Category Archives: Music

MDM Migration for macOS

Here’s my little tale about MDMs. It’s a history, plus how we migrated from one platform to another, why we did, and the ouches along the way.

AirWatch on iPads

At my first MacAdmins at PSU, I was speaking to a fellow macadmin about the pain of managing iPads using Configurator, Apple’s in-house product to manage iPads. He said he was in a similar pain and then moved to AirWatch, a Mobile Device Management system (MDM).

AirWatch, along with Apple’s Device Enrollment Program (DEP) got me where I needed. I could wirelessly provision my iPads and install applications from Apple’s Volume Purchasing Program (VPP), which is basically the App Store for organizations.

macOS in WorkspaceONE

We eventually put our macOS devices into AirWatch, which was now retitled WorkspaceONE, with a very simple workflow. Computer would boot, DEP would tell the computer it was owned by the school and was assigned to WorkspaceONE, WorkspaceONE would install a package with Munki and run a script to rename the computer based on a Google Sheet (that script can be found here).

WorkspaceONE would also be used to install configuration profiles on the Mac for things that an MDM was needed for and couldn’t be done via Munki such as Privacy Preferences Policy Control (PPPC) which requires User Approved MDM (UAMDM) to be deployed.

iPad *headdesk*

All was good, and then stuff didn’t work as well. Apps wouldn’t push out to the devices, configuration profiles wouldn’t push out to the iPads. The Macs were depending on WorkspaceONE for so little that it didn’t really matter. I was helping my friend move away from DeployStudio for his imaging needs and move to no-imaging, I suggested he use Mosyle for his Macs. I liked what I saw and I was tempted.

Since Mosyle was free for one platform (iOS/iPadOS or macOS), in August 2019, I decided to move all my iPads over to Mosyle. It would be easy. I annually wipe all my iPads. Move them over to in Apple School Manager from WorkspaceONE to Mosyle, set up configuration settings, move my VPP licences overs, wipe the iPads and watch them all enroll. It went amazingly.

macOS *headdesk*

We mostly used WorkspaceONE on the macs just to install Munki, but there were a few things it wasn’t doing properly. We setup a firmware password to prevent students from restarting computers into Recovery and changing teacher passwords. It was only successfully installed on 10% of devices. We sent out PPPC settings for Smart Notebook and it only installed for about 80% of fleet. We sent out a kext allowlist which only worked on about 50% of the fleet.

Whenever we called VMWare support, we usually got a support agent who didn’t know the macOS platform. It would take over 24 hours before VMWare would call us. They would always call outside of our normal business hours and any resolution to our problems was in spite of their support staff, not because of them.

My plan was to move all macOS devices over to Mosyle in September 2020. It would be much harder. I can’t just wipe teacher laptops. While there’s no policy in favour of this, many teachers use their school devices as their personal devices. In addition, many don’t store all their data in Google Drive as they’ve been instructed to do for many years. As such, I also pushed back our planned roll out of Catalina until September 2020. Normally I tried to allow teachers to install a new OS via Munki as soon as possible (after testing).

The Best Plans Are Destroyed By A Pandemic

With remote learning, and a closed building, we were managing computers via Zoom. This is fine if WorkspaceONE was pushing out the PPPC policies correctly to allow for the fleet. Our users are Standard users (not Admin, aka, non-privileged users), and thus they cannot authorize the PPPC settings for Accessibility to allow remote control of their computer via Zoom.

Then Apple rolled out a security update that caused major problems in macOS 10.14.6 and Zoom. We had crashes. Terrible crashes. Many were not able to teach.

To Mosyle and Beyond!

Mosyle were kind enough to offer us free usage until the end of June if I signed the full one year contract we were planning to buy next year (July 2020-July 2021). I jumped on that.

I was testing Mosyle for macOS in September, so back then I put all policies and configuration profiles from WorkspaceONE into Mosyle. I needed to do some updating of policies that changed since September. I did that, then I tested on a couple of machines. Then I wiped them, enrolled them in WorkspaceONE and tested the migration process to Mosyle. All seemed to go well.

Then I logged into the computer lab at the school. I tested the migration process on those computers, it went simply and quickly. Then I remembered that I don’t have Remote Desktop access to the computers at teacher homes. I’m running this through Zoom and a Standard User. So with a bit of a chat with Rich Trouton of Der Flounder fame, I confirmed that his software Privileges, if deployed through Munki, would give the user elevated privileges and allow me to walk them through the final process.

The Process

  1. First day, distribute to all devices via Munki a stub installer of Catalina
    I used the stub rather than the full installer because the download from Apple’s servers would be faster than the download from the school’s server
  2. Day before, add Privileges to the computer’s manifest in Munki as a Managed Install
  3. Switch computer from WorkspaceONE to Mosyle in Apple School Manager
  4. Check on WorkspaceONE if Privileges had been installed, if so, choose “Delete Device”
  5. Connect via Zoom, and have the user share their Desktop
  6. Request control, they would get a message asking either to open System Preferences to allow or Deny
  7. Ask the user to open System Preferences
  8. Ask the user to launch Privileges from the Applications folder and request privileges
  9. Have the user allow Accessibility for Zoom in the Privacy pane of System Preferences
  10. Take control and use Privileges to revoke privileges
  11. Put the Privileges app in the Managed Uninstalls for the device’s manifest in Munki
  12. Confirm the profiles are removed from the computer and it is unenrolled from WorkspaceONE
  13. Go to enroll.mosyle.com/?account=school and download the profile to enroll in Mosyle
  14. Assign the device in Mosyle to the appropriate user (teacher-only and admin-only profiles will be pushed depending on who it is assigned to)
  15. Run Managed Software Centre to remove Privileges
  16. Run the Catalina stub and tell the device to install 10.15.4

While in my testing everything worked like a charm, that didn’t translate to the real world.

What Went Wrong

For about 75% of the computers everything went perfectly. For 5% of the computer, it could take anywhere from an hour to 24 hours to delete the device from WorkspaceONE. Sometimes a reboot triggered it, sometimes a it just happened when it felt like it.

After days of trying to get help from VMWare, I was finally told by the MacAdmins slack that Delete Device is not the best way to do this. What I wanted was Enterprise Wipe, which removes all traces of the MDM (in theory). To me using the word “wipe” had some bad connotations and scared me away from using it.

I tested the Enterprise Wipe function on the computer lab iMacs and it worked like a charm. It could still take anywhere from 1 hour to 24 hours, but at least the support agent that was assigned to help me1 gave me a bit less grief if I used Enterprise Wipe rather than Delete Device.

There was still the remaining 20% of devices. There seemed to be a theme between those 20%. They all had enrolled in WorkspaceONE in September 2019 and never communicated with the system again.

I was installing the WorkspaceONE agent, on the computer to get it to reestablish communications with the MDM, and that worked, but once you told it to perform an enterprise wipe, it wouldn’t wipe.

Days would go by and no Enterprise Wipe.

I Guess We’re Disabling SIP? (Temporarily)

In the end I was kinda forced to do this. I didn’t want to, but I kinda had to.

  1. Connect with the user over the phone (there will be numerous restarts so Zoom won’t work)
  2. Diable SIP
    1. Have them restart the computer holding down Command-R
    2. Click Utilities
    3. Click Terminal
    4. Type csrutil disable and return2
    5. Restart the computer (Apple menu, restart)
  3. Connect via Zoom, keep the mic off as you’re still on the phone with them, screen share and request control
  4. Launch the terminal
  5. su <<Admin User Name here>>
  6. sudo rm -rf /var/db/ConfigurationProfiles/
  7. sudo rm /Library/Keychains/apsd.keychain
  8. sudo reboot
  9. Connect via Zoom, keep the mic off as you’re still on the phone with them, screen share and request control
  10. Go into System Preferences and make sure there are no profiles
  11. Enable SIP (has to be done before enrolling in Mosyle, because Mosyle will actually install the firmware password profile)
    1. Have them restart the computer holding down Command-R
    2. Click Utilities
    3. Click Terminal
    4. Type csrutil enable and return3
    5. Restart the computer (Apple menu, restart)
  12. Connect via Zoom, keep the mic off as you’re still on the phone with them, screen share and request control
  13. Enroll in Mosyle
    1. Go to enroll.mosyle.com/?account=school and download the profile to enroll in Mosyle
    2. Assign the device in Mosyle to the appropriate user (teacher-only and admin-only profiles will be pushed depending on who it is assigned to)

So, that was my tale. I hope it helps someone. I hope that someone at VMWare sees this and tries to figure out why their support is so bad.

  1. I don’t want to use any verbiage to imply that she did actually help me, because she didn’t. I don’t even want to suggest she tried to help me, because she didn’t. []
  2. Text this to them, so you don’t have to spell that out over the phone. []
  3. Text this to them, so you don’t have to spell that out over the phone. []

Doctor Who Serial 108 – The Horns of Nimon

Part One

“I’ll go check that the cargo is safe.” Walks into a room with 10 people scared and sitting on the floor in yellow jumpsuits, “WEAKLING SCUM.” This guy’s an asshole.

Is that Space Moses? Oy!

“You’ve been to Anith?” “Yes, but not yet.”

The Nimon is terrible! Jeezy Creezy!

Part Two

Wow, Doctor Who‘s special effects have never been good, but that spinning TARDIS bouncing off of the planetoid is incredible.

Romana! How can you lose your sonic screwdriver?

This dude is calling her a space pirate! YAR!

Wow, the centre column of the TARDIS shakes a lot when it rises and lowers.

Nice, the Doctor got to say “Take me to your leader.”

OH! The Nimon has laser horns.

Part Three

That took the Doctor and Romana way too long to think about the other sacrifices.

Nimon’s an asshole, and horrible effects.

Oh, there’s many Nimons. Nimonians. Nimonites. Nimogonians. Nom Noms.

Part Four

The Nimons might be the worst monster design in Doctor Who history. But that guy dressed as a raven is kinda amazing. That’s something I want to see celebrities wear on the red carpet, shouldn’t be day-to-day wear on a space ship.

YES! That’s quite the evil laugh. A cackle, if you will.

“How are we gonna get past them?” “Subterfuge!” YES!

I love the Nimon loin clothes. Are they that long because that’s the length of their dongs? Is that why they walk so awkwardly?

Wow, this guy is the hammiest ham in all of Hamburg.

zsh on macOS 10.15 Catalina

Back when bash was the default shell for macOS, I had updated the .bash_profile file to change the prompt on my computer. Well, that doesn’t work with zsh, it seems.

In bash, I had it set by adding this line to the ~/.bash_profile file. export PS1="\d \t \w   💩  "

Now in zsh is in the ~/.zshrc file, and just copying and pasting that into it didn’t work. It doesn’t seem to like the \ commands. Turns out that it now uses % commands, but it’s not a one to one relationship, so I thought I’d map it out to try to figure out what is what, because Googling didn’t help.

Some of these just show up a number, if you know what it is, comment below, or tweet at me, or hit me up on Slack.

%c shows the current directory (~ or Desktop)

%d shows the full path (/Users/username/Desktop)

%e is showing a 0

%h is showing a 92

%i is showing a 1

%j is showing a 0

%l is showing s003

%m and %M show the computer name

%n and %C show the current user

%t shows the current time in a 12 hour clock

%w shows the current day (Mon 28)

%x and %N show the shell (-zsh)

%y shows the session (ttys001)

%D shows the date (YY-MM-DD)

%I shows 1

%L shows 1

%S seems to have inverted the colours after it.

%T shows the time in a 24 hour clock

%U underlines the text after it

%W shows the date (MM/DD/YY)

Now I set it to export PS1="%D %t %c 💩  "

Doctor Who Serial 085 – The Seeds of Doom

Part One

Antarctic explorers found something strange.

Dunbar doesn’t like or believe the Doctor. Shouldn’t people know by now?

That guy is evil! He’s wearing black gloves, standing too straight, and his suit is impeccable. I think he’s a plant.

Oh, shit! The alien plant has its first victim.

The Doctor is such a jerk!

Uh oh! The vegetation eats the animals.

And now there are invaders.

Part Two

The strangers have a gun and are planning to steal the vegetable! I think they’re going to die.

One of them seems logical. The other seems like an asshole.

Maybe if you don’t say “an alien lifeform” with a shit-eating grin, Doctor, then maybe they will believe you.

The exterior shots are amazing.

Part Three

Sarah, put on gloves, you’re in the antarctic. #advicefromcanadians

I feel like this has just become, “Adam tweets while watching Doctor Who.”

Well, they’re back in England. People are plotting and scheming, and oh my! The Doctor and Sarah are going to be murdered. They knocked him down, and ran away. We’ve got a chase scene!

I dig the Doctor in the chauffeur’s cap and his scarf. It’s a great combo.

The Doctor just called Sarah his best friend! That’s so nice. She will refer to her companions that way again in her future incarnation.

The evil scientist, Seymour Krelborn, is an EDM musician!

Part Four

The makeup is terrible.

I really hope the plant starts singing to Seymour “Suddenly Seymour.”

OH NO! They’re going to turn the Doctor into fertilizer.

Don’t send your butler in to take care of Audrey II.

Part Five

Much like Little Shop Of Horror, Doctor Who is using a muppet to play the evil plant. The only difference is this one looks adorable.

Baker has excellent mime skills as he stabs at Audrey II.

Rich people are terrible.

Henchman is now working for the Doctor and making a molotov cocktail. “JORTLES!”

That was the least impressive molotov cocktail I’ve ever seen.

Humans being attacked by plants always leads to the best acting.

So the final episode will be the Doctor running around with planet killing chemicals.

Part Six

I thought the bad guy was a plant, but apparently he’s just a plan sympathizer? A collaborator? That makes no sense. It would’ve been better to have him tear off his face a la Mission Impossible or Scooby-Doo.

Henchman is sad, so he sacrifices himself. Death by seaweed.

And that’s a wrap on unlucky season 13. Elisabeth Sladen will soon be leaving in the middle of season 14. Don’t worry, we still have tons of Tom Baker.

MySpace

A friend of mine pointed me to a podcast that was doing an episode about MySpace pages. She wanted me to submit to them about my MySpace. They never contacted me, so I thought I’d post it here.

I was never a fan of MySpace, and I refused to have a MySpace page for the longest time. I enjoy good design and MySpace was the opposite of that.

That all changed one day when I was out record shopping and found a 7″ record from Canada’s 1979 federal election.

To give you some context, Pierre Trudeau had been prime minister since 1968. Joe Clark was the leader of the now-defunct Progressive Conservative Party of Canada and leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition (basically, the largest party in Parliament who is not forming government).

Clark would go on to win the 1979 election, and only a few months later lose the confidence of the House of Commons, thus causing a snap election, which Pierre Trudeau and the Liberals would go on to win.

During the 1979 election, the PCs had a campaign song called “Let’s Get Canada Working Again” which was printed on 7″ vinyl for some odd reason.

Link on Google Drive

I found this record in my local record shop and as a huge history nerd was excited. I took it home, listened to it, laughed at how bad it was and decided now was my time to enter MySpace.

I created a MySpace account for a new band. I called them… Joe Clark and the Progressive Conservatives. Sure, not the most exciting band name, but it worked. It asked for names of the band members, so I put in all of Clark’s cabinet ministers. I’m sure we can all imagine that Flora MacDonald was obviously shredding on guitar.

I uploaded the songs.

I didn’t tell anyone I knew that I had created this account. But I decided I needed to have my top 8 friends. So who did I choose? Well obviously bands I knew and loved. It had to be Canadian bands. I think I put in Neil Young, Sloan, Leonard Cohen, and some indie bands like The Meligrove Band. I never knew if anyone actually found the page.

Fast forward to 2018, The Meligrove Band were about to release their best record onto vinyl for the first time. They decided to do a reunion/farewell show that they had never done. Toronto’s free weekly, Now Magazine, did a piece on them. 

Link to Now Magazine piece

Once we got added by a band called Joe Clark and the Progressive Conservatives. I went to their profile and it was just the music player full of the actual jingles from Joe Clark’s winning 1979 election campaign. I figured it was a young prankster from either the CBC archives or a fictional Tory youth group. Either way, those songs were awful.

I guess someone did find the page.

Recollection Volume 42 – Gaslight

Recollection is a project to review my record collection. I will listen to an album I own and review it. The album will be chosen randomly by computron 2.0. Today computron chooses…

Album: Gaslight b/w Rimb Nugget
Artist: The Ugly Ducklings
Released: 1967
Format(s) I own it on: 7″

The Ugly Ducklings were a Toronto band and Gaslight was their biggest hit. This has been sitting in my drafts folder for almost a year. I seem to do this, get stuck on a single review and not power through. Well, I’m doing it.

Gaslight is a weird song. It’s about a woman gaslighting the singer. Kinda. I think. Either way, he’s in an unhealthy relationship and needs to leave. Dear Mr. Duckling, get out of there.

Is this song worth your time? Maybe. It’s okay. It’s a decent song, but I would probably only listen to it if it can on shuffle.

As for the B-Side, well, it’s not great. It serves its purpose of being there to be a b-side, but it’s not worth anyone’s time to listen.

I DID IT! I WROTE IT! HOORAY! Now I can move on.

Next time: David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane

 

Men 34.295 (82%) | Women 7.705 (18%)
CD: 24 (57%) | Vinyl: 13 (31%) | Digital: 0 (0%) | 7″: 3 (7%) | Box: 1 (2%)
1960s: 6 (12%) | 1970s: 3 (7%) | 1980s: 1 (2%) | 1990s: 12 (29%) | 2000s: 17 (40%) | 2010s: 3 (7%)
Canada 14.8 (35%) | USA 17.2 (41%) | UK 8 (19%) | NZ 1 (2%) | FR 1 (2%)
Ontario 6 (40%) | Quebec 1 (7%) | Nova Scotia 4 (27%) | New Brunswick 2 (13%) | Manitoba 0 (0%) | British Columbia 1 (7%) | Prince Edward Island 0 (0%)
Saskatchewan 0 (0%) | Alberta 0 (0%) | Newfoundland and Labrador 1 (7%) | Northwest Territories 0 (0%) | Yukon 0 (0%) | Nunavut 0 (0%)

Recollection Volume 41 – Original Music From The Motion Picture “The Such”

Recollection is a project to review my record collection. I will listen to an album I own and review it. The album will be chosen randomly by computron 2.0. Today computron chooses…

Album: Original Music From The Motion Picture “The Such”
Artist: Elevator Through
Released: 1998
Format(s) I own it on: CD

After the break up of Eric’s Trip, Rick White began some home recordings under the name Elevator To Hell, eventually adding Eric’s Trip drummer Mark Gaudet, and Orange Glass alumnus and White’s then-wife, Tara White. Elevator To Hell eventually became Elevator Through who later became Elevator.

Elevator was one of the best psychedelic bands in Canada during the 1990s and 2000s. This is in no small part due to the fantastic rhythm section provided by Mark Gaudet and Tara White. Gaudet’s drumming style is uniquely his own, he plays with a heavy emphasis on the cymbals. Gaudet doesn’t have a light touch, one of the times I saw Elevator live, Gaudet broke his snare’s skin. The band was performing without any breaks in the music, so the Whites jammed while Gaudet fixed the drum.

Tara White’s bass playing is an attack. She knows where to go to move the song. Her bass playing is melodic where you don’t expect it to be. She’s damn good.

I first heard Elevator Through, specifically “The Pick-Up” on a cassette I received from someone I knew on IRC, the #sloan channel. It took me about 15 years before I finally purchased The Such. I still have this cassette, and the contents of that cassette live in a playlist in iTunes. I have no idea if the tape still plays, but sometimes I still expect it to transition between songs like that cassette, going from Belle & Sebastian’s “A Summer Wasting” to Beck’s “Halo of Gold” rather than the more expected “Seymour Stein.”

The Such is the soundtrack to a film that I only just saw. It’s on Vimeo, embedded below. It’s less a film, and more a long-form music video. There are definite pieces that stand out as being from a soundtrack, including the title track, which starts with wind chimes. I first put this record on for reviewing while lying in bed with the gusts of wind blowing through my open window. The chimes brought me into this record. The chimes return throughout the record.

Highlights

My favourite is “The Pick-Up” which I was my entry to Elevator’s music. It’s also the most melodic of the album. Though my partner referred to it as “that album you’ve been listening to that sounds like Doctor Who.” I think that’s a compliment, Delia Derbyshire’s realization of the original Doctor Who theme is an amazing feat.

“The Wink” comes in a close second. I feel it starts off poorly, but once the song gets going, it delivers.

Lowlights

“The Such” is windchimes. It’s going to go here, as lovely as it was that one time, it won’t be when it comes on randomly in my car.1

“Sleep Experiment No. 3” does nothing for me.

Men 33.295 (81%) | Women 7.705 (19%)
CD: 24 (59%) | Vinyl: 13 (32%) | Digital: 0 (0%) | 7″: 2 (5%) | Box: 1 (2%)
1960s: 5 (12%) | 1970s: 3 (7%) | 1980s: 1 (2%) | 1990s: 12 (29%) | 2000s: 17 (41%) | 2010s: 3 (7%)
Canada 13.8 (34%) | USA 17.2 (42%) | UK 8 (20%) | NZ 1 (2%) | FR 1 (2%)
Ontario 5 (36%) | Quebec 1 (7%) | Nova Scotia 4 (29%) | New Brunswick 2 (14%) | Manitoba 0 (0%) | British Columbia 1 (7%) | Prince Edward Island 0 (0%)
Saskatchewan 0 (0%) | Alberta 0 (0%) | Newfoundland and Labrador 1 (7%) | Northwest Territories 0 (0%) | Yukon 0 (0%) | Nunavut 0 (0%)
  1. Fun Story Time™: I have a two room setup with Sonos, was in my bedroom as I was finishing up this article. Pressed play, had two people in my living room yelling, “ADAM! What’s going on?” Apparently I was playing the wind chimes in the wrong room. I forgot about the footnotes part of my blog, I used to have fun with that, I should bring them back. []

Recollection Volume 40 – On The Beach

Recollection is a project to review my record collection. I will listen to an album I own and review it. The album will be chosen randomly by computron. Today computron chooses…

Album: On The Beach
Artist: Neil Young
Released: 1974
Format(s) I own it on: CD

On_the_Beach_-_Neil_YoungThis is the final selection by Computron 1.0. It was a FileMaker database, that somehow went missing. I don’t know where the file ended up. As I unpacked from my move, I recreated Computron as a Google Sheet. The next entry will be generated from that.

I haven’t been able to put down On The Beach, it’s one of Neil Young’s best records. I’ve had this record on loop since I finished writing the Another Side edition of Recollection.

Contributions from Ben Keith, Graham Nash, David Crosby, Levon Helm, Rick Danko and many more make this one an all-star lineup for a bit of a strange record.

Neil Young is no stranger to strange, and this won’t be his furthest departure, but this, his fifth record, is the beginning, or perhaps the end of the classic Neil Young. Depends on your perspective. He had his self-titled record under his belt, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (his first with Crazy Horse), and the brilliant After The Gold Rush and Harvest. Young would spend the rest of the decade creating with a quality of valleys and peaks. However, On The Beach is as much a child of Harvest as it’s the parent of Tonight’s The Night. This record is unique in its own right.

But is it good? Hell yes.

Highlights

The opening two tracks, “Walk On” and “See The Sky ABout To Rain” are amongst the best of Young’s output. I would put those on any best of compiled for Young’s career. When the original line up of The Byrds reunited they took the spots usually reserved for Dylan covers and provided them to Young and Joni Mitchell. They performed “Cowgirl In The Sand” and “See The Sky About To Rain.” While the former isn’t much to write home about, Gene Clark’s vocals on “See The Sky About To Rain” are divine. It doesn’t compare to the Neil Young original, which in turn doesn’t compare to the version on his Massey Hall album.

Lowlights

It’s hard to pick a lowlight, as the record is solid. There’s nothing I would remove, but I think “Vampire Blues” would be my least favourite.

Men 32.625 (82%) | Women 7.375 (18%)
CD: 24 (60%) | Vinyl: 13 (33%) | Digital: 0 (0%) | 7″: 2 (5%) | Box: 1 (3%)
1960s: 5 (13%) | 1970s: 3 (8%) | 1980s: 1 (3%) | 1990s: 11 (28%) | 2000s: 17 (43%) | 2010s: 3 (8%)
Canada 12.8 (32%) | USA 17.2 (43%) | UK 8 (20%) | NZ 1 (3%) | FR 1 (3%)
Ontario 5 (38%) | Quebec 1 (8%) | Nova Scotia 4 (31%) | New Brunswick 1 (8%) | Manitoba 0 (0%) | British Columbia 1 (8%) | Prince Edward Island 0 (0%)
Saskatchewan 0 (0%) | Alberta 0 (0%) | Newfoundland and Labrador 1 (8%) | Northwest Territories 0 (0%) | Yukon 0 (0%) | Nunavut 0 (0%)

Recollection Volume 39 – Another Side Of Bob Dylan

Recollection is a project to review my record collection. I will listen to an album I own and review it. The album will be chosen randomly by computron. Today computron chooses…

Album: Another Side Of Bob Dylan
Artist: Bob Dylan
Released: 1964
Format(s) I own it on: CD/Vinyl

Bob_Dylan_-_Another_Side_of_Bob_Dylan

I was excited for this one. I don’t listen to Bob Dylan much these days, but still like his music. Back in the high school days, this was one of my favourites. Something changed. I don’t know exactly what it was, but here I am, nearly three years after having started this post, and I’m only just getting back to it. It didn’t help that the FileMaker database I had catalogued everything in has gone missing.

I had so much problems with this record, because I used to love it, but now I don’t love it, and I don’t dislike it. There’s definitely some cringe moments on this records. I’m often listening and unsure about so much of the record.

Like the title suggests, this record is meant to show Bob Dylan in a new light. He’s no longer the protester, he’s singing love songs.

At times, Dylan’s lyricism can be generously described at pedestrian, but other times, we see the genius that everyone seems to always talk about.

Highlights

“Chimes of Freedom” is a song I loved from this album during my teenage years, and still do.

His nasal voice pouring out “Ballad in Plain D” might be one of Dylan’s greatest accomplishments. The song is so perfect, I cannot imagine any cover ever doing it justice.

Lowlights

I hate “Motorpsycho Nitemare” and “Black Crow Blues.”

Men 31.625 (81%) | Women 7.375 (19%)
CD: 23 (59%) | Vinyl: 13 (33%) | Digital: 0 (0%) | 7″: 2 (5%) | Box: 1 (3%)
1960s: 5 (13%) | 1970s: 2 (5%) | 1980s: 1 (3%) | 1990s: 11 (28%) | 2000s: 17 (44%) | 2010s: 3 (8%)
Canada 11.8 (30%) | USA 17.2 (44%) | UK 8 (21%) | NZ 1 (3%) | FR 1 (3%)
Ontario 4 (33%) | Quebec 1 (8%) | Nova Scotia 4 (33%) | New Brunswick 1 (8%) | Manitoba 0 (0%) | British Columbia 1 (8%) | Prince Edward Island 0 (0%)
Saskatchewan 0 (0%) | Alberta 0 (0%) | Newfoundland and Labrador 1 (8%) | Northwest Territories 0 (0%) | Yukon 0 (0%) | Nunavut 0 (0%)

Wonderwall

Apple Years

 

Between 1968 and 1975, George Harrison released six albums on the Beatles’ record label, Apple. The first record Harrison released was called Wonderwall Music, it was the soundtrack to a film directed by Joe Massot called Wonderwall. Maybe I should watch this film then.

Wonderwall tells the story of obsession. A scientist is obsessed with his work. His life revolves around it and he doesn’t notice anything around him. Not his coworkers, not his apartment. He lives amongst the stacks of papers that line the walls of his apartment.

Suddenly, in a rage, Professor Collins knocks a frame off his wall, exposing a hole. Through this hole he spies in neighbour. His boring life is exposed, and Professor Collins gets a glimpse into the swinging sixties.

Collins begins obsessing over Penny Lane, the woman next door, and the life lived by her and her boyfriend. Collins wishes he could be there living that life. Instead he’s stuck inside his own life. Living alone.

Wonderwall is more of a sketch than a film. There’s an unfinished quality to the story. There’s very little dialogue, Lane never speaks1, and we drift off into these fantasies of Collins’ mind. The fantasies are more reflective of the hippy genre than it is of the character’s senses. While he wishes to be a part of swinging London, he’s not on acid, leaving the audience wondering where these drug-fueled visions are coming from.

While Jane Birkin gets top billing as Penny Lane, she never speaks. Her role is to look beautiful and for Collins to leer. The brief moments of semblance of a characters are glossed over. We learn a brief moment of her life, slightly more than Collins knows. There’s an interesting question there: should the audience see more than Collins sees or should the audience see everything? I’d opt for everything make her a full character, but Massot goes for neither. The director instead shows us a quick glimpse into a possible world of Lane’s; never making her a full character, but making her more than Collins’ obsession. It’s a strange middle ground to be in, a horrible middle ground.

WonderwallConsent is barely touched upon within the film. We see that Collins understands what he is doing is wrong, but continues to invade Lane’s privacy. Collins has a vision of his dead mother shaming him for his inappropriate actions, but never touches upon this again.

Making matters worse, Massot has Collins become the hero of the film. He saves Lane’s life seemingly justifying his actions.

This is where we truly see how poor of a filmmaker Massot is. None of the characters evolve or change, and the actions they take, the bad, horrible actions they take, never go unpunished, instead get rewarded. These actions are not rewarded for social commentary, but seemingly are rewarded due to lazy writing. Collins becomes a hero for breaking into Lane’s apartment, he ends up calling the police and cheating the woman out of the death she desires.

Collins doesn’t break into Lane’s apartment to save her. Instead he breaks in to be a creepy stalker. He just happens to come across her dying.

I don’t think the film will ruin my appreciation for the album Wonderwall Music. Well it’s not a well known album, it’s a great one. It’s nothing like any of George Harrison’s other works and shines because of it. Harrison experiments with Indian ragas and musical tropes he never had the ability to experiment with in The Beatles or as a pop musician.

Harrison’s work fitted the film quite wonderfully. While much of the film didn’t have any form of dialogue, Harrison’s soundtrack created a soundscape that helps transport the viewer away from the mundane as Collins’ wonderwall does for his boring life.

  1. I’ll get back to that shortly []