Response to “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry”
Bob Dylan’s It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry features “lazy slap” style drumming (a slower tempo slightly favoring the offbeat), steady strummed rhythms, and resolute piano, vocal, and harmonica parts. Along with the music, the lyrics evoke a sense of locomotion, “ride on a mail train,” as well as imagery: “shinin’ through the trees” and “the sun look good goin’ down over the sea.” This Train, Blue Shine takes its lead from these elements and unfolds a deconstructed blues while re-imagining the piano played like a guitar. With an emphasis on timbre and texture, the piece begins with hand stomps inside the piano and a low rumble resembling a slow train. Gradually, the piece opens up to the piano’s full range and features layered textures created by strumming, guitar slides on strings, and an electric bow (e-bow). As homage to Dylan’s iconic sound, the harmonica joins the texture until the end of the piece. Many thanks to Brianna Matzke for her artistry and for the opportunity to write for The Response Project. – A.H.