Friday, June 29, 2007

Masked And Anonymous – undervalued film and album

A recent showing of Masked And Anonymous on late night TV was a reminder that the mixed critical response it had on release undervalued a little gem of art-house cinema. Despite a few longueurs, the film is compelling viewing. And you can’t take your eyes off the Main Man.

The viewing confirmed for me the judgments made in a review of the movie (see below) posted on, The Dylan Daily’s sister site, at the time of release.

Rediscovering the CD was a joy, too. Apart from the quartet of strong performances by Dylan’s luminous Campbell/Sexton band, it has several outstanding covers – the Italian rap version of Like A Rolling Stone (Come Una Pietra Scalciata) ranks in my top 10 Dylan retreads.

Masked And Anonymous - Dylan's most convincing movie

SGM writes:
Masked And Anonymous is an enjoyable movie, far more convincing than all of Dylan's other acting appearances on celluloid, notably Hearts of Fire. I'll be buying it on the day it gets DVD release.

Judging it against standard Hollywood blockbusters, you'd come away disappointed. No car chases, no hi-tech special effects, no dumbed-down script aimed at Beavis in Akron OH, no significant love interest, no happy ending.

But if you're a fan of good independent cinema - low budget, cerebral productions like the Europeans made after WW2, with a number of our US directors aping them in the 1970s - aimed at intelligent art house audiences, the chances are you'll love this film. Especially if you're a Dylan fan.

The script is well written, with a gravitas worthy of its main actor - I found myself on the edge of my seat, anxious not to miss a single word of dialogue. Every word counts. The themes broached in the movie are the big ones Dylan addresses in his music.

Acting is convincing - you get emotionally involved with the oddball characters. Goodman and The Dude are splendid, and you don't take your eyes off Bobbie whenever he's on camera.

Direction and editing is strong, with barely a wasted second of footage in over 100 minutes. The film skilfully evokes a dislocated, familiar-yet-exotic time and place. There are some lovely sight gags - the sight of "the Pope" eating a slice of pizza, just out of focus behind the main action, while networking with "Mahatma Ghandi", is particularly memorable. The soundtrack CD is top class; the film has Dylan and his regular band performing their CD tracks live, on a sound stage.

There's only one (admittedly vital) weakness preventing Masked And Anonymous achieving instant classic status - the essentially trivial milieu (preparations for a charity rock concert, thus show business) in which it's set.

Masked And Anonymous is a must-see for all Dylan fans. You will not be disappointed.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

THE DYLAN DAILY Newsletter, June 2007

(This is latest issue of the free Newsletter, just posted to subscribers. Why not subscribe by entering your email address in the box in the top left of this page?)

THE DYLAN DAILY Newsletter - celebrating the art of Bob Dylan

The Newsletter lists articles published recently on The Dylan Daily web site (, helping you catch up on any articles you might have missed and reminding you of the coverage of the web site.

The most recent articles listed below are still on The Dylan Daily home page; you can access the others via the Search Archives box in the right hand column of the home page.

For those who like to log on to The Dylan Daily first thing every morning, the Daily Update is now posted before the start of the European working day.

Your info and insights on matters Dylan - particularly your gig reviews - are valued. Please send them to

Thanks for your interest.

Gerry Smith,


* Catch-up Miscellany: Dylan in the academy/Warren Zevon links/Donegal Dylanfest
* Fans invited to influence track selection for new Dylan compilation
* Three-day breather for The Dylan Daily
* BOBMANIA #4: new Dyl-Time Theme Radio Hour
* Likely set lists for the American tour starting on Friday

* Don’t Look Back: now available, but too pricey
* Bob Dylan: right-wing Christian? Closing comments
* Dylan honoured with Spanish arts award
* Michael Gray’s Bob Dylan Encyclopedia - Book Of The Year
* The Traveling Wilburys Collection: De Luxe version goes missing

* Dylan Redeemed: another view
* BOBMANIA # 3: Ireland's first Dylan Festival – in a village in Donegal
* Bob Dylan: right-wing Christian? Encore, encore
* Bob Dylan: right-wing Christian? Encore, encore
* Mike Marqusee’s Wicked Messenger/Don’t Look Back De Luxe DVD

* Traveling Wilburys in the new MOJO
* Bob Dylan: right-wing Christian? Encore
* Bob Dylan: right-wing Christian?
* Dylan and Baez - on radio today
* Dylan and Baez collaboration - on radio tomorrow

* Scrapbook at a bargain price
* The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration revisited - encore
* The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration revisited
* Don’t Look Back De Luxe 2DVD edition in short supply
* The Traveling Wilburys Revisited – enjoyable hype (which didn’t work)

* New Traveling Wilburys release: worth buying?
* Robert Zimmerman’s birthday
* New Traveling Wilburys documentary tomorrow
* Dylan interview in Rolling Stone’s 40th birthday issue
* Montreal show: 2 spare tickets

* Back Pages celebrating Dylan's birthday in Norfolk
* “A Best Of Bob Dylan volume 4, 1997-2006”: encore, encore
* Dylan downgraded in disappointing new BBC/VH1 rock history
* Dylanesque, Bryan Ferry’s new London Sessions DVD. at a giveaway £6.75!
* Dylan Days in Hibbing, Minnesota next week

* Don’t Look Back 2DVD – now only £12.99
* “A Best Of Bob Dylan volume 4, 1997-2006”: encore
* Michael Gray on Dylan, the blues and Blind Willie McTell
* Don’t Look Back: encore, encore
* How to enrich Bryan Ferry’s Dylanesque with bonus tracks

* Dylan book bargains #2: Bob Dylan Inspirations
* “A Best Of Bob Dylan volume 4, 1997-2006”
* BOBMANIA #2: Talk Like Bob Dylan on 24 May
* Dylan book bargains #1: The Bob Dylan Scrapbook: 1956-1966
* Don’t Look Back – this one could run and run

* Don’t Look Back: first positive sighting
* The Never Ending Setlist: Europe 2007 - Show #26 Leipzig last night
* Don’t Look Back: encore, encore…
* New Don’t Look Back DVD: encore
* The Never Ending Setlist: Europe 2007 - Show #25 Mannheim last night

* Don’t Look Back on DVD - new version released today
* The Never Ending Setlist: Europe 2007 - Shows #23 Milan and #24 Zurich over the weekend
* Your chance to vote for Dylan in TIME magazine’s 100 list
* The Never Ending Setlist: Europe 2007 - Show #21, Geneva last night
* BOBMANIA: #1, Dyl-Time Theme Radio Hour

* Wednesday 25 April: There’s just no limit to… …the zeal and creativity of...
* The Never Ending Setlist: Europe 2007 - Show #20, Paris last night
* Stuttgart review
* Dates for American summer tour/new song/Rolling Stone interview
* The Never Ending Setlist: Europe 2007, Shows #18 & 19, Stuttgart and Frankfurt over the weekend

* Elliott Landy exhibition opens next week
* The Never Ending Setlist: Europe 2007, Show #17, Dusseldorf last night
* Nobody Sings Dylan Like Dylan: encore
* Dylan introduces 50th song of the tour - Birmingham last night - Europe tour news #29
* A pub rock blues band: review of last night’s London show - Europe tour news 28

* Every second was pure gold: review of London last night - Europe tour news 27
* London, second night - Europe tour news 26
* Review of London, Sunday 15 April - Europe tour news (25)
* London first night review (2) - Europe tour news (24)
* London (first night) review - Europe tour news (23)

* London last night - Europe tour news (22)
* Sheffield last night – two reviews - Europe tour news (21)
* Sheffield last night - Europe tour news (20)
* House of the Risin’ Sun - Europe tour news (19)
* Newcastle last night - Europe tour news (18)

* Glasgow – a third review - Europe tour news (17)
* Glasgow: exhaustingly good - Europe tour news (16)
* Review of Glasgow last night - Europe tour news (15)
* Glasgow last night - Europe tour news (14)
* Dylan’s Top Ten Dylan albums - Europe tour news (13)

* Amsterdam (2) last night - Europe tour news (12)
* Amsterdam last night - Europe tour news (11)
* Brussels last night - Europe tour news (10)
* Europe tour news (9) – Munster last night
* Europe tour news (8) – Hamburg last night

* Three “grey market” Dylan albums available online from top Spanish retailer
* Europe tour news (7) – 31 different songs in the first week
* Europe tour news (6) – Copenhagen last night
* Freewheelin’ – most valuable Dylan collectable
* Another collectable Dylan cover - Bruce Langhorne feature in Indie On Sunday mag

* Europe tour news (5) – Gothenburg last night
* Europe tour news (4) – Oslo last night
* Europe tour news (3) – 23 different songs played so far
* Traveling Wilburys albums to be reissued, with extras, in June
* Europe tour rolling news (2) - Stockholm last night

* Last night’s Stockholm gig, opening the Euro 2007 tour
* Dylan books written - and published - by fans
* Dylan in Europe: a taste of things to come?
* Don’t Look Back extras - essential new Pennebaker interview
* Factory Girl? No, thanks…

* Extra Stockholm date - in tiny venue - starts Euro tour a day early
* Nobody Sings Dylan – thumbs down for multi-CD set
* European Tour 2007: exclusive reviews on The Dylan Daily
* Highway 61, blues and poetry, according to Michael Gray
* Don’t Look Back - De Luxe (2DVD/book) Edition

* Dylanesque – BBC radio interview, music mag profile and London gig review
* Nobody Sings Dylan Like… The Byrds
* Another new must-buy: Record Collector, April 2007
* THE DYLAN DAILY Newsletter, March 2007


* No Direction Home DVD - heavily discounted
* Thunder On The Mountain video: encore
* Don't Look Back new edition: a must-have
* New Thunder On The Mountain video: encore
* Dylan tops Reader Poll in the new issue of MOJO

* New Thunder On The Mountain video - worth having, slightly underwhelming
* Midnight Train, and the Japanese live compilation CD
* Thunder On The Mountain video on TV tonight
* Dylanesque on TV twice tomorrow
* Nobody Sings Dylan Like Dylan: encore

* It's true - Nobody Sings Dylan Like Dylan
* Dylanesque - even more TV coverage
* Another (different) TV gig of Bryan Ferry promoting Dylanesque
* Bryan Ferry excels in Dylan covers gig: review/setlist/video link
* Midnight Train - catching Dylan on the cusp of a cataclysm

* The Bible and Dylan (7)
* Extra London Dylan date added
* New Dylan remixes/mashups
* Bob Dylan: Blues - no new tracks
* "Dylan is a great singer" - Bryan Ferry

* Another new must-buy: Record Collector, March 2007
* Bryan Ferry's Hard Rain at the 2000 Polar Prize: encore
* Dylan symposium in Minneapolis - early registration to 12 March
* Dylanesque preview - Bryan Ferry gig on TV
* Judas! RIP

* Midnight Train - new Dylan bootleg - in a department store!
* Mr Tambourine Man - McGuinn almost upstages Zim
* Euro tour: slow sales? And, for readers with tickets, a request
* The Bible and Dylan (6)
* Theme Time Radio Hour back on BBC's premier station tonight

* The Holy Grail of Dylan recordings?
* The Bible and Dylan (5)
* Dylanesque - new Bryan Ferry covers album
* The Bible and Dylan (4)
* The Bible and Dylan (3)

* The Bible and Dylan (2)
* Bob Dylan: Blues - compilation CD at £5.99
* The Bible and Dylan
* Dylan and Bryan Ferry: encore
* Guitar scratch plate - autographed by Dylan - yours for only £595

* Theme Time radio - a weekly delight
* European tour: are YOU going to any of the gigs?
* Dylan perplexed at Springsteen tribute
* Dylan's new house in Scotland
* Back Pages gigs in Norfolk, England

* Don't Look Back on DVD - biggest Dylan event of 2007 to date
* Dylan, Dylan, everywhere... : encore, again...
* Huck's Theme - new Dylan song on film soundtrack
* Bryan Ferry and Dylan songs
* Dylan, Dylan, everywhere... : encore, encore, encore

* Hard Rain clip from YouTube shows need for a full DVD release
* New Bryan Ferry album of Dylan songs
* Idiot Wind and the top Dylan clips on YouTube
* Dylan, Dylan, everywhere... : encore, encore
* Dylan, Dylan, everywhere... : encore

* Dylan, Dylan, everywhere...
* TIME magazine on Dylan


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(c) Music for Grown-Ups Ltd 2007

The Traveling Wilburys Collection - now at a bargain price

UK readers who’ve held off buying The Traveling Wilburys Collection might be tempted by the new £10 price at supermarket chain Morrison’s.

At £10, even those who bought the originals on release might now add the reissue to their collection. At that price, the extras – DVD, booklet and packaging – are probably worth having. For the fan, there’s a price point below which every Dylan product, bar none, is worth having. Wilburys at £10 is such a point.

The new low price for The Traveling Wilburys Collection is part of an aggressive discounting campaign by the value chain, pricing its chart albums (eg the White Stripes’ Icky Thump and the new Clash compilation) at a challenging £7.

Yet one more reason to shop at Morrison’s… .

Gerry Smith

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Fans to influence track selection for new Dylan compilation

Thanks to Lawrence Kirsch for this Sony press release:

“A career-spanning, three-CD retrospective of Bob Dylan's music - "Dylan" - will be released worldwide on October 1 by Columbia Records.

“This definitive Bob Dylan collection chronicles the artist's four decades of groundbreaking studio recordings, as well as his unparalleled influence on popular music and culture.

“According to Sony BMG Commercial Music Group President John Ingrassia, "Each new generation eventually discovers what millions of people the world over have known for decades: That Bob Dylan is a singular artist whose songs and recordings represent the very best that music has to offer. This 'Dylan' set will provide a comprehensive introduction to an important body of work that continues to impact our culture and attract multitudes of new fans each year."

“Song selection for this comprehensive set is still being determined, and will be greatly influenced by impassioned fan lobbying on website

This site -- which went live in February for fans to share thoughts on Bob Dylan's music, swap stories about first hearing the artist's songs and seeing him in concert, and more -- has been updated today with the DYLAN artwork, a promotional trailer for the album, as well as the ability for fans to vote on the "Dylan" track listing.”

Catch-up: Dylan in the academy/Warren Zevon links/Donegal Dylanfest

* Dylan in the academy

Thanks to Lawrence Kirsch:

“Dylan doesn't talk much, but plenty of profs and bios do, BY BARRY FOX, Newhouse News Service

“For much of his career, Minnesota homeboy Bob Dylan has made a point of being elusive, mysterious and painstakingly private.

“He doesn't talk much, and, when he does, it's often hard to tell if he's telling the truth. So others have taken it upon themselves to essentially speak for him by drawing their own conclusions about his work.

“Through books, movies, symposiums and every imaginable type of college course, the Dylan mystique is being dissected:

… continues…

An informative, recommended round-up of Dylan sightings among the professors, at:

* Dylan and Warren Zevon

Thanks to Martin Cowan:

“We know Dylan is a fan of Warren Zevon because he covered "Mutineer" and "Lawyers, Guns and Money" at the time Zevon was battling unsuccessfully with lung cancer. His live version of "Mutineer" that graces the Zevon tribute album is a fantasically moving performance and one that should be in every Dylan fan's collection.

Anyway, I recently picked up the reissue of Zevon's "Excitable Boy" LP. Familiar as I was with "Werewolves of London", fondly recalling it from my teenage years when it was an unlikely top ten hit, I was interested to come across the following lines in the song "Accidentally Like a Martyr":

"Never thought I'd ever be so lonely/after such a long, long time/time out of mind.

“Could this be where Dylan got the title for his 1997 Grammy-award winning "comeback" album, I wonder?

* BOBMANIA # 5: Donegal Dylanfest

Thanks to Michael Gray:

“My BOB DYLAN & THE POETRY OF THE BLUES event at the 1st Irish Dylan Festival has been switched from St. Eugene's Hall to The Aqua Bar on Lower Main Street. Apparently the technical facilities are better there.

“All other details remain the same - ie it's still at 4pm Saturday June 30, and the whole festival is still at Moville, County Donegal from Friday June 29 to Sunday 1 July.”



115th DREAM featuring



Thursday, June 21, 2007

Three days breather for The Dylan Daily

For the first time since launch in November 2005, The Dylan Daily is taking a short breather, to enable essential IT maintenance.

So there’ll be no new content posted tomorrow, Monday or Tuesday. Normal service will resume next Wednesday, 27 June. See you then.

Please keep sending your valued contributions to

Gerry Smith

BOBMANIA #4: new Dyl-Time Theme Radio Hour

Thanks to Mel Prussack:

“Volume 10 of my "Dyl-Time Theme Radio Hour" is now online. The
theme this month is "Foreign Tongues". I think you will enjoy this
podcast. Looking forward to your comments and support.”

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Likely set lists for the American tour starting on Friday

The set lists for the new American tour – starting in Atlantic City NJ on Friday night – are likely to be drawn from the 58 songs Dylan performed in 28 shows on the European spring 2007 tour, which finished only a few weeks ago:

It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding) (28 performances)
Thunder On The Mountain (28)
When The Deal Goes Down (27)
Rollin' And Tumblin' (26)
Spirit On The Water (26)
All Along The Watchtower (25)
Highway 61 Revisited (25)
Like A Rolling Stone (25)
Summer Days (24)
Nettie Moore (22)
Cat's In The Well (19)
Watching The River Flow (18)
Stuck Inside of Mobile (with the Memphis Blues Again) (13)
It Ain't Me, Babe (11)
Tangled Up In Blue (11)
The Levee's Gonna Break (10)
Don't Think Twice, It's All Right (9)
Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues (9)
Most Likely You Go Your Way (and I'll Go Mine) (7)
A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall (6)
Ain't Talkin' (6)
Blowin’ In The Wind (6)
Desolation Row (6)
To Ramona (6)
High Water (for Charley Patton) (5)
Things Have Changed (5)
Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum (5)
John Brown (4)
My Back Pages (4)
Girl Of The North Country (3)
Honest With Me (3)
I'll Be Your Baby Tonight (3)
Masters Of War (3)
The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll (3)
'Til I Fell In Love With You (3)
Visions Of Johanna (3)
Absolutely Sweet Marie (2)
Boots of Spanish Leather (2)
Chimes Of Freedom (2)
Country Pie (2)
I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met) (2)
Just Like A Woman (2)
Simple Twist Of Fate (2)
The Times They Are A-Changin’ (2)
Under The Red Sky (2)
Ballad Of Hollis Brown
Blind Willie McTell
Cold Irons Bound
House Of The Risin’ Sun
Lay Lady Lay
Man In The Long Black Coat
Not Dark Yet
Senor (Tales of Yankee Power)
She Belongs To Me
Sugar Baby
Tears Of Rage
This Wheel's On Fire
Workingman's Blues #2

Gerry Smith

© The Dylan Daily 2007

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Don’t Look Back: now available, but too pricey

The Dylan Daily has documented the difficulties of buying a copy of the De Luxe version of Don’t Look Back DVD, both online in the UK High Street.

After several weeks of poor/non-availability, it’s now available in London, notably in Fopp (Tottenham Court Rd branch) and the two Virgin Megastores. Both chains had shedloads on the shelves at the weekend.

But, as Fopp’s price is £22, and Virgin’s £19, I’m passing for now, with the intention of picking up a copy at a target £10, once the hype dies down.

I buy every new Dylan product, but refuse to pay silly prices. I’ll stick with the VHS video until the price is right.

Gerry Smith

Monday, June 18, 2007

Bob Dylan: right-wing Christian? Closing comments

Thanks to Scott Marshall:

“I wanted to respond to John Carvill’s follow-up (and I’ll end it from my end with the following).

“As for the whole cup of tea business (which I brought up), Mr. Carvill has the liberty not to drink the cup of tea, or complain when he does drink it, I’ll grant him that.

“As for Webb’s book, I do have it and have read large chunks of it, enough to know that Webb doesn’t claim Dylan to be a “right-winger”—he claims he is more conservative in his expressions than many people have allowed for. That is an important distinction because “left wing” and “right wing” have oh so many negative connotations (if we can even all agree on their denotations!)

“As for the religion stuff being old news, I generally agree with him on that, but yet there’s still a new generation always coming up who maybe haven’t heard of it yet.

“And I freely submit a mea culpa as far as the Wenner/Dylan exchange. In haste, I automatically equated the edited version (the hard copy issue of “Rolling Stone”) with the audio clips that Mr. Carvill heard. I should have been more careful, and so I admit the mistake/error, but it certainly wasn’t a lie because there was no intent on my part to mislead. But I was wrong, and do apologize, and wish Mr. Carvill the best—and I’m certain we could have tea over our mutual enjoyment of Dylan’s music.”

Friday, June 15, 2007

Dylan honoured with Spanish arts award

Thanks to Lawrence Kirsch in Montreal for forwarding news of the latest award to Dylan:

Bob Dylan was awarded Spain's Prince of Asturias arts award, one of the country's most prestigious honors, Wednesday.

"He's a living legend of popular music," said Jose Llado Fernandez-Urrutia, president of the prize's panel of judges.

"He's considered one of the most important figures of song, a form in which he combines, in a majestic way, the beauty of his poetry and ethical commitment," said the prize foundation in a statement.

"For this reason, his music and message have had an outstanding influence on several generations of young people."

"He pioneered the introduction of literature in popular music, bringing together for the first time European and Afro-American rhythms that were a decisive and revolutionary influence on later generations of musicians," the foundation said.

Eight Prince of Asturias awards are given annually in categories including arts, science, sports and humanities to Spaniards and foreigners alike.

They are announced during the year and presented each autumn in the northern Spanish city of Oviedo, capital of the Asturias region. Last year's arts award was won by Spanish film director Pedro Almodovar.

The Prince of Asturias Foundation:

Michael Gray’s Bob Dylan Encyclopedia - Book Of The Year

Hearty congratulations to eminent writer Michael Gray: his Bob Dylan Encyclopedia has just been voted Music Book Of The Year by ForeWord, a US book trade magazine:

Gerry Smith

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Traveling Wilburys Collection: De Luxe version goes missing

The Dylan Daily reported last month how supplies of the De Luxe version of Don’t Look Back had mysteriously dried up from online suppliers and that reasonably priced stock on the High Street was very elusive.

The same problem is now afflicting the De Luxe version of The Traveling Wilburys Collection. Having been widely pre-advertised online, it’s now gone missing. And in the retail outlets I frequent – local Borders and all the cheapo supermarkets in the ghetto – the standard Wilburys album is everywhere, but the De Luxe version totally invisible.

Has someone wildly underestimated the demand for new Bob product here in England?

Related earlier article:

If you already have the two Traveling Wilburys albums, should you bother with the new Traveling Wilburys Collection, released on Monday? Well, for about £14 in your supermarket/online, you get four extra audio tracks, five DVD tracks, and a short book. Worth buying, then? Maybe. Probably. Just.

If you didn’t buy the albums first time round - what were you thinking of? These vastly enjoyable good-time romps should be in the collection of any half serious rock fan.

The two Traveling Wilbury albums were cherished on initial release by Dylan fans as a sign that, after the multiple disappointments of the 1980s, Uncle Bob might not be quite ready for the scrap heap. Alongside Biograph, Oh Mercy and Bootleg Series vols 1-3, the Wilbury albums presaged a return to form.

Track Listing:

Disc One
1. Handle With Care
2. Dirty World
3. Rattled
4. Last Night
5. Not Alone Any More
6. Congratulations
7. Heading For The Light
8. Margarita
9. Tweeter And The Monkey Man
10. End Of The Line
Bonus Tracks:
11. Maxine*
12. Like A Ship*

Disc Two
DVD - The True History Of The Traveling Wilburys
Music Videos:
1. Handle With Care
2. End Of The Line
3. Inside Out
4. She’s My Baby
5. Wilbury Twist

Disc Three
1. She’s My Baby
2. Inside Out
3. If You Belonged To Me
4. The Devil’s Been Busy
5. 7 Deadly Sins
6. Poor House
7. Where Were You Last Night?
8. Cool Dry Place
9. New Blue Moon
10. You Took My Breath Away
11. Wilbury Twist
Bonus Tracks:
12. Runaway (B-side to “She’s My Baby” UK CD and 12”)
13. Nobody’s Child (previously released on Nobody’s Child: Romanian Angel Appeal)

*previously unreleased

Gerry Smith

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Dylan Redeemed: another view

Thanks to Mary Wogan:

“I've been reading the discussion on Dylan Redeemed with interest, because I've just been reading the book myself. There's no doubt it's an intriguing, well-informed book with relevant points about Dylan but eventually, as with any book which wishes to label or capture Bob Dylan, it becomes too insistent.

“I'd rather think, like a lot of people, Dylan is an evolving human being with urges and inspirations that probably are hard to define, even to him. Undoubtedly he's always been influenced by the Bible, the strange thing is that Dylan became a born-again Christian at a time in the States, when the right-wing religious right were gaining prominence, culminating in the election of Ronald Reagan to presidency.

“It's easy to see why American fans were annoyed by this. Remember those right-wing evangelists on TV? They were money-making charlatans… although once again, as in the sixties, Dylan was on the side of the rising forces, he again - probably hadn’t much to do with them.

“Definitely Dylan Redeemed is well worth reading, for its evident knowledge of Dylan's oeuvre.”

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

BOBMANIA # 3: Ireland's first Dylan Festival – in a village in Donegal

Thanks to Martin Grant:

“Thought you might be interested in this article from Craic On -
Moville, Donegal, Ireland, to host Ireland's first ever Bob Dylan Festival. The town is abuzz with excitement as the music world comes to Moville.”

Monday, June 11, 2007

Bob Dylan: right-wing Christian? Encore, encore

Thanks to John Carvill:

“Scott Marshall asks whether I should be taken seriously, since I haven't read Webb's book. Marshall doesn't say whether he has read it himself, but he doesn't seem to have done so. Yet he appears to feel
no discomfort in airing his own views. Seems a double standard to me. Marshall ignores (or misses) my main point, which is that Dylan cannot be claimed as a 'right-winger'. The religion stuff is old news.

“I don't much like Marshall's tone, particularly when he accuses me of twisting Dylan's words. When I cited the Rolling Stone audio clips of Wenner's Dylan interview (not the magazine itself, which I did not
mention at all), I was guilty of an inaccuracy of memory, as I just wrote my post off the top of my head. I have now gone back and listened again to the clip in question, and feel a clarification is in order. I'll quote the relevant passage briefly, ignoring cross-talk:

“Dylan says that religion "is supposedly a force for positive good. Where can you look in the world and see that religion has been a force for positive good?"

“[and I admit that this is the line which I mistakenly remembered as having been spoken by Wenner, rather than Dylan]

“What Wenner says is this: "I can't look at what organised religion is doing these days and see anything positive that is being done..."

“So really they both effectively say what I quoted Wenner as saying, ie. that religion is not a force for positive good in the world.

“Marshall claims that "Wenner DID NOT state that 'nowhere in the world is religion a force for good.' He just didn’t say it, nor anything like it."

Talk about twisting words! The claim that Wenner didn't say anything like the quote I originally attributed to him is an outright lie. He did indeed say something 'like it', and Dylan actually said it, and they both seem to agree on the basic point.

“As for begrudging Webb his cup of Christian tea, I don't. But surely I shouldn't be expected to drink it down without complaint?”

Friday, June 08, 2007

Bob Dylan: right-wing Christian? Encore, encore

Thanks to Scott Marshall:

“An angry John Carvill, in his second sentence, asks, “Surely you can’t be taking this guy (Stephen Webb) seriously?”—and then goes on to acknowledge he hasn’t even read Webb’s book. Why should we then take Carvill seriously?

“And to say the author is “fairly obsessed with religion in general and Christianity in particular” is misleading. The guy is a Christian. The guy teaches at a religiously-oriented school. Disagree with someone’s beliefs/convictions, fine, but don’t begrudge them their thing, their cup of tea, so to speak.

“Incidentally, a quick check of Webb’s other published books (he has 8 others) will show that non-religious publishers have published his work (Oxford University Press, State University of New York Press, and Continuum). That says something about his work, it seems. Also, a few of his books include the following topics: the rhetoric of Karl Barth’s theology; a Christian theology of compassion for animals; and one on how American Christians have an obsession with food, which amounts to idolatry. Who knows, this guy might need to be taken seriously.

“More significantly, Carvill has his facts wrong concerning Wenner’s alleged statement in the recent Rolling Stone interview with Dylan. Wenner DID NOT state that “nowhere in the world is religion a force for good.” He just didn’t say it, nor anything like it. (I have the actual magazine right in front of me now)

“These words are actually a twist on Dylan’s words, which were (when asked by Wenner if he was finding himself more a religious person these days): [Dylan]: “A religious person? Religion is supposedly a force for positive good. Where can you look in the world and see that religion has been a force for positive good?”

“One might conclude I’m making Carvill’s point, i.e. Dylan is dissing “religion” via a rhetorical question. But in the context of these comments, Dylan also, significantly, elaborates: “We degrade faith by talking about religion.” So we can conclude, reasonably, that faith (not religion) is something that Dylan deems important.

“If someone argues that Dylan doesn’t have a faith or it is insignificant to him, then he/she also has to ignore this comment from Dylan’s 2007 Rolling Stone interview—not to mention the interviews from 1979 (Bruce Heiman), 1983 (Robert Hilburn), and 1989 (Edna Gundersen), where Dylan also draws a distinction between religion and faith. And chronologically speaking, of course, all of this comes after his Jesus experience of 1978/1979; it seems Dylan’s faith is a personal thing (though publicly we’ve seen its manifestations through song and interview), but he’s never really promoted ‘religion’.”

Traveling Wilburys in the new MOJO

Thanks to Martin Cowan:

“Further to your recent report on the Traveling Wilburys, there's a nice full page (and positive) review of the reissue in the latest MOJO magazine.”

Mike Marqusee’s Wicked Messenger/Don’t Look Back DVD

Thanks to John Carvill:

“Here's a review of Mike Marqusee’s book, Wicked Messenger, I did for popmatters:

“By the way, I read your posts on the varying prices of the Don't Look Back deluxe edition. I tried Fopp in Manchester last weekend, they wanted £22. HMV of course wanted about a grand. I found the best price in WH Smith of all places, £18.99. Sure, it's 'available' online cheaper, but stocks seem to be low and I couldn't resist.”

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Bob Dylan: right-wing Christian? Encore

Thanks to John Carvill:

“Just read your article on the 'Dylan Redeemed' book today and it really made me angry. Surely you can't be taking this guy seriously?

“I haven't read the book (although I was vaguely aware of it), but if wikipedia can be believed (a question of faith?), the author is fairly obsessed with religion in general and Christianity in particular.

“He dismisses Mike Marqusee's work eh? Well he would, wouldn't he? Unlike Webb, Marqusee has a long and distinguished record as both a cultural and political commentator.

“Now we all know there's long been a spiritual dimension to Dylan's work, and he was using biblical imagery etc. long before the 'Born Again' period, so really the religion thing is old news, and for what it's worth Bob can be heard briefly 'discussing' his current position on religion with Jann Wenner in one of the audio clips recently made available on the Rolling Stone website. Bob doesn't demur when Wenner states that nowhere in the world is religion today a force for good.

“As for the politics, I'd advise anyone who's interested to read Marqusee's book 'Wicked Messenger', a brief summary of which might be: Dylan neither 'abandoned' leftist politics, nor did he ever fully embrace them. It's a nuanced and often contradictory affair, as are most aspects of Dylan's life and art. But in the broadest possible terms, here's the answer to your headline, is Bob right-wing:

“Q. Can Dylan be claimed 'for the Left'?
A. Well, yes, equivocally.

Q. Can Dylan be claimed 'for the Right'?
A. Unequivocally, no.”

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Bob Dylan: right-wing Christian?

The front cover photo of Dylan Redeemed: From Highway 61 to Saved is challenging. It shows a gospel-era Dylan addressing an audience, arms outstretched, palms upwards, in classic Jesus of Nazareth pose.

The text of Dylan Redeemed, an important new book, is equally challenging: it subverts the orthodox view of Dylan as a ‘60s liberal spokesman who later, in mid-career, unexpectedly found Christ.

Author Stephen H Webb, Professor of Religion and Philosophy at Wabash University, Indiana, sets out his credentials. He’s an Evangelical seeking to put the record straight - to claim Dylan for conservative Christianity. According to Webb, Dylan is “one of the greatest American theologians of the late 20th/early 21st Centuries”, with a consistently conservative view of both Jesus and the world.

He convincingly details how Dylan’s entire oeuvre, not just the trio of gospel albums, is imbued with deeply spiritual undertones – how Dylan has always had a musical vision with theological coherence. And, despite the sub-title, Webb covers most of Dylan’s recorded output.

In a welcome corrective to the dominant liberal/left interpretation of Dylan’s art, Webb challenges some sloppy thinking, supplying innumerable revelations in support of his thesis. At the simplest level, for example, he undermines the view that Hard Rain was “about” the Cuban crisis, by pointing out that it was written before the Great Power stand-off. By piling up similar examples, for a succession of songs, Webb punctures the idea of Dylan the liberal. Masters Of War: pacifist? Naaaah!

Of course, Dylan’s rejection of “the Movement” is already well established. But Webb goes further, showing just why Dylan refused to go along with radicals – not only was he indifferent to the anti-war leftists, he was actually hostile to their worldview.

Webb engages several Dylan scribes who have trodden this ideological and spiritual ground before, including Paul Williams, Greil Marcus, Michael Gray and Mike Marqusee (here called “Mark” - but then Bill “Harley” is cited as a key early rock ‘n’ roller!).

The work of Gray and Marqusee, in particular, is subjected to some lively analysis. Though Webb shares Gray’s lofty view of Lay Down Your Weary Tune, he interprets it very differently, in the course of an appropriately masterful analysis. Marqusee’s leftist reading of Dylan is scrutinised in detail. And dismissed.

Surprisingly, Scott Marshall - who’s written tellingly on Dylan/Christ - is not mentioned.

Webb has delivered, in part, one of the brainiest, most challenging of Dylan books. In part? Well, the on-topic stuff would have made a definitive 10,000 word essay. But he was allowed to wander, and his wanderlust dilutes the argument.

I happen to like Webb’s discussion of the parallels between Picasso and Dylan, but I couldn’t see why it was included here. And the author’s not at his expert best on topics like Dylan’s voice, discussed at length. I’m not really interested, either, in such topics as the doctrinal divisions in American Protestantism, the emergence of the (unlistenable) sub-genre of Christian Contemporary Music (aka CCM, aka Godpop) or the theological leanings of various Popes, but they’re all covered extensively here.

Ignore such lapses (and the shameless over-hyping of the book on the back cover), and you have a forceful, original analysis of Dylan’s songbook. It could well change how you hear this great body of work.

Dylan Redeemed is a fitfully outstanding addition to the Dylan bookshelf. Believe me.

Details: Stephen H Webb, Dylan Redeemed: from Highway 61 to Saved, Continuum Books, 2007, 196pp, £9.99, paperback.

Gerry Smith

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Dylan and Baez - on radio today

Don’t forget today’s broadcast (BBC Radio 4, 1:30 pm BST):

TAKE TWO: Richard Coles begins a discussion series on musical collaborations by looking at Joan Baez and Bob Dylan's brief partnership (with Michael Gray and Martin Carthy).

BBC Radio 4 can be heard online and you can also hear many programmes online for 7 days after broadcast via the Listen Again feature:

As a taster, here’s an article on the same theme published on The Dylan Daily in 2006:

Baez on Dylan

In a revealing interview in yesterday’s edition of the Guardian newspaper, Joan Baez confirmed that hanging out with Dylan and The Beatles felt like intruding on a boys’ club, to the extent that she’d “make tea and… dry Dylan’s sweaty vests…”.

A former fan of Ms Baez – I bought her first half dozen albums, on Vanguard – I haven’t been able to listen to that “distinctive” voice for many years.

Readers with a more tolerant disposition will find a couple of dozen covers of Dylan songs in Baez’s back catalogue. Nearly all the songs are conveniently collected on the 1998 compilation, Baez Sings Dylan:

Boots Of Spanish Leather
Daddy, You Been On My Mind
Dear Landlord
Don't Think Twice, It's All Right (live)
Drifter's Escape
Farewell, Angelina
I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine
I Pity The Poor Immigrant
I Shall Be Released
It Ain't Me Babe
It's All Over Now, Baby Blue
Love Is Just A Four-Letter Word
Love Minus Zero/No Limit
North Country Blues
One Too Many Mornings
Restless Farewell
Sad-Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands
Tears Of Rage
Walkin' Down The Line
Walls Of Redwing
You Ain't Goin' Nowhere

Gerry Smith

Monday, June 04, 2007

Dylan and Baez collaboration - on radio tomorrow

Thanks to Jim Dring:

"Tues 5 June BBC Radio 4, 1:30 pm - TAKE TWO: Richard Coles begins a discussion series on
musical collaborations by looking at Joan Baez and Bob Dylan's brief partnership. With Michael Gray and Martin Carthy."

BBC Radio 4 can be heard online and you can also hear many programmes online for 7 days after broadcast via the Listen Again feature:

Friday, June 01, 2007

Scrapbook at a bargain price

Thanks to Cornelia Grosch in Berlin:

“I have a link for a very fine price of the Dylan Scrap Book. I bought it at zweitausendeins (2001) in Berlin and found it very nice done. Not really new infos, but made with love. We can buy it in Germany for 15 Euros (the original!)... don't know if they will send it to Great Britain. But maybe a helpful hint for the people on the continent, at Ebay you will spend much more money!

The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration revisited - encore

Thanks to George Morton:

“You’re way too harsh on The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration. There are some great musicians on the album. When you dismiss it as “the middle-aged poprockocracy indulging itself… show biz schlock for the younger consumer… the night it became obvious that Dadrock was spiritually bankrupt…“, you surely can’t mean people like Clapton, Stevie Wonder and George Harrison? And the music on the CD is just wonderful. Are we talking about the same concert here?”

Well, George is welcome to his opinion. But the musicians he names were exactly those I had in mind when dismissing the release. And sure, there is some great music. But why spend time listening to pale imitations when the real thing is so readily available?

Gerry Smith