Monthly Archives: September 2007


A song that it’s safe to say Bob Dylan won’t be singing tonight when yours truly plans to attend his concert is Hallelujah, I’m Ready To Go, a song he kicked off many shows with from around 1999 thru 2001. (Click here to see on YouTube or play below.) However, I’m more than ready to go.

Mail Call

Thanks to Carol for the following e-mail:

Subject: Thanks for your website

I am enjoying your website. I tuned in only about 4-5 months ago after I found out about the Gospel songs of Bob Dylan from a show on the Ovation cable channel. This began a piqued interest in Dylan which brought me to your website. I don’t know where I have been for the last 20 years but I honestly did not know about all that has happened to Mr. Dylan, especially after 1979. Actually, I just retired from my job after 30 years and have had so much more time to do other things which I am enjoying. That reminds that I had become way too busy with my job. Anyway, I made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ in the mid-1980s and am so happy to listen to Dylan’s Christian-inspired albums. I guess that I was out of touch partly b/c I have tried to stay away from most secular music. And, I have had time to really listen to his music and realize that all along in his career he has written songs with Christian messages. Anyway, I have read Dylan’s Chronicles and Restless Pilgram by Marshall along with a lot of internet research and have really gotten to know Bob Dylan. Watching a lot of his music on YouTube, especially through RankFly helped. It has been great.

My husband and I planned our first vacation after my retirement (he is already retired) to go to Austin Texas to the Austin City Limits Festival on Sept. 15, 07. It was a hot and dirty outdoor venue but we stood for an hour and a half staring at him with binoculars and really enjoyed the way he is singing his songs. We purchased the local newspaper, the Austin American-Statesman in which the day before the concert there was a good 2-page article in the Life & Arts section with 2 great photos of him in 65 and today and how Dylan hadn’t been in Austin since Sept. 65. That very good article was written by Michael Corcoran. The day after the concert an article was written by Joe Gross and was not very charitable. This is what Mr. Gross said at the close of the article; “But too often, they sounded like what they looked like: a quaint dance band, displaced in time. It’s sad when you hear the amazingly mean “Like a Rolling Stone” and wonder whether Dylan knows how completely “Now you don’t look so proud” applies to himself. Hey, man, you wanna come back and do five nights at the Paramount, you have my money. You wanna come back to Stubb’s, I’ll give you a chance. But in a field at ACL? Never again.”

Thanks again for your website and that you are on the right side. I look forward to more from you.

Well, I can only hope I’m on the right side more often than I’m not, but I appreciate the sentiments very much.

On another note, in case regular readers are awaiting the Ben Stein interview I mentioned earlier in the week: it’s taking a little longer than I expected to get it ready for posting (you just can’t get good help these days) but it will indeed be here soon. Hang on, somehow.

Blonde on Blonde

There is an epic and estimable piece by Sean Wilentz in Oxford American magazine:
Mystic Nights: The Making of Blonde on Blonde in Nashville.

The strangest Nashville recording dates were the second and third. The second began at six in the evening and did not end until five-thirty the next morning, but Dylan played only for the final ninety minutes, and on only one song: “Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands.” He would later call it a piece of religious carnival music, which makes sense given its melodic echoes of Johann Sebastian Bach, especially the chorale “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.” Unlike “Visions of Johanna,” though, this epic needed work, and Dylan toiled over the lyrics for hours. The level of efficiency was military: Hurry up and wait.

Kristofferson described the scene: “I saw Dylan sitting out in the studio at the piano, writing all night long by himself. Dark glasses on,” and Bob Johnston recalled to the journalist Louis Black that Dylan did not even get up to go to the bathroom despite consuming so many Cokes, chocolate bars, and other sweets that Johnston began to think the artist was a junkie: “But he wasn’t; he wasn’t hooked on anything but time and space.”

War and justice

Keith Pavlischek has written a fascinating essay which appears in Books & Culture and is entitled “Human Rights and Justice in an Age of Terror.” It is a response to “An Evangelical Declaration Against Torture: Protecting Human Rights in an Age of Terror,” which came out earlier this year. Pavlischek is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington. D.C. (and incidentally a big fan of Bob Dylan and a reader of RWB — hooray!). From his essay’s intro:

In March 2007 a small group of evangelical academic theologians and activists released An Evangelical Declaration Against Torture: Protecting Human Rights in an Age of Terror, a document that was subsequently published in The Review of Faith and International Affairs, along with a commentary by David Gushee, the lead drafter. What follows is my own effort — as an evangelical, a political philosopher, and a recently retired intelligence officer in the United States Marine Corps with a long history of both scholarly and personal interest in these matters — to engage the issues they have raised. I hope that this response will give rise to further discussion and clarification of these vitally important matters, and help provide guidance for evangelicals who wish to speak coherently and responsibly on these and similar issues of public concern.

Click here to read it all. It is a relatively long piece — if you don’t feel up to reading the whole thing, I recommend at least scrolling down about halfway, to this sub-heading: Legal and Illegal Combatants: The Substantive Deal Breaker, and reading what is a very valuable reflection on the great importance of continuing to distinguish between lawful and unlawful combatants, and why this is very much of a piece with Christian just war tradition.


Last night in the debate of the Democratic candidates for president, the front-runners Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards all declined to commit to a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of their potential first term, i.e. 2013. I think that this is a moment to put aside all snarkiness and over-analysis and say just one thing: Good for them. This sends a message to everyone concerned over there that they can’t just wait out the Bush presidency and expect a complete fold from the U.S.. And that’s a very good thing.

Ann on Ahmadinejad

Ann Coulter has a suitably restrained reaction to this week’s farce at Columbia University:

Democrats should run Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for president. He’s more coherent than Dennis Kucinich, he dresses like their base, he’s more macho than John Edwards, and he’s willing to show up at a forum where he might get one hostile question — unlike the current Democratic candidates for president who won’t debate on Fox News Channel.


At Ahmadinejad’s speech, every vicious anti-Western civilization remark was cheered wildly. It was like watching an episode of HBO’S “Real Time With Bill Maher.”

Ahmadinejad complained that the U.S. and a few other “monopolistic powers, selfish powers” were trying to deny Iranians their “right” to develop nukes.

Wild applause.

Ahmadinejad repeatedly refused to answer whether he seeks the destruction of the state of Israel.

Wild applause.

He accused the U.S. of supporting terrorism.

Wild applause.

Only when Ahmadinejad failed to endorse sodomy did he receive the single incident of booing throughout his speech.

Phil gets a mistrial

Not the same as being found innocent. Oh well. More innocent days (but I guess they only seemed that way) are evoked by the Ronettes singing Be My Baby, here on YouTube. I chose that link, rather than one of the live renditions that are also up there, because the audio is the original amazing Phil Spector production. Designed to sound great coming out of a transistor radio, it works pretty well through cheap computer speakers too.

Elvis: politics as usual

Be warned, if you’re one of the many thousands of RWB readers who are no doubt attending one of the gigs on Bob Dylan’s latest tour: Elvis Costello, in his recent sets opening for Bob, has been making some pointed political observations. As described here, he inserted these lines during his song The Scarlet Tide: “Admit you lied, and bring the boys back home.” As described here, he made some kind of declaration regarding the Dixie Chicks. So, brace yourselves. I don’t want to hear about any riots. After all, Elvis — no less than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — is a guest in our country, and we’d like him to have a nice experience, and go home and tell his friends how much he enjoyed visiting America.

Joking aside: As anyone who has been a fan would know, Elvis Costello is not primarily a politically-oriented songwriter, and never has been, but since the earliest days of his career (Less Than Zero, Night Rally) he’s always liked to keep a certain edge going, and at least appear to be commenting on things from a vaguely leftist perspective. Due to his fondness for being obscure in his lyrics, it can often be hard to decipher just what it is he’s getting at. But that it has always come from the left side of the spectrum is easy enough to see, and his sporadic political comments in interviews remove any doubt that might remain. Indeed, back before I became a blinkered uptight right-winger, one of the reasons I was attracted to the music of Elvis Costello was that edge; Elvis conveyed the sense that he was standing for something, that it wasn’t all just cars and girls for him. My favorite songs were, nonetheless, always the ones of interpersonal politics rather than the other kind. I Hope You’re Happy Now, Accidents Will Happen, I Want You, Indoor Fireworks — those and quite a a few others are really masterful compositions from a very large talent. And, contrary to those who say he’s a good songwriter but just doesn’t have a good voice, I’ve always thought that he’s a fantastic singer, very soulful and affecting. So, I’ll be there this Sunday in Connecticut, hoping to come away re-impressed at his ability to write and sing songs that can stand the test of time, and hoping to be able to cut him some slack for using the stage for his narrow political commentary. We’ll see.

Good show

I like the fan review of Dylan’s show last night in Norfolk, Virginia, that appears on Bill Pagel’s tour guide site this morning.

Bob and his band were on their game this evening in Norfolk Virginia. This was my second time seeing Dylan on his modern times tour and they just keep getting better. I was a little disappointed that they didn’t play any songs off of “Time out of Mind” but overall I was pleased with the set list. Bob nailed Tom Thumb Blues on the electric guitar. That song alone was worth the price of admission. Bob’s rendition of “Chimes of Freedom” didn’t go over so well with some of the older fans in the audience but I like the new arrangement. I’ve been a fan of Bob’s ever since he released “Time out of Mind” back in 99. I go to see him perform his new songs so it doesn’t bother me when he reworks his oldies.

Something tells me that’s the kind of review that Dylan would get a kick out of reading.

Twelfth Imam coming “in the near future”

There are no homosexuals in Iran, as we know. For all the focus on that and other recent statements of the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the disturbingly apocalyptic nature of his speech today at the U.N. might be missed. It’s not the first time he’s brought up his belief that the return of the Hidden Imam is imminent, but — just as with his statements about the destruction of Israel — there comes a point when maybe it’s prudent to consider whether he means these things that he keeps on saying. The final paragraphs of his speech today:

Humanity has passed a perilous precipice, and the age of monotheism [ed: i.e., no more of that Holy Trinity nonsense], purity, affinity, respecting others, justice and true peace-loving has commenced.

It is a divine promise that the truth will be victorious and the Earth will be inherited by the righteous. You who are free, believers and the people of the world, put your trust in God.

You who crave high values, wherever you are, try to prepare the grounds for the fulfillment of this great divine promise by serving the people and seeking justice.

The era of darkness will end. Prisoners will return home. The occupied lands will be freed. Palestine and Iraq will be liberated from the domination of the occupiers. And the people of America and Europe will be free of the pressures exerted by the Zionists.

The tenderhearted and humanity-loving governments will replace the aggressive and domineering ones. Human dignity will be regained.

The pleasing aroma of justice will permeate the world, and people will live together in a brotherly and affectionate manner.

Striving in this way to surrender rule to the righteous and perfect human, the promised one [ed: i.e. the twelfth or “hidden” imam, aka the Mahdi] is indeed the final cure for the wounds of humanity, the solution of all problems and the establishment of love, beauty, justice and a dignified life all over the world.

This belief and endeavor is the key to unity and the constructive interaction among nations, countries, the people of the world and all the true justice seekers.

Without any doubt, the promised one who is the ultimate savior, along with Jesus Christ and other holy saviors, will come. In the company of all believers, justice seekers and benefactors, he will establish a bright future and fill the world with justice and duty.

This is the promise of God, therefore it will be fulfilled.

Come, let’s play a part in the fulfillment of all this glory and duty. I wish for a bright future for all human beings and the dawn of the liberation of and freedom for all humans, and the rule of love and affection all around the world, as well as the elimination of oppression, hatred, and violence, a wish which I expect will be realized in the near future.

Thank you very much.

Boiled down, what Mahmoud is saying is: “Smile! The world is about to end.”

“Under wraps”

From Singer/Songwriter Bob Dylan Joins Attends Yom Kippur Services in Atlanta.

Recording legend Bob Dylan joined Chabad-Lubavitch of Georgia for Yom Kippur services over the weekend. Dylan, who was in town for a concert following the holiday, was called up to the Torah, but otherwise did not cause much of a stir among the congregation.

Arriving in a ski cap and tallit, Dylan stayed for the duration of the morning services, during which he was called up by his Jewish name Zushe ben Avraham. The singer/songwriter said the blessings in Hebrew without stumbling, like a pro, reported Rabbi Yossi Lew, co-director of the Chabad House.

Dylan’s appearance was kept under wraps at the request of his manager, who found the Chabad House through’s online director.

Nice job on the discretion there, Chabad guys. Anyway, this report might re-ignite arguments among those who debate whether Dylan remains a believer in Jesus/Yeshua as the Messiah, versus those who insist he put that aside at some point and returned to his Judaic roots exclusively (not to mention those who perversely like to think he is some kind of agnostic or atheist in the face of the massive evidence to the contrary). However, those familiar with the ideas of those who practice what is alternately called Messianic Christianity, Messianic Judaism or Hebrew Christianity might not see the need for any argument at all.

Addendum: More at YudelLine.