Monday, June 30, 2008

New edition of Bob Dylan Encyclopedia hits the High Street

The new (expanded, updated, paperbacked) edition of The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia by Michael Gray has hit the High Street, after a slight delay. It was very visible in major London stockists yesterday.

The paperback edition of the Encyclopedia has numerous new entries, but comes without the full-text CD-ROM released with the hardback edition. (No big deal - I’ve only consulted my disc once in 18 months).

List price is £16.99; Borders are discounting it to £12.99 – an unmissable bargain if you passed on the hardback. HMV and subsidiary Fopp have it at £15.

The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia was reviewed in depth and serialised on on first publication (check The Dylan Daily Archives for details)

Gerry Smith

Friday, June 27, 2008

New album: encore

It looks to me as if the “new album” is, as expected, Bootleg Series Vol 8. It certainly isn’t this latest “grey market” offering from

BOB DYLAN Broadcasting Live
(2008 UK PAL DVD - full-length performances from Woodstock, his 30th Anniversary Concert, Saturday Night Live, Letterman and Farm Aid.).

1. When You Gonna Wake Up
2. Jokerman
3. God Knows
4. Maggie’s Farm
5. License To Kill
6. My Back Pages
7. I Shall Be Released
8. Across The Borderline
9. Knockin’ On Heavens Door
10.It Ain’t Me Babe


Release date: Monday 11 August 2008, Storm Bird Ltd, No: STB2858

Gerry Smith

Thursday, June 26, 2008

This year’s new album: the plot thickens

Rumours abound of a new album this autumn. It’s probably going to be the Bootleg Series vol 8, already discussed on The Dylan Daily, but who knows?

Thanks to Alan Dean in Dallas, for passing on this rumour from The Daily Telegraph newspaper:

“Hi. Just read this and was wondering if y'all had heard about it:

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What’s So Great About… Bob Dylan – with Al Kooper and Bryan Ferry

What’s So Great About… Bob Dylan is a 30-minute documentary to be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 at 1030 on Saturday morning (28 June).

Some of the voices to be heard - Andrew Motion, Bryan Ferry and Al Kooper - promise a stimulating half hour.

I’ll be listening, but not without a sense of foreboding: Dylan and Radio 4 make strange bedfellows.

I was a youthful devotee of the station, but I haven’t listened to BBC Radio 4 for years – ever since I started to find its content and tone irksome.

But my fears are probably misplaced and the programme will most likely confound my expectations.

You can hear many Radio 4 programmes online, live, and some for 7 days afterwards:

Gerry Smith

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Bootleg Series vol 8: tracklist?

Thanks to Martin Cowan for sending a link to Searching For A Gem, the definitive Dylan rarities website, containing putative track data for The Bootleg Series vol 8, rumoured for release this autumn:

If it is the full tracklist, this could be disappointing - incoherent, underwhelming …

Gerry Smith

Monday, June 23, 2008

Dylan: Great Lyricist – first in new series of collectable free booklets

Bob Dylan was the launch title in a new series of collectable booklets given away with Saturday 21 June’s edition of The Guardian, the London liberal-left daily newspaper.

The nicely designed booklet, running to 26 pages, includes the lyrics of eight Bob songs, six from the 1960s, plus Tangled Up In Blue and Blind Willie McTell.

The booklet also has a short Foreword by Greil Marcus, and two historic 1965 gig reviews from the newspaper’s Archive.

Though the content is slight, it’s a welcome addition as an artefact to any Dylan book collection.

The series of eight freebies continued in yesterday’s sister paper The Observer, with Broooooooooce, and today’s Guardian with Morrissey. Remaining highlights include Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen.

Gerry Smith

Friday, June 20, 2008

Dylan the painter: a dissenting view

Thanks to Trudy Evans:

“Congratulations on the Dylan Daily’s coverage of the Drawn Blank Series of paintings – the depth, detail and enthusiasm made yours the best coverage I came across.

“I haven’t yet seen the actual paintings, but from what I’ve seen on the web, I must say I don’t share your zeal for Bob the Painter.

“The work looks moderately interesting and some pictures exhibit technical skills, but mostly they don’t. I think it’s yet another case of a celebrity artist getting more attention than he strictly deserves - just like Miles Davis.”

Trudy’s reservations were echoed in a few of the press reviews:

* in a mixed notice in the Sunday Times, Waldemar Januszczak concluded: “ …Dylan can’t do faces or find proper character in others…”

* Mark Hudson, in The Daily Telegraph, was more positive, but decided “… he has real trouble with people…”

All opinions on all matters Dylan are welcome here. My enthusiasm is undimmed!

Gerry Smith

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Traveling Wilburys discounted, and Daniel Lanois’ Oh Mercy

Thanks to Martin Cowan:

“On the subject of cheap Dylan CDs: my local HMV is currently festooned with summer sale balloons and both the standard Traveling Wilburys reissue and the de luxe version are on sale heavily discounted.

“And the latest issue of grown-up music mag The Word has a small feature on Daniel Lanois producing "Oh Mercy" in part 2 of its The Producers series.”

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Lowest ever retail price for a Dylan album?

Thanks to John Service:

“Record labels are slashing prices to combat depressed demand, so there are some spectacular bargains around.

“But I wonder if I’ve just paid the lowest ever retail price for a Dylan album? I just bought Dylan’s Time Out Of Mind and “Love And Theft” in the attractively packaged new Sony X2 series at my local Tesco supermarket, for the princely sum of £4 – that’s £2 per album. Remarkable.

“I couldn’t resist replacing two (worn-out) great Leonard Cohen albums while I was at it – the first release, Songs of Leonard Cohen, and the third, Songs Of Love And Hate. Same deal - £4, or £2 per album.”

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

BOBMANIA #24: win a set of rare Bob Dylan postcards from Dyl-Time Theme Radio Hour

Thanks to Mel Prussack:

“This month’s Dyl-Time Theme Radio Hour is now online. The theme this month is "Rundown Rehearsals".

“Included in this show is a contest to win a set of rare Bob Dylan postcards. Good luck!”

Monday, June 16, 2008

Dylan’s new art show: #5 – London and Chemnitz catalogues compared

The London and Chemnitz catalogues for Bob Dylan – The Drawn Blank Exhibition are different.

The London catalogue, published last week by Halcyon Gallery, has reproductions of 300+ canvases – almost double the number in the Chemnitz book.

It has a couple of short essays, by Andrew Motion, Poet Laureate (Official National Poet in UK), a well-known Dylan aficionado, and by Andrew Graham-Dixon, the TV art critic and writer.

ISBN 978-0-9548455-8-2. Large format. £39.95 if you buy at the show; for other purchase options, please see the gallery’s web site.

The Chemnitz catalogue was published in 2007 in five different editions – museum and trade (ie retail) versions, both in a choice of English and German language texts, and a special edition.

The English-language trade edition reproduces 170 of the Drawn Blank canvases, and has text/essays by Ingrid Mossinger (gallery curator who organised the show), Diana Widmaier Picasso, Frank Zollner and Jens Rosteck. Published by Prestel. ISBN 978-3-7913-3943-6, widely on sale in London at £35-40. It also – by coincidence - runs to 288pp, in a (slightly smaller) large format.

So should you buy the Chemnitz or the London catalogue? Buy both - if money’s a bit tight, just sacrifice the beer for week or so. The two catalogues are very fine additions to any Dylan book collection; and they probably won’t be around for too long.

Gerry Smith

Friday, June 13, 2008

Dylan’s new art show: #4 – the delightful catalogue

The Drawn Blank exhibition of 300+ Dylan paintings starts tomorrow in London’s Halcyon Gallery. And over 40 regional galleries are also exhibiting/selling some or all of the 29 Limited Edition signed and numbered prints. They’re also on sale online.

Readers not attending any of the exhibitions can get the flavour of the work from the collectable catalogue, Bob Dylan – The Drawn Blank Series, just published by the Halcyon Gallery at £39.95.

It’s a delightful production – a sumptuous 288pp large format coffee table hardback - and an essential addition to any Dylan book collection.

If you’re a collector and already have the lovely Prestel catalogue published for the inaugural Drawn Blank exhibition, you also need this one – they’re very different.

Gerry Smith

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Cuckoo, from the Gaslight

Thanks to Peter Truin:

“Dylan singing The Cuckoo, from Live at the Gaslight, was played on Radio 3's Late Junction on Tuesday night.

“It came after Glenn Gould playing a voluntary by William Byrd, eight minutes of change ringing on hand bells, and a field recording of a cuckoo.

“It was soon followed by the loop - pedals of the Danish minimalist rock band, Svartbag ...

“As the promotion for the programme says - ‘an eclectic mix’!"

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Dylan’s new art show: #3 - nationwide exhibition of Limited Edition prints

As well as the Halcyon Gallery’s magnificent exhibition of the original artwork of the Drawn Blank Series, reviewed here yesterday, the Halcyon and over 40 smaller provincial galleries will also be exhibiting and selling Limited Edition prints derived from the Drawn Blank canvases.

Exhibitions/sales start this Saturday, 14 June.

Noteworthy provincial venues include the Smart Gallery in Batley, West Yorks and the Howarth Gallery in Burnley, Lancs – the two small industrial towns can rarely have experienced such creative celebrity.

There are 29 different images in the Limited Edition series, in signed, numbered editions of 295 each. Halcyon Gallery have priced them at £1,000 each (unframed)/£1395 (framed). They’re also selling some images as larger format prints (£1995/£2495), and a few as sets of four (£3995/5585).

Given the quality of the work, the massive press it’s receiving and the number of outlets, competition to buy the Limited Edition prints could be fierce.

Gerry Smith


This is the press release from the Smart Gallery:


Smart Gallery will present the prestigious first ever collection of limited edition graphics by cultural icon Bob Dylan on Saturday 14th June 2008. The collection entitled The Drawn Blank Series will be unveiled in the gallery for the first time. While Dylan has been a committed visual artist for more than four decades, The Drawn Blank Series will cast a vibrant new light on the singular creativity of one of the world's most important and influential cultural figures. Limited to editions of only 295 worldwide these stunning graphics are set to take the art world by storm upon release.

Based on drawings and sketches made by Dylan while on the road from 1989 to 1992, the watercolour and gouache paintings in The Drawn Blank Series were created by Dylan during 2007 and visually echo the stylistic hallmarks of Dylan's prose, poetry and music. Just as Dylan's songs are constantly reinvigorated and rediscovered through his live performances, these limited edition graphics revisit images and scenes with a wide range of variety and creativity.

Commenting on the exhibition at Smart Gallery, Samantha Jackson, marketing director of Washington Green Fine Art Publishing, said: "This is an incredible and unique opportunity to view and acquire a limited edition graphic from the critically acclaimed body of work by Bob Dylan. For those people lucky enough to buy one of his graphics they will not only own a magnificent piece of art, but also a little piece of history. The art not only gives us an insight into the soul and imagination of Dylan the artist, but also Dylan the man. We are incredibly proud to launch this unique collection of limited edition graphics in the UK."

The Drawn Blank Series has resulted in a collection which is at once a significant independent achievement and a fascinating extrapolation of themes and images which haunt his music.

The Drawn Blank Series premieres in Smart Gallery, 40 Parliament Street, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG1 2RL and Redbrick Mill, 218 Bradford Road, Batley, West Yorkshire, WF17 6JF on Saturday 14th June 2008. Limited edition graphics start from £1,000. Galleries are open 7 days a week. For more information telephone or email Harrogate on 01423 569656 or or Batley on 01924 455445 or or visit

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Dylan’s new art show: magnificent

Dylan’s new art show was unveiled to the world’s press (and the Editor of The Dylan Daily) yesterday morning.

I spent a couple of hours marvelling at the inspiring art on display. Four floors. Almost a hundred original canvases, many finished in several different versions. Twenty-nine Limited Edition signed prints. Lovely art. And so much of it – an entire building devoted to Dylan! And his signature on every piece.

I don’t know much about art, blah, blah … . But I adored this collection. Women, men, portraits, life studies, places - odd places, on the margins, and everyday objects. Drawn, printed, then painted in vivid colours. Echoes of German Abstract Expressionism, I’m told. Dylan’s draughtsmanship might be stylistically na├»ve, but all the pieces evoke emotion. And his use of colour is remarkable.

As you’d expect, the collection displays a distinctive artistic vision. And yes, there are reminders of the Dylan worldview familiar from the songbook.

Would we be making so much of this show if the artist wasn’t Dylan? Who knows? Who cares? It’s Dylan’s art. And it’s inspiring.

Dylan Daily readers who can make it the Halcyon Gallery in London by 13 July owe it to themselves to see this magnificent show: it’s a big Dylan event, and it’s worth a long trip.

Drawn Blank opens Saturday and runs for a month. Be warned, though: they’ll probably be queueing round the block – so you’re strongly advised to book a timed visit, online (see below).

And if you were thinking of buying one of the originals, you’ll need big bucks – for the few original paintings not already sold.

TOMORROW ON THE DYLAN DAILY: Preview of the Drawn Blank Limited Edition exhibition and sale.

Gerry Smith


Here are the two Halcyon Gallery press releases:

Halcyon Gallery holds first gallery exhibition of Bob Dylan art

The Drawn Blank Series launches in London on 14 June 2008

Location: Halcyon Gallery, 24 Bruton Street, London, W1J 6QQ
Exhibition opens: 14th June 2008
Exhibition closes: 13th July 2008
Opening hours: Monday - Sunday: 10am - 6pm. Last admission: 5pm
Nearest tube: Bond Street or Green Park
Visitor information: 020 7659 7640
Booking information: For details on how to book free timed tickets to the exhibition, visit - booking fees will apply

Mayfair's Halcyon Gallery presents the first ever gallery exhibition of Bob Dylan's artwork, The Drawn Blank Series. This new exhibition of paintings is the most comprehensive and authoritative collection of Bob Dylan's art ever assembled. While Dylan has been a committed visual artist for more than four decades, The Drawn Blank Series casts a vibrant new light on the creativity of one of the world's most important and influential cultural figures.

The paintings in The Drawn Blank Series visually echo the stylistic hallmarks of Dylan's prose, poetry and music. Just as Dylan's songs are constantly reinvigorated and rediscovered through his live performances, so these paintings revisit images and scenes which were captured in all their immediacy by the artist.


Halcyon Gallery to hold first gallery exhibition of Bob Dylan art
The Drawn Blank Series launches in London on 14 June 2008

One of London's most prestigious galleries, Halcyon Gallery in Mayfair, will present the first ever gallery exhibition of Bob Dylan's artwork, beginning 14 June 2008. The Drawn Blank Series exhibition is the most comprehensive and authoritative collection of Bob Dylan's art ever assembled. While Dylan has been a committed visual artist for more than four decades, The Drawn Blank Series will cast a vibrant new light on the singular creativity of one of the world's most important and influential cultural figures.

Based on drawings and sketches made by Dylan while on the road during the period of 1989 through 1992, the paintings in The Drawn Blank Series visually echo the stylistic hallmarks of Dylan's prose, poetry and music. Just as Dylan's songs are constantly reinvigorated and rediscovered through his live performances, so these paintings revisit images and scenes which were captured in all their immediacy by the artist.

The Drawn Blank Series has resulted in a collection which is at once a significant independent achievement and a fascinating extrapolation of themes and images which haunt his music.

Accompanying the originals exhibition at Halcyon Gallery, a unique and impressive collection of limited edition graphics, signed by the artist, will be available through selected galleries throughout the UK from 14 June 2008.

Paul Green, President of the Halcyon Gallery, commented, "This is an incredible opportunity for viewing this powerful body of work which gives an insight into the artists' soul; and which have already been the subject of widespread critical acclaim. Halcyon Gallery is privileged to be hosting this unique exhibition."

Bob Dylan is one of the world's most popular and acclaimed songwriters, musicians and performers, having sold more than 110 million albums and performed literally thousands of shows around the world in a career spanning five decades. His most recent album, Modern Times - lauded by critics around the world and selling more than 2.5 million copies to date -- entered the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart at #1, as well as debuting within the Top Five in 21 other countries.

Bob Dylan was recently awarded a special Pulitzer Prize for "his profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power." In 2001, he received a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for best song from a motion picture for "Things Have Changed" from the movie Wonder Boys. Dylan's Chronicles - Volume I, his recent memoirs released in October, 2004, was a world-wide best seller, spending 19 weeks on The New York Times Bestseller List. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 and the Songwriters Hall Of Fame in 1982.

Situated in the heart of Mayfair, London, Halcyon Gallery is one of Europe's leading art galleries, representing some of the finest contemporary painters and sculptors working today. Halcyon Gallery is committed to supporting and nurturing outstanding living artists, as well as specialising in fine art and masters original paintings, drawings and sculpture.

2008 marks the 25th anniversary of Halcyon Gallery and the opening of a magnificent new flagship gallery at 24 Bruton Street. This elegant Georgian building has been renovated to create a stunning exhibition space suitable for the finest art and joins Halcyon Gallery's existing space at 29 New Bond Street.

For further information about the exhibition of the original Dylan works at Halcyon Gallery please visit

Monday, June 09, 2008

Dylan’s new art show: your 10-second primer

1. Dylan’s new art show, The Drawn Blank Series, opens at London’s Halcyon Gallery on Saturday. I’ve just got back from the preview and will be reviewing it here tomorrow morning. Sneak preview: it’s magnificent. (And free.)

2. A smaller exhibition of Limited Edition prints also opens in London and at 40+ galleries nationwide, including Smart Gallery in Batley, West Yorks, and online, from Saturday. Previewed here on Wednesday.

3. The Halcyon Gallery catalogue is a striking coffee table hardback, priced at £39. Reviewed here on Thursday.

4. It’s different to the handsome Prestel book produced for the earlier Chemnitz show.

5. The artwork has been created from Dylan’s drawings originally published in a third book, Drawn Blank, published in 1994

6. The Times newspaper, heavily involved in promoting the London show, published a collectible 16pp supplement on Saturday.

7. The Times also published a collectible T2 section, complete with Dylan cover and wide-ranging interview, on Friday.

8. You probably already own a reproduction of a Dylan painting – the cover of Self Portrait.

9. And another – Planet Waves. And maybe a third - Music from The Big Pink.

10. If you’re a book collector, you’ll almost certainly have Dylan’s debut as a visual artist – Writings And Drawings, the first lyrics book.

The Dylan Daily will be focusing on Bob Dylan: Painter all week. Make sure you keep coming back.

Gerry Smith

Friday, June 06, 2008

Special 16-page Dylan supplement in Saturday’s Times

Following today’s collectable Dylan cover interview in The Times Section 2 (T2), tomorrow’s Times (Saturday 7 June) promises a special 16-page Dylan supplement, promoting the Drawn Blank exhibition(s) in London and nationwide, and the sale of Limited Edition prints.

A must-buy – The Times, that is! Maybe a print or two, too?

Gerry Smith

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Major new Dylan interview/video promoting Drawn Blank exhibitions

Dylan has done a full-length interview for The Times (Friday 6 June) to promote several imminent UK Drawn Blank exhibitions - the original artwork and Limited Edition prints in London’s Halcyon Gallery, and prints in several provincial galleries such as Smart Gallery, Batley and Harrogate (Yorkshire):

Make sure you also catch the five minute video on The Times website, in which the Halcyon President introduces seven of the key paintings from the show.

And keep watching The Dylan Daily – I’ll be attending and reviewing these very important exhibitions. Barring a surprise UK tour, Drawn Blank is the biggest Dylan event in England in 2008.

Gerry Smith

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Original new book analyses Dylan the musician

My bookshelves groan under the weight of well over 120 Dylan books, covering every conceivable aspect of the man and his art.

Every aspect, that is, except one: music. You could read Dylan books non-stop for weeks – books about his poetry, his life, his recordings, films, bootlegs, live tours, handling of stardom… . And enjoy his paintings and innumerable collections of iconic photos.

But you’d rarely encounter words like “melody”, “harmony”, “rhythm”, “dynamics” or “sonic texture”.

Apart from Wilfrid Mellers’ A Darker Shade Of Pale: A Backdrop To Bob Dylan (Faber, 1984, but long out of print), you simply won’t find a book-length study of Dylan the musician.

Strange, that, because music is Bob Dylan’s life.

So Dylan Daily readers will welcome a fine new book plugging this enormous gap.

Bob Dylan is a new small-format paperback, in which author Keith Negus, of London University’s Goldsmiths College, provides an expert analysis of the music – Dylan’s voice, his playing of guitar, piano and mouth harp, his arrangements, as well as the different musical styles of his massive songbook.

Negus’ 43-page chapter, Chronologies, a perceptive run-through of Dylan’s catalogue, is the centerpiece. His revisionist thinking on the John Wesley Harding/Nashville Skyline/Self Portrait and Oh Mercy/TOOM periods are particularly acute.

He’s unafraid of challenging conventional wisdom – Subterranean Homesick Blues as the first hip-hop song? Not at all, avers Negus - like many a spikey prof, he relishes intellectual fisticuffs.

Negus’ chapter entitled Traditions places Dylan’s ever-changing styles in their musical context. He dismisses rock-ist interpretations of Dylan’s work, arguing convincingly that he’s primarily a bluesman, tempered by country influences.

Unlike most writing by music academics, Negus’ Bob Dylan is readily understandable by the average reader, even those with limited musical knowledge (like me). Its footnotes and references add to the book, opening up a new body of unfamiliar writing. By extensive quotation from the Dylan literature, the author summarises the party line about Bob the musician, but he frequently takes issue with his sources.

Keith Negus’ new book is an indispensable primer on Dylan’s art. It’s original, smart, finely written, and concise (but not slight). Highly recommended.

Bob Dylan, by Keith Negus (Icons Of Pop Music series, Equinox Publishing Ltd, 2008, 172pp, paperback, £10.99).

Gerry Smith

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Bo Diddley: influence on Dylan?

Several readers have suggested a Dylan-focussed obit for Bo Diddley, who died yesterday.

While I share the general sadness at Bo’s death and acknowledge his massive influence on 1950/60s r‘n’b, notably via Buddy Holly and the Rolling Stones, I’m not aware of him having had much direct influence on Dylan.

If you know how the great Bo might have influenced The Mighty Zim, The Dylan Daily would love to hear from you.

Gerry Smith

Monday, June 02, 2008

New French biography: a challenging read

Bob Dylan: une biographie, the new French-language study by Francois Bon (Editions Albin Michel, 2007, 486pp, paperback, 22 euros) is a bit of a challenge.

Author Bon appears to set himself the task of understanding Dylan through his poetry. That – and the achingly beautiful design - had me opening my moth-eaten wallet.

But I soon began to harbour doubts. I was disappointed to realize that the title’s a bit misleading: the book only covers the first ten years of Dylan’s creative life.

My French is just about good enough to get through a book of this length, but I fear the struggle might not be worth it. I suspect that the book might be more about the author’s response than the subject’s art. And that it could turn out to be yet another absolutely avoidable analysis of the 1960s and 1970s: I wouldn’t waste time reading an English-language analysis of late 20thC society (or anything else) by a rock writer, so I’m hardly going to try reading such stuff in French.

Before embarking on a difficult read, I’d welcome the reaction of any Francophone reader to Bon’s strikingly handsome new book. I’m willing to make the effort, but would it be worthwhile? What does Bon add to our understanding of Dylan’s art?

Gerry Smith