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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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Tuesday, May 31, 2011


June 16, The Marquee, Cork, Ireland

June 18, The Feis, Finsbury Park, London

June 20, Ramat Gan Stadium, Tel Aviv, Israel

June 22, Alcatraz, Milan, Italy

June 24, Zirkusplatz, Sursee, Switzerland

June 25, Volkspark, Mainz, Germany

June 26, Stadtpark, Hamburg, Germany

June 27, Funen Village, Odense, Denmark

June 29, Bergen Calling, Bergen, Norway

June 30, Spektrum, Oslo, Norway

July 2, Peace and Love Festival, Borlange, Sweden

July 14, Santa Barbara Bowl, Santa Barbara, CA

July 15, Pacific Amphitheatre, 2011 OC Fair, Orange County, CA

July 16, The Pearl Concert Theater At The Palms, Las Vegas, NV

July 18, Comerica Theatre, Phoenix, AZ

July 19, Anselmo Valencia Tori Amphitheatre, Tucson, AZ

July 21, Hard Rock Pavilion, Albuquerque, NM

July 23, WinStar World Casino, Thackerville, OK

Monday, May 23, 2011


I've just seen the BBC's new online Dylan audio slideshow to celebrate the birthday. The interview with me was done two or three weeks ago in a little studio in Pau, France, and I don't say anything particularly striking: but the photographs they've used include some really great ones. It's here.

Monday, May 16, 2011

MAY 14, 1966

 Two days ago, it was 45 years since I first saw Bob Dylan live. The Odeon cinema, London Road, Liverpool. I didn't boo. And listening to the recordings now, I feel the same way I've felt for many years: that surely the 'Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues' performed that night is the absolute transcendent moment of moments among that side of his work that expressed alienation, desperation, the acceptance of chaos yet equally the passionate insistence of belief that "there must be some way out of here".

Saturday, May 14, 2011


The competition to suggest the most beguiling thing Bob Dylan could do on stage, aside from performing music, has now closed. There was a good response, and some resourceful answers  -  including:

"Recite some of the Brecht that was performed the night Suze, who was working on the production, had him over to drink it all in.  And dedicate his performance to her." (from GL, California USA)

"Treat the band by making them margaritas and serving them from a tray." (from GW, Scotland)

"I would absolutely be mesmerized by watching him paint. So, I would have to say that the most entrancing thing Dylan could do on stage is to paint a picture. I would love to be able to see him create in person." (from JR, Virginia USA)

"Bob reading out loud from a juicy selection of texts: The King James Bible; Rimbaud's Une Saison En Enfer; A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes; and some bits of Ricks and Gray. Especially if interspersed with comments - trying to differentiate between the straight and sardonic would be an enthralling challenge in itself, wouldn't it?" (from AE, Lima Peru)

"Really Sing." (from AM, England).

Thanks to these and many others  -  but the winning entry is this:

"Play chess on stage. Not so much for the moves, but for the body language as he concentrates."

So the modest prize, a signed copy of the Bob Dylan Encyclopedia Greatest Hits audio-book CD, will be on its way to Matt Tempest of London SE23, England. Congratulations to him and many thanks to everyone who took part.

Friday, May 13, 2011


Bizarrely, the official Dylan website issued this statement today, purporting to come from Bob himself:

"Allow me to clarify a couple of things about this so-called China controversy which has been going on for over a year. First of all, we were never denied permission to play in China. This was all drummed up by a Chinese promoter who was trying to get me to come there after playing Japan and Korea. My guess is that the guy printed up tickets and made promises to certain groups without any agreements being made. We had no intention of playing China at that time, and when it didn't happen most likely the promoter had to save face by issuing statements that the Chinese Ministry had refused permission for me to play there to get himself off the hook. If anybody had bothered to check with the Chinese authorities, it would have been clear that the Chinese authorities were unaware of the whole thing.

We did go there this year under a different promoter. According to Mojo magazine the concerts were attended mostly by ex-pats and there were a lot of empty seats. Not true. If anybody wants to check with any of the concert-goers they will see that it was mostly Chinese young people that came. Very few ex-pats if any. The ex-pats were mostly in Hong Kong not Beijing. Out of 13,000 seats we sold about 12,000 of them, and the rest of the tickets were given away to orphanages. The Chinese press did tout me as a sixties icon, however, and posted my picture all over the place with Joan Baez, Che Guevara, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. The concert attendees probably wouldn't have known about any of those people. Regardless, they responded enthusiastically to the songs on my last 4 or 5 records. Ask anyone who was there. They were young and my feeling was that they wouldn't have known my early songs anyway.

As far as censorship goes, the Chinese government had asked for the names of the songs that I would be playing. There's no logical answer to that, so we sent them the set lists from the previous 3 months. If there were any songs, verses or lines censored, nobody ever told me about it and we played all the songs that we intended to play.

Everybody knows by now that there's a gazillion books on me either out or coming out in the near future. So I'm encouraging anybody who's ever met me, heard me or even seen me, to get in on the action and scribble their own book. You never know, somebody might have a great book in them."

This was announced on Twitter as "To my followers and fans..."

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Last night I completed, and put up online, a list of all the articles, essays and other bits & pieces I've had published down the years, from a Nature Notes paragraph in the Liverpool Daily Post in 1963 (I was a schoolboy at the time, and knew nothing about nature - least of all my own) through to this year's work, which has included an obituary of Gerry Rafferty and the sleevenotes to the Bob Dylan in Concert: Brandeis University 1963 album. What a lot of hackwork I've had to do to keep body and soul together across the decades. More generally, what a lot of work...

The list is titled Articles and is in the drop-down menu under Work on

Sunday, May 08, 2011


. . . was born 100 years ago today, in Hazelhurst, Mississippi.

Saturday, May 07, 2011


Announcing a small competition:

Inspired by one of the entries in The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia, and also featured on the audio-book recording  - 'Frying An Egg On Stage'  -  I'm offering a prize of a free signed copy of the Bob Dylan Encyclopedia Greatest Hits CD to the person who in my judgement answers this question best:

"In Japan in 1986 Dylan reportedly said this: ‘Somebody comes to see you for two hours or one and a half hours, whatever it is . . . I mean, they’ve come to see you. You could be doing anything up on that stage. You could be frying an egg or hammering a nail into a piece of wood.’ "

Apart from playing music, what would be the most entrancing thing Bob Dylan could do on stage?

Answers by the end of Friday May 13th please, to Please include your name and address.

Friday, May 06, 2011


I gave a talk at New College in the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa a few weeks ago, and sat in on a music class. I was sorry to hear last week about the death and devastation caused there by a tornado on Wednesday, April 27 -  and I've just learnt that one of the students in that music class was among those killed. Marcus J. Smith was 21. He'll be buried in his hometown of Richmond Virginia tomorrow.

Thursday, May 05, 2011


© Michael Gray 2011

Wednesday, May 04, 2011


The Desolation Row Newsletter reported the other day that we're going to get a large number of BBC programmes around Bob's 70th birthday  -  indeed a "Bob Dylan season". These were the details (apparently from Wicked Messenger Man Ian Woodward):

Nashville Cats – The Making Of Blonde On Blonde

Monday 16 May
10.00-11.00pm BBC RADIO 2
Ahead of Bob Dylan's 70th birthday on 24 May, Bill Nighy presents the first documentary in BBC Radio 2's Dylan season, telling the definitive story of the recording of his classic album Blonde On Blonde...This is regarded as Dylan's most creatively intense period, and he recalled the album as being: "the closest I ever got to the sound I hear in my mind ... it's that thin wild mercury sound." Nashville Cats features newly sourced interviews with musicians Al Kooper and Charlie McCoy, producer Bob Johnston and photographer Jerry Schatzberg. Presenter/Bill Nighy, Producer/Henry Lopez Real for the BBC

Afternoon Reading – Ballads Of Thin Men Ep 1/3

Tuesday 17 to Thursday 19 May
3.30-3.45pm BBC RADIO 4
Bob Dylan is 70 on 24 May 2011. The three stories in Ballads Of Thin Men have been commissioned specially to mark the occasion... Dig Yourself, by Nick Walker, The Night Ride, by Simone Felice, and People Carry Roses, by Toby Litt. Producer Jeremy Osborne for Sweet Talk Productions

Thursday 19 May
11.00pm-midnight BBC RADIO 2
As BBC Radio 2 celebrates Bob Dylan's 70th birthday, the cream of the British folk scene re-interpret songs from his iconic album The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. Mark Radcliffe guides listeners through a collection of specially recorded songs that illustrate Dylan's great writing skills and the inventiveness and creativity of British folk artists. The guest list includes Martin Carthy, Seth Lakeman, Ralph McTell, Cara Dillon, Billy Bragg [of course...], Martin Simpson and winner of the Horizon Award at the 2011 Radio 2 Folk Awards, Ewan McLennan. The songs from this hugely influential album are performed in its original order and feature a series of stunning new versions. Presenter/Mark Radcliffe, Producer/John Leonard for Smooth Operations

On 24 May at 10 pm there will be a programme called "Bob's Ballad Bases". Presented by Julie Fowlis, it will examine the British and Irish folksong roots of much of Dylan’s songwriting and performance, from Pretty Peggy-O on his first album onwards, to show the melodic, thematic and structural roots of much of his work. Producer Rab Noakes.

And Radio 4 has commissioned an Archive Hour programme on Dylan.

But actually there's even more than that. There's a live 45-minute round-table discussion on May 24th, starting at 1.15pm on BBC Radio Scotland. Called 'Slow Train Coming: Dylan's Gospel Years Revisited' it features Sid Griffin, me and Howard Sounes, and is produced by Caitlin Smith. Also currently in preparation is a new Dylan timeline going up on May 24, if not earlier, on BBC News Online. And I've been interviewed for a BBC Radio 3 programme on The Music of the King James Bible, which includes a section on Dylan and goes out on May 28th at 12.15 pm, produced by Peter Everett.

Any more?

Tuesday, May 03, 2011


Photo from Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid days  -  puzzling, to me at least, because there's quite clearly a pistol in his lap here, whereas I've always thought one of his Alias character's distinguishing features was that all the film's other males carried a gun while he carried only a knife.

Sunday, May 01, 2011


Last Saturday (April 23rd), Roy Orbison would have been 75 - he was born in Vernon TX that day in 1936; the same day 60 years later saw the death in New York City of Len Kunstadt, last husband and manager of pre-war blues star Victoria Spivey, for whose small Brooklyn record label Bob moonlighted in March 1962, the month his own first album was released. Kunstadt took the terrific photograph on the back cover of the New Morning album. He died aged 70.

A week ago, April 24th, would have been the 75th birthday of cult legend Paul Buff, the boyhood friend of Frank Zappa who, with Frank, co-owned the weird and invaluable record-making machine on which early Zappa demo tracks were concocted.

April 25th marked the 50th anniversary of the death in San Bernadino CA of Cisco Houston, aged 42. (Dylan not only namechecks him in 'Song To Woody' but writes about him vividly in Chronicles Volume One.

This last Friday, April 29th, would have been the 80th birthday of Lonnie Donegan, who for most British people, was the first conduit of Leadbelly's 'Rock Island Line', when he had a hit with it in the UK as singer with the Chris Barber Jazz Band in the mid-1950s.

Today Charley Patton would have been 120. He was born at Heron's Place MS on May 1st, 1891.