Friday, December 29, 2006

Theme Time Radio Hour – encore

The Theme Time Radio Hour series sees Dylan, the creative powerhouse of the age, setting the popular music agenda, yet again.

The radio shows also underline Dylan’s credentials as the major post-Modern artist to emerge from the ranks of popular music. His fusing of high and pop culture and his multiplicity of musical influences, being revealed programme by programme on Theme Time, just as they were in Chronicles, are two of the main reasons why Dylan’s art is just as credible to the PhD English Lit professor as it is to the whistling delivery boy who recognises a good tune when he hears one.

As for the Theme Time Radio Hour scripts and Dylan’s sly, knowing delivery: well, as you’d expect from an iconic figure, they’re unpredictable. But, predictably, they stimulate and challenge you. Listen with an open heart - Dylan’s offering a route map to musical discovery. Let the journey begin!

Gerry Smith

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Theme Time Radio Hour: setting the agenda, yet again

This week’s airing by BBC Radio 2 of six of the Theme Time Radio Hour shows (out of sequence, by the way) is a reminder to Dylan’s UK admirers of the sheer depth of the man’s talent.

Just as Dylan’s writing is steeped in classical literature, from The King James Bible to TS Eliot, so it’s deeply anchored in the great American tradition of popular music - the blues, country, folk, jazz and the Broadway songbooks which would eventually be swept away by rock.

And, having been partly (if accidentally) responsible for the demise of pre-rock popular music, Dylan appears to be using his radio series as an act of atonement: he seems to be trying to open up the music he discovered in his youth to a new mass audience which has become too absorbed in rock.

Yet again, Dylan, the creative powerhouse of the age, is setting the agenda.

A reminder of the broadcasts:

* Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour on BBC Radio 2:
23.12.06 @ 1900-2000
24.12.06 @ 1630-1830
25.12.06 @ 1900-2000
26.12.06 @ 1900-2000
27.12.06 @ 1900-2000
28.12.06 @ 1900-2000

21.03.07 @ 2100-2200
28.03.07 @ 2100-2200
04.04.07 @ 2100-2200
06.04.07 @ 2000-2100
07.04.07 @ 2000-2100
08.04.07 @ 2000-2100
09.04.07 @ 2000-2100
11.04.07 @ 2100-2200
18.04.07 @ 2100-2200
25.04.07 @ 2100-2200

07.05.07 @ 2100-2300 (2 shows)

* BBC 6 Music
1 January at 2100, and 2100 every Friday from 12 January.

And remember – BBC Radio shows are streamed online and also accessible from their websites for seven days after broadcast (UK only, for licensing reasons).

Gerry Smith

Friday, December 22, 2006

Dylan's European tour, spring 2007

The Dylan Daily will be tracking the European tour of spring 2007. If you plan to attend any of the shows (itinerary below) and wish to write a very short review for fellow fans, please let me know (

I’ll provide you with a short form, which you'll be able to complete in less than five minutes - and still tell us all we need to know!

Tour itinerary :

28 Stockholm, Sweden - Globe
30 Oslo, Norway - Spektrum

1 Gothenburg, Sweden - Scandinavium
2 Copenhagen, Denmark - Forum
4 Hamburg, Germany - Colorline Arena
5 Münster, Germany - Halle Münsterland
6 Brussels, Belgium - Forest National
8 Amsterdam, The Netherlands - HMH
9 Amsterdam, The Netherlands - HMH
11 Glasgow, Scotland - SECC
12 Newcastle, England - Metro Radio Arena
14 Sheffield, England - Hallam FM Arena
15 London, England - Wembley Arena
17 Birmingham, England - National Indoor Arena (NIA)
19 Düsseldorf, Germany - Philipshalle
20 Stuttgart, Germany - Porsche Arena
21 Frankfurt, Germany - Jahrhunderthalle
23 Paris, France - Palais Omnisports de Paris
25 Geneva, Switzerland - Arena
26 Turin, Italy - Palaolimpico Isozaki
27 Milan, Italy - DatchForum (ex Forum)
29 Zürich, Switzerland - Hallenstadion
30 Mannheim, Germany - SAP Arena

2 Leipzig, Germany - Leipzig Arena
3 Berlin, Germany - Max Schmeling Halle
5 Herning, Denmark – Herninghalle

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Reminder: dates for Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour on BBC Radio

In case you’d forgotten in the pre-Xmas bustle: BBC Radio’s broadcasting of the Theme Time Radio Hour starts on Saturday at 7pm. Here are the schedules for broadcasts on both BBC Radio 2 and BBC 6 Music:

* Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour on BBC Radio 2:
23.12.06 @ 1900-2000
24.12.06 @ 1630-1830
25.12.06 @ 1900-2000
26.12.06 @ 1900-2000
27.12.06 @ 1900-2000
28.12.06 @ 1900-2000

21.03.07 @ 2100-2200
28.03.07 @ 2100-2200
04.04.07 @ 2100-2200
06.04.07 @ 2000-2100
07.04.07 @ 2000-2100
08.04.07 @ 2000-2100
09.04.07 @ 2000-2100
11.04.07 @ 2100-2200
18.04.07 @ 2100-2200
25.04.07 @ 2100-2200

07.05.07 @ 2100-2300 (2 shows)

* BBC 6 Music
1 January at 2100, and 2100 every Friday from 12 January.

And remember – BBC Radio shows are streamed online and also accessible from their websites for seven days after broadcast.

Gerry Smith

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Dylan’s literary influences outlined in a fine website

A thorough grounding in high (as well as pop) culture – notably great literature, from The Bible to Shakespeare, TS Eliot to Hunter S Thompson – is what makes Dylan so highly regarded among many people who wouldn’t give you tuppence for most other rock musicians.

Literary types are already well served by several “Bob as Lit” books – Gray, Ricks, and Hinchey spring to mind. Not many will have come across a very fine website which focuses entirely on exploring Dylan’s literary links.

BobLit, assembled by Southampton University PhD physicist Jonathan Fudger, collates references, debts and comments linking Dylan with 150 or so writers, from Ancient Greeks to PoMo-boho gonzos. If any university were still in any doubt as to whether Dylan deserves a place on their literature programmes, BobLit has all the supporting evidence they need.

So, if you’re interested in Dylan’s literary associations, reserve yourself a couple of hours over the holidays, pour yourself a glass of the best that money can buy, and luxuriate in BobLit.

Kudos Jonathan Fudger for an absorbing Dylan niche web site.

Gerry Smith

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

More Dylan collectables

Following yesterday’s piece about Thin Wild Mercury: Touching Dylan’s Edge, by Jerry Schatzberg, photographer of the Blonde On Blonde cover, from Genesis Publications, Ron Martin writes:

“Dylan Daily readers might also be interested to learn that Genesis have published two earlier Dylan titles in their limited edition photographic series, first offered at around £300 each:

* Early Dylan, by Barry Feinstein, Daniel Kramer and Jim Marshall, offered in an edition of 250, which apparently sold out in three weeks.

* Dylan In Woodstock, by Elliott Landy.”

Thanks to Ron for the info. Some people buy Genesis books, like all limited editions, as beautiful artefacts, others because they are collectors, and some see them simply as investments. It would be interesting to learn from any reader with direct experience about price trends for such collectables.

Gerry Smith

Monday, December 18, 2006

The £300/$600 Dylan book - for the fan who has everything

Published in September 2006, Thin Wild Mercury: Touching Dylan’s Edge, featuring the iconic work of Jerry Schatzberg, photographer of the Blonde On Blonde cover, is still available from Genesis Publications – last week’s re-launch issue of Rock N Reel magazine carries a half page display ad.

Thin Wild Mercury consists of almost 500 fine art photographs, almost half of them featuring Dylan in the mid-1960s. The edition is limited to 1,500 numbered copies, all signed by Schatzberg.

With a price tag of £285 plus carriage, it’s a valuable collectable, and not a book you’d risk on a coffee table or with the kind of visitors I get.

For the Dylan fan who already has everything else?

Gerry Smith

Friday, December 15, 2006

Renaldo & Clara

When I saw Renaldo & Clara, many years ago, I judged it as a (failed) art-house movie. So I never got round to finding the video/DVD.

Suspecting an error of judgment, I’ve just spent time on to check whether the live clips look as though the effort of getting a DVD would be worthwhile.

My, my! Some error. This stuff is magical: a white-face energised Dylan performing classics like One More Cup Of Coffee, Sara, If You See Her Say Hello, It Ain’t Me Babe, When I Paint My Masterpiece, and Hard Rain… .

Wonderful. Marvellous. The internet might have been invented just so You Tube could archive Dylan video clips!

Gerry Smith

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Smaller venues on Dylan’s Euro tour, March-May 2007

I asked:

"The Dylan Daily would be very grateful for any tips from readers – > are any of the gigs near you, as listed on, being performed in venues holding audiences of under 5,000?"

Thanks to Christian Gerritzen, who helpfully replied:

“I believe Jahrhunderthalle in Frankfurt, Germany should be OK:

“Good luck, seems that they're selling fast! And thanks for your interesting work on dylandaily...”

I’ll be checking it out pronto: any excuse for yet another visit to Germany is always welcome! And your further suggestions of smaller venues on the Dylan Euro tour will be gratefully received.

Gerry Smith

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

For the Dylan fan who has everything…

Though not a serious Dylan collector, I can (almost) understand the motivation of those who are, and I’m always interested in what people are asking/paying for rarities. I keep a watch on the website of English dealer - they have a steady stream of Dylan stuff of interest to completists.

The latest item to catch my eye is: Bob Dylan! Vol. 4 - 1966 original Japanese only 10-track '360 Sound' STEREO LP pressed by Nippon Columbia on the orange CBS label, complete with fold out Japanese/lyric insert & unique laminated scalloped flipback picture sleeve with extensive Japanese sleevenotes on the back.

Asking price? To you, a mere £1,495/$2,906/€2,167.

Gerry Smith

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Stunning new video – Thunder On The Mountain

Thanks to Slate, the stylish US online e-zine, for posting Columbia Records’ stunning new video, Thunder On The Mountain.

The film is a tour de force, collaging 20 clips from across Dylan’s 40+ year career as the visual backdrop to the track from Modern Times. Slate is also running a competition in which you have to assign a year to each of the clips.

Ignore this superb video at your peril!

As a bonus, Slate’s article finishes with links to the numerous other Dylan articles it has run since 1998 – and they’re always worth reading.

Gerry Smith

Monday, December 11, 2006

Euro tour, March-May 2007

The listing of the Euro 2007 tour venues, starting on 28 March in beautiful Stockholm, and winding up in Herning (wo ist das? Deutschland?) on 5 May offers a very tempting five week springtime road trip between some fabulous cities.

What a great way to re/visit some of the world’s finest places! But the venues look as if they’re all stadia/arenas. No-go areas, in other words.

The Dylan Daily would be very grateful for any tips from readers – are any of the gigs near you, as listed on, being performed in venues holding audiences of under 5,000?

(Cos, if they ain’t, we won’t be risking it.)

Gerry Smith

Friday, December 08, 2006

Four April 2007 English gigs - booking starts at 0900 today

Dates for Dylan’s spring 2007 European tour are leaking out. The English (arena) dates – in the week after Easter – go on sale via Ticketline in seven hours – 0900, Friday 8 Dec:

12 April Newcastle Metro Radio Arena
14 April Sheffield Hallam FM Arena
15 April London Wembley Arena
17 April Birmingham National Indoor Arena

tel: 0871 424 4444

Having seen previous gigs in all four monster concrete venues, I’m passing, and risking a more desirable cross-Channel venue popping up as the rest of the tour is announced.

The other dates announced so far include Glasgow SECC (naaaah!), plus eight April/May dates in Germany, which look well worth investigating.

Gerry Smith

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Dylan covers dominate magazine racks in 2006

The Dylan cover of the new MOJO, reviewed here yesterday, completes a year in which the musician has been almost permanently visible on the UK magazine racks.

Dylan cover issues I’ve collected this year include:

Jan: Uncut
April: Q
July: Paste
Sept: Rolling Stone
Nov: Uncut

It continued the trend set in late 2005, when Dylan was seen on news-stand covers as different as:

* The Independent Arts & Books Review,
* The Sunday Times Magazine,
* Radio Times and
* The Word.

I wouldn’t bet against another Radio Times cover in the next few weeks, to herald the XFM shows.

It’s difficult to remember Mr Zimmerman ever having been so visible in these parts.

Gerry Smith

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Dylan cover/major feature make new MOJO a must-buy

The new (“January 2007”) issue of MOJO, the beautifully designed grandadrock monthly, has a cover and main feature devoted to Dylan, the magazine’s “Man of the Year 2006”.

The cover pic is a classic black and white big hair/shades portrait from c1965. The feature aims to be a guide to the Top 50 Dylan albums. (I was surprised, too, at the total, but the releases do add up to 50, if you include 10 live CDs and 7 compilations). MOJO doesn’t say how the ranking of the albums was decided.

The “top 10 albums” are treated to “why I love it” articles by a mixture of journalists and music biz names, with capsule reviews of the rest of the catalogue. I enjoyed Johnny Black on Blonde On Blonde, and Phil Sutcliffe’s two pieces, on Highway 61 Revisited, and on the compilations (slightly tarnished by someone dropping in the wrong cover artwork for the first two hits albums).

But quite why anyone would be interested in reading the thoughts of Billy Bragg, Cat Power and Norah Jones on Dylan escapes me - when mags like MOJO play the show biz celeb card, I normally shelve the stuff, unread. Life’s far too short.

The new MOJO has loads of nice, if familiar, Dylan pics, too - a must-buy, even if not really a must-read.

The mag’s cover-mount CD, a tribute to the Beach Boys, is already providing sterling service as a fancy desktop coffee coaster.

Gerry Smith

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Dylan/Stones’ Like A Rolling Stone: rock’s highest peak

Thanks to Gerhard Bonhoffer for alerting me to the video clip from You Tube of Dylan as a guest of the Rolling Stones at a gig in Brazil, on the band’s Bridges To Babylon tour.

The sight of the Poet Laureate of Rock n Roll duetting with Sir Jack Flash, the greatest rock performer of them all, fronting rock’s best live band, on the best rock song ever written, brought tears to my eyes. Almost seven minutes of uncontrollable joy: a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Even on a computer screen.

Is this video clip the highest peak of rock music? I think so.

Gerry Smith

Monday, December 04, 2006

Greil Marcus on Dylan

Thanks to Gil White:

“Thanks for the review of Highway 61 Revisited; I look forward to reading it. Your favourable comparison of the new book with the recent Greil Marcus book struck a chord with me: for all his stature in the Dylan writers’ guild, Marcus is a difficult read. I struggled through Like A Rolling Stone, just as I did with Invisible Republic, his book on the Basement Tapes.”

I take Gil’s point – I, too, find Marcus’s prose heavy going at times. Sometimes, you feel, he would benefit from more muscular editing. But I share the view that Marcus’s books are must-haves. The Basement Tapes book, in particular, is well worth the effort – jam-packed with revelations and insights, it’s an essential companion to the bootleg version of the landmark sessions.

Gerry Smith

Friday, December 01, 2006

Highway 61 Revisited: highly recommended new book

The groaning Dylan shelves house a few books that are virtually unreadable, many that are merely OK, and a few which are, appropriately considering their subject, so well written that reading them is an unalloyed pleasure.

The new Highway 61 Revisited, by Mark Polizzotti (Continuum 2006, 162pp, 33 1/3 series, no 35, £6.99/$9.95), is a welcome addition to the pleasure givers.

Polizzotti’s analysis of Dylan’s landmark 1965 album, one of the most important releases in popular music history (and ranked third in the recent poll of Dylan Daily readers), speculates on the genesis of the songs, examines their lyrical content and, more prosaically, outlines the recording process. Crucially, he places the great album in the context of what was happening in Dylan’s world in the mid-1960s.

This might seem like an oft-ploughed furrow but, thanks to a formidable intellect, Polizzotti makes some telling observations not encountered elsewhere. He writes with intelligence and flair. And his text has a depth which would fully engage you over several slow, careful reads.

Highway 61 Revisited is more convincing than the other books I’ve read from the 33 1/3 series (Harvest, Exile On Main St. …), and I preferred it to Like A Rolling Stone, last year’s Greil Marcus book covering similar territory.

A fine new book: highly recommended.

Gerry Smith