(Also see our Bob Dylan Q & A section for interviews with some interesting Bob Dylan fans)
Commentary Dylanosophy

Bob Dylan Walks on Hate Charge but Freedom Still on Trial

In a victory for those who would like to see Bob Dylan avoid a year in a French jail and/or a fine of 45,000 euros (but not so much for supporters of free speech) a court in Paris has ruled that he is not liable on a charge of incitement to hatred due to remarks he made to Rolling Stone magazine in 2012.

Posted on April 15th, 2014

Death is not the End

Just when you might think it’s become old hat, that you’ve been there, done that and moved on, death has this way of reasserting itself in one’s life in some novel and unexpected way. Endlessly resourceful, death may sometimes take a holiday but, just like taxes, will always return demanding to be paid.

Posted on April 6th, 2014

Bob Dylan in the 80s (Volume 1) – Various Artists

It does not purport to contain the best ever Bob Dylan songs and certainly not the most popular ones. It does not feature artists who are household names, and no one could be expecting it to sell in enormous quantities. Its clear motive instead is to lift up songs from Bob Dylan’s most maligned and least hip decade.

Posted on April 4th, 2014

Coming Soon: Bob Dylan in the 80s

An album to be released on March 25th will feature a curious plethora of artistes performing versions of various Bob Dylan songs which Dylan originally released between 1980 and 1990. It may seem an odd decade to be celebrated in this fashion, but I believe that’s also kind of the idea.

Posted on February 27th, 2014

Accentuate the Positive

Perhaps the first cover version Bob Dylan ever seriously took on was the Johnny Mercer / Harold Arlen tune, “Accentuate the Positive.” He sang it for relatives, at the age of four, after first insisting that everyone must keep very quiet. It became a part of Zimmerman family lore: it was the moment when people first said …

Posted on February 27th, 2014

Bob Dylan Chrysler Commercial (w/ video)

It’s weird-ass, funny, and ultimately-even-if-inexplicably cool. In other words, it’s typical Bob Dylan, and it’s his TV commercial for the Chrysler automobile manufacturing corporation which aired during the Super Bowl today.

Posted on February 2nd, 2014

“Let It Be Me” – Bob Dylan, Clydie King

As on a number of the Shot of Love tracks, Bob is accompanied on vocals by Clydie King. To my ears, at least, this rendition of “Let It Be Me,” filled as it is with emotion and unfakeable spontaneity, is absolutely incandescent.

Posted on January 25th, 2014

Twyla Tharp / Bob Dylan – The Times They Are A-Changin’

It’s easy to see why Dylan himself — who has spent decades now probing different angles of his own songs in live performances — would say: “It’s the best presentation of my songs I have ever seen or heard on any stage.” It does so right by the songs that it is hard to believe that Dylan himself had no part in the basic concept — but that’s what we’re told.

Posted on January 16th, 2014

It’s All Good: Bob Dylan and Saint Augustine

So, in addition to exploring the idea that all things are good, you may notice that there’s another way in which Augustine’s train of thought jibes with Dylan’s. One of the verses in Dylan’s song goes “Wives are leavin’ their husbands, they beginning to roam / They leave the party and they never get home / I wouldn’t change it, even if I could / You know what they say man, it’s all good” …

Posted on December 8th, 2013

Bob Dylan to Stand Trial for Inciting Racism?

You may not have been aware of Bob Dylan’s long-standing animus against the Croats, but it seems the Croats are very much aware of it. Dylan’s music was reportedly banned from Croatian radio station “Split” after an interview he did with Rolling Stone magazine last year

Posted on November 27th, 2013

“Forever Young” in Kohl’s Commercial (Bob Dylan)

It is not one of Bob Dylan’s versions of the song, but instead a simple cover version by a female singer with a guitar. And it is about thirty-three seconds long. As commercials go, it is tasteful, not pushing the sale of anything in particular but just trying to create a general good feeling.

Posted on November 19th, 2013

New Video for “Like a Rolling Stone” by Bob Dylan

It is bad enough, if I may say so, that so many of our pop-musical memories are affected by what occurred in the 1980s, namely the MTV revolution and related phenomena. But there is no need to attach a video of any kind to a record as magnificent as “Like a Rolling Stone.”

Posted on November 18th, 2013

Listening to the Remastered Saved (Bob Dylan)

I listened to the original and the remastered versions both through headphones and through the speakers on my stereo, flipping from one version to the other as appropriate. Now, there’s always going to be a subjective element to how music is heard, but my own conclusion

Posted on October 30th, 2013

Saved, by Bob Dylan, to be Remastered

On November 5th, 2013, Sony/Columbia will release a remastered version of Bob Dylan’s 1980 album, Saved. It is customarily characterized as the second of Bob Dylan’s three “gospel period” albums. It contains the most straightahead gospel songs of the three, drawing deeply from black American forms of worship music. It is the first time that […]

Posted on September 30th, 2013

Another Self Portrait – Bob Dylan (Bootleg Series Volume 10)

So it is: Self Portrait is a joke wrapped in a joke, wrapped in a joke. The latest joke is that over forty years later, they’ve released the outtakes from this almost-universally-despised album, and people all over the place are writing long intellectual-sounding treatises on how wonderful it is. You truly can’t make up this stuff.

Posted on August 29th, 2013

Property of Jesus – Chrissie Hynde

I’d heard reference before to Chrissie Hynde singing this song, and was curious about it, but I hadn’t actually heard it until I came across this clip the other day. The rendition is word perfect and tightly-performed, so it’s clearly not a casual or one-off thing.

Posted on August 20th, 2013

Fifteen Song Preview of Another Self Portrait by Bob Dylan

A preview consisting of fifteen songs from Bob Dylan’s forthcoming album Another Self Portrait (part of his Bootleg Series) is available on the NPR website. (The two-CD version of the album will contain 35 previously-unreleased tracks.) That NPR link also has features a short and very good piece by Ann Powers on the release. Nowhere […]

Posted on August 19th, 2013

Bob Dylan – “Pretty Saro”

A teaser has been released from the forthcoming Bob Dylan Bootleg Series Volume 10, Another Self Portrait. It is his solo acoustic performance of a song titled “Pretty Saro,” an eighteenth-century English ballad that was kept alive in the Appalachians and enjoyed a twentieth-century revival (video below). It is said to be from the original […]

Posted on August 8th, 2013

Twelve Gates to the City

The walls of the city are said to be made of jasper, and the city itself is described as “pure gold, like clear glass.” As it happens, Bob Dylan once wrote a song of his own presumably inspired by the same passage of scripture, titled “City of Gold” (never officially released by him, but recorded by the Dixie Hummingbirds …

Posted on July 21st, 2013

Bob Dylan: Another Self Portrait (and video promo)

Volume 10 of the continuing “Bootleg Series” of official Bob Dylan releases will mainly cover the period from 1969 to 1971; in other words sessions from Nashville Skyline, Self Portrait and New Morning and other odds and ends from the time. The emphasis appears to be on outtakes and original stripped-down mixes of songs from […]

Posted on July 17th, 2013

Bob Dylan pays tribute to Bobby Vee

In 1959, at the age of 18, the then-Bobby Zimmerman, by happenstance, got a gig playing piano with the even-younger singer Bobby Vee and his band while they were playing in North Dakota. Vee was having a pop-hit with the song “Susie Baby.” The story is apparently that Bob Dylan played at two dances with […]

Posted on July 15th, 2013

Gospel Plow

This metaphor inspired some person, sometime, to compose what has now become a traditional gospel song, known alternatively as “Gospel Plow” or “Keep Your Hand on the Plow” or simply “Hold On.” I first heard it and automatically think of it via the version that Bob Dylan recorded on his debut and eponymous LP in 1962.

Posted on June 30th, 2013

Bob Dylan at 72 (Finally Acting His Age)

So, Bob Dylan is 72-years-old today. Bob Dylan being that old is not a problem, I think. He wears his age well. As I believe I wrote elsewhere recently, David Bowie being 66 seems a lot stranger than Bob Dylan being 72, and Bowie is a rather uncomfortable and indeed creepy-looking senior citizen. (No offense […]

Posted on May 24th, 2013

Bob Dylan and the Légion d’Honneur Award

This is exceedingly déjà-vu pour moi, but I can’t quite resist responding to a current news story related to Bob Dylan. Dylan apparently has been in the running to receive France’s highest honor, the “Légion d’honneur,” but according to news outlet France 24 his nomination has run into some trouble due to the discovery by […]

Posted on May 11th, 2013

Something’s Burning, Baby – Bob Dylan

Happy Easter, again! Today, May 5th, was Easter Sunday for those Christians following the Eastern Orthodox calendar (a not inconsiderable number). Reaching around in the muck of my memory for a song to reference in celebration of this fact, I thought about the big concepts of Easter, and thought of various songs about “rising again” […]

Posted on May 5th, 2013

In a Bend of the River, Driftin’ Too Far from Shore

Yours truly and his better half happened to be watching the classic western movie “Bend of the River” the other night night (directed by Anthony Mann and starring James Stewart and Arthur Kennedy), and I had one of those weird Bob-Dylan-fan-déjà-vu moments. A line spoken by one of the characters started a Bob Dylan song […]

Posted on April 16th, 2013

Bob Dylan, James Taylor, Don McLean, Joni Mitchell: Anti-Communist Agents?

In 1975, in a memo to Washington and the Kissinger-led U.S. State Department, the then-U.S. Ambassador to Russia, Walter Stoessel Jr., suggested that various top musical acts should be entreated to tour in the Soviet Union, apparently with the ultimate goal of weakening the communist system. Names he mentioned included Bob Dylan, James Taylor, Don McLean, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Crosby Stills & Nash, Carly Simon and Carole King.

Posted on April 10th, 2013

Bob Dylan Concert Film, from Massey Hall, Toronto, 1980

I wonder if the dear reader has ever seen “Stop Making Sense,” the Talking Heads concert film made in 1984. If not, then you really ought to (and at the time of writing it is viewable on YouTube). If one was around back then, and a fan of popular music, it was pretty much impossible […]

Posted on April 9th, 2013

Jacques Levy on Collaborating with Bob Dylan on Desire

Very recently uploaded to YouTube by “Prism Films” (who I presume owns the footage) is an interview from 2004 with the late Jacques Levy, a lyricist and theater director who is familiar to Bob Dylan fans as the co-composer of many of the songs from Dylan’s 1975 album Desire. It’s divided into nine clips of […]

Posted on March 25th, 2013

Pressing On

Many Christian churches this morning would have featured a reading from Paul’s letter to the Philippians, including this passage which might have evoked a certain melody in the minds of Bob Dylan fans: Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ […]

Posted on March 17th, 2013

Bob Dylan to play Wales in honor of Dylan Thomas?

Well, no sooner do I announce that I have become a Welshman than everybody wants in on the act. Now it is being reported that Bob Dylan is considering playing a gig in the city of Swansea, Wales, during 2014, to honor the centenary of the birth of the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. This is […]

Posted on January 17th, 2013

Another Home Garden Against the Law

In truth, it is not especially news that virtually everyone in the United States is burdened by regulations and restrictions that keep them from using their property in ways in which they would choose, while doing harm to no one.

Posted on January 8th, 2013

“Revisionist Art” by Bob Dylan at the Gagosian Gallery in New York

“Revisionist Art: Thirty Works by Bob Dylan” is on show at New York City’s Gagosian Gallery. It was unveiled last Wednesday and runs, God willing, until January 12th, 2013. I was slightly surprised to hear that Dylan was having another show at the Gagosian. It was little more than a year ago that they hosted […]

Posted on December 3rd, 2012

Rock of Ages – Bob Dylan

It’s always a good time to hear this. Glad to find it on YouTube, below.

Posted on November 11th, 2012

Abraham Joshua Heschel: “Who Is Man?”

Like Heschel’s work generally, it’s very rich, at times quasi-poetic, and rewards enormous reflection on each page. Following is a short section on what Heschel characterizes as man’s inherent “nonfinality.” (In using the word “man,” of-course, Heschel is referring to humankind, both on the general level and the individual, and is not trying to disrespect the ladies.)

Posted on September 28th, 2012

The tempest rose high

There are many lovely versions of the great old song, “Drifting Too Far from the Shore,” written by one Charles E. Moody. There’s Hank Williams, Bill Monroe, and Emmylou Harris, for starters. In the documentary “No Direction Home,” Bob Dylan credits his first hearing of this song, as a child, with igniting a kind of […]

Posted on September 20th, 2012

From the Complete Rolling Stone Interview: Following Up On Dylan & God (etc)

If you’ve read the whole interview, you’ll know that Dylan goes off on a big tangent about a notion of “transfiguration”: his own, somehow connected with the death of another, different Bobby Zimmerman in a motorcycle accident in the early 1960s (mentioned very briefly in Chronicles, page 79). Rolling Stone unabashedly makes this the centerpiece of the article, highlighting it in the intro as a story “much more transformational than he has fully revealed before …

Posted on September 14th, 2012

Bob Dylan: “I still believe in Jesus, mofos!”

In the end, it’s his business. Some people pick up on it and some don’t. Yet, people continue to be curious. Many people go to Google and type in “Is Bob Dylan still a Christian?” and similar queries. I know because some of them happen to end up in my website statistics after doing so, because they hit upon something I wrote on the subject in the past. (Others have written plenty too.)

Posted on September 13th, 2012

Bob Dylan on the Cost of Slavery to America

There are more attention-getting quotes from the Rolling Stone interview with Bob Dylan (on newsstands on Friday). These are highlighted by the Associated Press. They say that Dylan describes America as shamed because it was “founded on the backs of slaves.” Further from the AP: “people (are) at each other’s throats just because they are […]

Posted on September 12th, 2012

“Wussies and pussies”: Dylan goes off in Rolling Stone interview

The forthcoming issue of Rolling Stone will have an interview with Bob Dylan, from which we already have seen excerpts, and there’s a new excerpt published today, where Dylan is asked what he thinks of critics who allege that he doesn’t cite his sources properly when he makes use of words from the works of […]

Posted on September 12th, 2012

Tempest by Bob Dylan: Is it an unreviewable album?

My impression at the moment is of a vast gulf between what the album contains versus what even the best reviewers have been able to say about it. I don’t think this is because the reviewers are stupid but rather that there really is so much going on in the songs on this album that a review of standard length and breadth is bound to come up short; this is true I think even more than to the usual degree.

Posted on September 10th, 2012

Tempest approaching for Bob Dylan fans, and a still-curious world

Tempest by Bob Dylan With the official release of Tempest by Bob Dylan coming in seven days, the full-length reviews are beginning to appear in the press. People appear to like it a lot. I can’t be sure, but I’m beginning to suspect that this might be the break-out album for Bob Dylan—the one that […]

Posted on September 3rd, 2012
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