Monthly Archives: March 2008


Theme Time Radio Hour with your host Bob Dylan

This was (surprise!) another spectacular episode of Bob Dylan’s “Theme Time Radio Hour” show on XM Satellite Radio, filled with super music, gags, history and philosophy. It was great to hear him attest that he would never run out of themes, and, with the recent approval of the XM/Sirius merger, it seems clear that he won’t be laid off anytime soon either. Continue reading “JOE” »

Presidential pitching

The YouTube video is titled “Bush booed at 2008 Nationals home opener,” and indeed there are boos, as there usually are for politicians who throw out the ceremonial first pitch at baseball games. There are also cheers, and I think the cheers definitely overwhelm the boos when President Bush throws his “high heat.” It’s been nice to have a president who cares about making a real pitch on these occasions, and it’s just one of the things that in my humble opinion people will find themselves missing come 2009. And of-course it brings back memories of his pitch at the 2001 World Series in Yankee Stadium.

Continue reading “Presidential pitching” »

Forever Young

It’s always a good day to hear Forever Young. The show Bob Dylan and his band did in Cardiff, Wales, during the year 2000 is famous amongst collectors, and the performance of Forever Young from that show is currently on YouTube.

I think that watching and listening to this, you get an angle on Bob putting into practice some of that guitar alchemy he says he learned from Lonnie Johnson. His mesmeric acoustic riffing drives the performance along and builds it towards an intense crescendo.

Click here to go to YouTube or play below.

May your hands always be busy,
May your feet always be swift,
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift.

“Stop Loss” loses

(Due to recent site changes, if you’re looking for Bob Cohen’s piece on Blowin’ in the Wind, please click here.)


The newly opened film “Stop Loss” is described by box-office watchers as “dead on arrival.”

Although the drama from MTV Films was the best-reviewed movie opening this weekend, Paramount wasn’t expecting much because no Iraq war-themed movie has yet to perform at the box office. “It’s not looking good,” a studio source told me before the weekend. “No one wants to see Iraq war movies. No matter what we put out there in terms of great cast or trailers, people were completely turned off. It’s a function of the marketplace not being ready to address this conflict in a dramatic way because the war itself is something that’s unresolved yet. It’s a shame because it’s a good movie that’s just ahead of its time.”

Well, I think that’s a disingenuous way of characterizing the situation at best. A few weeks ago in this space, anticipating the film’s release, I wrote:

On a tangential note: In a few weeks, a major motion picture called “Stop Loss” will be released. It’s clearly enough another Hollywood attempt to spread cynicism and defeatism regarding what is going on in Iraq. None of these agenda-driven films of late have done too well at the box office, and, please God, this one will bomb big-time as well. What I’d like to know is: Where are the films telling the many stories of genuine heroism that have taken place in this war, from the Afghan front in late 2001 up to this very day? Making a film that sought to uplift spirits, and pay worthy tribute to authentic heroes of the kind that have been fighting and dying for the past 7 years, would not only be the right thing to do, but a well-made film of that nature would clean up at the box office. Doesn’t Hollywood even want to make money anymore? Or is it more important to spread the creed of “blame America first and always” than to make films that ordinary people would like to see?

Well, that there is what you call a rhetorical question, I guess.

Wrights and wrongs

Thanks a lot to Keith Pavlischek (an estimable Bob Dylan fan!) for forwarding the link to his piece today at First Things: “Jihad, Jew-Hatred, and Evangelicals and Jews Together”. In it he pulls together the strands of some recent debate and commentary on these both fascinating and crucial topics. Worthy of a complete read.

And not off-topic from that previous item is this, at the Confederate Yankee blog: It Never Stops: Obama’s Church Published Letter Alleging Israeli “Ethnic Bomb.” An ethnic bomb, for the uninitiated, is a mythical explosive device or weapon that would kill only people of particular ethnicities. In this case, it’s the perpetuation of a unspeakably vile allegation that Israel worked on such a bomb to kill “Blacks and Arabs.” This is just the latest in a never ending succession Continue reading “Wrights and wrongs” »

Headin’ for another joint

Bob Dylan’s tour of South America and Mexico ended last night at the Plaza de Armas in Zacatecas, Mexico. (Set list.)

Dylan’s next tour is already cued up. It will be kicking off in Saint John, New Brunswick on May 19th, and taking Bob and the band to such exotic locations as Iceland, Helsinki, Warsaw, St. Petersburg, Salzburg, Toulouse, and finishing with a series of gigs in Spain and Portugal in July. (Details at Bill Pagel’s tour guide.) I’m exhausted just typing all those place names.

Odds and Ends

In the Huffington Post, Erica Jong tells her readers that Hillary Clinton is a beaver and Barack Obama is a stallion. I’m not making it up; it’s in her column entitled “Why Am I So Afraid” , where she makes a plea for her fellow Democrats to embrace both of them.

(Dylan connection: One of Bob’s funniest rhymes, I think, is the one in Highlands, where he rhymes “way wrong” with “Erica Jong,” in his conversation with the demanding waitress. )

A much less disturbing animal story is the one of Nubs, another lucky pooch from Iraq, adopted by an American serviceman and shipped to the United States through the generosity of friends. From

[Marine Maj. Brian] Dennis met Nubs in al-Anbar province where the dog ran wild at an Iraqi border fort. When Nubs was a puppy, an Iraqi sliced off most of his ears in an attempt to make the dog tough and more alert. Hence, the name Nubs.

Another time, Nubs was stabbed with a screwdriver, and Dennis nursed him back to health.

When Dennis’ unit, the Border Transition Team, moved camp 70 miles away, Nubs somehow tracked them to their new location two days later. It was against the rules to keep the dog in camp, and friends jumped in to bring Nubs to San Diego.

“Once he found us there, it seemed like this was supposed to have happened,” Dennis said. “After he walked all that distance, it seemed like he was supposed to end up in San Diego.”

Welcome to the U.S.A., Nubs.

Getting back to the subject of rhymes and Bob Dylan — in this case not those written by him, but those read by him — Fred at the Dreamtime blog compiles many of the poetry readings from Bob’s “Theme Time Radio Hour” show in a podcast you can access at this link. Nice work.

A happy Easter

From Toronto in April of 1980, Bob Dylan and his band performing Saved: Click here to go to YouTube or play below.

And here is an audio clip of another great performance from Knoxville, Tennessee, on February 5th, 1980.

From a book by that estimable old atheist, Christopher Ricks, called “Dylan’s Visions of Sin” :

The gratitude that I feel for the best of Dylan’s Christian songs arises from my finding them among his supreme acts of gratitude. His songs of faith are continuous with all his other gratitudes, to singers and to songs, to loved ones and respected ones. “I’ve been saved/By the blood of the lamb”:

And I’m so glad
Yes, I’m so glad
I’m so glad
So glad
I want to thank You, Lord
I just want to thank You, Lord
Thank You, Lord

Those last three words don’t just say something yet again, for the third time, because what had been something I want to do has become my doing it: “Thank You, Lord.” Not a curtailment of what had first been said and then slightly expanded ( “I want to thank You, Lord/I just want to thank You, Lord”), but an expansion of it, though (strangely) in fewer words, an expansion into doing it, a consummation of the two lines that lead into it. “Thank You, Lord”: this, which is lovingly performed by Dylan, is a performative utterance, in the sense of the philosopher J.L. Austin. Like “I promise”, the words are not a statement that could be true or false (though the promise might be kept or broken): the words simply do what they say. “I thank you”, or “Thank You, Lord.”

My own thanks come to this: that it is inspiriting to meet a heartfelt expression of faith that would constitute — if, say, you were ever to find yourself converted — so true an example as to become a reason. If I were ever to become a Christian, it would be because of the humane substantiation that is to be heard in many a poem by George Herbert. And in many a song by Dylan.

If it keeps on rainin’

Looks like the levee will hold, according to reports from Valley Park, Missouri. But the floods which have taken 16 lives in the Midwest continue to make this a wet and dangerous Easter for many. May those waters soon recede.

On a lighter note, the term “it doesn’t rain but it pours” has some application to the, er, state of affairs in New York state politics. Eliot Spitzer recently resigned as New York governor after it emerged Continue reading “If it keeps on rainin’” »