If I ever had to go to that hypothetical island and I could only take one album, one book, and one film, I have a fair idea what they would be. The album I would take would be Biograph by Bob Dylan. It’s not my favourite album by him, but it’s a three-cd box set that includes around half a century of songs that span the first twenty years of his recording career. I think that if I was on a desert island and I had only a collection of around a dozen songs to listen I might get tired of them after a while, even if that album was Blonde on Blonde or Blood on the Tracks. The book I would take would be his first collection of lyrics called Writings and Drawings. And, you won’t be too surprised to read, the film I would take would be DA Pennebaker’s documentary of Dylan’s 1965 English tour, Don’t Look Back. The observant reader will have gathered by now that I am not impartial to a bit of Bob Dylan.
A few weeks ago, I read a story about Dylan in The Guardian that raised a smile on my face. It concerned a complaint from one of his neighbours in Malibu regarding an unpleasant odour emanating from Mr Zimmerman’s residence. Apparently, his security guards use a portable toilet that is also situated close to the home of his nearest neighbour. Her complaint is that it is causing a strong smell to drift into her backyard and this smell gets worse if it’s misty at night. I think her husband put it quite poetically when he commented: “Mr Civil Rights is killing our civil rights.” It seems that the local council is checking out the situation. According to The Guardian, it’s not the first time they’ve had to pay him a visit: “When the guardhouse was built in 1989, inspectors realised that it did not have disabled access. Dylan’s solution was to promise that he “would not hire any handicapped persons” to work in the guardhouse.”
At the end of next month, Columbia Records will release Together Through Life, Dylan’s first new collection since Modern Times in 2007. He had been commissioned to write a song for a new film by a French director called Oliver Dahan and ended up writing and recording a whole album. Apparently, its style has been influenced by the music that emerged from Sun Records in the 50s. If you’d like to hear a sneak preview, you can download a free mp3 of Beyond Here Lies Nothin’ from the new album that’s available on his site. Click here to take you there
UPDATE: The free download is no longer available
Finally, an acquaintance of mine has set up a Facebook group called Bob Dylan fans from Ireland. He has kindly asked me to give him a hand and, always eager to help, I’ve offered both of them. This is how Keith puts it so succinctly and so eloquently on the home page: “This is for all the Kats living in Ireland that dig Bobby D. I want us to get together every now and again and celebrate his music…jamming, drinking, storytelling, painting…whatever you want to do.” So, if you’re on Facebook and you’re a Bob Dylan fan from Ireland (or even if you have any connection to the auld sod) head on over and join up. Keep on keepin’ on