?
Tom Wilmeth: Right. Dylan concerts since 1974 and various album releases. I also review some books that have fallen off most Dylan radars.
Question: Such as?
Tom Wilmeth: One by Dave Engel from 1997 jumps to mind, called Just like Bob Zimmerman’s Blues. It goes deep in to Bob’s Hibbing days. I spoke with the author, and he had really done his Hibbing homework. Useful book.
Question: And is Sound Bites a useful book?
Tom Wilmeth: I believe that it is. I think lovers of music will really enjoy it. In addition to my pieces on Dylan, I have a detailed discussion of the history of Hank Williams’ releases, and a piece that praises 8-track tapes. I include my interviews with jazz pianist Dave Brubeck, and concert reviews from Stevie Wonder to Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland to Dwight Yoakam to Yes. It is a varied collection.
Question: Back to Bob, as we wrap up. Anything else distinctive about your book regarding Dylan?
Tom Wimeth: I guess I would say that Dylan’s presence permeates my writing about music. There are pieces on specific topics, such as one that discusses jazz recordings of his songs. But Bob Dylan has been so important to my musical life, he can’t help but appear throughout all the sections of my book. And he does.
Tom Wilmeth’s new book is called Sound Bites: A Lifetime of Listening. It is on the Muleshoe Press, and is available on Amazon.