Monthly Archives: February 2011

Bob Dylan: A Spiritual Life

It seems like there’s at least three new books on Bob Dylan published every week, and that in itself is certainly some kind of amazing phenomenon. One in particular that I am looking forward to, however, is Bob Dylan: A Spiritual Life by Scott Marshall. It will feature an interview with Bob Dylan’s former wife (from the 1980s), Carolyn Dennis, who was also one of his backup singers for some time. To my knowledge, it’s the first real interview she’s given Continue reading “Bob Dylan: A Spiritual Life” »

West of the Jordan, East of the Rock of Gibraltar

It sure is a Groom’s Still Waiting at the Altar kind of time, looking out on the Middle East, with regime’s crumbling, protesters being machine-gunned, buildings burning, blood flowing.

Prayed in the ghetto with my face in the cement
Heard the last moan of a boxer, seen the massacre of the innocent
Felt around for the light switch, felt around for her face
Been treated like a farm animal on a wild goose chase

West of the Jordan, east of the Rock of Gibraltar,
I see the turnin’ of the page, curtain rising on a new age
I see the groom’s still waiting at the altar

I had no idea that there were versions of Groom’s Still Waiting At the Altar by Elkie Brooks and by Rod Stewart, but I found them on YouTube this morning. Arguably better than either of those, however, is the one embedded here by a combo calling themselves Ultimate Outlet. Continue reading “West of the Jordan, East of the Rock of Gibraltar” »

On turning the other cheek: Bob Dylan et al

Many Christian churches following the most common Lectionary would have featured a particular segment of the Sermon on the Mount as the Gospel reading today, namely Matthew 5:38-48; this is the part which includes Jesus’ admonition to his followers to “turn the other cheek” in response to being slapped in the face, which is one of those sayings of Jesus which has entered the lingo of believers, unbelievers and … just about everyone else too.

Interestingly, it seems that Continue reading “On turning the other cheek: Bob Dylan <em>et al</em>” »

Bob Dylan (and Lady Gaga) at the Grammys

So what’s to say about Dylan at the Grammys last night?

Exactly twenty years ago, in 1991, Dylan performed at the Grammys while collecting his “Lifetime Achievement Award” (hmm … shouldn’t he either give that back or get another one?). He performed an all-but incomprehensible version of Masters of War. Lots of people said then: “Wow, how washed up is that old guy?” Twenty years later, after Dylan’s performance of Maggie’s Farm at last night’s show, it seems a lot of people are saying much the same thing. And they’re probably just as correct. (So we can expect another twenty years of great music from Dylan.) Continue reading “Bob Dylan (and Lady Gaga) at the Grammys” »

Bob Dylan at the Grammys

Bob Dylan is slated to perform on Sunday at the annual Grammy Awards show. It is said that he will perform with the groups Mumford & Sons and the Avett Brothers, in what has been described as a “salute to acoustic music.” An LA Times blog quotes show producer Ken Ehrlich, and indicates that the plan is for Dylan to perform as part of a “three-act suite” with those groups. First, Mumford & Sons are to play their song Cave, followed by the Avett Brothers performing their tune Head Full of Doubt, Road Full of Promise, and then Dylan is to come on and perform something with both groups on stage. Ehrlich indicates that Dylan’s song is yet to be decided. (I vote for I Shall Be Free No. 10.)

Dylan’s well capable of throwing a wrench into the works of a carefully planned Big Performance like this, by choosing to do what he feels in the moment. I’d be happy to see it, frankly. I’d also be happy if he came on for the “salute to acoustic music” carrying a Fender Stratocaster. But most likely he’ll be nice, and I guess that would be OK too.

The Grammy show will air this Sunday at 8 p.m Eastern Time in the United States, on CBS.

Bob Dylan: April in Vietnam (and other places)

Bob Dylan and his band are hitting the road a little later than usual this year, according to currently reported tour dates, but they’re also doing some serious traveling once they do hit that road. The month of April is set to kick off with a concert in the city of Taipei, Taiwan (on the 3rd) and from there Dylan will go to Beijing and Shanghai in mainland China, to Ho Chi Minh City (aka Saigon) in Vietnam, to Hong Kong and to Singapore. The second half of the month will be spent in Australia and end up on the 30th with a gig in Auckland, New Zealand.

Last year, some may remember, there were rumored gigs in China that never came to pass. A story came out that Bob Dylan had been “banned from China,” but I was dubious about that, largely because of the weak sourcing, and it would seem indeed that there was nothing to it.

But Bob Dylan in Vietnam, huh? That seems like it ought to have some kind of great symbolic Continue reading “Bob Dylan: April in Vietnam (and other places)” »