From The Desk Of The Vulgar Boatmen: Bob Dylan’s “Down By The Station”

The Vulgar Boatmen are an archetypal cult band. Those of us who love them really, really love them, but the three albums the Indiana/Florida band released between 1989 and 1995 never reached a wide audience. So, the reissue of debut You And Your Sister, bolstered by a pair of new remixes and three previously unreleased tracks, is a gift. Dale Lawrence and Robert Ray wrote strummy, propulsive tunes that could recall Good Earth-era Feelies, the Velvet Underground or Stax/Volt soul. The band will be guest editing all week. Read our new Q&A with Lawrence.


Lawrence: One reason the release of Bob Dylan‘s Basement Tapes Complete was such a big deal was the inclusion of more than an hour of music that had never been previously rumored, let alone bootlegged. There were some good covers (“My Bucket’s Got A Hole In It,” “Ain’t No More Cane”), but most of the new material consisted of sketches, fragments, works in progress. The track that really grabbed hold of me was “Down By The Station,” barely 90 seconds long, one verse and a chorus, distinguished by perhaps the worst sound quality of the entire six-disc set. It’s also the Basements‘ only solo track, just Dylan at an electric piano, no accompanying Hawks. The lyrics are half formed, buried, with a few making their way to the surface: “I was east,” “shadow,” “down by the station.” The melody rises and falls, sad, mysterious. The chords are simple but never go quite where you expect them to. Dylan’s singing is measured and resigned. It’s a haunted performance, “I’m Not There” in miniature. Even the track’s distortion creates the impression of a late-night radio signal, showing up out of nowhere for a minute.

Video after the jump.