Category Archives: Bob Dylan music

Chinese checkers hold up Bob Dylan shows

Britain’s Telegraph reports that the Chinese government is in fact reviewing the planned Bob Dylan concerts in Beijing and Shanghai, slated to take place in April. As the writer, Martin Chilton, points out, the April 6th and April 8th gigs gigs in mainland China do not appear on the tour dates listed on the official website. However, they have been listed for some time as confirmed dates on the unofficial but traditionally very reliable site run by Bill Pagel.

Interestingly, the official site also does not list the gigs in Taipei (Taiwan) on April 3rd, or in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, on April 10th. (The show in Hong Kong on April 12th is listed on both sites.)

Last year, proposed dates in mainland China did not come off, although I don’t recall that they ever had achieved “confirmed” status on Bill Pagel’s website, leaving the possibility that the business aspects never really gelled. Mr. Chilton observes: Continue reading “Chinese checkers hold up Bob Dylan shows” »

My shoes, they come from Singapore

During his recent performance at the Grammys, Bob Dylan was wearing a pair of two-tone, black and white shoes, which caught the eyes of many viewers. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen him wear them before, whether on stage or in some publicity photo, but I can’t be specific. Since then, I came across a similar pair of shoes somewhere else; namely, in the episode of Kojak embedded from below. It’s from 1974. Continue reading “My shoes, they come from Singapore” »

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” »

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)” »

Irving Berlin, Bob Dylan, and black keys

Thanks to Richard who e-mails that he’s been reading a book called A New Literary History of America, and came across this in an article by Philip Furia on Irving Berlin:

While he had started out as a lyricist, Berlin soon began composing music as well. He had taught himself to play on the Pelham Cafe piano, but he could only play in the key of F-sharp, which consists largely of black keys. Eventually he would purchase a transposing piano , which allowed him to play in a single key and then, with the flip of a lever, hear how a melody sounded in other keys.

Furia goes on to say that Berlin’s song Alexander’s Rag Time Band “redefined the nature of American popular songs.”

I searched around and found more Continue reading “Irving Berlin, Bob Dylan, and black keys” »

Fifty years: A Bob Dylan anniversary

I’m not big on anniversaries, but as is being observed in Rolling Stone and elsewhere, on this day exactly fifty years ago — January 24th, 1961 — Bob Dylan is believed to have arrived in New York City for the first time. Furthermore, it’s generally believed that he made his way immediately to Greenwich Village and played a couple of songs at the Cafe Wha?.

After that it gets sketchy. Some people say he played a couple of Woody Guthrie numbers. Others speculate that he gave them a blast of Ballad of a Thin Man and Obviously Five Believers, but based on the audience reaction, he decided to keep those songs in his back pocket for a while longer.

One thing you can’t really argue with is that it marks the beginning, in earnest, of Bob Dylan’s musical career. Fifty years. It is something to contemplate. All the more amazing when you consider how much success he’s had, with new and original material, in just these last ten years. Congrats to Bob, and thanks too, for, well, keeping it real.