Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Spanish boots?

I asked: “But what’s going on? Are Dylan grey market/bootleg CDs still widely available in Spanish retail outlets?"

Thanks to Jan Zoltowski, in Seville, for his reply:

“In response to your question, the answer is that, while it is still relatively easy to find bootlegs in some of the smaller, specialist record shops in Madrid and Barcelona, it is unfortunately now not so common to find 'unofficial recordings' in the Corte Inglés, though I still have a look in the racks under 'D' whenever I go in, just in case.

“Over the years I've picked up a number of boots in the Corte Inglés (Madrid and Seville) but the supply seems to have dried up in the last couple of years. I remember when Virgin opened in Seville (around 92/93) they had very prominent displays of boots right by the main entrance, though that only lasted for the first couple of years of its existence (the store eventually closed down a few years ago).

“One 'grey area' disc (it may not be dubious at all, as a friend also got it from amazon.com) that I saw in the Corte Inglés recently was Bob Dylan & The Band: Midnight Train (Traditional Lines TL 1325 (Germany):


“I'm glad you enjoyed your trip to Seville, in spite of the road works all over the place.”

Monday, October 30, 2006

Saturday’s Bob Dylan Convention/John Green Day

Thanks to Phil Davis for his report on the sixth annual Bob Dylan Convention/John Green Day:

“John Green was an avid Bob Dylan fan, who collected recordings of shows, reviewed them for Freewheelin` and Isis magazines, then sent off copies to all who asked for them.

“In December 1999 John tragically passed away in his home town, Northampton. The Freewheelers decided to honour him by holding a John Green Day there each year. The first, in 2001, had Steve Gibbons playing two superb sets at the Moat House Hotel. Other acts who graced the stage in following years included Julie Felix and Carolyn Hester.

“The sixth convention, held on Saturday, attracted BBC World Service Correspondent Duncan Bartlett, world-renowned Dylan expert Michael Gray, Dylanesque, a couple of North Eastern musicians playing Bob tunes, Cold Overture (possibly the best act ever to come out of Rutland) and, as a bill-topper this year, Highway 61 Revisited, a Dylan tribute band fronted by Joel Gilbert.

“Remarkably, Highway 61 Revisited includes Rob Stoner and Scarlet Rivera, bass player and violinist respectively from Bob`s 1975/6 Rolling Thunder Revue tours. And the drummer is no less than Winston Watson, who played the 1991-96 Never Ending Tour.

“Joel`s band played well over two hours of non-stop Dylan, turning out, amongst the 25 or so songs, Hurricane, Isis, All Along The Watchtower (Winston`s drumming was sublime on this one) and a Rolling Thunder version of Maggie`s Farm. Scarlet played superbly. Stoner`s bass playing was complemented by the drummer, who I thought drove the band, and the rest of the crew all gave solid performances.

“They are touring the UK this week, and if they are near you, go see them.

“A great Saturday of entertainment, and my thanks go to the organisers who, once again, put on a day that John Green would have been proud of.”

Friday, October 27, 2006

Bob Dylan - the Musical

Short version: no, absolutely not!

Longer version: I wouldn’t go to see the new Broadway musical featuring Dylan songs if the producer arranged a door-to-door return flight by Concorde (RIP) and helicopter, seated me in a premium view box, and arranged a private 30-minute post-show meeting with Dylan himself. (OK, forget the last bit – I might be persuaded).

My musical tastes are reasonably wide, and encompass the fabulous Broadway shows of the great composers, such as Cole Porter. But musicals since the South Pacific era leave me absolutely stone cold: I've tried, but I can't think of modern musicals as anything other than meretricious middlebrow pap.

The Times… on Broadway? No thanks. Keep it.

Gerry Smith

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Dylan’s literary borrowing: the 1960s?

Conscious of recent speculation about possible Dylan lyrical borrowings on Modern Times (Ovid, Henry Timrod…), Martin Cowan was surprised to come across a line linking early Dylan to a classic of 20thC English literature:

“I've just finished re-reading George Orwell's Keep The Aspidistra Flying, and very near the end of the book, I came across the following passage which sounded vaguely familiar:

- "They were too busy being born, being married, begetting, working, dying."

“Does this suggest that Dylan's alleged magpie instincts were present even in his mid-‘60s period?”

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Lyrics 1962-2001 – new, paperback edition

As predicted here in the summer, when reporting that Virgin were clearing stocks of the hardback edition of 2004 at an unbelievable £5 per copy, the new (paperback) edition of Lyrics 1962-2001 has just hit the bookshops.

The paperback edition, published by Simon & Schuster at £16.99, looks to have exactly the same content as the hardback.

As regular contributor Martin Cowan says, “Unfortunately it only goes up to "Love And Theft", so once again our man is over the hills and far away...!”

Pity the publishers couldn’t have delayed it to include the lyrics from Modern Times. For the sake of a few weeks, they could have sold shed-loads more product. Don’t they realise that mugs like me would have bought a copy, despite already owning the hardback? That there are tens (hundreds?) of thousands of enthusiasts who would buy sh*t in a box if it carries Dylan’s name on the front?


Gerry Smith

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

More on: Ovid, and on The Top 20 albums poll

Thanks to Bob Munro for more on Ovid and Modern Times:

“It seems from this link in the local paper that the clue is in the sixth verse of Thunder on the Mountain:

'I've been sitting down and studying the art of love/
I think it's gonna fit me like a glove,'

“The Art of love is Ovid’s most famous work, I understand. I'm certainly not a Latin scholar, so it will be interesting what people make of this.”


And thanks to John McMahon for his comment on the Top 20 poll:

“There's an obvious bias to more recently issued stuff. Why No Direction Home? It’s interesting, but nothing truly crucial on it. Interesting that “Love And Theft” is creeping up on Time Out Of Mind. Should overtake it.

“In my own mind my top three are (in no order, because its comparing pineapples with kumquats) Blood, “Love And Theft” and Blonde - because I think they are the best in each of the three strongest eras.”

Monday, October 23, 2006

Modern Times and Ovid

Thanks to Bob Munro in New Zealand for this intriguing link:

You might be interested in this podcast interview with Cliff Fell, a Nelson New Zealand, poet who has made the connection between Ovid and Modern Times:


Salamander Gallery, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand www.salamandergallery.co.nz

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia – reprint, with updates and corrections

Thanks to Michael Gray for news that a reprint of his hardback book, The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia, printed in the UK, is now starting to percolate through to shops. It differs from the first UK printing by featuring a number of corrections plus updated entries on Bob's XM Satellite Radio series and on Paul Nelson.

These do not represent the full range of amendments Gray hopes will feature in future reprints but they incorporate the 55 changes it was possible to make by 14 July (including Paul Nelson's death). The reprint also includes an updated CD-Rom of the corrected text.

Gray comments: “There is nothing on the copyright page to indicate that this is a corrected reprint, so completists standing in bookshops wondering if they're looking at the reprint or not are recommended to check the Paul Nelson entry. If he's dead, it's a corrected reprint.

“Completists should also note that this means there are now three versions of the book, all with the same ISBN and thus all considered to be part of the first edition: ie copies printed in the US (on cream paper), first-printing copies printed in the UK (on white paper) and now the UK reprint (white paper again).”

Michael Gray will be giving a talk at this year's John Green Memorial Day event at the Park Inn, Northampton, next Saturday, 28 October. He'll be speaking in the afternoon, and he will also be running a stall at the event.

Gerry Smith

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Top 20 Dylan albums – new expert ranking

Blonde On Blonde is the most popular Dylan album among the experts – the fans - comfortably ahead of Blood On The Tracks and Highway 61 Revisited.

And these three are more popular by a considerable margin than any other Dylan album.

Readers of The Dylan Daily and an associated website were asked to submit a list of their top 5 Dylan albums, in a competition to win a copy of the new Rough Guide to Bob Dylan. Many thousands of readers visited the web pages outlining the competition; and almost 100 submitted their top 5 list. Thanks to everyone who entered.

The submissions were processed to create a definitive new list of The Top 20 Dylan Albums:

The Top 20 Dylan Albums

1. Blonde On Blonde (1966) 100 (index)
2. Blood On the Tracks (1975) 84
3. Highway 61 Revisited (1965) 74
4. Bringing It All Back Home (‘65) 43
5. Time Out Of Mind (1997) 21
6. "Love And Theft" (2001) 18
7. The Freewheelin’ (1963) 17
8. John Wesley Harding (1967) 14
9. Desire (1976) 12
10. Another Side Of Bob Dylan (‘64) 11

11. Oh Mercy (1989) 10
12. Modern Times (2006)
13. Street-Legal (1978)
14. Slow Train Coming (1979)
15. Infidels (1983)
16. Live 1966 (1998) 2
17. No Direction Home (2005)
18. Planet Waves (1974)
19. New Morning (1970)
20. The Times They Are A'-Changin’(‘64) 1

(Figures at the end of each line indicate popularity relative to Blonde On Blonde - they're index figures.)

The new Top 20 raises numerous intriguing points for discussion by Dylan aficionados. My own analysis will follow, but your reactions will be especially welcome: please email your comments to this blog.

Thanks in advance.

Gerry Smith

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Modern Times Is Rubbish

Thanks to John, in Ireland, for sending me a link to his trenchant new critique of Modern Times. He doesn’t like it much, but his review is a well-informed, closely argued, lengthy piece well worth your attention:

“Modern Times is tediously protracted, derivative, melodically flat, and for the most part, lyrically banal. The arrangements are equally derivative and played by a band (the guitarists especially) who seldom rise above the sort of stuff you'd expect from any competent covers band.

“it is indeed as dull as I had feared…

“Spirit on the Water, a woefully protracted piece…

“When the Deal Goes Down, a beautifully-sung mishmash of Victorian poeticisms and well-meaning platitudes…

“Workingman's Blues #2 is already a particular favourite of many Dylan fans, but I find its mixture of anthemic love song, rural and urban imagery, blues references, and incongruous political observation somewhat less than convincing.”

Full text at:


Gerry Smith

Monday, October 16, 2006

Praise for Modern Times songs on new American tour

European readers will be green with envy at reports of the first three shows on the new North American tour:

* performances in Vancouver, Seattle and Portland being praised to the sky…

* no fewer than four Modern Times songs already performed – When The Deal Goes Down, Workingman’s Blues, Thunder On The Mountain and Rollin’ And Tumblin’…

* varied setlists with other gems – Don’t Think Twice, Watching The River Flow, Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues – as well as A List selections.

* And strong performances from both Dylan and his band.

The Never Ending Tour Oct/Nov 2006 is already looking every bit like a triumphal procession from where I sit.

Gerry Smith