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
“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