Blog Posts

  • New Tour, Lots of Covers – Part 3
    This is the third of a series of posts (the second one is here) that focus on the cover songs Dylan is performing on the current Outlaws Tour. This post is on Mr. Blue, by The Fleetwoods. Mr. Blue is the most interesting cover so far. The others I’ve discussed, Little Queenie and My Babe, were… Read more: New Tour, Lots of Covers – Part 3
  • New Tour, Lots of Covers – Part 2
    When I first heard Chuck Berry, I didn’t consider that he was black. I thought he was a hillbilly. Little did I know, he was a great poet, too. This the second of a series of posts (first one here) about the covers Dylan is doing on the new Outlaws Tour. This post focuses… Read more: New Tour, Lots of Covers – Part 2
  • New Tour, Lots of Covers
    Dylan has finally changed up the setlist! He had been playing the same tunes, mostly from Rough and Rowdy Ways, for literally years. It was nice to hear that he finally mixed it up. He probably gained a new paying customer – me – the next time he comes to town. The new setlist contains… Read more: New Tour, Lots of Covers
  • Thoughts on Tangled Up in Blue
    I’ve read many articles that claim Blood on the Tracks is Dylan’s best album, that Tangled Up in Blue is his best song. Once I might have, if not agreed, at least not dismissed such claims out-of-hand. But I was so much dumber then, I’m smarter than that now (slightly). That’s not to say BOOT… Read more: Thoughts on Tangled Up in Blue
  • Fragments – Versions of Highland
    I’m still listening to the new Fragments Bootleg Series release. The versions of Highlands are among the more interesting tracks (aside from The Water is Wide and Red River Shore). Highlands is a bit of an oddball on Time Out of Mind. Although the tone is dark like the rest of the album, it also… Read more: Fragments – Versions of Highland
  • Red River Shore
    Red River Shore is another standout track from the new Fragments release. (An excellent accordion-heavy version was included on Tell-Tale Signs.) Two versions are included. The first sounds more like a demo than something that would be seriously considered for the album. Daniel Lanios plays some ragged, heavy-handed guitar. Dylan’s voice is ok but not… Read more: Red River Shore
  • The Water Is Wide
    To me, The Water is Wide is the best cut on new Fragments collection. The heartache in Dylan’s voice and the sensitive backup instrumentation accentuate the overwhelming sadness expressed in the lyrics. I thought this said it well. One recording stands above all the others. The old folk song, ‘The Water Is Wide,’ was recorded… Read more: The Water Is Wide
  • Time Out of Mind
    “It’s a spooky record, because I feel spooky. I just don’t feel in tune with anything.  quote from Bob Dylan in America -Sean Wilentz p. 255 The other day I was trying to re-connect my phone to a speaker attached to my TV. After several minutes of futilely pressing buttons labeled with inscrutable icons, it… Read more: Time Out of Mind
  • Hazel Dickens (and Bob Dylan)
    I’ve been listening to Hazel Dickens a lot lately. I’ve known of her forever, and have listened to her a bit, but never in-depth. It’s been quite an enjoyable experience. I thought I’d share a little of what I’ve learned. I’m not going too much into Hazel’s bio. See “Further Reading” below. But here’s a… Read more: Hazel Dickens (and Bob Dylan)
  • Blind Willie McTell and Bob Dylan
    Blind Wille in a hotel room in Georgia Library of Congress site ↗ Like many Dylan fans, I became aware of Blind Wille McTell after the release of The Bootleg Series Vol. 1-3, released in 1991. That collection includes his nearly lost masterpiece, Blind Willie McTell, which was inexplicably left off Infidels. I immediately sought… Read more: Blind Willie McTell and Bob Dylan
  • Bob Dylan and Son House
    The people that played that music were still around…[in the early sixties], so there were a bunch of us, me included, who got to see all these people close up – people like Son House, Reverend Gary Davis or Sleepy John Estes. Just to sit there and be up close and watch them play, you… Read more: Bob Dylan and Son House
  • Bob Dylan and Skip James
    I’ve been listening to a lot of old, acoustic blues recordings lately. Scrolling through Amazon Unlimited (note –> not Spotify), one song stood out to me. Not because of the music, but the name, Special Rider Blues. After a few seconds, it came to me that Special Rider Music was the name of one of… Read more: Bob Dylan and Skip James
  • The Double Life of Bob Dylan
    by Clinton Heylin It’s been a long time since I read a Dylan biography. However, a few days ago I happened across Clinton Heylin’s The Double Life of Bob Dylan on the “New Books” shelf at the public library. I picked it up. I suppose many of you know of Heylin. He’s written much about… Read more: The Double Life of Bob Dylan
  • Tin Angel
    Most reading this are probably familiar with the work of Dorothy Parker, the short story writer, poet, theatre critic, New Yorker staffer, and member of the Algonquin Round Table. One of my favorite of her many famous witticisms: “This wasn’t just plain terrible, this was fancy terrible. This was terrible with raisins in it.” I… Read more: Tin Angel
  • Bob Dylan and Hafez
    Most of us want things to be neat and tidy, to follow a set pattern, perhaps because our teachers beat that idea into our heads from an early age. Or maybe because most of the childhood storybooks and Hollywood movies we grew up with follow a typical pattern. However we got indoctrinated, we have a… Read more: Bob Dylan and Hafez
  • Jim Jones (at Botany Bay)
    We all hate criminals. The criminal is a low life who takes things that don’t belong to him. He does things that should not be done. The criminal should be locked up and the key thrown away. Outlaws are another story.  We love the outlaw, even though he often does the same things the criminal does.… Read more: Jim Jones (at Botany Bay)
  • Rolling Thunder Review Documentary -“Close-Up”
    I recently bought the Criterion release of Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese. Yes, I could have watched it for free on one of the many streaming subscriptions I pay for but infrequently watch. But I wanted the supplementary materials, especially the Scorsese interview. His Mean Streets and The Last Waltz… Read more: Rolling Thunder Review Documentary -“Close-Up”
  • Bootleg Series Vol. 16 – Neighborhood Bully
    A few days ago I was listening to the version of Neighborhood Bully on Vol. 16. I wondered why they felt it was necessary to release it. There’s not a big difference with the Infidels version. The Infidels version contains a new verse: Now his holiest books have been trampled upon No contract he signed… Read more: Bootleg Series Vol. 16 – Neighborhood Bully
  • Springtime in New York – Bootleg Series Vol. 16: New Danville Girl
    It seems to me that the later Bootleg Series releases – I’d say since Live 66 – are mostly inessential. Yes, it’s nice to have them available. But I can’t see anybody really listening to say, the Dylan and Harrison duet of If Not For You, more than once or twice. This release is no… Read more: Springtime in New York – Bootleg Series Vol. 16: New Danville Girl
  • The Everly Brothers
    Don Everly, of The Everly Brothers fame, died last month. His brother Phil died in 2014. Those reading this probably need no introduction to their work. They influenced everybody. The Beatles, The Byrds, Simon and Garfunkel, just to name a few. Our man Bob said, “We owe these guys everything. They started it all.”   Their… Read more: The Everly Brothers
  • Blind Willie McTell – Springtime in New York
    A couple of days ago I finally broke down and purchased a subscription to Amazon Music Unlimited. Of course, the first thing I did was search “Bob Dylan”. I noticed a two-song sampler for the soon-to-be-released Springtime in NY Bootleg Series. I haven’t been super-enthusiastic about the last few releases of the Series, so my… Read more: Blind Willie McTell – Springtime in New York
  • The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver
    I’m a fan of both the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay and Johnny Cash. For those not that familiar with her, Millay was a well-known poet during the roaring 20s. She was known for both her poetry and her racy-for-the-time sexual voraciousness. Her best know poem is First Fig. My candle burns at both ends;… Read more: The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver
  • Scarlet Town Analysis – Part 3
    Is it possible that Dylan is describing his hometown of Hibbing, Minnesota in this song? Perhaps I’m falling into the trap of assuming the lyrics of a song are necessarily autobiographical. Of course, that’s not always the case. However, I do think most everything an artist does is partly about themselves. It’s unavoidable. There’s really… Read more: Scarlet Town Analysis – Part 3
  • Scarlet Town Analysis – Part 2
    I going to do a little trainspotting In this post. Dylan has a delightful habit of tossing into his lyrics sly references to all sorts of things: songs, books, poetry, literature, and of course, the Bible. It’s a lot of fun trying to identify them. Songs I’ve already discussed the traditional folk song, Barbara Allen.… Read more: Scarlet Town Analysis – Part 2
  • Scarlet Town Analysis – Part 1
    I’ve been listening to Scarlet Town a lot lately. It’s not a particularly easy song to digest. Perhaps an impossible song to really get to know. Dylan long ago stopped writing in a linear fashion, with often spectacular results. Think Desolation Row, to name one glorious example. Sometimes though, like with this song, this style… Read more: Scarlet Town Analysis – Part 1
  • Crowdsourcing Transcriptions: “At the Library and in the Field: John and Alan Lomax Papers”
    Most Dylan fans (over a certain age at least) are aware of John and Alan Lomax, the American ethnomusicologists best known for their recordings of folk music of the 20th century. Of course, many of the songs collected ended up on recordings that would influence Dylan. The Library of Congress is holding a crowdsourcing event… Read more: Crowdsourcing Transcriptions: “At the Library and in the Field: John and Alan Lomax Papers”
  • Shadow Kingdom Director – Alma Har’el
    Shadow Kingdom was released this week to almost universal approbation. True, the Sony marketing department made a huge gaffe (or perhaps they did it on purpose to boost ticket sales) by advertising the show as an ‘intimate live performance’ when it really wasn’t. In reality, it was a film of Dylan and his “band’ mimicking… Read more: Shadow Kingdom Director – Alma Har’el
  • Johnny Cash – The Life by Robert Hilburn
    I just finished a biography of Johnny Cash, written by Robert Hilburn, a long-time music writer with the Los Angeles Times. It’s a page-turner, highly recommended. Not surprisingly, the book has a plethora of Dylan-related material. Background on Cash Cash grew up a very poor country boy from Arkansas. When his family moved to a… Read more: Johnny Cash – The Life by Robert Hilburn
  • Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends
    “What is this shit?” to quote Greil Marcus. I was excited when I heard about the new video of Dylan material, Odds and Ends. I’m always interested in hearing something new about my favorite artist. Sounded good to me. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t a bit skeptical. The early Bootleg Series releases were phenomenal, full… Read more: Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends
  • Mole in the Ground
    I was listening recently to the traditional song, Mole in the Ground. I always assumed the song was about some poor devil with low self-esteem. Alas, as has been the case many times, I was very wrong. That’s not what the author meant at all. That’s was not it at all.  But I did notice… Read more: Mole in the Ground
  • Fred Neil and Bob Dylan
    Fred Neil is most remembered for Everybody’s Talkin’, written for the landmark film, Midnight Cowboy. Neil’s song wouldn’t have been used except that Dylan delivered his song – Lay, Lady, Lay – too late. Performed for the soundtrack by Harry Nilsson, Everybody’s Talkin’ reached #6 on the Billboard Chart. Neil wrote many tunes that are… Read more: Fred Neil and Bob Dylan
  • Hank William’s Influence on Bob Dylan – Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest
    Many readers are undoubtedly already aware that Dylan has cited the greatest country music artist of all time, the country Shakespeare – Hank Williams – as his first influence. He wrote in the liner notes of Joan Baez In Concert, Part 2: An my first idol was Hank Williams For he sang about the railroad lines… Read more: Hank William’s Influence on Bob Dylan – Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest
  • Barbara Allen
    At the bottom of this post is a link to a very cool article, courtesy of American Songwriter, about the traditional folk song, Barbara Allen. Of course, we all know Dylan covered Barbara Allen many times. The author suggests that Art Garfunkel’s is the best modern version. As much as I like Garfunkel…What! Twas in… Read more: Barbara Allen
  • Lesser-Known Dylan – #1 – The Plugz
    Casual fans might not know of his short-lived collaboration with two members of The Plugz, an unheralded punk band from Los Angeles, and guitarist J.J. Holiday. Their performance on the Letterman Show in 1984 is one of the best of Dylan’s career, wildly raw and energetic. Judge for yourself below. First up was a rocking… Read more: Lesser-Known Dylan – #1 – The Plugz
  • Peter Stone Brown Archives
    A consummate Dylan fan, Peter Stone Brown, died recently. I knew Peter a little bit way back when the newsgroup was a hotbed of Dylan information. The group was an amazing resource in the early internet days, fostering so many stimulating lines of thought, so much sharing of information. (And to be sure, a… Read more: Peter Stone Brown Archives
  • Peter Hamill Has Died – Wrote Liner Notes for Blood on the Tracks
    Peter Hamill had died, and it’s a dirty, rotten shame. A few decades ago Hamil was a well-known NYC-based journalist. He was part of a generation of great American newspaper and magazine writers – Hunter Thompson, Jimmy Breslin, Tom Wolfe come to mind – that often came from the hard-knocks school of life but went… Read more: Peter Hamill Has Died – Wrote Liner Notes for Blood on the Tracks
  • New Dylan Journal
    I haven’t had a chance to browse through the material on this site, but it looks promising! The Dylan Review
  • Prewar Blues and Bob Dylan – a Concordance
    Ever feel the need to track down a Dylan lyric to its blues roots? Check out the concordance below. Prewar Blues and Bob Dylan – A Concordance
  • Dylan and the Bible
    Most serious Dylan fans know that his lyrics are heavily influenced by the Bible. Bert Cartwright published one of the first books on the subject (long out-of-print). Check out the link below to read up on Damian Balassone’s efforts to do the same.
  • Dylan Site – Film Dialogue in Dylan Lyrics
    I haven’t visited this site in many years, but I thought some readers might be interested. It’s a valuable site, I hope it doesn’t go away. The fact that it’s on the old GeoCities platform is not a good sign. Film Dialogue in the Lyrics of Bob Dylan
  • Documentary About Jimmy Carter and His Love of Music
    I need to see this. Perhaps my favorite president, the “last president who wasn’t afraid to tell us what he didn’t want to hear.” Includes an interview with Dylan.
  • New York Times Obituary of Paul Colby – Owner of the Bitter End
    The owner of The Bitter End has died.  The link below is to NY Time obituary.
  • Ellen Willis (Editor of New Yorker) Article
    Below is an article posted to the Facebook Edlis Cafe group. Must reading. “Dylan” – from Cheetah, 1967 I Nearly two years ago, Bob Dylan had a motorcycle accident. Reports of his condition were vague, and he dropped out of sight. Publication of his book, Tarantula, was postponed indefinitely. New records appeared, but they were… Read more: Ellen Willis (Editor of New Yorker) Article
  • The 1961 Beatnik Riot
    I know the history of the 60’s folk movement pretty well, but I had never heard of the “Beatnik Riot” of 1961. To mark the 50th anniversary NPR did a piece on it. Link to the documentary, “Bloody Sunday” below.
  • Interesting Article on Dylan and the Isle of Wright
    Story of  how Dylan came to participate in the Isle of Wright Festival.  
  • Documentary on Izzy Young on YouTube
    Izzy Young ran the Folklore Center in Greenwich Village back in the early sixties. Dylan and all the folk singers knew him well.
  • Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right
    I was reviewing Andrew Muir’s Homer the Slut Volume 4 today, which contains a long series of excerpts from various Dylan books about the song, Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.  The authors express some surprisingly varied ideas of what the song is about. Is it a love song?Or is it something more akin to… Read more: Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right
  • Pete Seeger’s Advice Column in Seventeen Magazine
    I am reading Bob Coltman’s book, Paul Clayton and the Folksong Revival.  Coltman mentions that Pete Seeger wrote an advice column that was published in Seventeen magazine. That seemed pretty interesting, and a web search picked up the article.  I pasted it below since the website was producing some weird errors. PETE SEEGER TALKS TO… Read more: Pete Seeger’s Advice Column in Seventeen Magazine
  • Desolation Row – Excerpt from Homer the Slut Fanzine
    Welcome to the inaugural post for the new Dylan Commentaries blog. Today’s lunch hour was reserved for reading Homer the Slut Volume II, the fanzine published by Andrew Muir back in the early nineties. Muir recently published an updated version of his book – Razor’s Edge, renamed One More Night – about his experiences following Dylan’s… Read more: Desolation Row – Excerpt from Homer the Slut Fanzine

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