Tag Archives: Bob Dylan

Hallelujah Bob! It’s Your 74th Birthday

Bob Dylan as Black Man

Bob Dylan 

Yesterday was Sunday. It was also Bob Dylan’s 74th birthday. So even though today is Monday and it is no longer Dylan’s birth anniversary, it seems still appropriate and interesting to combine Sunday+BobBirthday to get the record we share tonight: the Gospel songs of Dylan as rendered by some of America’s finest African American gospel singers.

Now I know Bob’s ‘Jesus’ phase is spurned by many of his hardcore fans. It is seen as a dangerously close to career ending diversion. They point to the most acidic and judgmental of his lyrics, the poor production quality of the records and a general ‘holier than thou’ attitude that no matter where it comes from is not pleasant to be on the receiving end of.

I grew up a born again (and again, and again and again) evangelical Christian. When Slow Train Coming appeared in the stores this was like a hand from heaven. JUSTIFICATION and CONFIRMATION straight from on high that HE EXISTED. And that JESUS really was THE WAY. We listened to the album with reverence receiving from it the same authority we got from the Gospels themselves. Or from the Old Testament prophets. And even though I was not courageous enough to say so out loud, I was smirking inside. “WE got him! He’s on OUR side! You’re the losers!”

I loved (and still do) Slow Train Coming. Shot of Love was harder to stomach, even for true believers like myself. Saved grew on me and is now one of my favorite Dylan outings.   And when Dylan entered his terrible 80s with one panned album after another, the Jesus messages were harder and harder to point to. Which about coincided with my own wandering from the Church and Faith of my fathers. So all in all I’ve always enjoyed Bob’s gospel stuff. At its best it deserves as much admiration as any of his post 1974 stuff. (The bad stuff is indeed quite bad but there is far less of that than conventional wisdom allows).

Although I no longer consider Jesus to be a personal savior of mine or anyone’s I have never considered stop listening to Gospel music. And so when I spied this second hand CD in a Brussels shop last year I shelled out the outrageous amount of Euros to the weasly Belgian behind the counter. The idea of having genuine gospel artists turn their interpretive skills to Dylan’s Christian corpus was absolutely spot on. The only question is why did it take nearly 30 years for some company to compile a collection?

This collection opens with a cracker version of You Gotta Serve Somebody by the scarily powerful Shirley Ceasar. Originally included in the Mask and Anonymous soundtrack, this version crackles and snaps with intensity. If you want to know what ‘pushy’ means, listen to this. Dylan’s original is down right laconic and slack mouth by comparison.

The next few selections are good but hardly anything to shout Hallelujah about. Things start to get interesting with the Fairfield Four’s Are You Ready from the Saved! Album. Sounding like something you’d hear on the radio in the 1940s, this a cappella rendition is mighty and moving. From this point onwards each track gives the original something new and comes to even the seasoned fan (me) as fresh and arresting it its own right. Aaron Neville’s falsetto warbling on Saving Grace is heavenly and the Sounds of Blackness Solid Rock keeps the arrangement of the original but adds a choir singing lead which adds a broader dimension to the song. The highpoint without a doubt is the tremendous and spine tingling interpretation of Pressing On. Full gospel choir in 5th gear in a song about hope and faith that has to be considered one of the best gospel songs ever written by anyone anywhere. Another highpoint is Allen Rance Group’s complete reworking of When He Returns. Stunning in its majesty and elegance and beauty.

Dylan and Mavis vamp it up before ramping it up in the closing cut allowing Dylan to have the final word.

Where are the adjectives to describe this music? You find them as you listen to it.

Gotta Serve Somebody - The Gospel Songs Of Bob Dylan

Track Listing:

01 Gotta Serve Somebody [Shirley Ceasar]

02 When You Gonna Wake Up [Lee Hamilton & Spiritual QCs]

03 I Believe in You [Dottie Peoples]

04 Are You Ready [The Fairfield Four]

05 Solid Rock [Sounds of Blackness]

06 Saving Grace [Aaron Neville]

07 What Can I Do For You? [Helen Baylor]

08 Pressing On [Chicago Mass Choir]

09 Saved [The Mighty Clouds of Joy]

10 When He Returns [Rance Allen Group]

11 Gonna Change My Way of Thinking [Bob Dylan and Mavis Staples]

Happy Birthday

I was so much older then: Happy Birthday Bob


Bob keeps on rolling and tumbling.  He was so much older then. He’s younger than that now. He seems to be forever young. Even though the times are a changin’ times passes slowly when you’re in a dream. Ultimately his name it means nothing and his age it means less.


Happy 73rd birthday to you Robert Zimmerman.


Track Listing:

01 Jokerman [Live Bootleg]

02 Silvio

03 Rocks And Gravel (Solid Road) (Finjan Club, Montreal)

04 One Too Many Mornings

05 Tell Ol’ Bill

06 All Along The Watchtower [Live]

07 Baby Stop Crying

08 I Threw It All Away [Live]

09 I Don’t Believe You

10 Train Of Love [Live Bootleg}

11 Just Like A Woman [Live]

12 Early Roman Kings

13 Love Minus Zero (No Limit) [Live]

14 Mississippi (Unreleased, Time Out Of Mind)

15 Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again [Live]

16 My Blue Eyed Jane [Live]

17 Dixie

18 Something There Is About You

19 Pressing On

20 Trust Yourself

21 A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall [Live]

22 Series of Dreams

23 Most Likely You Go Your Way And I’ll Go Mine

24 Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground

25 Rank Strangers To Me

26 Full Moon and Empty Arms


72 Candles on the Cake: Bob Dylan



Today Bob Dylan is 72.  He’s been making music for most of them.  To celebrate, here’s 72 good songs from a man whose always got a million more up his sleeve.


This also goes out to a dear dear friend who is about to embark on a long flight to the UK and will need some solace along the way.


Happy Chocolate Cake, Bobby!

Series of Dreams v 1








Volume 1

01 Spanish Harlem Incident [Another Side]

02 Nothing Was Delivered [Basement Tapes]

03 Apple Suckling Tree [Basement Tapes]

04 This Wheel’s On Fire [Basement Tapes]

05 Chimes of Freedom [Another Side]

06 I’ll Keep It With Mine [Biograph]

07 One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later) [Blonde on Blonde]

08 Just Like a Woman [Blonde on Blonde]

09 Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts [Blood on the Tracks]

10 If You See Her, Say Hello [Blood on the Tracks]

11 See that my Grave is Kept Clean [Bob Dylan]

12 House of the Risin’ Sun [Bob Dylan]

13 It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue (Live) [Bootleg Series Nr. 4 Live 1966 “The Royal Albert Hall Concert”]

14 Oh Sister [Bootleg Series Nr. 5 Rolling Thunder Revue 1975]

15 Water is Wide [Bootleg Series Nr. 5 Rolling Thunder Revue 1975]

16 Mississippi – Unreleased Version 2, Time Out Of Mind [The Bootleg Series Nr. 8 Tell Tale Signs – Rare and Unreleased 1989 – 2006]

17 The Lonesome River (With Ralph Stanley) [The Bootleg Series Nr. 8 Tell Tale Signs – Rare and Unreleased 1989 – 2006]

18 No More Auction Block [The Bootleg Series Vols. 1-3  Rare And Unreleased, 1961-1991]

19 Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues [The Bootleg Series, Vols. 1-3  Rare And Unreleased, 1961-1991]

20 Series Of Dreams[The Bootleg Series Vols. 1-3  Rare And Unreleased, 1961-1991]

21 Angelina [The Bootleg Series Vols. 1-3  Rare And Unreleased, 1961-1991]

22 Conversation (1) [Folksinger’s Choice]

23 Fixin’ To Die [Bob Dylan]


Series of Dreams vol 2










Vol. 2

24 Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right [Freewheelin’]

25 Talkin’ Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues [The Bootleg Series, Vols. 1-3  Rare And Unreleased, 1961-1991

26 It’s Alright Ma, (I’m Only Bleeding) [Bringing It All Back Home]

27 Black Diamond Bay [Desire]

28 Athur McBride [Good As I Been to You]

29 Frankie & Albert [Good As I Been to You]

30 Ballad of a Thin Man [Highway 61 Revisited]

31 Desolation Row [Highway 61 Revisited]

32 Jokerman [Infidels]

33 Drifter’s Escape [John Wesley Harding]

34 I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine [John Wesley Harding]

35 Boots Of Spanish Leather [Live at Carnegie Hall 1963]

36 Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum [Love and Theft]

37 Bye and Bye [Love and Theft]

38 Things Have Changed [Lovesick]

39 Dixie [Masked and Anonymous]

40 Rollin’ and Tumblin’ [Modern Times]

41 Shooting Star [MTV Unplugged]

42 The Levee’s Gonna Break [Modern Times]

43 Dignity [MTV Unplugged]

44 Country Pie [Nashville Skyline]

45 One More Night [Nashville Skyline]

46 Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again (Alternate Take) [No Direction Home The Soundtrack {The Bootleg Series Vol. 7)]


Series of Dreams vol 3








Vol. 3

47 Highway 61 Revisited (Alternate Take) [No Direction Home The Soundtrack (The Bootleg Series, Vol. 7)]

48 Mr. Tambourine Man (Alternate-Version 1st Complete-Take) [No Direction Home The Soundtrack (The Bootleg Series, Vol. 7)]

49 Man in the Long Black Coat [Oh Mercy]

50 Political World [Oh Mercy]

51 Tangled Up In Blue [Real Live]

52 Saved [Saved]

53 Pressing On [Saved]

54 Heart Of Mine [Shot of Love]

55 Lenny Bruce [Shot of Love]

56 Precious Angel [Slow Train]

57 Slow Train [Slow Train Coming]

58 Duquesne Whistle [Tempest]

59 Early Roman Kings [Tempest]

60 Dirt Road Blues [Time Out of Mind]

61 The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll [The Times They Are A-Changin’]

62 Only a Pawn in Their Game [The Times They Are A-Changin’]

63 Jolene [Together Through Life]

64 Life is Hard [Together Through Life]

65 Lay, Lady, Lay [A Very Special Engagement Live at the House of Blues 2-23-2008]

66 Blood In My Eyes [World Gone Wrong]

67 Lone Pilgrim [World Gone Wrong]

68 (Ghost) Riders In The Sky (With George Harrison) [New Morning Session -1 May 1970]

69 Crazy Love (With Van Morrison) [Hardest to find Lost Diamonds]

70 I Still Miss Someone (with Johnny Cash) [The Nashville Sessions]

71 Ring Of Fire (with Johnny Cash) [The Nashville Sessions]

72 Tupelo Honey Why Must I Always Explain (With Van Morrison) [Duets]