And today seems like a "flood song" kinda day. The Calgary Herald's Tom Babin has put together this list of songs inspired by the amazing events of the past few days. And Matt Masters is putting a new spin on his 2005 flood-inspired tune "Centennial Swell" (for which I painted the album cover picture, by the way). This new version of the song will be debuting on CJSW's My Allergy to the Fans from 2-4 today (i.e. NOW) as part of a fundraiser for flood relief.
My own flood soundtrack is just made up of Bob Dylan tunes, but what else do you need, right?
*That's John Donne, and maybe another time I can write about how strange it is for that line to have suddenly appeared in my head. But not just now.
A Hard Rain's A-gonna Fall (The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, 1963) - In case that other rain-inspired song wasn't enough for you.
Wedding Song (Planet Waves, 1974) Definitely not about rain or floods. It's a kind of dirge-y sounding love song. But it has this wisdom-packed line: "What's lost is lost, you can't regain what went down in the flood." Something that Calgarians are definitely internalizing right now.
Nettie Moore (Modern Times, 2006) - This bare-bones recital just repeats simply: "The river's on the rise." And it also includes a line - a terse utterance, really - that's probably going to be increasingly relevant to post-flood Calgary: "Too much paperwork." But have you ever actually met anybody named Nettie?
High Water (for Charley Patton) (Love and Theft, 2001) - This isn't my favourite Dylan tune - although it's been praised for its incorporation of all sorts of meaningful references to music and history - but it's certainly about a flood.
Then, there's the funny and weird "2 x 2" (for which I actually can't find a link, other than to the lyrics), from Dylan's seemingly child-inspired collection of nursery-rhyme-ish tunes "Under the Red Sky" (1990). This song seems to take some inspiration from the story of Noah's ark (the lines read as a numbered list, the way you're supposed to imagine the animals lining up to enter the ark. Oh, and it also says, "Two by two, they stepped into the ark"). But it also tosses out a few random philosophical musings along with its account of the journey:
How much poison did they inhale?
How many black cats crossed their trail?
And how many other crazy questions went through Noah's head during those 40 days and 40 nights (or however long he was stuck in there)? And how many Albertans evacuated from their homes have been going around in circles for the past week, too? Floods make you crazy, that's what this song is about, maybe. (Or maybe I'm just going crazy, which is entirely possible.)
Shelter from the Storm (Blood on the Tracks, 1975) - Well, that was obvious.
And now, here's the one that's really been in my head for the past week: the first song I ever heard Dylan play live: Down in the Flood (The Basement Tapes, 1975). (That link plays the original song - from the album - despite being paired up with a rather incongruous video.) He opened with (a rather more rockin' version of) this song on April 28th, 1997 at Toronto's Masonic Temple (which back then was just called the "Concert Hall") and the opening chords alone blew my mind. But I digress. it's kind of a nasty-tempered song:
And salt for salt,
If you go down in the flood,
It’s gonna be your fault.
It’s gonna be the meanest flood
That anybody’s seen.
Oh mama, ain’t you gonna miss your best friend now?
You’re gonna have to find yourself
Another best friend, somehow.
No sympathy for flood victims from Bob Dylan! Luckily, in Calgary, many people seem to have found themselves new best friends somehow, through the amazing relief work that's been going on all week. Here's to that! And now we need some new songs to get these soggy ones out of my head.