Night Music: Billy Lee Riley, “Red Hot”

Bob Dylan won an award the other night from a group called MusicCares, which I gather has an emergency fund for indigent musicians who need help. Dylan’s speech is a marvel of candor and self grandeur and interesting connections from Bob to the songs that fed his creativity. If I was a professional blogger I’d summarize the whole thing, but since I’m not let it suffice that he doesn’t mince words and rips Merle Haggard and Tom T. Hall and others new ones.

He also claims that he is the sole singer to get criticized for lack of range and excessive growling, while Tom Waits, Lou Reed and Dr. John get off scot free. Some of it is kind of batshit.

But a lot of it does make connections, and the one that matters most praises MusiCares for taking care of Bob’s friend Billy Lee Riley, who never really had a hit, but was nominated for a Grammy for his 1997 comeback album, Hot Damn!

But the song that made Bob Dylan fall in love with Billy Lee was this one (with Jerry Lee Lewis playing piano), which he heard on the radio in 1957, when he was a boy with dreams in Minnesota.

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