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

(Review) Bob Dylan – Shadows In The Night

I’ve long harbored the feeling that it’s a bit farcical of yours truly to “review” a new Bob Dylan album; being as much of a fan as I obviously am, my enthusiasms tend to run over: I get carried away (especially absent any humorless editor to beat me down). Why pretend to offer an unbiased review?

Posted on March 19th, 2015

Bob Dylan Talks (Post-Speech Hoopla) to Bill Flanagan

Many of the remarks Dylan made in his MusiCares speech a week ago are still echoing around the solar system, upsetting some as much as they’ve been entertaining and/or fascinating others. He covered a lot of ground and he named names, not always in a complimentary fashion. He said himself at the end of the speech: “I probably left out a lot of people and said too much about some.” That was a pretty good bet. So, obviously in the spirit …

Posted on February 13th, 2015

Kris Kristofferson in Bob Dylan’s MusiCares Speech

It would be remiss not to make note of the very special tribute that Bob Dylan paid to Kris Kristofferson in the speech he gave last Friday, February 6th, at the MusiCares benefit. (Transcript “from Bob’s notes” now at this link.) After speaking about how the Nashville scene was once “sewn up in a box” by a collection of songwriters and power brokers, he goes on:

Posted on February 10th, 2015

Reactions to Bob Dylan’s MusiCares Speech; Plus The Blackwood Brothers Quartet

In his speech last Friday night, accepting the “Person of the Year” award from MusiCares, Bob Dylan remembered many old gratitudes, for such as John Hammond, the Staple Singers, Joan Baez, Lou Levy, Johnny Cash, and others, and then he also used the occasion to take issue with many of the tropes that music critics have employed when writing about him. And he also took …

Posted on February 9th, 2015

Bob Dylan Gives 30+ Minute Speech at MusiCares gala

These are good times. Or maybe the world’s about to end. Or both. Bob Dylan puts out this beautifully recorded, wonderfully executed (my own self-indulgent review to come shortly) album called Shadows In The Night, a tribute to Sinatra but more than that a great work in itself, and now this: Last night Bob Dylan gave a speech well over thirty minutes long when accepting his “Person of the Year” award from MusiCares (a charity for musicians suffering hard times). Dylan, unfiltered by any interviewer or editor, giving his gratitudes and picking some bones along the way.

Posted on February 7th, 2015

Shadows In The Night: A Sinatra Tribute or NOT a Sinatra Tribute?

Back when the album Shadows in the Night by Bob Dylan was first announced, in May of 2014, Rolling Stone magazine and others were all labeling it as “Dylan does Sinatra.” Although Frank Sinatra and Bob Dylan have long been the sun and moon in my own musical consciousness (and I’ve always been fascinated by any even-tentative connections between them) I greatly hesitated about jumping on that notion, knowing that a lot of people who don’t know better tend to regard any old popular standards as “Frank Sinatra songs.” We didn’t have a track list. It wasn’t clear what the album was really going to be based upon.

Posted on February 1st, 2015

Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra, 2015: A Very Good Year

Some of us are date-oriented and some of us are not. By dates, I refer neither to the fruity nor to the romantic kind (though the same statement would probably apply to both) but rather the chronological sort: anniversaries, birthdays, milestones and the like. Some of us are date deniers, wondering whether it matters that such and such happened so many years ago on this date …

Posted on January 20th, 2015

Bob Dylan, “Stay With Me,” Studio Audio Released

Way back in May of last year we first heard “Full Moon and Empty Arms” from the forthcoming Bob Dylan album, Shadows in the Night. Today we have the release of the studio audio of “Stay With Me,” a song that Bob Dylan was closing his live performances with on his most recent tour, written by Jerome Moss and Carolyn Leigh and first recorded by Frank Sinatra.

Posted on January 19th, 2015

It’s Real: Bob Dylan “Uncovers” Frank Sinatra on Shadows in the Night

Well, those North Korean hackers couldn’t stop Bob Dylan (Sony recording artist) from announcing today some details on his forthcoming album, Shadows In The Night, which will indeed as speculated consist entirely of songs that would be best known as sung by Frank Sinatra. Dylan’s statement today as published on his website goes like this:

Posted on December 9th, 2014

Bob Dylan Live at the Beacon Theatre, New York

Last night Bob Dylan played the first of a series of five concerts at New York City’s Beacon Theatre, the final stand of his current tour.

Posted on November 29th, 2014

Bob Dylan Abides with “Stay with Me”

So, on his current tour—or, if you prefer, the current leg of his “Inevitably Going to End One Day” tour—Bob Dylan has been closing his shows in an unprecedented manner, with a song he had never sung in concert before. I’d daresay that precious few singers have sung this song in concert before (and I’d […]

Posted on November 25th, 2014

Bob Dylan – “Never Gonna Be The Same Again”

Although it was during the mid-1980s that yours truly happened to become a Bob Dylan fan, listening to his albums from that period has sometimes seemed like a guilty pleasure. While I’d stick up unreservedly for a certain number of those songs, there are those others that just seem silly. Yet, sometimes I kind of […]

Posted on October 30th, 2014

Forthcoming: The Lyrics: Since 1962 by Bob Dylan

On October 28th, Simon and Schuster will be publishing The Lyrics: Since 1962 by Bob Dylan, edited and with an introduction by noted literary scholar and critic Christopher Ricks, and co-edited by Lisa and Julie Nemrow. It is to be rather different from previous “Lyrics” collections.

Posted on October 9th, 2014

“When Death Comes Creepin’ (Whatcha Gonna Do?)” – Bob Dylan and a Few Good Questions

There are at last three recordings in existence: that Witmark demo, which was chronologically the last of the three, and two earlier ones that appeared on the limited edition Copyright Extension Collection released last year. It’s the second of those two that I think is (by far) the best, a fine recording of a terrific song.

Posted on August 6th, 2014

“Forever Young” at the 2014 All Star Game

The interesting thing about this to Dylan fans might be the evidence that “Forever Young” is one of those Bob Dylan songs that has insinuated itself into the national (and global?) consciousness to the extent that it can be referenced on such an occasion. Perhaps then it is one of those Dylan songs that will outlive even the memory of his name. That might seem an odd thought, but we don’t mind odd thinking around here.

Posted on July 17th, 2014

Regina McCrary Talking Bob Dylan

There’s a recently-added video on YouTube of singer Regina McCrary appearing for a talk at Belmont University in Nashville. (Thanks to Ronnie for the tip.) She is interviewed by Mark Maxwell. McCrary is a wonderful singer from a very musical family, and, when only about 21, she happened to be selected by Bob Dylan in late 1978 to be one of his backing singers on the album Slow Train Coming, and she went on singing for him both live and on record during what we call his “gospel phase.”

Posted on June 4th, 2014

Full Moon, Empty Arms, Bob Dylan

In one of those brilliantly orchestrated completely unanticipated moves, Bob Dylan posted to his website today his version of “Full Moon and Empty Arms,” a song written circa 1945 by Buddy Kaye and Ted Mossman, with a melody based on a Rachmaninoff tune. It reportedly heralds a forthcoming album release which may or may not be titled “Shadows in the Night” (based on some artwork also posted on his website today).

Posted on May 13th, 2014

Preserved in Desire (Bob Dylan)

Certainly, “Hurricane” is a “one-sided account” of the controversy. And it would be hard to think of a ballad ever written to honor or defend someone that didn’t present a one-sided view. It would be strange indeed to hear a song with verse after verse of arguments presenting both the defense and prosecution cases, and ending with something like, “Now it’s up to you the listener to figure it out.” One would guess that Dylan himself hopes to this day that Rubin Carter was indeed innocent.

Posted on April 20th, 2014

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
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