Episodes

  • Singer/Songwriter/Actor John Doe tells terrific tales: hanging with Dennis Quaid and Winona Ryder in Memphis, gigging with Nick Lowe in London and hearing his voice come out of Christian Bale’s mouth in Todd Haynes’s Dylan biopic I’m Not There.

    Did John’s appearance with LA punk band X on the Letterman Show in 1983 inspire Dylan’s wild 1984 set with The Plugz? What did he say when he suddenly found himself face-to-face with Bruce Springsteen at that Grammy thing? Did Jerry Lee Lewis actually call him a "fucking asshole" the first time they met? John raves about Tulsa’s new Bob Dylan Center and answers all the above questions, as he presses on…

    John Doe and his bandmates in X made 6 studio recordings from 1978-1993. He has recorded 9 solo records, collaborating with Patty Griffin, Dan Auerbach, Aimee Mann, Don Was, Kathleen Edwards, Dave Alvin and Greg Liesz. Doe has acted in over 50 films and television productions including Road House, Great Balls of Fire, Pure Country and Roswell. His musical side projects include work with The Knitters and The Sadies. Doe co-wrote the definitive book about the LA punk rock scene, Under The Big Black Sun. His new album, Fables In A Foreign Land, was inspired by John Wesley Harding. John currently lives in Austin, Texas.

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    Recorded 13th May 2022

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  • Belfast’s Steven Cockcroft (co-host of leading Beatles podcast Nothing Is Real) offers unexpected takes on The Boys and Bob: “Roll On John isn’t about an individual, it’s about the sanctification of Lennon” and “The Travelling Wilburys was a calculated move by George”. Also on the menu: Dylan’s questionable harmonies on an obscure Ringo album track and his controversial cover of Paul’s Things We Said Today. Plus: did you know that John asked Bob to play piano on Cold Turkey? Have you discovered the reference to Ringo on Don’t Fall Apart On Me Tonight? Ever hear Dylan’s in-concert cover of The Long and Winding Road? Or hear about the accusatory T-shirt he was gifted by George?

    How good is our Beatles episode? This Englishman said fab.

    Steven Cockroft is a partner in a law firm in Belfast. He co-hosts Nothing Is Real, the best Beatles podcast out there. Born in 1963, he grew up firmly believing the 1960s were the Golden Age. In the late 1970s, he sat out the 'punk wars', listening to Bob Dylan, The Beatles and Van Morrison. Hosting the podcast came about after Steven and co-host Jason Carty won the Beatle Brain of Ireland competition. They have interviewed Kevin Godley, Mark Lewisohn and several ex-members of Wings but are best known for their humorous and forensic following of the Fabs and their post-Beatles projects.

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    Recorded 25th February 2022

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  • Our special culinary episode with critic Eric Asimov includes the story of long-time Dylan bass player Tony Garnier’s delicious Christmas gumbo and Dylan’s wine-making venture, Planet Waves (“the wine has aged better than the album”). A fan since hearing “I Want You” the age of eight, Eric is “drawn to the atmosphere Bob creates. It’s misty. It’s archaic. You can’t place it in time. It stretches back into history”.

    Eric’s take on the live performances is simple: “his devotion to his art takes precedence to his devotion to entertainment”. Although Oh Mercy is not a favourite (“too thick and oozy”), there are plenty of Five Star moments in his tasty overview. He concludes, “I can’t think of any other artist who has had that span of creativity. An 80 year-old guy doing his new songs? It’s unheard of”. Bob Dylan is clearly food and drink to Eric Asimov.

    Eric Asimov is the chief wine critic of The New York Times. His freelance work as a wine and food critic has appeared in Food and Wine Magazine, Details and Martha Stewart Living. For a number of years, he was co-author of The New York Times Guide to Restaurants and other books and guides. At the NYT, he was also editor of the Living section and Styles of The Times. Eric is a graduate of Wesleyan University and the University of Texas at Austin. He lives in Manhattan.

    'No-Sweat Answers To Some Basic Wine Questions', December 30th 2021

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    Recorded 19th January 2022

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  • Singer, songwriter and saxophonist Curtis Stigers tells us true stories with a cast of characters including Van Morrison, Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan. A fan from way back (“Bob is the perfect creation. He’s an art form in himself”), his jazzy cover versions include Things Have Changed (“people go nuts for that song. Their heads explode”). A committed conversationalist with a huge wealth of musical knowledge, Curtis has strong opinions about Shawn Colvin, Jim Croce, The Carter Family, Neil Diamond, Jimmie Rodgers, Frank Sinatra, Bertolt Brecht and Larry Klein (who produced both Joni Mitchell and Curtis). His cover of Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right “always lights up the room”, he says. We feel the same about Mr. Stigers.

    Born in Los Angeles, Curtis Stigers grew up in Boise, Idaho. His interest in music began as a teen when he played in punk and blues bands. He moved to New York to pursue rock music but attracted label attention as the saxophonist/vocalist of a jazz trio, signing a deal with Arista and releasing his self-titled first album in 1991 (the multi-platinum album included the Billboard Top Ten single I Wonder Why). He contributed a cover of (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding to the soundtrack of The Bodyguard, which spent 20 consecutive weeks at Number 1 on the Billboard album chart. Curtis’s third album, Brighter Days, featured appearances by Jackson Browne and Benmont Tench. From 2001, he began to concentrate on jazz albums, including Real Emotional and Lost In Dreams. In 2012, he released the country-tinged album Let’s Go Out Tonight, featuring covers of songs by artists like Steve Earle and Richard Thompson. One More For The Road, a live salute to the Sinatra At The Sands album was another big success. Curtis is currently touring the UK, promoting his new album This Life.

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    Songs From My Kitchen

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    Recorded 8th February 2022

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  • Comic actor Thom Tuck discovered Bob Dylan when, growing up in Bangladesh, he caught the promo for Subterranean Homesick Blues on MTV Rewind. His family eventually returned to Leeds, where his outsider status was made even worse/better by his obsession with all things Bob. At university, he didn’t improve his lot by writing a play called “One More Layer of Skin”. Despite it all, Thom maintains that Dylan remains his “prism by which to understand the world”.

    Opinions: Thom reserves a special place in hell for songs like Make You Feel My Love (“Adele heard the Billy Joel version and now every idiot does it”), whilst continuing to rate Under The Red Sky (“as an album to go to sleep to”). Along the way, we swap dozens of the best Dylan cover versions, from bluegrass to hard rock to the “deep thunder” of Tom Jones.

    Thom Tuck is an actor, writer and comedian. He is currently on tour in the acclaimed Birmingham Rep production of The Play What I Wrote. His theatre work includes Death Of A Salesman (Royal & Derngate), Three Sisters (Southwark Playhouse), Brexit (Spontaneity Shop), A Slight Ache (Pleasance) and Gutted!: A Revenger’s Musical (Assembly Theatre). Thom’s television work includes The Crown, Fresh Meat, Horrible Histories, Babylon and Drifters. As a comedian, Thom was nominated Best Newcomer at the Edinburgh Fringe for his show Thom Tuck Goes Straight-To-DVD, which was adapted for BBC Radio and is now out on DVD. His other solo shows are Thom Tuck Flips Out, The Square Root Of Minus One and An August Institution. Thom is one third of the acclaimed sketch troupe The Penny Dreadfuls.

    https://britishtheatre.com/the-play-what-i-wrote-tour/

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    Recorded 14th December 2021

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  • Fellow podcaster Laura Tenschert’s Definitely Dylan contains multitudes of theories and insights which she shares in this eye-opening episode. German-born Laura learned English by listening to Bob, which gave her sharper ears than most. Dozens of songs are given forensic treatment, ranging from classics like Lord Protect My Child and Buckets of Rain to oddities like Fur Slippers and Dirty World.

    Topics covered include Dylan commenting on his creativity via his songs, where the next generation of Bob’s fans will come from, his penchant for “Dad jokes” and the tight connection between To Ramona and False Prophet. Laura even manages to explain the difference between Tulsa’s Bob Dylan Institute, Tulsa’s Bob Dylan Archive and the Bob Dylan Centre in (yes) Tulsa. An ideal companion for anyone walkin’ down the Dylan highway.

    Dylan scholar Laura Tenschert is the creator of Definitely Dylan, a podcast exploring the work of Bob Dylan and its relevance in our culture from a modern, feminist perspective. She is a board member at the Institute of Bob Dylan Studies at the University of Tulsa and contributed to the 2021 book Dylan At 80: It Used To Go Like That, And Now It Goes Like This.

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    Recorded 1st December 2021

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  • Writer and musician Richard Strange insists “If you don’t want to be Bob Dylan, you shouldn’t be writing songs”. He takes us on a journey that starts in his Brixton comprehensive (“I was always bunking off, going to art galleries and the haunted, dingy Soho flesh-pot folk clubs”). He discovers “the boy band of Beat literature: Burroughs, Kerouac and Ginsberg”. And he reminds us that Another Side of Bob Dylan still provides “an embarrassment of riches, lyrically and emotionally”. From witnessing a 1964 Kinks concert (“it blew my mind and changed my life”) to eventually working with Marianne Faithfull and Anita Pallenberg, Mr Strange proudly concludes that “Bob Dylan still haunts me”.

    Richard Strange is a writer, musician, composer, nightclub host, curator, actor and adventurer. His proto-punk rock band Doctors of Madness first performed in 1975 (supported by the Sex Pistols). He founded the influential mixed-media Cabaret Futura in 1980 and has subsequently worked as an actor, appearing extensively in films (Batman, Mona Lisa, Robin Hood - Prince of Thieves, Gangs of New York and Harry Potter) and on television. His many stage appearances include Tom Waits’ musical fable The Black Rider. His memoir, Strange - Punks and Drunks and Flicks and Kicks was published in 2005. Richard currently presents the weekly radio show Dark Times Radio and is recording again with Doctors of Madness.

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    Recorded 10th November 2021

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  • Author, editor and podcaster Andy Miller is mad as hell and he’s not going to take it anymore: “Bob Dylan is not a safe option!” “The heritage industry around the Beatles and Dylan is neutering the anarchy of the music. The world sees me as just another bloke buying a Dad Rock box set at Christmas. But it’s not a hygienic vision of what rock ‘n’ roll used to be. It is what rock ‘n’ roll used to be!”.

    Other trenchant Miller observations include: “Tarantula is an incredibly rewarding book. Take a hit!” And “I loved the Highway 61 album for its absolute sledgehammer horrible noise. The whole sound is assaulting you.” And “Shadow Kingdom. Why wasn’t it called Masked And Anonymous?” Crank up your stereo and take a bracing 58-minute hit with the Dylan Fan’s Dylan Fan.

    Andy Miller’s most recent book is The Year of Reading Dangerously (“High Fidelity for bookworms” – The Telegraph). He has also written books about how much he likes the Kinks (The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society, for the 33 1/3 series) and how much he dislikes sport (Tilting At Windmills). He is the co-host of Backlisted, the popular literary podcast that gives new life to old books. His writing has appeared in the Guardian, the Times, the Telegraph, the Spectator, Esquire, Mojo, Sight and Sound and more. He has toured the UK with his motivational lecture 'Read Y'self Fitter' and appears regularly on BBC Radio programmes such as The Verb (Radio 3), The Museum of Curiosity (Radio 4) and Open Book (Radio 4).

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    Recorded 27th October 2021

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  • Music journalist Kate French-Morris, 29, found her calling in a University of California class taught by Greil Marcus (“he gets closer to Bob’s mind than anyone can, with his sideways thinking and his cattiness”). Kate shares a birthday with Dylan, but her main man might be Bruce Springsteen, who figures strongly in this, our first studio recording for over eighteen months.

    From her discovery of Hurricane over the speakers of an LA coffee shop to her in-depth consideration of Lay, Lady, Lay, Most Of The Time and I Want You (first heard as a Springsteen concert bootleg), Kate charts Bob’s entry into her life (“you know those mirrors that magnify your face? Listening to Dylan feels like that: oh god, this is too much!”). A fresh look at the canon by someone who has yet to see him in concert (but can’t wait).

    Kate French-Morris writes about and reviews music for Record Collector Magazine and online for The Forty-Five. She writes artist biographies and has worked extensively at the Green Man and End of the Road Festivals. Kate graduated from University College, London, in 2018, including a year at U of C, Berkeley, studying “America Song By Song” with Greil Marcus.

    Record Collector interview with Steve Van Zandt

    The Forty-Five

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    Recorded 29th September 2021

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  • While held captive for 32 months by Somali pirates, writer and Dylan fan Michael Scott Moore had plenty of opportunity to contemplate lyrics, especially All Along The Watchtower. He was given a Bible during his captivity and discovered, in Isaiah, “the ramparts, the princes, the two horsemen and the wildcat. The whole song clicked! It’s about the fall of Babylon! Or Western Capitalism. Or the music business.” His other favourite captivity song was Jokerman (“freedom just around the corner for you”).

    We delve into the mysterious Infidels album in detail (“is he accusing the audience or himself with that title? I never got the sense that he left himself out of the equation”). Other topics covered: Dick Dale, Charlie McCoy, Bobbie Gentry, surfing in the Gaza Strip and the philosophy of Richard Mitchell. Don’t miss our most wide-ranging episode so far.

    Michael Scott Moore is an award-winning journalist and novelist, author of a comic novel about L.A., Too Much of Nothing, as well as a travel book about surfing, Sweetness and Blood, which was named a best book of 2010 by The Economist. He’s been a visiting professor at the Columbia School of the Arts and worked for several years as an editor and writer at Spiegel Online in Berlin. Michael was kidnapped in early 2012 on a reporting trip to Somalia and held hostage. The Desert and the Sea, his memoir about that ordeal, became an international bestseller.

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    Recorded 10th August 2021

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  • Comedy writer Daniel Radosh initiated the Twitter hashtag #BD969, celebrating every officially released Dylan song, as well as posting four playlists for The 80th Birthday: Bob Dylan For Beginners. We discuss these gems and open up the contentious topic of Dylan’s album cover art, from best to worst and everything in between. Other albums covered include 1974’s Planet Waves (“it feels like it’s about to spring on you and scratch your eyes out”) and Rough and Rowdy Ways (“very danceable!”).

    Daniel, who has written a book on Contemporary Christian Rock, considers Oh Mercy “a Christian album from a different perspective” and introduces us to Larry Norman (Father of Christian Rock), whose song Righteous Rocker #1 clearly inspired Bob’s Gotta Serve Somebody. Join us for a righteously inspirational episode!

    Daniel Radosh is an American journalist. He is a senior writer/producer for The Daily Show with Trevor Noah on the Comedy Central TV network. Previously, he was a staff writer for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and a contributing editor at The Week. He also writes for The New Yorker, Entertainment Weekly, Esquire, GQ, Mademoiselle, McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, New York Magazine, The New York Times, Playboy, Salon and Slate.

    Daniel’s blog, Radosh.net, was named one of the "top 25 blogs" by Time magazine. His book, Rapture Ready! Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture, was published in 2008. In 2019, Daniel co-created the satirical political TV sitcom Liberty Crossing.

    Daniel's four playlists, to spotlight 80 songs for Dylan's 80th birthday:

    ICONS

    ESSENTIALS

    DEEP CUTS

    RARE GEMS

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    Recorded 8th July 2021

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  • Jonathan Taplin, former road manager for The Band, has done it all. He set up the equipment for Dylan’s electric set at Newport in ‘65 (“the soundcheck lasted ten minutes”) and was production manager for Dylan and The Band at the Guthrie Tribute in ’68. He organised the groundbreaking Concert For Bangladesh and produced the concert and film of The Last Waltz. Oh, and he was responsible for Martin Scorsese’s Mean Streets getting made.

    Jon “was brought into the circle” by Albert Grossman (“after Bob left and Janis died, Albert got his heart broken”). He saw “all the junkie signs” when he met Keith Richards in the South of France and left Rock behind when he saw what drugs were doing to his friends and the music he loved. He passionately blames illegal Napster downloads for Levon Helm’s financial problems (“the record world dropped off a cliff”). With a cast list including Scorsese, Clapton, Robertson and Dylan (“Bob was a really good teacher”), Jonathan Taplin tells us definitively where it was at.

    Jonathan Taplin is a writer, film producer and scholar. He began his entertainment career as tour manager for the Jim Kweskin Jug Band and organised Bob Dylan and The Band’s appearance at the Isle of Wight Festival. Between 1973 and 1996, Taplin produced many television documentaries and feature films including Under Fire and To Die For. His films were nominated for Oscars and Golden Globes and chosen for The Cannes Film Festival five times. His book “Move Fast And Break Things” (2017) is subtitled “How Facebook, Google and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy”. His latest book “The Magic Years” (2021) is about the rock ‘n’ roll side of his life. Jon is the Director Emeritus of the Annenberg Innovation Lab at the University of Southern California.

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    Recorded 7th June 2021

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  • Ann Powers, writer and lead music critic for America’s National Public Radio, joins us from her East Nashville home to discuss gender, sexuality and “the body” in Bob Dylan’s work. Sparked off by an emotional encounter involving Joni Mitchell, Ann compares Mitchell’s work with Dylan’s and discusses other groundbreaking female artists like Roberta Flack, Kate Bush, Madonna, Megan Thee Stallion, Candi Staton, Chaka Khan and Sarah Silverman.

    With Ann, we contemplate Dylan’s early years as a “baggy elephant”, discover what Prince, Bob and Game Of Thrones have in common, explore the Jewish art in Dylan’s work and learn why Lay Lady Lay is the beginning of the genre of soft porn/soft rock “instructional songs about sex”. Ann cheerfully admits that her Bob Dylan theories are often “a provocation and a tease”. Join us for a particularly provocative discussion of “the parrot that talks”.

    Ann Powers is one of America’s leading music writers. She began her career at San Francisco Weekly, and has held positions at the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Village Voice, Blender, and the Experience Music Project. Her books include Weird Like Us: My Bohemian America, Tori Amos: Piece by Piece (which she cowrote with Amos), Rock She Wrote: Women Write About Rock, Rap, and Pop. Her latest book is Good Booty: Love and Sex, Black & White, Body and Soul in American Music. Ann’s chapter in The World of Bob Dylan (Cambridge University Press, 2021) was “Gender and Sexuality: Bob Dylan’s Body”.

    BBC Radio 4, Archive On 4: A Night With Prince, presented by Ann Powers

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    Recorded 30th March 2021

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  • Journalist Richard Williams joins us to talk Dylan and to surf “the waves of his career”, from Freewheelin’ (“one revelation after another”) to Murder Most Foul (“I was astonished by it. The level of detail. It’s like a John Coltrane quartet.”). Richard reminds us of “one of the great things I learned from Dylan: if you don’t understand something, that doesn’t invalidate it”.

    Our discussion includes generally unloved albums like Knocked Out Loaded (“Brownsville Girl contains the best single line of phrasing in Dylan’s entire canon”) and Down In The Groove (“we all lose our way a bit but the last three tracks are really very good”). Since writing his 1991 Bob Dylan book, A Man Called Alias, Richard has remained a true believer. “His phrasing has always been astonishing. Like that list of flowers he recites on Theme Time Radio Hour. He reads a seed catalogue and makes it sound like Visions of Johanna”. Prepare for the concise and clear musings of one of the best Bob brains out there in this ‘lectric episode.

    Richard Williams is a music and sports journalist. He was a writer, then deputy editor, at the weekly music newspaper Melody Maker, where he became an influential commentator on the rise of rock music in the 1960s. From 1970, he contributed to the Times. He left journalism to join Island Records’ A & R department, becoming department head. He was the first presenter of the BBC2 rock show The Old Grey Whistle Test and later became editor of the London listings guide Time Out and then Melody Maker. He also worked at the Sunday Times and the Independent On Sunday. Richard’s music journalism has been gathered in the volume Long Distance Call: Writings On Music. He has written biographies of Dylan, Miles Davis (The Man In The Green Shirt) and Phil Spector (Out Of His Head). Williams is also the former chief sports writer of the Guardian (he has written several books on Formula One). His comments about music and film, photography and art are published in his blog, The Blue Moment.

    Bob Dylan: Where to start in his back catalogue (The Guardian)

    2021/2020 selected blog pieces:

    When the Supremes met Jimmy Webb

    Bob Dylan in Surbiton

    The Band at the Albert Hall

    Bob Dylan and Barbara Allen

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    Recorded 16th March 2021

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  • Music and political journalist John Harris joins us just before Bob Dylan’s 80th birthday to celebrate the man with “the wink and the nod and the little impish skip” as well as the man who gives us “the solace of emptiness”. Mr Harris is not afraid to go against the grain: “”Love And Theft” is as good as Highway 61 or Blood On The Tracks”. As for John Wesley Harding, he happily quotes a friend who told him, “we wanted a big meal and he gave us a salad. It’s good for you - but a bit chewy.” The highlight of the episode might be John’s invitation - via pal Cerys Matthews - to meet Dylan backstage after his concert at the O2: “my internal monologue was going crazy. Brain fog was settling in. I was running out of breath.” (we won’t spoil the ending here).

    From making a Dylan-inspired harmonica rack out of a coat hanger at age 10 to reviewing the entire 1966 Live Recordings box set for MOJO magazine years later (“I’m still recovering”), John has heard every permutation of Bob on Dylan’s way to the Big 8-0. Was it worth it? “I like the way he sounds now. I want him to sound like that”.

    John Harris has been a music journalist for Sounds, Melody Maker and the NME. He was Features Editor at Q and Editor of Select magazine, before returning to the life of a freelance writer. Since then, he has written about music for Q, MOJO and Rolling Stone, and contributed articles on a variety of subjects to the UK newspapers The Independent, The Times and The Observer. He now writes about politics, music and culture for The Guardian. He was also a regular panellist on BBC2’s Newsnight Review. His first book, The Last Party: Britpop, Blair And The Spectacularly Demise Of English Rock was published in 2003. His second, a primer for disillusioned Labour voters, So Now Who Do We Vote For?, appeared in 2005. The Dark Side Of The Moon: The Making of The Pink Floyd Masterpiece was published in 2006. And Hail! Hail! Rock’n'Roll, a compendium, was released in 2009.

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    Recorded 2nd March 2021

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  • Nashville musician Charlie McCoy’s Dylan-related achievements include those distinctive guitar licks on Desolation Row, that blues harmonica on Obviously Five Believers (a rare example of another person playing harp on a Dylan session) and the inventive bass lines on John Wesley Harding, Nashville Skyline and Self Portrait. His motto: “Say yes - and then figure it out!” On his work as a session musician: “The song is the picture and we are the frame”. On Dylan’s harmonica style: “I’ve tried to do it like that and it doesn’t sound as good”. On waiting until 4:00 in the morning to record Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands: “How much coffee can you drink?”

    Charlie has played with them all: Elvis (13 albums), Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, George Jones, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Ringo Starr, Paul Simon, Kris Kristofferson, Robbie Robertson, Linda Ronstadt; even the rockers known as Ween. His tale of Leonard Cohen and the horsewhip is worth the price of admission. Any regrets? “I never played bass for Elvis” (only harmonica, organ, vibes and guitar). We are honoured to welcome the Nashville cat who has been there and done pretty much everything.

    In addition to being a fixture in Nashville recording studios for almost 60 years, Charlie McCoy has released 35 solo albums and served as music director for the long-running television series, “Hee Haw”. Charlie is member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. His session work includes Oh Pretty Woman by Roy Orbison, Simon and Garfunkel’s The Boxer, George Jones’s He Stopped Loving Her Today and Johnny Cash’s Orange Blossom Special. He has played harmonica for Waylon Jennings, Steve Miller, Gordon Lightfoot, Loretta Lynn, Leon Russell, Rodney Crowell and countless others. Charlie won a Grammy for his album, The Real McCoy. He has won the CMA’s Instrumentalist of the Year Award two times and the Academy Of Country Music’s Specialty Instrument Award seven times. Charlie was a member of legendary Nashville band Area Code 615, whose song Stone Fox Chase was the theme tune for the BBC’s Old Grey Whistle Test TV series.

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    Recorded 19th February 2021

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  • Musician and writer Michael Simmons has written dozens of Dylan cover pieces for MOJO magazine, as well as incisive liner notes for Another Self Portrait and Bob Dylan 1970. “I remember where I was when Kennedy was assassinated and I remember the exact moment I heard Like A Rolling Stone. It sounded like freedom.” He praises Bob as both “a revolutionary” and “an evolutionary” artist and reminds us that “the difference between a great talent and a hack is the willingness to fall on their face in the pursuit of something new.”

    From Michael’s LA home he recounts his time playing guitar, singing backup and doing improvised comedy with the outrageous country jokesters Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys (despite being born in New York City). Mr Simmons contains other multitudes: T-Bone Burnett, Greil Marcus, George Hamilton IV, Gordon Lightfoot, Jerry Garcia and Neil Young all receive considered mentions. He brings it all back home by confirming that “at all times, somebody, somewhere in the world, is talking about Bob Dylan”. Join our conversation with this most savvy of Dylan scribes.

    Michael Simmons is a musician, journalist, filmmaker and activist. He was dubbed "The Father Of Country Punk" by Creem magazine in the 1970s, edited the National Lampoon in the '80s, and won the LA Press Club Award in the '90s. He's written for the LA Weekly, LA Times, Rolling Stone, Penthouse and High Times. He is MOJO magazine’s premiere writer on all things Dylan as well as profiling George Harrison, Leon Russell, Lowell George and The Fugs. He has written liner notes for albums by Dylan, Michael Bloomfield, Phil Ochs, Kris Kristofferson, Arthur Lee & Love and many others.

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    Recorded 11th December 2020

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  • To mark our 50th episode, writer and podcaster Tom Jackson gives us his clear-eyed take on Dylan’s “Born Again” albums: Slow Train Coming, Saved, Shot Of Love and Trouble No More. “Slow Train Coming is not a smooth record, not a pleasant record, but I enjoy the tension.” And the accompanying live performances? “They were church services, really. But why is Dylan so angry? That terrible, clear-eyed vitriol. He’s got the answer but he’s still furious! I think he enjoyed baiting his audience, messing with people’s minds”. In a 50th outing overflowing with colourful opinions, Tom brings it all back home: “Dylan does nothing straight. I imagine when he puts his Ocado delivery in, there’ll be a note or a poem in it! His older persona, the grizzled storyteller full of wisdom and foolishness, is so appealing”.

    Tom has collected postcards for as long as he can remember. He is the author of Postcard From The Past, 4th Estate (‘A book of rare and genuine beauty’ James O’Brien). He has written about postcards for The Guardian, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Big Issue and talked about them on Radio 3, Radio 4, Radio 5, Talk Radio, BBC local stations and Monocle 24. He has produced documentaries for Radio 4 including Postcards From The White City. The Postcard From The Past book started life as Twitter account @pastpostcard, which attracts over 13 million impressions a month. He hosts Podcast From The Past, (“Fascinating, funny, poignant" BBC Radio 4Extra) in which he chats to well-known guests about postcards and their lives.

    Kerry and Luke were guests in 2020:

    https://open.spotify.com/episode/140u29iBMah5g5VfCBpP9m?si=kBgBP2JxQeenE4ILmy5Hmw

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    Recorded 22nd January 2021

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  • Novelist, former A & R man and screenwriter John Niven begins by summing up Bob’s generally unloved Neighbourhood Bully: “I have a soft spot for Heritage Rock acts trying to do Punk in the late 70’s and early 80’s” before summing up the Dont Look Back days: “When you’re in your 20’s, you’re all about the cruelty”. His response to attending a New York screening of the rarely-seen Eat The Document? “An absolute pile of heroin-addled lunacy”.

    But Niven reveals immense respect for the man and his work: “Listening to Dylan is like reading James Joyce. Just dip in. It can take 20 or 30 years to see the whole picture”. The author of the must-read novella Music From Big Pink references all sorts of artists from John Updike to Joe Strummer, from Jez Butterworth to... Rolf Harris. As a bonus, he includes helpful advice on how to deal with awful Q & A sessions. A scorchingly entertaining episode - not for the faint of heart.

    John Niven was born in Irvine, Ayrshire. He graduated from the University Of Glasgow with first class honours and has written for The Times, The Independent, Word, Q, FHM and many other publications. His extraordinary novella Music From Big Pink explored the 60’s Woodstock scene from the point of view of The Band’s fictional drug dealer. John’s bestselling novels include Kill Your Friends, The Amateurs, The Second Coming, Cold Hands, Straight White Male, The Sunshine Cruise Company, Kill ‘Em All and his latest, The F*ck-It List. His screenplays include Kill Your Friends and How To Build A Girl.

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    Recorded 12th November 2020

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  • Edward Docx (novelist/screenwriter/journalist) is a hyper-articulate defence witness for some of Bob’s least understood albums: Street-Legal, Infidels, Empire Burlesque and Together Through Life. “There is no uninteresting Dylan album. He opens his veins and says "This is what it’s like for me now."” How passionate is Ed Docx about Bob Dylan? After recording the podcast, we continued our digital discussion for another hour.

    Here’s Ed on Street-Legal: “It’s his Bosworth. After the battle, there’s blood and corpses and death and everything’s gone wrong. But somehow, he picks himself up and starts to sing! I don’t think he ever dared go there again. It was so bleak.” His reaction to accidentally discovering I And I at age 14: “I thought: what great human being has written this down? I couldn’t believe the depth and strength and beauty and layered wonder.” Join us for our longest - and possibly most articulate – episode thus far.

    Edward Docx is half Russian on his mother’s side. He was born in the North East and grew up in the North West, went to school in Manchester and then on to Christ’s College, Cambridge, where he read English Literature. He started writing fiction when he was in his teens and completed three unpublished novels before The Calligrapher was published in 2003. His other novels are Self Help (longlisted for the Booker Prize/winner Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize), The Devil’s Garden and Let Go My Hand. He is associate editor of Prospect Magazine. His journalism appears in most leading European and American newspapers and magazines. In addition, Ed works extensively in television and radio and teaches on the Guardian’s Master Class series on fiction writing.

    The Prophet (November 16, 2011)

    Bob Almighty (April 21, 2016)

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    Recorded 5th October 2020

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