This 'BATTLE OF THE BANDS' ('BOTB') installment turned out terrific, and I'm really pleased since it was a tribute to our friend (and first BOTBer) Far Away Eyes. I would have been bummed had it been a boring blowout.
As always, major thanks to everyone - all you DogGs and DogGettes - who came by and took the time to listen and cast a vote. As usual, there was some fun in the comment section. The page with the Battle and the comment exchanges can be found HERE.
I agonized over putting this Battle together. The first part was simple: From the moment I found that Chrissie Hynde & The Pretenders cover of Dylan's 'FOREVER YOUNG', I knew that I'd found a worthy contender for him.
Where the agony came in was trying to decide which of three Bob Dylan videos to use. Bear in mind that my first objective ALWAYS is to try creating the most competitive contest I can. Even when one of my very favorite artists is involved, I attempt to keep it all on a level playing field, all on the up and up. I NEVER try to skew things for or against either artist!
Also, I am of the belief that no matter how many times you say "Please vote ONLY on the recording; DO NOT let yourself be influenced by the videos", it's a difficult request and some visitors are better than others at following it. I suspect a fair amount of voters ARE sometimes influenced by the images, even if only subconsciously. Therefore, I put a lot of thought into matching up the videos as well as the recordings (although sometimes your options are few and fewer).
My first thought was to use Bob Dylan's studio ballad version of 'Forever Young' because I like it, and it also was my preferred type of video for ALL BOTB installments (when available). It was just a static image, forcing the listener to concentrate entirely on the sound without any visual distractions:
But after about 30 listenings to it, I felt that since this version really features Dylan's vocals more than anything else, and Chrissie Hynde's vocal was so sublime, this was feeding Dylan right into her wheelhouse where he couldn't possibly beat her on her home field.
So, I decided to use the much more rockin' live version with The Band from their farewell concert, "The Last Waltz". This gave me two versions of the song that were more stylistically diverse, and it also tied in with my "farewell, last waltz-like" tribute to FAE.
Now my problem was WHICH video to use? I had two choices - both of them were the exact same audio ('Forever Young' by Bob Dylan & The Band at 1976's "The Last Waltz"). I could use the photo montage video, which I thought included a lot of great pictures and would match up well against the photo montage video I was forced to use for The Pretenders.
My other choice was a video with the actual footage of Dylan & The Band playing the song at the 1976 concert:
But I have a theory that when a voter has the opportunity to actually WATCH the artist performing the song live, it gives him/her an advantage. That can be powerful, influential imagery, seeing the singers / musicians creating the music before your eyes. (That's why we pay too much money to attend concerts, right?)
So, just as I felt Dylan's studio recording - focused primarily on his vocals - gave Chrissie Hynde too much of an advantage, I also felt that the Dylan video showing him and The Band performing the song live gave HIM too much of an advantage over Chrissie. Therefore, I went with the "happy medium" and put the two photo montage videos against each other. And what happened?...
Shoot! Chrissie & The Pretenders got the first 5 votes right out of the chute! After 12 votes were recorded, The Pretenders had 10 of them. THIS was Blowout City, DogGs & DogGettes, and it was NOT how I wanted this FAE Tribute to go. (Especially since she's a huge Dylan & The Band fan.) So, I decided to try a little experiment; I decided to do something I'd never done before. I decided to change videos in mid-stream...
Yup! I removed the photo montage video of Dylan & The Band and replaced it with the live footage video of Dylan & The Band. SAME EXACT RECORDING, mind you! Note-for-note it was the identical song, but suddenly voters were seeing the performers playing those notes, rather than just hearing them while pictures of Dylan flashed on the screen. Just a little experiment to see what would happen, and with the hope that this Tribute Battle would become a bit more competitive. And what do you think happened?...
Dylan got 4 of the next 5 votes that came in. Of course it's quite possible (and maybe even likely) that shift in momentum was going to happen even if I hadn't changed the video. This was an entirely unscientific experiment and without any "controls" in place it's impossible to quantify the effect it had on the voting numbers. All I know for sure is that suddenly Dylan & The Band came roaring back immediately and I had an exciting, A-list, come-from-behind Battle on my hands. And THAT made me happy.
As much as I love Bob Dylan's songwriting, and as much as his outside-the-box thinking influenced my creative spirit, this was actually a tough vote for me to cast. At one time, I was seriously thinking about voting for Chrissie & The Pretenders, but the sincerity and "all in" approach of Dylan (as FAE called it) ultimately won me over.
[If you ever liked ANYTHING I've written, you can thank Bob Dylan for it, because his album (link:) 'BRINGING IT ALL BACK HOME' hugely influenced my writing style due to countless revolutions that LP made on my turntable back in the late '70s. I didn't even realize Dylan had influenced me in the least until maybe year 2000 when I heard that album again for the first time in about 20 years. I wrote about this discovery a couple times on my defunct 'STUFFS' blog.]
So, I know, I know -- you wanna know how this BOTB installment turned out! Can you believe THIS?!!...
Chrissie Hynde & The Pretenders = 13 votes
Bob Dylan & The Band = 13 votes
Yes, sir or madam, that's my 10th BOTB tie.
Alright, I can live with it. Considering that Bob & The Band were down 10 votes to 2 at one point, yes, yes, I can live with THIS! And, really, both recordings are so damned good in their own ways that I'm almost happy to have another tie... this once!
Thanks again, y'all, and I hope to see ya back here for my June 15th 'Battle Of The Bands' blog bit!
Please be sure to read FAE's 3-part comment posted here in the comment section. She asked me to transfer that from the original post because she wanted to make sure y'all saw it.
~ Stephen T. McCarthy