Dylan Being Dylan

I’m a huge fan of Bob Dylan. He’s such a fascinating character – literally a self-made man, an assemblage of americana and brilliance that provided the background music for my life.

A few years ago, more like a decade, I subscribed to Sirius XM just so I could listen to Bob Dylan’s Theme Time Radio Hour – Dylan and friends do a music radio show with commentary by Dylan. It’s unique. He plays songs that have something to do with the theme of the hour, and explains it in typical Dylan roundabout way.

One thing that shines through is that, oh, my god, Dylan knows his music. That’s an important point because he really, really studied what he was doing before he got famous and started doing it. He’s brilliant, yes, but he put knowledge and deep cultural context behind that brilliance.

So: there’s a [Theme Time RadioHour Archive] which collects all of the episodes. Give it a listen.

I remember one bit where Dylan is describing some old rockabilly musician: “I suppose nowadays we’d call him bipolar or something, but back then we just said he was mean.” In that Dylan voice which comes from some mythic america that is better than this one.


  1. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    I have all of them saved on a hard drive somewhere (I hope it still works). One of my all-time favorite radio shows.

  2. paramad51 says

    I lived in Hibbing MN for awhile when I was quite young.I remember playing with kids in our area, no I do not claim to have met Mr. Dylan at least that I remember. Many of my relatives used to live there, fewer now. I returned often to visit, spent a fair amount of time in the Arrowhead region.
    Anyway when you see Hibbing Bob’s home town and the surrounding area it gives you some idea of what formed Dylan’s musical persona.
    The area is called The Iron Range. Home of what once was the largest open pit mine in the world. Heavy forest, lakes, low swampy areas punctuated by great piles of tailings that look like mini mesas and evil looking water filled crimson quarries of forgotten depths. The soil is blood red. Everyone and everything was associated with mining. Hibbing is 75 miles from Duluth so some what isolated. Winters are long cold and cloudy, summers can be hot and very muggy. The area has a certain stark beauty at select times of the year.
    I am a singer song writer and when I hear Dylan’s music it reminds me of the feelings of life in the north country. I find how difficult it is to create music that reaches out. Dylan is a master.
    The way Dylan paints a picture with his music using colors very few musicians even understand is amazing.
    Writing good music is magic, writing music that draws you in even if you don’t quite completely understand why is on a far different level. Many singer song writers are able to resonate with people but Mr Dylan set a standard that changed music profoundly.

  3. Oggie: Mathom says

    Rarely, when I leave the house at a certain time, our local classic rock station (damnit! THAT song cannot be classic rock as it came out when I was in high school …) airs Alice Cooper’s radio programme. And he is another artist who really knows music. I don’t do satellite radio — for long trips I have an mp3 player with a wide assortment. Though Dylan talking about music? Kinda makes me want to . . . .

  4. says

    Though Dylan talking about music? Kinda makes me want to .

    You can play them directly off any internet device.
    I’m not sure about downloading from the archive – it may require a browser plugin.

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