Congratulations (1988)- The Traveling Wilburys

The Traveling Wilburys 1988

There are supergroups and then there are the Traveling Wilburys (TW). It’s a shame they made just 2 records – Volume 1 and Volume 3. Today’s song Congratulations is the first song to appear in this Music Library Project from them. What entails the ‘Music Library Project’?
I imagine all songs from their impeccable Volume 1 record will appear here. The Travelling Wilburys consisted of some of the greatest talent in contemporary rock history – George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty.

Congratulations is sung and written by Bob Dylan and performed in his irrepressible nasally tone. This album was played incessantly in our household. I remember my mother mocking me constantly singing Congratulations by accentuating Dylan’s nasal delivery. She had me in stitches. My next door neighbour who happened to be my Geography teacher and table tennis coach at high school also played the Volume 1 record on repeat in his van driving us on long trips to tournaments. This record certified triple platinum you could argue helped revitalise the careers of Dylan and Petty.

Congratulations for bringing me down
Congratulations, now I’m sorrow bound
Congratulations, you got a good deal
Congratulations, how good you must feel

I think what I enjoy most about this song is Dylan’s repetitive delivery of Congratulations and its morbid fascination bordering on grim humor – like he’s taking the piss. Congratulations wasn’t released as a single, but it was one of 4 songs from the album which Dylan was credited as writing for the album. The others were Dirty World, Tweeter and the Monkey Man (which was apparently intended as either a parody of or tribute to Bruce Springsteen’s early, verbose songs), and the bonus track “Like a Ship”.

Since many other songs will appear from this Grammy Award winning album, I will not over extend this post. Much more will be discussed about the legendary Volume 1 album as subsequent songs pop up. If you can’t bide your time I recommend you take a look at the insightful ‘making of’ documentary about the Traveling Wilburys below, preluding today’s featured song – Congratulations.

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”- Michel Legrand

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6 comments on “Congratulations (1988)- The Traveling Wilburys
  1. badfinger20 (Max) says:

    I love the short documentary Matt… I love this album and Dylan’s Wilbury songs. Tweeter and the Monkey Man was my top one and this one is at least second…on Volume 3…my favorite song off that album is If You Belonged to Me.
    It did help Dylan and Petty. Harrison had his Cloud 9 album in the charts. What a talented band…probably the most talented “super group”

    • I agree tweeter is up there for me. Orbison’s ‘You’re Not Alone’ is probably my favourite to listen to, but nearly all of the songs I like listening to.I agree with ‘Belonged to Me’ Volume 3. There are a couple of gems from that record.
      Harrison seems to me to be the mastermind behind behind the TW project. As you say he was receiving great commercial success at the time. Also Orbison was popular to with his ‘You got it’ hit.
      I think for the layman listener – Volume 1 Travelling Wilbury’s is about the best thing you could hear.

      • badfinger20 (Max) says:

        Harrison was the guy that brought them all together which is pretty cool. He was only in two bands in his life…The Beatles and the Wilburys…not a bad career there!
        It was sad when Orbison died because he had finally made it back and that happened.

      • Harrison has some sort of music resume! Haha. It was tragic when Orbison passed. By the way, if you haven’t read Johnny Cash’s autobiography, you should seek it out. His recollections about Orbison’s life is eye-opening. Orbison did it tough!

      • badfinger20 (Max) says:

        I do need to read Cash bio…Roy had a rough life from what I read…I may check that out Matt.

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