I've Been Listening to Blackalicious, the New Dylan, and Mowing My Lawn

I've got drawers of CDs, books of CDs, a couple shelves full of records, mp3s on my wife's computer, plenty on mine, an iPod, and some cds in my truck that I haven't seen in years. No, I'm not bragging about the size or scope of my record collection (there are 15-year-olds all around the country with better collections), what I'm saying is that thanks to the evolution of recorded music mediums, I am forced to listen to certain music in certain settings. In my living room, I reach for my records (which I'm getting sick of). At work, it's my computer (also growing tired of everything), and on the road, my iPod (constantly breaking). But the other day I realized that mowing my lawn was a perfect excuse to dust off my discman and pull out a couple CDs that I've neglected for too long. First Up: Blazing Arrow, by Blackalicious.

If I were to put together my own Rob Gordon-inspired list of track ones, side ones, "Bow and Arrow" would be at or near the top of my list. And the Harry Nielson sampling on the title track is nothing short of transcendent. (Yes, I'm one of those people who heard this record -- made in 2002 -- before I heard The Point!, circa. 1971.) And this rhyme from "Paragraph President" always puts a grin on my face: "Hit you with the funk it's like who cut the provolone/Government officials putting taps on my mobile phone." Nice, Gab.

Together Through Life, Bob Dylan

This is not a record I listen to behind my push mower. This is kind of a straw hat and scratch cocktail kind of record. You can almost feel the summer breeze on tunes like "If You Ever Go to Houston" and "This Dream of You." And the old man sounds like he's genuinely enjoying himself when he sings: "There ain't no way you can put me down/I just want to say that hell is my wife's hometown." I don't put this on the same level as a couple of the other Dylan high points from this decade (Love and Theft). But, it goes down easy, and is full of chuckles and enough surprises to keep you guessing.

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