It’s kind of amazing, when you think about it, that it even needs to be said that there is a “profoundly Jewish thread woven throughout Dylan’s life.” Isn’t that pretty hard to miss? But then the Jewish experience in America includes the phenomenon of those who try to run away from their Jewishness, in a variety of senses, and Dylan has given some reason to believe that he might be doing this at different times.
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.
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” … Continue reading Something’s Burning, Baby – Bob Dylan
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 …
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.)
Why make up quotes from Bob Dylan? There are few figures in popular culture of the past 50 years who have given as many lengthy and fascinating and amusing interviews as Dylan has. I guess the obvious answer is that you make them up if you want to have Dylan expressing a thought he never … Continue reading Writer made up Bob Dylan quotes; resigns from New Yorker
This style of argument over whether we can believe in an omnipotent and loving God given the reality of evil in the world has been going on a long time, of-course. And it will echo down the corridors of history for the rest of the time allotted to history. But, in my view, it arrives nowhere. It ultimately becomes, I think, a game of ghoulish numbers, attempting to delineate a certain quantity or frequency of evil acts and events that are permissible while still accepting the possibility of the existence of that all-powerful and loving God.
Thanks to Bob Cohen for referring me to Dierks Bentley and his bluegrassy version of Bob Dylan’s song “Senor.” I hadn’t heard it; it’s very fine, and Bentley seems to be an estimable musician in general. “Senor” is featured on his album Up on the Ridge. Dierks Bentley singing “Senor” Checking Dierks Bentley out on … Continue reading “Senor” – Dierks Bentley sings Bob Dylan; thoughts on Street Legal
Today, many Christian churches following the most common Lectionary would have featured a particular segment of the Sermon on the Mount as the Gospel reading: namely Matthew 5:38-48. This is the part which includes Jesus’ admonition to his followers to “turn the other cheek” in response to being slapped in the face, which is one … Continue reading On Turning the Other Cheek: Bob Dylan et al
However, his choices also raise a question, which has surely been raised before regarding these recent highly-vocal advocates for atheism (the most high-profile being Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins). The question is this: How many of them would really like to live in a world where everyone agreed with them that there was no God (or that if there was a God that he must be either evil or entirely unknowable)?
This tension of the competing narratives of Christmas is felt, inevitably, in the songs of Christmas. There are on the one hand the hymns about Jesus and Bethlehem, and then there are the songs of Santa and his reindeer and his lists of the naughty and the nice. Treading the middle ground are secular songs of the season such as “White Christmas” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” Yet every time that someone records an album mixing these various Christmas songs together, the implicit question for the listener is this: Which is it?
Paul Westphal has enjoyed a storied career in American basketball. As a player, he was drafted by the Boston Celtics in 1972, and earned a championship ring with that team in 1974. He went on to play six seasons with the Phoenix Suns (leading them to the NBA finals in ’76), and continues to rank
Robert Spencer’s bio at Jihad Watch states that he “has been studying Islamic theology, law, and history in depth since 1980.” Since September 11th, 2001, he has been one of a priceless few whose knowledge of and clear speaking to issues surrounding Islam, jihadism and terrorism has helped the rest of us catch up (although … Continue reading Q & A with Robert Spencer on Bob Dylan
Actor, writer, economist, etc: Ben Stein is difficult to label, as all good Bob Dylan fans should be. He had a famous turn as a teacher in the film “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” He hosted Comedy Central’s quiz show, “Win Ben Stein’s Money,” for five years. His most recent book is a collection of writings … Continue reading Q & A with Ben Stein on Bob Dylan
Collected posts relating to Chronicles and the world’s response to it (in straight chronological order, first to last) New Morning … 09/26/2004 Chronicles is excerpted in Newsweek. My own reaction to reading Bob’s narrative is just plain joy and amazement. It is absolutely direct. From the liner notes to the Jimmie Rodgers tribute album … Continue reading Chronicling Chronicles (reactions to Bob Dylan’s autobiography)
I was deeply saddened to hear that Paul Westphal passed away yesterday, at the age of 70, having been diagnosed with brain cancer last August. He was a legend in the world of basketball, but, as the remembrances currently flowing out everywhere are indicating, he was also legendary in a much more important way: that … Continue reading Paul Westphal, rest in peace
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.
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 … Continue reading Pressing On
The problem is the double standard, and the zero tolerance and indeed outright hostility afforded to Christian words and concepts. By promoting and talking about all kinds of other ideas, but treating Christian ones as off-limits, the underlying message being communicated is that Christianity is toxic: whatever you do, don’t look for meaning there.
Jeffery Goldberg of The Atlantic conducted an interview with Christopher Hitchens — the well known writer who is suffering from some very serious cancer — and some of it is posted at this link, and embedded here below. This part of their discussion, which also has some contributions from the writer Martin Amis, deals with … Continue reading Hitchens at the Gate
A few days ago I wrote a little about the newly released song “Red River Shore” from Bob Dylan’s Tell Tale Signs collection. Perhaps I was going a tad nuts implying that it might be the greatest thing Bob Dylan has ever done. After all, you could certainly argue that there’s nothing radical about the … Continue reading Who’s that girl (from the Red River shore)?