Daniel Ford: Someone told me recently that I had more angst in my little finger than this person did in their whole body. A slight exaggeration to be sure, but it’s probably more true than I’d like to admit. I blame it on listening to Dylan’s “Most of the Time” in college when I was a poor Connecticut boy trying to find himself as a man and a writer in New York City. The original version was Dylan’s underrated album “Oh Mercy,” which includes one dark tune after another, such as “Everything is Broken,” Man in the Long Black Coat,” “What Good Am I?,” and “What Was It You Wanted.” Pour that over a glass of scotch and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a tortured writer capable of writing a personal, honest novel about heartbreak and unfilled potential. An alternate version of “Most of the Time” was included in 2008’s “Tell Tale Signs: The Bootleg Series Vol. 8” and it instantly eclipsed the original. It better balances hope and despair, which coincided with my own evolution. I may still be angsty, but I have way too many reasons to be happy to stay in a prolonged funk. The song will remain on my writing playlist though, just in case I need to tap into the psyche of that lost boy in New York City. He makes for damn fine novel fodder...most of the time.
Dave Pezza: For anyone who has ever recovered from a broken heart, Bob’s got your back with this masterful reworking of a mediocre song off of his equally mediocre “Oh Mercy.” (Daniel: How dare you). Part of Dylan’s terrific bootleg series, “Most of Time” instills the type of blue collar strength we all must put on day to day when we are forced to shelf our mounting problems of love and life. Most of the time we manage to put it all in the back of our mind, but every once in a while, like when this Dylan jam turns the corner, we have a tiny breakdown, a small crisis of confidence and will. Having one of those days or weeks? Throw this track on and pour yourself a few fingers of well-earned bourbon.
Dave: As far as bourbon goes, Buffalo Trace is never a bad call. Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon is the old reliable of the massive Buffalo Trace distillery responsible for a number of terrific bourbons, including Blanton’s, Hancock’s President’s Reserve, Eagle Rare, and Van Winkle (!!!). With a stronger taste than most bourbon, Buffalo Trace is a perfect standalone, no water or ice necessary (the way bourbon was meant to be imbibed). Chances are your liquor store has a bottle; it has pretty good distribution. I’d pick one up the next time you’re looking for a new bourdon to try. Be warned though, you might never turn away from this moderately priced top shelf bourbon.
Daniel: I already had a glass of Bulleit in me when I decided to try Buffalo Trace. I was jealous of the two fingers Dave ordered after I made my first drink selection. Did I ask him to try it? You’re damn right I did! I’m Ebola-free and needed to test it out before I requested a glass of my own. I have no regrets. The man points I lost for defiling bourbon with ice and asking to drink out of another man’s glass were worth it. Buffalo Trace is delicious.
Dave: This week’s book, Ecstatic Cahoots: Fifty Short Stories by Stuart Dybek, fits astoundingly well with “Most of the Time” and Buffalo Trace. No. I have that backwards. “Most of the Time” and Buffalo Trace fit perfectly with this book, which could make toilet-distilled wine taste good. Dybek was entirely unknown to me until I read The New York Times book review about this collection. I cannot recommend this book enough. Dybek wonderfully tight walks the line between gorgeous prose and soulful poetry. The 50, yes 50, short stories in this collection span love, sex, loneliness, death, Chicago, masculinity, femininity, and the love-hate relationship between contemporary man and woman. About three quarters of the way through this multi-read collection, it struck me that Ecstatic Cahoots is a contemporary version of Hemingway’s Men Without Women, written in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s style, using an impressively mitigated American vernacular. Individually these stories take you on an emotional and aesthetically pleasing roller coaster. From collegiate make out sessions over Spanish poetry in the middle of a Chicago snow storm to a crazed castaway haunted by an island made of knocking doors, Dybek keeps you turning the page. As a whole, this collection plunges the reader into a world where sentiment, emotion, and subtly bleed out of the stories' walls, streets, and characters. If you buy a new book this fall, make it Dybek’s.