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the pioneer of Dylan Studies; writer, public speaker, critic; became a Doctor of Letters in 2015 (awarded by the University of York, UK)

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Saturday, October 09, 2010


The group Old 97 have a song called 'Champaign, Illinois'. It has nothing to do with the Bob Dylan-Carl Perkins song of that name - but obviously its melody is entirely to do with Bob's 'Desolation Row'. I'm told he's been given a share of the writing credits. Sometimes he's that scrupulous himself.


Anonymous dave said...

great stuff, really enjoyed that. No excuses needed

1:51 am  
Anonymous Jack Evans said...

yes, a great clip... rock n roll... and I'll be putting the
Subaru on the American highway real soon heading
south to Champaign, Illinois; that's right, Champaign

10:10 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of Desolation Row here is the link I failed to provide for the really exceptional March, 2010 Tokyo performance.
Absolutely gorgeous, clear balanced audio.
Pat Ford

11:10 pm  
Blogger Michael Gray said...

Pat, I can hear that it's a sustained performance in which he bothers with the words and sings more verses than usual, and it does eventually attain some kind of in-the-moment liveness that's absorbing and exciting, but for me the voice is still a very rough, blunt instrument, podging away at the delivery, where it used to hold the precision of a laser wielded by genius.

11:27 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michael, I'd wager you were drawn back to listen again though?
Amazing what some people can do with a penny whistle.
Several other songs from the same show didn't come off very well, but I found this one worth a few listens. As it begins it's the sort of thing many people would find unsatisfactory; what is interesting is that around half way the band finds a wonderful shifting liquid grove, and Dylan becomes very engaged with the last couple of verses sung in a way you wouldn't think he was capable of based on the hoarse chanting of recent years.

A superb Highway 61 which has the fierceness missing from the languid playing on Modern Times.
I particularly like the way the band lays back at the 4min. mark and Dylan's vocal emerges sneakily (4:15) where you wouldn't expect it out of the middle of a breakdown between verses. Then again at 6min. the organ vamp driving the band like an engineer throwing open the damper, and loading coal into the fire box.
Pat Ford

2:48 am  
Anonymous Carl said...

just came across this video and i think it has some amazing footage of bob. great close ups of his strange and grimacing face.
Bob seems to be a shapeshifter, he has looked quite different at various points of his career. In comparison to a lot of people; Paul McCartney for example still looks the same pretty much, just older. But Bob has changed a lot over the years.
Theres the pudgy face cherub of his debut, the cool hipster look of Highway 61 Revisited, the wired speed freak from Eat the Document,
the bespectacled family man during his time in Woodstock, the white faced gypsy chic of the Rolling Thunder Revue, the earring and eyeliner of the mid eighties etc etc
Watching this video, with all the close ups, i was trying to recognise some of those "earlier Bobs" in his 69 year old features. Funny enough i think he now resembles the pictures of him as young man around the time of his debut most. I find it harder to recognise the "mid sixties Bob" .
heres the link anyway :)

6:07 am  
Blogger joe said...


This is my video from the Old 97's concert @ South Street Seaport in NYC on July 4th 2010. Rhett Miller (the lead singer, and songwriter) is upfront about using the melody of "Desolation Row" with Bob's blessing. On their new album "The Grand Theater, Volume 1" its credited to Rhett Miller and Bob Dylan

2:27 am  

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