I’ve always been an admirer rather than a fan of Bob Dylan. While some of his songs have touched me, I’m more respectful of his status as a great American musical poet than empassioned by his work.
However, I have a whole new take on the man after listening to his one hour XM Satellite Radio show.
Theme Time Radio Hour has a simple format made clear in its name: Dylan has one hour in which to play songs related to a stated theme – weather, drinking, mothers, coffee, etc.
Not only is his choice of tunes engaging and revealing of his musical influences and preferences, the great man is immensely entertaining in his commentary. Understated as you would expect, but often very funny in a sly kind of way.
That’s Bruce Springsteen … I think he’s from New Jersey.
Some people say we play a lot of old songs … the truth is there’s more old songs than new songs. But we don’t have anything against new songs … stay tuned.
He’s from Texas, the place where they kill presidents … then kill people who kill presidents.
If you think the summer sun is too hot, just remember, at least you don’t have to shovel it.
Dylan frequently provides the back story to a tune, revealing his genuine interest in American musical history. On his radio show, Dylan is probably the most accessible he has ever been.
The show is spiced with emails – I’m not sure how genuine (G. Clooney about his aunty? R. McGuinn about his biblical song?), stories of how the songs came to be and occasional soundgrabs from the singers, musicians and songwriters who produced them.
My respect for Bob Dylan could hardly be heightened, but my appreciation of him as an entertainer is certainly enhanced by TTRH.