Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas With Dylan A true-life pilgrimage

It was a few days before Christmas 1968, and my family had gathered. The living room was filled with the intense, clean, resinous smell of the tree. Once we had it hoisted into place, we set about the bristly business of decorating. I was 20, and my mind was full of music. Withdrawing to the sofa, I thought: Bob Dylan wouldn't be caught dead doing this. Click HERE to read more

Hanukkah Receives Kosher Pop Welcome

Matisyahu deployed what may be the only large, mirrored, rotating dreidel in show business — a Jewish answer to a disco ball — at Webster Hall on Sunday night, the first night of Hanukkah. It was also the first of eight New York City shows for Matisyahu in his third annual Festival of Lights series, bringing different opening acts and guests each night. A large menorah was set up for a mid-concert lighting ceremony, with the blessings declaimed in Hebrew by an audience volunteer. CLICK HERE to read more

Monday, December 22, 2008

This Hallelujah chorus is far from festive

AGED ZEN BUDDHIST JEW composes Christmas smash: who said pop music was lost to irony? Venerable bohemian Canadian poet-monk gets his first (and no doubt last) number one, moreover, thanks to a TV talent show and a young performer who plainly has not a single clue what she is singing. Just as well, really. Leonard Cohen, were he to bother to comment, would no doubt judge all this to be droll. CLICK HERE to read more

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Biblical origins of Bob Dylan's IT'S ALRIGHT MA (I'm Only Bleeding)

In Ecclesiastes, King Solomon explains what he set out to accomplish thusly:

"I applied my mind to seek and probe by wisdom all that happens beneath the sky. I have seen all the deeds done beneath the sun, and behold all is futile." CLICK HERE to read more

Bob Dylan: A Messianic Jew (2007)

The background (or "wallpaper") on my computer's desktop screen is a blurry picture of a man in desperate need of a haircut, wearing tefillin. People often say, "Cool picture, but who is that?" When I tell that it's Bob Dylan at the Western Wall attending his son's bar mitzvah, I get a mix of reactions that range from "I didn't know he was Jewish" to "Who's Bob Dylan?" CLICK HERE to read more

Monday, December 15, 2008

Articles of Faith: Good karma for Cohen

Hallelujah, written by Leonard Cohen, is heading to be the Christmas number one after Alexandra Burke won X-Factor with it. Times writer Alan Franks, who met the legendary Canadian songwriter soon after he ended his retreat as a Buddhist monk, analyses the song's spiritual significance in an exclusive article for this blog. Watch a video of the Alexandra's Hallelujah below. There is a good discussion going about Hallelujah and X-Factor on the forums at Leonard Cohen's own site. CLICK HERE to read more

Your Favorite Cross-Over Song

I recently did a rare thing of preaching through a song (for more, see post "Singing vs. Preaching"). The scripture reading was Romans 8:31-39 ("...nothing can separate us from the love of God..."). And for the sermon I sang the Bob Dylan (as popularized by Garth Brooks) song "To Make You Feel My Love." As I sang, I had images on the screen of Jesus carrying the cross ("I'd go hungry, I'd go black and blue / I'd go crawling down the avenue, / there's nothing that I wouldn't do / to make you feel my love"), walking on the water, and of course, being crucified. You get the idea. CLICK HERE to read more

Friday, December 12, 2008

"In the time of my confession", Memory, prayer and religious roots in the music of Bob Dylan, with Dr Malcolm Guite

Oh the streets of Rome, are filled with rubble,
Ancient footprints are everywhere
You could almost think that you’re seeing double
On a cold dark night on the Spanish stair

This beautiful vignette from When I paint my masterpiece, written in 1971 shows us how aware bob Dylan is of the layering of time, of the latent memories in place and in language, the ways in which poetry can enhance awareness, and deepen vision, especially if we become alert, as he is, to the power of memory. CLICK HERE to read more

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

GOTTA SERVE SOMEBODY: The Gospel Songs Of Bob Dylan. Directed By Michael Borofsky. Image Entertainment.

When Bob Dylan "went religious" in 1979, many of his fans were lost, incredulous -- rabid with ire; I imagine in their minds they just couldn’t understand how the media-proclaimed prophet of the 60s could abandon them. Yet, because of their own naked prejudices, they missed some of the most passionate, bare-boned music Dylan has ever made. CLICK HERE to read more

Odetta, Voice of Civil Rights Movement, Dies at 77

Bob Dylan, referring to that recording, said in a 1978 interview, “The first thing that turned me on to folk singing was Odetta.” He said he heard something “vital and personal,” and added, “I learned all the songs on that record.” It was her first, and the songs were “Mule Skinner,” “Jack of Diamonds,” “Water Boy,” “ ’Buked and Scorned.” CLICK HERE to read more

Monday, December 1, 2008

Saving Grace--song by Bob Dylan

I remember friends getting me to listen to Bob Dylan's gospel music. It was new and old at the same time, I was thinking as the borrowed tapes copied from albums played over my headphones. Dylan was different but I couldn't figure out how. He almost reminded me of the old gospel programs on television in the 60's, mixed with the intelligence of the Psalms of the Bible and the depth of the hymns. As quickly as I was introduced to his music, it quickly disappeared. I couldn't find it in the record store nor the Christian bookstore. It seemed as though no one--secular or inspired--liked him at all. CLICK HERE to read more

Monday, November 24, 2008


Bob Dylan kicks off his final performance of his current tour with a rousing new version ofGotta Serve Somebody (hit track on his first Gospel album, Slow Train Comin') on Friday night in New York City.   CLICK HERE to read and hear more

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bob Dylan at Church

This is just a quicky but quite amusing…I decided to venture to the Catholic church closest to my house on Sunday. It’s always quite an interesting experience going to church in countries where religion plays such a huge part of life. CLICK HERE to read more

The Liturgical Bob Dylan

Back in the day, I was a college freshman with
Mike Gilmour at the same institution where he’s now a New Testament professor. I didn’t know at the time that he was a Bob Dylan fan, but he’s since written a book about the biblical themes in Dylan’s music, so I guess one could say he’s well-versed in the topic. I imagine books like his Tangled Up in the Bible: Bob Dylan & Scripture (CBD Link) represent an awakening to the spiritual themes ushered forth from places long-considered by the church to be simply “unspiritual.” This is a good thing, but let’s come back to it. CLICK HERE to read more

Monday, November 3, 2008

Interview explores Bob Dylan's faith

Kasha said that one of the regulars at his Bible study in 1979 was Bob Dylan and at the recent 10th Annual Media Fellowship International Praise Brunch at the Beverly Hill Hotel in Beverly Hills, he agreed to talk about what happened to Dylan for an interview I was doing for Safe World's IPTV and ANS. CLICK HERE to read more

Friday, October 31, 2008

DylanTube Bob Dylan - In The Garden, Live in 1980

I started getting into Bob in about 2001 and it took me until last year to find that his Christian work is the most compelling he has done - in my opinion anyway. There is no doubt that Bob Dylan was very high off Christianity, possessed by God and on a mission to sing these songs. I’m sure these songs would have easily come to Bob Dylan after the overload of information he received during Bible School. This was clearly a very important part of Dylan’s life. CLICK HERE to read more

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Album Of The Day #99: SAVED - Bob Dylan

I bought this album with the lowest expectations possible. I had heard nothing but awful things about it. When I first put it in and sat through it, I realized immediately that the critics had no idea what they were talking about. This album’s got some great material on it.  CLICK HERE to read more


As a priest, I stand Sunday by Sunday before a worshiping community and I break a piece of bread. It strikes me as a deeply profound and important gesture. "Everything is broken." CLICK HERE to read more

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sermon Notes from 19 October

A few weeks back I was sitting in the library at St. John’s reading through some commentaries on today’s lectionary readings. I had my Ipod on random play and while I was sitting there thinking about how I was going to approach today’s texts, this song came on and the lyrics stuck in my head:

You may be a state trooper, our you might be a young Turk CLICK HERE to read more

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Biblical Roots of 'Blowin' in the Wind'

Everyone is familiar with these lines from Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind": 

"How many times must a man look up 
Before he can see the sky? 
How many ears must one man have 
Before he can hear people cry?

Oliver Trager, author of Keys to the Rain: The Definitive Bob Dylan Encyclopedia, apparently had no idea what he was stepping in when he wrote of Bob Dylan's most famous song: 

“… this song for the ages could have been spoken by the ancient sages—it seems to have been around at least that long.”   CLICK HERE to read more

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Beatles songs as likely to explain Christianity as the Bible, says bishop

The Rt Rev Nick Baines, Bishop of Croydon, has urged churches to use hits by bands such as U2 and the Beatles in their services.

In a book backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, he argues that pop music writers can convey deep theological concepts in a way that is more accessible to the younger generation. CLICK HERE to read more

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

It's alright, ma. I'm only preaching (2007)

The latest study of Bob Dylan's work could have Christian scholars singing in the aisles

In his new book, Dylan Redeemed: From Highway 61 to Saved, the University of Chicago-educated theologian seems destined to raise even more hackles among his subject's secular followers than did the brief time in the late 1970s - date stamped by three muscular evangelical recordings, Slow Train Coming, Saved and Shot of Love - that is commonly regarded as the sum total of Dylan's flirtation with an aggressive "born-again" stance. CLICK HERE to read more

Restless Pilgrim

The decade-spanning career of Bob Dylan intersects with nearly every major movement of our times. CLICK HERE to read more

Fandemonium: 18+ Bob Dylan Fan Sites

Bob Dylan has had a unique and sometimes contentious relationship with his fans. As JBev notes in his review of the new Bootleg Series release, Tell Tale Signs, Dylan has been “loved, hated, electrified, wrecked, forgotten, deserted, misunderstood, saved, overrated, and restored.” Even Dylan himself has been quoted as saying, “What good are fans? You can’t eat applause for breakfast. You can’t sleep with it.” Well, no matter how much he might alienate or piss off his legions of followers (whether “going electric,” releasing a lousy Christian album a la Saved or playing mind-numbingly horrific live shows) Dylan will always have his fans, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health. In honor of these diehard Dylan disciples, JamsBio has rounded up 18 of the best Dylan destinations on the World Wide Web. Whether you’re a Dylan neophyte or a certified Dylanologist, there’s something out there for to enjoy. CLICK HERE to read more

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Great Bob Dylan Conspiracy

Yesterday, there was a link on Expecting Rain to an article called “Exhuming Bob X: Lubavitcher Bob.”

If you don’t have the patience to click on the link and read the article, let me summarize it: The writer asserts as a premise that Jews, in their synagogues, are taught that “Jews are to rule the world and all the peoples” and that it “is the duty of every Jew to further that work.” CLICK HERE to read more

Sunday, September 28, 2008

“What Happened?:” Paul Williams’s take on Bob Dylan’s ‘Born Again’ Period

Bob Dylan’s turn to premillenial, charismatic Christianity in the late 70s is a baffling chapter in his career. From writing anthemic ‘protest’ songs to introspective love songs, Dylan had spent more than fifteen years speaking into the lives of countless fans. Although he had renounced all prophetic mantles, Dylan couldn’t live up to or escape his iconic status. Even when he found Jesus. CLICK HERE to read more

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Art And Astrology… Another Example Of Saturn Opposing Uranus : Bob Dylan

On the blog controversy, there is another analogy that comes to mind. I have been a Bob Dylan fan since I was 11 years old and there was a point in the late 70’s he started writing God music. CLICK HERE to read more

Pluto Direct In Sagittarius - “Gotta Serve Somebody” By Bob Dylan

If you want the history on this… Bob Dylan being booed in concert when he came out with these songs circa 1979 and the like you can see part of a documentary here The Gospel Songs Of Bob Dylan. CLICK HERE to read more

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

CONCERT REVIEW: Crowd energized by Bob Dylan's mix of new and old

"I Believe In You," a gospel song originally recorded on "Slow Train Coming," was a departure from his normal setlist. It was, however, well-received, and Dylan seemed to enjoy playing it. CLICK HERE to read more

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Bob Dylan Performs ‘Changing of the Guards’ from 1978’s Street Legal

To many, this album is all gloss with a level of slickness which undercuts the depth of the songs. But, I really like this tune in particular; this is classic Dylan in the role of the aging prophet, with spiritual imagery presented on a Biblical scale. The song’s lyrics are firmly in Dylan’s own world of watchtowers and wicked messengers. I actually think the lush arrangement and call-and-response backing vocals helps this effect. This is big music, even if it’s a little bit of its time. CLICK HERE to read more

Bob Dylan, won't you please come home? What could have been — and yet be

It was something I learned from Bob Dylan songs that helped to get me here. It's not that I owe Dylan a special debt of gratitude. As he would probably be the first to admit, he was just doing what he had to do. He was part of the great orchestration of the world by The Master Composer, and if it hadn't been him, there would have been someone or something else to do the job. CLICK HERE to read more

Friday, August 15, 2008

Jerry Wexler, famed record producer, dies at 91

In the '80s, he made albums with Dire Straits, Carlos Santana, and George Michael, among others. His 1979 album with Bob Dylan, "Slow Train Coming," Dylan's first recording after his conversion to Christianity, won Dylan his first Grammy Award for "Gotta Serve Somebody." CLICK HERE to read more

Jerry Wexler, R&B Impresario, Is Dead at 91

Jerry Wexler, who as a reporter for Billboard magazine in the late 1940s christened black popular music with the name rhythm and blues, and who as a record producer helped lead the genre to mainstream popularity, propelling the careers of Ray Charles, Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin and other performers, died on Friday at his home in Sarasota, Fla. He was 91. CLICK HERE to read more

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

John Lennon: Serve Yourself

Shortly before his December 1980 shooting, John Lennon, a skeptic of organized religion, recorded "Serve Yourself", a negative response to Bob Dylan's "Gotta Serve Somebody". CLICK HERE to read more

U2: Love Rescue Me

The song that probably comes across as most epic, however, is probably “Love Rescue Me”; 6:23 doesn’t make it the longest song on the album, but the quiet start with harmonica builds up to something huge, bringing in the brass along with the big rock setup (for some reason, U2 have never used brass before or since Rattle and Hum in any big way), before bringing in a final calm. Bob Dylan supposedly turns up, although which bits of the lyrics are Dylan’s is anyone’s guess. CLICK HERE to read more

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

eMusic Q&A: Sinead O'Connor Posted By : Alan Light

Her new album, Theology, is a two-disc set offering parallel versions - one disc acoustic, one with full-band arrangements - of new compositions by O'Connor that interpret Biblical texts, plus a few appropriate covers. The afternoon following a stellar performance at a small New York City nightclub, O'Connor - now a 40-year-old mother of four - settled in over coffee and cigarettes to discuss her musical, spiritual and personal journeys. CLICK HERE to read more

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Go & Do - U2charist anniversary

St. George's Church in York, Maine, will host a third anniversary U2charist on Sunday, Aug. 3, at 5 p.m., to honor the work that has been accomplished by the U2charist movement that began at St. George's on July 31, 2005. CLICK HERE to read more

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Fri 07/25/2008 The Cleveland Museum Of Art


Gotta Serve Somebody: The Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan
The Cleveland Museum Of Art
Lecture Hall 7:00 PM

This Friday 7/25


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Bob Dylan Song #13: See That My Grave Is Kept Clean

I'm not exactly what you'd call a theologian by any stretch of the imagination, but I don't think that there's any mystery as to why a) people in abject poverty, like most bluesmen, would write songs dedicated to death and the everlasting beyond, and b) why people in abject poverty often turn to Christianity as inspiration for their lives. CLICK HERE to read more

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Which musician inspires you?

Dylan has consistently channeled American religious idioms through biblical allusion. Among scores of examples: “All Along the Watchtower” essentially paraphrases Isaiah 21:5-9; “The Times They Are A-Changin,’” “Slow Train A-Comin,’” Other words and music are eschatological, about “last things”; and apocalyptic imagery, alluding to the end of world history, fills “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” “Desolation Row,” “Angelina” and more. CLICK HERE to read more

Friday, July 18, 2008

Thirty years late-Bob Dylan’s Christian music

I am aware that I am thirty years late for discussion concerning Bob Dylan and the Christian faith. I remember some years back my partner in the ministry David listening to a cassette of of Dylan’s “Slow Train Coming” and his comment that it was some of the best Christian music he knew of. CLICK HERE to read more

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Church hopes U2 can help orphanage Fundraising worship service Saturday at First Presbyterian

This Saturday First Presbyterian Church will be rocking out to U2, raising money for charity and worshipping while they’re at it. First Presbyterian plans its third U2 Eucharist starting at 6 p.m. to raise money for the Olof Palme Orphanage in Tanzania, Africa. CLICK HERE to read more

Sunday, July 13, 2008

'Bigger than Jesus? The Beatles were a Christian band'

John Lennon claimed the Beatles were a Christian band

But 28 years after his death, in an interview being broadcast for the first time, he claims that on the contrary, he hoped to encourage people to focus on the Christian faith. CLICK HERE to read more

Friday, July 11, 2008

Dylan and Bunyan on Faith vs. Unbelief

Q: What is the opposite of faith? It’s unbelief. CLICK HERE to read more.

Joe Cocker: Hymn 4 My Soul

Cocker covers George Harrison’s “Beware of Darkness”, Bob Dylan’s “Ring Them Bells”, Stevie Wonder’s “You Haven’t Done Nothin’” and songs by soul luminaries Solomon Burke and Percy Mayfield. CLICK HERE to read more

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

“Even Jesus could never forgive what you do.” – Bob Dylan

I was listening to Pearl Jam today and it got me to thinking. Pearl Jam is a grunge rock and roll group from Seattle which was very popular about a decade ago and still enjoys some following. They were singing a song entitled “Masters of War” which was written and sung by Bob Dylan back in the sixties. In the song Eddie Vedder (lead singer for Pearl Jam) rails against all those who are responsible for the travesty of war. He gets kind of worked up toward then end of the song and croons this telling lyric. “Even Jesus would never forgive what you do.” CLICK HERE to read more

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Freewheelin' Robert Zimmerman

Bob Dylan's lyrics never explicitly invoke his Jewish roots, but Jewish influences are never far from the surface. CLICK HERE to read more

Thursday, July 3, 2008

It's Unbelievable

Below, you will find an article by David Cloud of something called The Fundamental Baptist Information Service. As a Christian and fan of the music of Bob Dylan, I find this piece of 'writing' extremely disturbing. Not only is it ill-informed and factually inaccurate, it spills the sort of utter crap that gives Christianity a bad name. This does no service to Christ or to the Truth. CLICK HERE to read more

See also
Bob Dylan's "Conversion" - (Lighting The Way Worldwide)

The Gospel According to the Beatles

Forty years ago, John Lennon famously commented that he believed that the Beatles had become "more popular than Jesus." At the time the comparison seemed absurd. The Beatles were a pop group. CLICK HERE to read more

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Dylan 1983 Kotel

We have finally found a reasonable-quality image of Bob Dylan during his famous tefillin-wearin' appearance at the Kotel. Here is an amazing and totally-Israeli eyewitness: "In the summer of 1983, Dylan visited Israel and was famously photographed wearing tefilin -- leather straps and boxes worn during Jewish prayer -- at the Western Wall. CLICK HERE to read more and see the photo

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Ira Tucker, Gospel Singer Who Gave Dixie Hummingbirds Emotive Edge, Dies at 83

Ira Tucker, a little man with a giant vocal range and acrobatic stage antics who as lead singer of the Dixie Hummingbirds helped propel gospel music toward a harder-edged, more emotive style, died on Tuesday in Philadelphia. He was 83. CLICK HERE to read more

Dixie Hummingbirds recorded a very fine version of Bob Dylan's unrecorded City of Gold for their Diamond Jubilee album produced by Larry Campbell.

The Chief Justice, Dylan and the Disappearing Double Negative

The last chief justice liked light opera. The new one cites Bob Dylan. CLICK HERE to read more

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

AUDIO: The Jewish Bob Dylan (June 15, 1972)

Bernard Timberg analyzes the songs of Bob Dylan looking for Jewish themes and imagery. He identifies messianic longings in Quinn the Eskimo, references to Jewish burial practices in Masters of War, and finds significance in the fact that the initials of John Wesley Harding can be interpreted as the name of the Jewish God, YHWH. Issues such as social justice and a sense of out-sideness imbue the songs of Dylan as they do the history of the Jewish people. Timberg also interviews a number of people who knew Dylan when he was still Bob Zimmerman in an effort to investigate the Jewish roots of his music, including a woman that was at his Bar Mitzvah and a counselor at a Jewish summer camp Dylan attended as a child. Also explored are a number of myths about Dylan that touch upon his Jewish identity. CLICK HERE to listen

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

advice to young pastors: the disease of conceit

Bob Dylan produced three albums during his openly Jesus-faith period: Slow Train Coming, Saved, and Shot of Love. Somewhere along the line, something happened and Dylan went down periscope with his faith. CLICK HERE to read more

Monday, June 9, 2008

Sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace

You know, as a practising Christian I try hard not to judge others. But there’s always the reality of people who are not sane and really quite bent on evil. CLICK HERE to read more.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

No Shelter from the Storm: Bob Dylan's Apocalypse

"I can hear another drum beating for the dead that rise, Whom nature's beast fears as they come and all I see are dark eyes."--Bob Dylan

In a pop music world where issues are seldom addressed and creativity and individuality have been lost, Bob Dylan, who just turned 67, is a refreshing alternative. Like a voice crying in the wilderness, Dylan emerged in the early 1960s to become the conscience of a generation. CLICK HERE to read more

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Hasidism, Mysticism, and the Songs of Bob Dylan

For my own spiritual enrichment, I was reading Hasidism and Modern Man by Martin Buber when / came across on pages 92-95 a revelation—key words and images and what / perceive to be the feeling expressed in “All Along The Watchtower.” At the time I was listening to New Morning which has other indications of Buber’s influence and which in5pired my two-year study of Buber’s work and Bob Dylan’s life and work around the time he wrote John Wesley Harding and New Morning. CLICK HERE to read more

Saturday, May 10, 2008

How I Didn't Wind Up on the Cover of Bob Dylan's Saved

It all started when I got a phone call the first week of April, 1980, from Rose Ricciardella, managing editor, pop product, for CBS Records editorial services. She told me that Bob Dylan wanted to print five reviews, including one I had written, on the inside sleeve of his new album, due in the late spring. CLICK HERE to read more

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Gotta Serve Somebody - Gospel Songs Of Bob Dylan

I finally got around to watching the DVD this past weekend, and it was incredible! It's so gratifying to see someone do justice to Dylan's Gospel period. CLICK HERE to read more

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Blind Willie Johnson: Revival

When I had just turned 16, PBS first aired Carl Sagan's Cosmos TV series. Music was central to the show's mission, so I bought its soundtrack album and listened to it constantly. It included an excerpt of Blind Willie Johnson's "Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground (On Which Our Lord Was Laid)." CLICK HERE to read more


After Sunday's 10:00 AM service, David Bradfield, our wonderful choir master, suggested I look up the words to Bob Dylan's Rainy Day Woman (AKA Everybody Must Get Stoned). CLICK HERE to read more

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Theme Song

A few years ago a friend gave me a CD entitled "The Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan." Most of the songs on the CD were composed in the early 1980's. Many of them are great. On this CD, they're all performed by African American singers and Gospel Choirs. Mary and I were both drawn to one particular song, Pressing On, sung by Chicago Mass Choir. CLICK HERE to read more

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Thunder on the Mountain by Bob Dylan Annotated

Thunder on the Mountain is a song by Bob Dylan off of the Modern Times CD (2006). Here are the song lyrics with my comments and annotations. CLICK HERE to read more

Friday, April 18, 2008

‘Rabbi and rock star’

For one of the most polarizing figures in modern Jewish history, Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach did a lot of loving. "The Singing Rabbi," who founded the House of Love and Prayer in San Francisco, regularly hugged the homeless, supported the poor, and called everyone "brother" or "sister." CLICK HERE to read more

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

NY Times: Living With Music

Every Grain of Sand, Bob Dylan. One reason most Christian rock really does stink is that much of the genre is saddled by a belief that Christian musicians are simply ministers who happen to use music as a tool, and who must employ only unambiguous, propositional lyrics so that listeners can’t possibly be led astray. CLICK HERE to read more

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Rock and Roll Report » Cover Story - Bob Dylan’s “Slow Train Coming”, with artwork by Catherine Kanner

The concept was very concrete as he expressed it to me. As he explained it, this album was to be Dylan’s exploration of Christian ideas through his words and music. I recall being amazed to hear this. The graphic style was meant to have an engraved look - which pen and ink (my specialty) certainly mimics. CLICK HERE to read more

Friday, April 11, 2008

American Poet Genius Bob Dylan First Rocker to Get Pulitzer Nod

Accordingly to Yoko Ono, Lennon’s song, “God,” was intended as a dialogue with Dylan. Lennon spoke of Dylan as changing his writing at a time when the Beatles where bigger than anything the music world had ever seen. CLICK HERE to read more

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Religious Forum: What is the role of your faith in the larger culture?

I’ve noticed a growing trend in popular music, that is, a Jewish trend. Of course there’s Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and other Jews in the music business, but none of them were as overtly Jewish as the stars of today. CLICK HERE to read more


I came late to Dylan and for years had been badgered by a friend who raved about the American folk singer with the whine in his voice. Anytime I casually listened I could hear the ‘whine’ clearly enough but little else. That was until one Sunday morning when I heard a track from a new Dylan album on the radio, The song was ‘I Believe In You’ and the just released album was ‘Slow Train A Comin’. CLICK HERE to read more

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Bob Dylan: Reconciliation and Atonement

Dylan’s reaction to his Jewishness also is a product of that time, a time of anti-Semitism, when many Jewish performers, though proud of being Jewish, tried to hide their roots. CLICK HERE to read more

Monday, April 7, 2008

Who says what’s ‘Christian’ music?

Who says what is and is not “Christian” music? The Christian Music Trade Association, that’s who!
CLICK HERE to read more

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Fast Train a' Comin'

On August 20, 1979, Bob Dylan caused a lot of listeners shock when he recorded a profound album that seemed to indicate he had become a Christian. People were asking, "How could such an enigmatic guru accept such a simple-minded message? CLICK HERE to read more

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Questions, Answers Still Blowing in the Wind

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated 40 years ago. What are your memories of that day? What impact did it have on you? How is King relevant to you and to us today? CLICK HERE to read more

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Sinead O'Connor

She's one of the most powerful singers from the past 20 years, but can she ever shake off that incident? CLICK HERE to read more

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Blind Willie Johnson- The Complete

This is beautiful hair-raising music by one of the most influential roots musicians of the 20th century. He has indelibly changed many musicians (such as John Fahey, Bob Brozman, and Blind Willie McTell), who were floored upon first hearing him and forever tried to approach the haunting quality, rapturous power, and effortless virtuosity of Blind Willie Johnson's music. If you liked Washington Phillips (see archives), you'll like Blind Willie Johnson, and vice versa, methinks. CLICK HERE to read more

Friday, March 28, 2008

Rock 'n' Roll All the Way Down to the Pit!

IN 1979, BOB DYLAN regaled a Tempe, Arizona, audience with a show consisting entirely of songs from his two most recent records—the ill-received Christian albums Slow Train Coming and Saved. CLICK HERE to read more

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Music On My Mind

The song stands, from the beginning, as a Civil Rights anthem. By 1964, Cooke had been listening to writers such as Bob Dylan, and was so impressed by Dylan’s “Blowing in the Wind” he felt compelled to write a song with a message that would touch people in the same way he had been touched by Dylan’s anthem. CLICK HERE to read more

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Lipa, Lead Belly, and Adar

Huddie William Ledbetter, popularly known as folk and blues sensation Lead Belly, was and remains an important influence on contemporary music. His repertoire was diverse. The five hundred songs he composed can’t be pigeonholed into a single category, but touched on many styles and contexts. He was regarded as the master of the twelve-string guitar, but he played several other instruments as well.

He is also, it turns out, the probable source of the tune most of us will be singing come Shabbos: Mishenichnas Adar marbim besimcha. (The tune itself is an old slave song, but Lead Belly put it on the performance map.) CLICK HERE to read more

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Rock and Roll and Jesus

Larry Norman was, by all accounts, an amazing and powerful force. According to an obituary in the Guardian, he claimed to have had the idea of Jesus Rock in 1956 when he was just nine years old, “when he was as excited by the sound of Elvis Presley as he was by the words of Jesus Christ.” CLICK HERE to read more

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


The singer/songwriter Bob Dylan once said, “People seldom do what they believe in, they do what’s convenient, then repent.” The world has seen more than it’s fair share of people who can scream what they claim to believe, but most of the world is still waiting to see it. CLICK HERE to read more

Monday, March 10, 2008


In 1978, singer / song writer / poet / philosopher and guru of all things hip, Bob Dylan experienced a personal and musical transformation which he attributed to coming to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. CLICK HERE to read more

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Dylan: Jokerman or Property of Jesus? (2002)

Are Bob Dylan’s spirit and musical soul still the property of Jesus? Or has the singer/songwriter once again assumed the role of the Jokerman—mockingly reversing yet another stance to which he has been committed? CLICK HERE to read more

Sinéad O'Connor's Theology and 'Theology' (2007)

Why you shouldn't be surprised that her new album is mostly passages from the Old Testament. CLICK HERE to read more

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Larry Norman, 'Father of Christian Rock,' Dies at 60

Christian music legend Larry Norman died Sunday of heart failure, according to his brother Charles Norman. He was 60.

Norman, a blonde, long-haired rocker who is often called the father of Christian rock music, was a giant in the Christian music industry, said Chris Willman, senior music writer for Entertainment Weekly. CLICK HERE to read more

Notes on Larry Norman and Bob Dylan

I'd like to offer a few comments re. the connection between Larry Norman and Bob Dylan.

My Introduction to Bob Dylan's poetry began with a Larry Norman record in 1978 - although I did not know that at the time - ONLY VISITING THIS PLANET. (Which was actually recorded in 1972.) CLICK HERE to read more

African American Culture and Bob Dylan: Why He Matters (1997)

Where black is the color, none is the number."

These are the words of songwriter and musician Bob Dylan, written when he was just twenty-one years old. They are from his haunting and beautiful song A Hard Rain’s a Gonna Fall, released in 1963. CLICK HERE to read more

Monday, February 25, 2008

Preaching the gospel

On his most recent “Theme Time Radio Hour” show ( “DOCTORS”), Bob Dylan made some comments that I think are worth highlighting outside of the usual summaries of that program that appear here. It was right after he played You Done What The Doctor Couldn’t Do by the Five Blind Boys Of Mississippi. He said the following: CLICK HERE to read more

Friday, February 22, 2008

Bob Dylan, Iconoclastically Faithful

In the 1980s, the iconclastic Bob Dylan dared convert to Christianity. His fans panicked because he was no longer preaching to their choirs songs they already knew. CLICK HERE TO read more

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Host of church singers serves music of a born-again icon : The gospel truth about Dylan (2003)

Some years later, when I asked him if he still stood by his line: "It's easy to see without looking very far that not much is really sacred," Dylan replied: "'Flesh-colored Christs that glow in the dark.' Yes, I stand by that. I find all of that still pretty much true." CLICK HERE to read more

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Popular Culture: The Ballad of John and Jesus (2000)

Two books tell the story behind John Lennon's short-lived conversion. CLICK HERE to read more

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Pastor by day, rocker by night

Hearing God speak through lyrics of popular music

Call him a renegade or call him enlightened, Rev. Toby Jones of Harbor Springs feels he's onto something mainstream Christianity has overlooked. CLICK HERE to read more

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

"Pete Seeger: The Power of Song," Feb. 27, PBS

"If I Had a Hammer," "Turn, Turn, Turn," "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" All three of these familiar folk tunes, together with a host of others, were first popularized by veteran singer-songwriter Pete Seeger. CLICK HERE to read more

You Gotta Serve Someone, Right?

I’ve been working on a message that I’ll be giving at a local university’s “InterVarsity” group towards the end of this month. The topic is “Jesus and Justice,” and the text is outta Luke (chapter 16—vv. 19-31). CLICK HERE to read more

To tell the truth... - Gotta Serve Somebody

It’s not every day that I begin The Source by quoting Bob Dylan, but today it seems appropriate, so let me quote a few lines from his song Gotta Serve Somebody. It’s a simple song in which the chorus is broken up by poetically parallel verses. Here are some of the verses: CLICK HERE to read more

God Said to Abraham,....

This past Sunday, the Sunday School class my wife and I attended had a lesson on the "testing of Abraham" found in Genesis 22. The English Standard Version reads: CLICK HERE to read more

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Shared Song, Communal Memory

THEY meet on the first Monday of the month at the Universalist Unitarian Church here, not to worship but to sing. Just to sing. CLICK HERE to read more

Friday, February 8, 2008

Should a Christian listen to Bob Dylan?

I recently received an email from a Christian who read a blog I wrote about a Dylan song. He was previously a Dylan fan, but he stopped listening to Dylan after he became a Christian. He felt that his new found faith in Christ was incompatible with Dylan. Here is a portion of his email: CLICK HERE to read more

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Bob Dylan and Christianity, with a passing dismissal of power evangelism

Having just seen the Bob Dylan film I’m Not There and reading John Wimber’s Power Evangelism, Bob Dylan and John Wimber have been on my mind a lot this week. So it was interesting to find a very interesting comment on Wimber in an article about Bob Dylan. CLICK HERE to read more

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Dylan Eucharist: Come Gather 'Round People Wherever You Roam

The Dylan Eucharist was a gathering force - bringing together people who love Dylan's music, people interested in a musical liturgy, and people who were curious about hearing the folk/rock tunes of this legend prayed in church. CLICK HERE to read more

Christian Music Groups

Gospel music has often crossed over into the mainstream and many artists, such as Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan, have explored their Christian beliefs. CLICK HERE to read more


Barry Beckett, who co-produced Slow Train Coming and Saved with Jerry Wexler, is 65 today. Here's his entry from The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia: CLICK HERE to read more

Church uses Dylan tunes to share God's message

They reflected, prayed and sang to music that had them gently rocking.

Whether thirsting for spiritual renewal or merely inquisitive, 140 worshipers listened to the gospel songs of legendary rock-poet Bob Dylan at Sunday's i-Witness alternative service at United Methodist Church of Geneva. CLICK HERE to read more

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Dylan Service Peaks Interest

Thanks in large part to the Dylan Devotional Blog, I have been getting quite a few e-mails from all around the world regarding our service tomorrow, so I thought it would make sense to give some background and clarification here. CLICK HERE to read more

PBS aired a 3 part, 6 hour special on American Jewry, and THERE WAS NOT A SINGLE MENTION OF BOB DYLAN.

They did a lengthy bit on Jews in the civil rights struggle, and NOT A SINGLE MENTION OF BOB DYLAN. ClICK HERE to read more

Friday, February 1, 2008

Dylan Eucharist Service

United Methodist Church of Geneva
Sunday February 3, 2008
211 Hamilton St.
Geneva, Illinois 60134

Prelude -- Gotta Serve Somebody
Help us to remember, God, that we who gather today may all be different, but you are what unites us in service to you and the world.

Call to Worship
-- A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall
We - your children - have been many places, doing and seeing many things which draw us to be cleaned in the waters of baptism and transformed.

CLICK HERE to read more

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Sixties

The people reading this have some awareness of wrestling with God in their lives. My goal with this blog is to get other people to engage in the same inner debate to loosen the soil of their soul that the Spirit may grow. Today I put on my tie-dyed shirt and headband and consider how the Sixties has loosened the baby boomers soil. CLICK HERE to read more

Friday, January 18, 2008


“Re-Transmissions”, released on March 3 and only available in Britain, includes Dylan's sets from Saturday Night Live in 1979. CLICK HERE to read more

Willie Nelson's, Moment of Forever, (due Jan. 29)

The album concludes with an almost eight-minute version of Bob Dylan’s gospel number “Gotta Serve Somebody” from his first album after his Christian conversion. CLICK HERE to read more

Cat Power "Jukebox" (Matador) ***

The lone new original, "Song to Bobby," is a spare homage to Bob Dylan that rolls sweetly out of Marshall's slow-grooving, blues-rock take on Dylan's "I Believe in You." CLICK HERE to read more

Thursday, January 17, 2008

St. George's celebrates the U2charist

Over the last two and one half years, the U2 Eucharist has received international media attention from newspapers, People Magazine, Nightline, The Daily Show, and BBC presentations and documentaries for its innovative use of the band's biblically-rich lyrics and social justice message, for its ability to bring together people of many different generations in a context of worship, and as a tool for raising awareness and empowering communities to respond to the Millennium Development Goals. CLICK HERE to read more

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Shout, Sister, Shout!

Last Friday night Alan and I went to the KESWICK THEATRE in Glenside, PA to see a benefit concert held for the Memorial of SISTER ROSETTA THARPE. CLICK HERE to read more

Sunday, January 13, 2008

10 Songs About God

God. The Big Guy. The Man Upstairs. The Creator and Ruler of the Universe. The Sacred Mother. A Concept By Which We Measure Our Pain. Anyway you express the idea of god, the fact remains that god has made quite a few appearances in pop music through the decades, being as he is an important aspect of human existence. CLICK HERE to read more

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Friday January 11 is Sister Rosetta Tharpe Day

Sister Rosetta Tharpe was gospel’s first national superstar: the musician who, beginning in the late 1930s, took the sounds of the “Good News” music then developing in black churches to popular stages and Saturday-night audiences. CLICK HERE to read more

Benefit to ring with the memory of a gospel great

Marie Knight returned in a big way last year, however, with the acclaimed Let Us Get Together, a collection of gospel numbers by the Rev. Gary Davis that featured Larry Campbell, a guitarist best known for his work with Bob Dylan. CLICK HERE to read more

Monday, January 7, 2008

The religious are slacking in the artistic arenas

There was a time when rock music inspired cultural change, asking important questions about life itself. Steve Turner, a journalist who interviewed many of these philosopher-poets, writes in his work “Imagine: A Vision for Christians in the Arts” about how people such as Bob Dylan, Jerry Garcia, Pete Townshend and John Lennon were “no longer simply entertainers by prophets and shamans. CLICK HERE to read more

Thursday, January 3, 2008


The set begins with Mr. Dylan talking to the audience about heroes. ''I don't know who your hero is,'' he says, ''maybe Mel Gibson or Michael Jackson or Bruce Springsteen.'' Mr. Dylan's, as it turns out, is ''the Son of God,'' which is the cue for ''In the Garden'' from his 1980 album ''Saved.'' CLICK HERE to read more

Starting the Year with Bob Dylan

I’ve had an old 1989 tune by Bob Dylan running through my head for the last couple weeks. Unlike some other things that get stuck in my mind – like the obnoxious ads for DiTech and Head On, or Pa-Rum-Pa-Pum-Pum - this tune has given me some benefit as it has been on perpetual replay. “A Political World” may turn out to be a decent theme song for a lot of us in 2008. CLICK HERE to read more
“The highest form of song is prayer.”
-Bob Dylan

STOCKHOLM 04.05.2002

Just a few days after performing at the 2002 Grammy's, Bob Dylan recorded a new re-write of "Gonna Change My Way of Thinking" for "Gotta Serve Somebody: The Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan" with longtime friend Mavis Staples. One month later he would kick off a new tour in Stockholm Sweden and perform Solid Rock (what many consider the theme song to his gospel era concerts) for the first time in 20 years. Dylan would continue to perform this rousing song as well as other gospel era songs at numerous concerts across Europe and beyond. The two-time Grammy nominated compilation would be released on Sony/Columbia one year later on April 1, 2003.

Sinead O'Connor - Property Of Jesus