“Johnny’s in the basement
Mixing up the medicine
I’m on the pavement
Thinking about the government
The man in the trench coat
Badge out, laid off
Says he’s got a bad cough
Wants to get it paid off…”
Anybody who knows anything about Bob Dylan likely knows this firecracker of an opening verse from “Subterranean Homesick Blues.” This iconic track that opened Dylan’s Bringing It All Back Home album had an equally iconic music video featuring the curly-haired Dylan holding and dropping a seemingly endless supply of cue cards with snippets of his rapid-fire lyrics written on them.
The statement that it was and the stranglehold Dylan had on intellectuals who questioned the government, the D.A., six-time users, and everything in between, resonated in 1965 and it resonates 55 years later.
One such patriot who recently channeled that same powerful expression in the midst of the most tumultuous time of our lifetimes is New York country-folk songwriter Neil Nathan.
Nathan just dropped his newest rally cry of a single, “Election Day”, just in time for what amounts to be the most crucial election in, well, forever. Nathan, like most respectable figures with a platform, implores those listening to do one simple yet imperative task: vote. Seems simple enough, right? Tuesday’s your last shot, folks.
Nathan had co-producer Pete Rydberg at the helm for the tune, and lap steel maestro Mike “Slo-Mo” Brenner. And regarding the details and behind the scenes of the song, Nathan says:“This song was a true gang effort. A bunch of my talented friends from Philadelphia and Brooklyn joined in for the cathartic bellowing and their kids close the song reciting an alternate pledge of allegiance for our current alternate reality. If any of the lyrics are offensive to you, my sincerest apologies. But as Howard Zinn famously said, ‘You can’t be neutral on a moving train.’”
And concerning the new music video, Nathan says: “In Bob Dylan’s iconic music video for Subterranean Homesick Blues, poet Allen Ginsberg and road manager Bob Neuwirth chat away in the background. In my update, cardboard cutouts of America’s Presidential Candidates smile big. My frustration with the paltry state of the USA boiled up this summer and these lyrics just spilled out of me. It struck me that Dylan’s approach would suit the vid, so I put the iPhone on the tripod and donned the USA mask. I am donating all proceeds from sales of the song to Vote Save America. Click here to download and donate.”
Hailed most interestingly by UK music and film magazine No Ripcord as “the bastard stepchild of Jackson Browne & David Bowie,” Nathan hops seamlessly from genre to genre, and records his music in various cities (Philadelphia, Atlanta, Detroit, Denton, Texas) that best suit his latest creative inklings.
Nathan’s debut LP, The Distance Calls, boasts a production from renowned Detroit garage rock hero Bobby Harlow with musicians from The Raconteurs, The Go, King Tuff, & Detroit Cobras. The album’s track “California Run” featured a music video which guest starred actress Rosario Dawson. His songs have been in regular rotation on Sirius/XM’s The Coffeehouse, ESPN, NHL Network, and the film Return, which featured Michael Shannon and Linda Cardellini.
For more on the track, be sure to listen to Nathan on one of Nashville’s best independent radio stations, WXNA, hosted by DJ Leanne Merritt.
We’ve finally made it to the biggest week of the year- may God have mercy on us all.