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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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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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vinyl of Brandeis is out now - got mine last week from Amazon (only £12 with free delivery). Nice sleeve notes and nice record!

2:35 pm  
Anonymous Dave said...

this gentle appreciation makes a lovely antidote to all the media frenzy & high speed bombast gushing out at the moment,done in the best tradition of the BBC also

10:35 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An excellent overview. I'm not sure whether it's possible to say anything "particularly striking" in what is obviously meant as a summing up for the general listener; anyway, this does its job nicely. I do think the gospel period should be remembered as a deeply personal and, if you will, spiritual time in Dylan's development rather than just as an exploration of a musical genre. Whatever he may believe now, it was certainly far more important than a merely musical shift for him at that time. Also, as much as we should acknowledge that Make You Feel My Lurve has introduced Bob to a new audience, do we have to end the appreciation with that particular song, as if it is some kind of summing up of Dylan's achievement? On the whole though, a very good job indeed.

11:28 pm  
Anonymous John Carvill said...

Great stuff, Michael. I'm sure you enjoyed that little blast of 'To Make You Feel My Love' at the end, eh?

As you say, some wonderful pictures used. Image-wise, aside from the 60s version, I always liked 80s Bob the best.

Long may he (and you) run.

10:00 am  
Anonymous Stephen Jordan said...

It's a shame you chose to celebrate his birthday by dismissing the great work of Paul Williams in your talk at Bristol University.

2:18 pm  
Blogger Michael Gray said...

Dear Anonymous, Dave & John
Thank you for your helpful and/or kind comments.

Dear 2nd Anonymous
You're right: yes, at the time the Born Again phase was, clearly, important to him more than just as an exploration of a musical genre. For me, though, it's the work he did when contributing to that genre that is the valuable and long-lasting feature of that period.

And just to be clear, I didn't choose the music on the slideshow, anymore than I chose the photographs.

Dear Stephen Jordan
I didn't "dismiss" Paul Williams' work. I specifically said I couldn't comment on it because I just don't like it. And if I may say so, that was hardly the sum of my activities in celebrating Dylan's 70th (2 talks in Vienna and attending two full days' conference there, an Austrian TV interview, the conference attendance and the talk in Bristol, four or five radio interviews, including for BBC Radio Scotland and RTE 1's arts programme Arena in Ireland, a BBC News Online audio-slideshow and a 2600-word article in a Japanese national newspaper, and with an afternoon panel discussion still to come in Lincoln tomorrow).

6:01 pm  
Blogger Pope Leo said...

It was good to meet you and talk to you at Bristol on Tuesday, Michael. I thought it was a pretty good day, with some really interesting presentations (and one or two by profs who are probably better at writing books than at talking to an audience…) . I enjoyed Danny Karlin’s introduction, Aidan Day’s provocative take on ‘Man in a Long Black Coat’, Neil Corcoran’s comments on mask and masquerade and your talk at the end, with its interesting account of the of the way in which writing about Dylan has developed over the last 40 years.

On that subject I do agree with Stephen Jordan’s assessment of Paul Williams. While he may not write about Dylan’s work in a lit. crit. kind of a way, he is often illuminating, and I think that he rises to the challenge of writing about ‘song’ in a way that few critics match, describing the sound of a Dylan lyric in a vivid and helpful way.

I hope you enjoy your final contributions to the 70th celebrations – you’ve had a busy week!

8:55 am  
Anonymous Yvonne said...

I enjoyed both your comments and the photos, Michael.

4:11 am  

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