Watch Joan Baez Endearingly Imitate Bob Dylan (1972)

Joan Baez was already heralded as the “Queen of Folk” by the time Robert Zimmerman aka Bob Dylan arrived in New York City. Many things brought him to the burgeoning folk scene there, but Baez was the siren who called to a young Dylan through his television set long before he met her. He was smitten. He would write much later in Chronicles, Vol. 1, that she had “A voice that drove out bad spirits... she sang in a voice straight to God... Nothing she did didn’t work.”

And for a couple of years they became collaborators, partners, lovers, and folk royalty. It was Baez who introduced a then-unknown Dylan to the crowds at the 1963 Newport Folk Festival. But soon, fortunes changed: Dylan became an unstoppable cultural force and Baez would be on the receiving end of several betrayals, artistic and otherwise.

An excerpt from an Earl Scruggs documentary, the cute video above, shot by David Hoffman and posted on his YouTube channel, shows Baez imitating Dylan after she sings a verse of “It Ain’t Me Babe”. (She does this while holding her baby and trying to get it to drink from a pitcher, too.) A 16-year-old Ricky Skaggs—not looking anything like a teenager—accompanies her on guitar.

For one thing she does a crackin’ good Dylan impression. The other is watching the emotion behind that impression—there’s a lot of history there, a bit of sadness, a bit of nostalgia, nothing bitter or mean, but evidence of a shared life together that once existed.

By this time in 1972, Dylan’s voice had matured. The crooner on Nashville Skyline was a different person from the man on Blonde on Blonde, all those rough corners sanded off and the register deepened. Yet when anyone imitates Dylan, they head on back to those mid-‘60s albums, the “braying beatnik” as writer Rob Jones calls him. (Jones posits that Dylan has had eight particular voices during his career.)

Remember, as Slate’s Carl Wilson points out, when Dylan first started out, he was commended for his voice, and was considered  “one of the most compelling white blues singers ever recorded,” by Robert Shelton, who wrote the copy on the back cover of Dylan’s 1962 debut album. He came from a tradition of both Woody Guthrie and Howlin’ Wolf, and several other idiosyncratic singers who didn’t sound like Frank Sinatra. (Although Dylan’s last few projects have been covers from the Great American Songbook.)

Dylan himself, in a 2015 award acceptance speech, turned his ire towards critics of his voice:

Critics have been giving me a hard time since Day One. Critics say I can’t sing. I croak. Sound like a frog. Why don’t critics say that same thing about Tom Waits? Critics say my voice is shot. That I have no voice. [Why] don’t they say those things about Leonard Cohen? Why do I get special treatment? Critics say I can’t carry a tune and I talk my way through a song. Really? I’ve never heard that said about Lou Reed. Why does he get to go scot-free? … Slur my words, got no diction. Have you people ever listened to Charley Patton or Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters? … “Why me, Lord?” I would say that to myself.

Fast forward to the present and Dylan’s voice shows the wear of years of performing and years of indulgence. It’s gravelly and phlegmatic, smoky and whiskey-soaked, but Wilson points out: “Even the rasp and burr of his late voice, several keen listeners have noticed, is very much like a more genuine copy of the old-bluesman timbre he pretentiously affected as a young man. It’s almost like this is what he’s been aiming toward.”

Related Content:

A Massive 55-Hour Chronological Playlist of Bob Dylan Songs: Stream 763 Tracks

Hear Bob Dylan’s Newly-Released Nobel Lecture: A Meditation on Music, Literature & Lyrics

Hear a 4 Hour Playlist of Great Protest Songs: Bob Dylan, Nina Simone, Bob Marley, Public Enemy, Billy Bragg & More

Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the FunkZone Podcast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at and/or watch his films here.

Massive Archive of 78RPM Records Now Digitized & Put Online: Stream 78,000 Early 20th Century Records from Around the World

Last summer we checked in with the Internet Archive’s Great 78 Project, a volunteer effort to digitize thousands of 78rpm records—the oldest mass-produced recording medium. Drawing on the expertise and vast holdings of preservation company George Blood, L.P., the ARChive of Contemporary Music, and over 20 more institutions from around the world, the project aims to save the recorded sounds of the past, and not only those that have come down to us through the efforts of highly selective curators. What we think of as the sound of the early 20th century—the blues, jazz, country, classical, ragtime, gospel, bluegrass, etc.—only represents a popular sample.

Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle wants to widen our sonic appreciation of the period, and include everything, “Midwest, different countries, different social classes, different immigrant communities and their loves and fears.”

This massive archive will eventually number in the millions, up to 3 million recordings, to be exact, and continues apace at the rate of about 5,000 new uploads per month.

Last August, the recordings in the archive numbered over 25,000. Now, the Great 78 Project contains more than 78,000 and counting digital transfers of fragile 78rpm records—everything from Prokofiev to the Carter Family (further up) to Mississippi John Hurt from 1928 (above) to international folk dances to field recordings of animal sounds.

The collected works of Al Jolson, spanning the years 1911 to 1926, appear (above), as does a fascinating collection from Argentina, brought to the U.S. by Tina Argumedo, who began collecting 78s in the 30s and continued to do so for another 20 years before moving to the States. Her digitized collection of almost 700 records “comprises primarily tango music, with boleros, sambas, mambo, and other dance music,” like the Argentine swing of Dajos Bela y su Orquestra from 1932 below.

As we noted in our previous post, the utmost care has gone into preserving the original sound of these records, with a variety of digital transfers made with different vintage styluses to represent the differences in playback systems. The process also preserves all the original records’ crackle and hiss—sometimes the music seems to swim below the surface noise, which only enhances the effect of hearing, transported through time, music from 80, 90, and 100 years ago and more.

Enter the 78 archive here.

Related Content:

25,000+ 78RPM Records Now Professionally Digitized & Streaming Online: A Treasure Trove of Early 20th Century Music

The Boston Public Library Will Digitize & Put Online 200,000+ Vintage Records

Stream 8,000 Vintage Afropop Recordings Digitized & Made Available by The British Library

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

What Made John Entwistle One of the Great Rock Bassists? Hear Isolated Tracks from “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” “Baba O’Riley” & “Pinball Wizard”

Drummer Keith Moon was surely the most kinetic member of The Who—which is really saying a lot—but he was not the band’s best musician, even if he is routinely named one of the best drummers of all time. Moon knew the appeal of his playing often lay in the fact that it was like no one else’s: he described himself as the “greatest Keith Moon-type drummer in the world.” Nothing in rock approached his untamed excess, modeled after the far more disciplined flights of his hero, Gene Krupa.

But if the band “can be said to have an instrumental virtuoso,” writes Chris Jisi at Drum! magazine, "it is John Alec Entwistle,” their true solid center (they called him “The Ox”) and the perfect rhythmic foil to Moon, who “could sound like a drum kit falling downstairs,” Entwistle says. The bass player not only kept time, he tells Jisi, since Moon didn’t, and followed Moon’s “mess of cymbals” and “all over the place” snare drum, but he also filled in for a rhythm guitarist as Pete Townshend slashed away.

He kept his bass riffs relatively simple, he had to, and he “added top end or treble… to cut through the rest of the noise.” It works, for sure. He is rightfully singled out as one of the greatest rock bass players ever for his phenomenal skill and poise.

A lesser player trying to compete with Moon’s wall of drums and Townshend’s massive power chords might disappear entirely. Entwistle always stands out. His comments about Moon’s playing might sound disparaging, but they come off in context as honest and accurate, as do his descriptions of his own playing.

Entwistle suggests he wouldn’t be the player he became without Moon and the rest of the band. “We constructed our music to fit ‘round each other,” he says. “It was something very peculiar that none of us played the same way as other people.” In their best moments, some parts “slid together by magic and were gone forever.” This is the essence, really, of rock and roll, the serendipitous transcendence that arises from wildly colliding waves of sound.

But such controlled chaos can require, especially in a band like The Who, one cool, well-trained virtuoso who cannot be ruffled, no matter what, whose perfection looks effortless and who never breaks a sweat. The eternal archetype of that player is John Entwistle. At the top, hear Entwistle’s isolated bass in a live take of “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” (He comes in at 1:45, after a much-extended intro). Below it, you’ll easily pick out his every note in the studio version. And further up, after another extended synthesizer intro, hear him solo at 1:25 on “Baba O'Riley,” also live at Shepperton Studios in 1978. (The studio recording is above).

And just above, in one of his most energetic performances, hear him play a live version of “Pinball Wizard” (starting at 0:36). And then catch one more jaw-dropping solo, just for good measure, recorded live at Royal Albert Hall.

Entwistle is sometimes compared to Jimi Hendrix, but in some ways, The Ox came first with his fuzzed-out sound. The mild-mannered player “pioneered the use of feedback in music and smashing his instrument,” writes Ultimate Classic Rock, “with Jimi Hendrix following suit after seeing Entwistle do it.” For all his reserved English coolness, Entwistle first pushed the boundaries of loudness, “using 200 watts of power when most bands used 50,” just one of the reasons, as you’ll hear in these tracks, for his other nickname: “Thunderfingers.”

via Laughing Squid

Related Content:

What Makes Flea Such an Amazing Bass Player? A Video Essay Breaks Down His Style

The Genius of Paul McCartney’s Bass Playing in 7 Isolated Tracks

The Jimi Hendrix of the Bass: Watch a Busker Shred the Bass on the Streets of Newcastle

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Watch 3000 Years of Art, a 1968 Experimental Film That Takes You on a Visual Journey Through 3,000 Years of Fine Art

Even if we can't name them, we've all seen hundreds of the most important paintings in art history, and even if we can't name it, we've all heard "Classical Gas." 3000 Years of Art, the 1968 experimental film above, officiates an aesthetic union of about 2500 of those much-seen, highly influential images and Mason Williams' instrumental hit song, all in just over three minutes.

Initially released on The Mason Williams Phonograph Record in 1967, the track went on, with the help of 3000 Years of Art, to become "one of the earliest records that used a visual to help promote it on television, which probably qualifies it as one of the earliest music videos." Those words come from Williams himself, who posted the video to his own Youtube channel.

When "Classical Gas" first became a hit, he writes, "I was also the head writer for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour on CBS. I had seen a film titled God Is Dog Spelled Backwards at The Encore, an off beat movie house in L.A. The film was a collection of approximately 2500 classical works of art, mostly paintings, that flashed by in three minutes. Each image lasted only two film frames, or twelve images a second! At the end of the film the viewer was pronounced 'cultural' since they had just covered '3000 years of art in 3 minutes!'"

Contacting the short's creator, a UCLA student by the name of Dan McLaughlin, Williams asked if he could re-cut its imagery to "Classical Gas" for a Smothers Brothers segment. First airing on the show in the summer of 1968 — the same year that saw another of the show's writers, a young man by the name of Steve Martin, bring his talents directly to the air — the resulting proto-music-video rocketed Williams' song to another sphere of popularity entirely. Not only that, it "opened the door to realizations that the viewer's mind could absorb this intense level of visual input" with its use of kinestasis, the phenomenon whereby a montage of still images creates its own kind of motion.

Following the idea to its then-logical conclusion, Williams soon after wrote a skit for the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour "projecting the idea that someday VJs would be playing hit tapes on TV." And so the trajectories of easy-listening instrumental music, gently subversive television comedy, and art history intersected to give the world an early glimpse of MTV, Youtube, and whichever host of even shorter-form, intenser viewing experiences comes next.

Related Content:

An Introduction to 100 Important Paintings with Videos Created by Smarthistory

One Minute Art History: Centuries of Artistic Styles Get Packed Into a Short Experimental Animation

100,000 Free Art History Texts Now Available Online Thanks to the Getty Research Portal

An Online Guide to 350 International Art Styles & Movements: An Invaluable Resource for Students & Enthusiasts of Art History

The Art History Web Book

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Learn to Code with Harvard’s Popular Intro to Computer Science Course: The 2017 Edition

In recent months, Harvard has been rolling out videos from the 2017 edition of Computer Science 50 (CS50), the university's introductory coding course designed for majors and non-majors alike. Taught by David Malan, a perennially popular professor (you'll see why), the one-semester course (taught mostly in C) combines courses typically known elsewhere as "CS1" and "CS2."

Even if you're not a Harvard student, you're welcome to follow CS50 online by heading over to this site here. There you will find video lectures (stream them all above or access them individually here), problem sets, quizzes, and other useful course materials. Once you've mastered the material covered in CS50, you can start branching out into new areas of coding by perusing our big collection of Free Online Computer Science Courses, a subset of our larger collection, 1,300 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

Note: Harvard's CS50 is also available as a MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) on edX. Also taught by David Malan, the course can be taken in a self-paced format for free. Find it here.

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

If you'd like to support Open Culture and our mission, please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us provide the best free cultural and educational materials.

Related Content:

Free Textbooks: Computer Science

Free Online Computer Science Courses

Codecademy’s Free Courses Democratize Computer Programming

Hear a 19-Hour Playlist of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Favorite Music: Schubert, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, and… Yvette Guilbert

Among his many varied interests—which, in addition to philosophy, included aeronautical engineering and architectureLudwig Wittgenstein was also a great lover of music. Given his well-deserved reputation for intellectual austerity, we might assume his musical tastes would tend toward minimalist composers of the early 20th century like fellow Austrian Arnold Schoenberg. The “orderly serialism,” of Schoenberg’s atonal music “does seem an obvious complement to Wittgenstein’s philosophy,” writes Grant Chu Covell. “Observers have wondered why the famously arrogant thinker who attempted to infuse philosophy with logic didn’t find Schoenberg’s 12-tone system attractive.”

But indeed, he did not—in fact, Wittgenstein despised almost all modern music and seemed to believe that “nothing of value had been composed after the 19th century’s demise.” While his philosophical work made as radical a break with the past as Schoenberg’s theory, when it came to music, the philosopher was a strict traditionalist who “liked to say that there were only six truly great composers: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms and Labor.”

This last name will hardly be familiar to most readers. Labor, a blind organist and composer, was a close friend of the Wittgenstein family and a teacher of Ludwig’s brother Paul (and of Schoenberg as well). Although he lived into the twentieth century, Labor mainly drew his influence from early music.

The extravagantly wealthy Wittgensteins were a musical family—both Ludwig’s older brothers became musicians. Wittgenstein’s parents and grandparents knew Brahms, adopted violinist Joseph Joachim, a distant cousin, into the family, and frequently hosted such luminaries as Gustav Mahler and Richard Strauss. Ludwig himself learned to play the clarinet and “was a fastidious listener,” Covell notes. “Acquaintances marveled at his virtuoso whistling. His repertoire included Brahms’ Haydn Variations and other symphonic works. He would unhesitatingly correct others’ inaccurate humming or singing.” He supposedly had an “untiring obsession with perfect recreations of the classics.”

The philosopher’s perfectionism lead to some harsh critical judgments. “Brahms is Mendelssohn without the flaws,” he wrote. He declared Mahler “worthless… quite obviously it took a set of very rare talents to produce this bad music.” What did Wittgenstein value in music besides an ideal of perfection? Grammar, silence, and profundity. “The music of the Baroque era… made use of the special effect of silence,” writes Yael Kaduri at Contemporary Aesthetics. “The general pause of the Baroque was used to illustrate concepts such as eternity, death, infinity and silence in vocal music.” These concepts “did not disappear in the transition to the classic era.” Haydn’s music in particular “contains so many general pauses that it seems they form an intrinsic component of his musical language.”

Wittgenstein had other criteria as well, much of it, surely, as enigmatic as the principles that governed his thought. What does become clear, Covell argues, is that “Wittgenstein could only have been attracted to common-practice tonality, with its codified rules and delineation between ornament and form.” He needed “a system the details of which enhance an underlying structure.” In the playlist above, you can hear a selection of the philosopher's favorites. Compiled by Wittgenstein biographer Ray Monk, the playlist omits Haydn, for some reason, but includes Wagner and Romantic composer Georges Bizet.

You’ll also find one rare exception to Wittgenstein’s obsession with classical musical order: cabaret actress and singer Yvette Guilbert, favorite subject of artist Henri Toulouse-Lautrec and onetime star of the Moulin Rouge. The famously solitary, severe, and ill-tempered philosopher may have, it seems, nurtured a softer side after all.

Related Content:

Hear Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus Sung as a One-Woman Opera

An Animated Introduction to Ludwig Wittgenstein & His Philosophical Insights on the Problems of Human Communication

Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Short, Strange & Brutal Stint as an Elementary School Teacher

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Ditching the Lecture Hall for the Recording Studio: One Historian Is Using the Power of Podcasting to Inspire a Whole New Audience

History is dying at U.S. colleges and universities.  Enrollment in undergraduate history courses is way down since 2010, and the number of history degrees awarded annually has likewise been falling faster and faster.  The most recent data show a 9% nationwide drop in history degrees awarded in 2014 compared to 2013, with an even sharper 13% decline at the nation’s top universities, including Yale, Harvard, and Stanford. (1,2,3,4)  So, is history just getting old?

On the contrary.  At least outside of academia, history has never been more popular.  Cultural icons including Barack Obama and Bill Gates have cited history books such as Yuval Noah Harari's Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind and Steven Pinker's Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress as among their favorite books of all time.  The History Channel has enjoyed a resurgence in viewership since 2013, and judging by the reception of more epic productions, from Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-winning movie Lincoln in 2012 to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash hit musical Hamilton in 2015, it’s clear that public hunger for history is only growing.  What, then, accounts for lackluster lecture hall attendance?

“Part of the problem is that much of academic history has become too esoteric,” says podcaster Brad Harris, who holds a PhD from Stanford in the history of science and technology.  “Course content has been shifting away from big ideas like the rise of modern science and democracy to narrower studies of things like the politics of emotion and cultural constructions, which many students find less relevant to their interests.”  Moreover, Harris contends that college history courses have never been more cynical.  “Too many professors dwell on what humanity has done wrong–who we’ve oppressed, what we’ve destroyed–and not enough on what humanity has done right–who we’ve liberated, what we’ve invented.  Where’s the inspiration?  It’s no wonder people are ditching history lectures.”  And now, so has Brad Harris.

Since leaving academia in 2015, Harris has been working full-time to offer an attractive alternative for people who want to learn history, providing content that is as informative as a college lecture but as entertaining as a cinematic production: a podcast called How It Began: A History of the Modern World.  Available everywhere podcasts are found, and also from his website,, How It Began interprets a broad array of the most important scientific, technological, and cultural advancements in history, from dog domestication to the Scientific Revolution.  Here is an excerpt from the show's introductory episode:

In each episode, we will fly through the centuries to follow the seeds of an innovation or discovery as it blossoms into one of the many fruits of modernity.  Far from a catalog of dead men and dates, How It Began offers a cinematic-like immersion into the stories behind some of our species’ greatest achievements.  The overall theme?  Celebration!  We are fortunate to be descended from men and women who dared to dream big and even die for the cause of progress.  Their work is unfinished, and some parts of modernity are even worse than before.  But most are better, much better.  And we have more tools than ever to fix what’s still broken.  

Brad Harris hopes his show’s focus on modern progress will captivate people who crave more inspiring explorations of history, and judging by How It Began's reception so far, he seems well on his way to achieving exactly that.  

Episodes are between 30 and 60 minutes long and released every month or so.  The podcast explores a wide range of topics, from the rise of modern surgery and computers to the development of the English language and the theory of evolution.  "Wolves to Dogs: The Origin of our Alliance" was one of the most popular episodes of Season One.   In a more recent episode, Harris reveals the surprising correlations between the spread of coffee consumption and the establishment of modern institutions:

1. "New Data Show Large Drop in History Bachelor's Degrees," Perspectives on History, American Historical Association, March 2016:
2. "Survey Finds Fewer Students Enrolling in College History Courses," Perspectives on History, American Historical Association, September 2016:
3. "The Rise and Decline of History Specializations over the Past 40 Years," Perspectives on History, American Historical Association, December 2015:
4. "The Decline and Fall of History," Niall Ferguson, published by The American Council of Trustees and Alumni, October 2016:


This is a guest post by Morgan Stewart, an educational consultant and founder of Within Reach Educational Consultants.

« Go BackMore in this category... »