The Next Track, Episode #203 – Keith Miles on Bob Dylan in London

Dylanologists Jackie Lees and Keith Miles have written a book about Bob Dylan it London, highlighting the importance of the city to Dylan’s career and growth as an artist. Keith Miles joins us to discuss this book, and tell some tales of the troubadour in the city.

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New Bob Dylan Song: Murder Most Foul

Bod Dylan has released a new 17-minute song, Murder Most Foul, about the killing of John F. Kennedy. It’s a slow, haunting, dirge-like ballad, essentially a talking song, where the lyrics sound almost improvised as the song goes on. There’s a playful use of rhyme and cultural reference, and in this time of great sadness, it brought tears to my eyes.

Dylan fans have transcribed the lyrics, which can be found on the Expecting Rain website.

Dylan scholar Scott Warmuth has found a book about the Kennedy assassination that may have been an influence on the song, or at least its tittle.

Murder most foul

Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Review Recordings

Rolling thunderIn 1974, Bob Dylan returned to touring after a long absence. It had been eight years since he had semi-retired after his 1966 motorcycle accident, and he went out in 1974 with The Band, the group that had backed him on his extensive 1966 tour, and performed 40 concerts.

But he wanted to do something different, and came up with the idea of the Rolling Thunder Review. He wanted to play in small venues in smaller towns, and assembled a ragtag group of musicians to join him. This wasn’t a Dylan tour; the concerts each lasted about four hours, with Dylan on stage only for the last 90 minutes or so. The group included Joan Baez, Roger McGuinn, Joni Mitchell, Ronee Blakely, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Bob Neuwirth, and violinist Scarlet Rivera whose sound defined the album Desire, that had yet to be released.

On the first leg of the tour, which included thirty performances, some of the concerts were professionally filmed and recorded, and, while some of the best takes were released previously on The Bootleg Series, Volume 5: Bob Dylan Live, 1975 (, Amazon UK), we’ve only just gotten a release of five complete Dylan concerts, along with three discs of rehearsals and a bonus disc with some disparate recordings from the period.

The Rolling Thunder Revue: The 1975 Live Recordings (, Amazon UK) is one of the more fascinating “bootleg” releases by Bob Dylan. There’s an energy that isn’t in all of the other live recordings, in part because of the interesting concept of the traveling minstrel show. Playing in small venues made everything different, and these performances show Dylan at a pivotal period: just after the major release of Blood on the Tracks, which brought Dylan back as the pre-eminent singer-songwriter, and with the new material from Desire, including classics like Sara, Hurricane, One More Cup of Coffee, and Romance in Durango, all now classics.

If you’re a Dylan fan, it’s clear that you want this set. While the five concerts are pretty similar, there are some different songs in each one, and the recording quality, and the energy, is ideal. You can’t listen to this on the streaming services – at least not yet – there’s just a one-disc sampler available.

So get The Rolling Thunder Revue: The 1975 Live Recordings (, Amazon UK) and enjoy this great period. And check out the Martin Scorcese-directed documentary that is available on Netflix from today.

The Next Track, Episode #131 – Jeff Slate on Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks

The Next Track Blue Flat Button2 400pxMusician and journalist Jeff Slate wrote the liner notes for the latest Bob Dylan Bootleg Series release, More Blood, More Tracks, covering the Blood on the Tracks sessions.

Listen to The Next Track: Episode 131 – Jeff Slate on Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks.

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Theater Review: Girl from the North Country, by Conor McPherson, at the Old Vic

North countryThose who know me will not be surprised that when I heard a play was being produced in London based on songs by Bob Dylan, I would rush to get tickets. My partner bought a pair of tickets as a Christmas present last year, and we were in the front row, dead center.

This is the first time Dylan has authorized the use of his music on stage since an ill-fated dance-based show by Twyla Tharp in 2006, that lasted a mere three weeks on Broadway. Dylan’s record company, Sony, approached playwright and director Conor McPherson asking if he would be interested in writing something around Dylan’s songs, and while he was reluctant, he came up with an idea and submitted it to Dylan’s management. They approved, and he went ahead with the project. The theater describes it as follows:

Duluth, Minnesota. 1934.

A community living on a knife-edge huddle together in the local guesthouse.

The owner, Nick, owes more money than he can ever repay, his wife Elizabeth is losing her mind and their daughter Marianne is carrying a child no-one will account for.

And, when a preacher selling bibles and a boxer looking for a comeback show up in the middle of the night, things start to spiral beyond the point of no returnÂ…

Read more

Bob Dylan: Conor McPherson on writing the musical – BBC News

Imagine you are approached by one of the world’s most famous musicians and asked to create a show using their songs.

But there is a problem. You’ve never written a musical before.

That was the challenge facing the Irish playwright Conor McPherson, when he was contacted by none other than Bob Dylan’s management company.

The writer, who is best known for his critically acclaimed play The Weir, says he was “puzzled” and has no idea why he was approached.

“And I don’t really want to know,” he adds.

I look forward to this. I have tickets for September.

Source: Bob Dylan: Conor McPherson on writing the musical – BBC News

The Next Track, Episode #53 – Bob Dylan’s Never Ending Tour

The Next Track Blue Flat Button2 400pxWe welcome author and Dylanologist Andrew Muir to talk about Bob Dylan’s Never Ending Tour, and his recent concerts in the UK.

Listen to The Next Track: Episode #53 – Bob Dylan’s Never Ending Tour.

Find out more, and subscribe to the podcast, at The Next Track website. You can follow The Next Track on Twitter at @NextTrackCast, to keep up to date with new episodes, and new articles from the website.

Bob Dylan’s Triplicate – A Triple Dose of Standards

TriplicateWhat’s most impressive about Bob Dylan is that, for more than fifty years, he has been a shape-shifter, creating trends, abandoning them, then returning to the roots of popular music. With the 2015 Shadows in the Night, Dylan surprised us by releasing an album of standards, mostly songs that Frank Sinatra had sung. At the time, I wrote:

But, no, he’s created something of a masterpiece here. In ten songs, at just 35 minutes, Dylan recreates an ambience, a mood, a feeling. These stripped down arrangements — compared to the way the songs were performed back in the day — allow Dylan to do some of his finest singing in years. Even Bob said that he felt his voice was at its best during these recordings.

In 2016, he followed up with Fallen Angels, another selection of standards, which reproduces that some tone. (I didn’t get around to reviewing it, for some reason…)

Now, Triplicate is another collection of standards, this time thirty songs on three discs. Each disc is thematic: the first is entitled ‘Til the Sun Goes Down; the second is Devil Dolls; and the third is Comin’ Home Late. (, Amazon UK)

It’s interesting to look at the three album covers. The first had a photo of Dylan, the second a hand with cards, and Triplicate is just a single word on a maroon background, almost like an epitaph. It’s as if Dylan wanted to efface himself from the music and not appear on the disc at all. (I don’t have the CD, but on the limited edition vinyl version, there’s a black-and-white photo of Dylan inside the front cover, but not on the front of back of the album. Presumably that photo is in the CD booklet or notes.)

Dylan has given a long interview about Triplicate, which you can read on This is the longest interview he has given about his music in a long time, and it gives a lot of insight into his thoughts about this release.

There’s something magical about Dylan singing these songs. Sure, his voice cracks a bit, he’s off key at times – Stormy Weather is particularly imperfect – but if you close your eyes, you can hear a wind-up Victrola playing old songs in a smoky bar. Or you can imagine Bob on stage in a small club, as glasses clink, people chat, and the band plays its final set of the evening. Just as Dylan retreated to traditional songs with just an acoustic guitar and harmonica, in the 1992 Good As I Been to You and the 1993 World Gone Wrong, Triplicate, and its two predecessors, create a tone that is anchored in time. The time of the radio; of crooners; a pre-technological time when music meant something much than it does now.

These songs are some of the most heartbreaking stuff ever put on record and I wanted to do them justice. Now that I have lived them and lived through them I understand them better. They take you out of that mainstream grind where you’re trapped between differences which might seem different but are essentially the same. Modern music and songs are so institutionalized that you don’t realize it. These songs are cold and clear-sighted, there is a direct realism in them, faith in ordinary life just like in early rock and roll.

Whether it’s with a horn section, or just with Dylan’s band – which again shows how competent it is at playing just about any style of music – the recording is impeccable. Dylan didn’t overdub the horns; he said that doing it live was better, and with a competent producer and engineer, this is certainly the case. The sound is perfectly balanced, and Dylan fits his voice faultlessly with the backing musicians. (As far as I know, all the songs on all three of these releases were recording “live” in the studio; in other words, all the musicians playing at the same time.)

Something about Triplicate suggests that it might be the last Dylan album. There is a sense of finality in the music. Nearly 76 years old, Bob is still touring, a hundred or so concerts a year, so perhaps he’s going to continue for a while. But he’s done everything now, from records to performances, to the Nobel Prize for Literature (which he is said to be picking up today). Perhaps the second song on Triplicate is a hint:

One day you turn around and it’s summer
Next day you turn around and it’s fall
And all the winters and the springs of a lifetime
Whatever happened to them all?

As a man who has always had the wandering ways
I keep looking back to yesterdays
‘Til a long-forgotten love appears
And I find that I’m sighing softly as I near
September, the warm September of my years

No matter what, put this album on, not too loud, turn down the lights, and close your eyes. Dylan and his band will transport you to a different time.

I’m seeing Dylan perform in May. As much as I want to hear some of the great classics, like Desolation Row and Visions of Johanna, I would be happy to hear him and has band perform all the songs on this album. The tone Bob gets with these songs when performed live – he played five or six of them in every concert in his last tour – is special. No one plays music like this authentically any more. Except Bob Dylan.

Bob Dylan to Accept Nobel Prize in Literature on His Own Terms

In a few days Bob Dylan will visit Stockholm and give two concerts. The Swedish Academy is very much looking forward to the weekend and will show up at one of the performances. Please note that no Nobel Lecture will be held. The Academy has reason to believe that a taped version will be sent at a later point. (Taped Nobel lectures are presented now and then, the latest of which was that of Nobel Laureate Alice Munro in 2013.) At this point no further details are known.

The good news is that the Swedish Academy and Bob Dylan have decided to meet this weekend. The Academy will then hand over Dylan’s Nobel diploma and the Nobel medal, and congratulate him on the Nobel Prize in Literature. The setting will be small and intimate, and no media will be present; only Bob Dylan and members of the Academy will attend, all according to Dylan’s wishes.

Source: Ur Akademiens liv | Sara Danius bloggar som ständig sekreterare