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Writer Neil Gaiman fell in love with A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall via Bryan Ferry’s cover version. It ended up influencing the imagery of his novel American Gods (as well as the Amazon TV series). The song also provided a few gloomy pronouncements (“we’re in an apocalyptic state of mind: the doomsday clock is ticking”) in our otherwise jolly discussion. Colourful Bob theories are espoused: “if I were going to go cold turkey, I would have taken three months off to live with the local pharmacist” and sad information about that chaise longue is dispensed: “it has become somewhat damaged by cats over the years”. The location of the iconic piece of furniture is also discussed: “a weird and lovely faux-Dutch farmhouse… haunted by the ghost of the still-living Bob Dylan”. Tune in for Neil’s insights about Lou Reed, Elvis Costello, Joan Baez, Andy Warhol, Lord Buckley, Penn & Teller and Gilbert and Sullivan. Neil Gaiman is a British writer. His first book was a paperback biography of Duran Duran. Since then, his works have included the cult DC Comics series The Sandman, which won him nine Will Eisner Awards (including the award for best writer four times). His six-part TV series for the BBC, Neverwhere, was broadcast in 1996. Stardust, an illustrated prose novel in four parts, began to appear in 1997. American Gods was published in 2001 and won all the awards going. He co-wrote Good Omens with Terry Pratchett (now a hit TV series). Coraline, his first novel for children, was another international bestseller. And the hits kept coming: Anansi Boys, The Graveyard Book, The Ocean At The End Of The Lane (adapted into a hit play at the National Theatre). Neil has appeared as himself on The Simpsons. Trailer Website Twitter Spotify playlist Listeners: please subscribe and/or leave a review and a rating. Twitter @isitrollingpod Recorded 13th December 2019 This show is part of Pantheon Podcasts.
Rock journalist Barney Hoskyns comes on board for a special episode that focuses on The Band, with Dylan as their “weird” sideman. Tears Of Rage is compared to Philip Roth’s novel American Pastoral. Barney suspects it might just be “an anti-hippie song”. His “deeply emotional” attachment to the town of Woodstock is explored in depth: “overwhelmed by the mythology of the place”, he raised his kids there and explored its musical history in his book Small Town Talk (title taken from the song by Bobby Charles). After writing the acclaimed Band book Across The Great Divide, he reports on the feedback he received from Robbie Robertson: “Oh Barney, Barney, Barney, Barney…” while he praises the remarkable Woodstock-based novella Music From Big Pink by John Niven. He remembers an awful interview with Prince: “he sat like a sadistic cat, waiting to maul me” and connects the Minnesotan “Imp of the Perverse” with Bob. Is Barney ultimately a Dylan man? While admiring the early work, he’s also put off by its “sadism and cruelty”. “Barney Hoskyns is the finest British rock writer of his generation” - Charlie Gillett. He graduated from Oxford with a First Class degree in English and began writing about music for Melody Maker and New Musical Express, British Vogue and The Times, The Guardian, The Independent, and The Observer. He has also contributed to Harper's Bazaar, Interview magazine, Spin magazine and Rolling Stone. He was Associate Editor and then U.S. Editor of Mojo. Barney has written over fifteen books: investigating Bowie, Prince, Led Zeppelin and The Doors; plus Say It One Time For The Brokenhearted: Country Soul In The American South, Across The Great Divide: The Band And America and Joni: The Anthology. Trailer Website Rock's Back Pages Twitter Spotify playlist Listeners: please subscribe and/or leave a review and a rating. Twitter @isitrollingpod Recorded 2nd December 2019 This show is part of Pantheon Podcasts.
On the BobPhone from the USA: it’s award-winning writer Jonathan Lethem, author of Motherless Brooklyn, with a supremely quotable episode. On his “Big Kahuna” interview of Bob for Rolling Stone: “he was direct and generous; we had a good time”. An advocate for Dylan’s latter-day stuff, he believes that “humour is underrated as a feature of the operation”. Among Jonathan’s many provocative thoughts: “The power of (Dylan’s) negativity is a form of creative dynamism” and “how many people could have turned down the coronations he’s been offered”? He praises the “fiasco methodology” of Under The Red Sky, has mixed feelings about Together Through Life (“if you underrate a thing it can kick your ass”) and condemns the Sinatra years as “a fatally tasteful hiding place”. Did Dylan stay in Mississippi a day too long? Join us and find out. Jonathan Lethem is an American novelist, essayist and short story writer. His first novel Gun, with Occasional Music, which mixed elements of science fiction and detective fiction, was published in 1994. In 1999, Lethem published Motherless Brooklyn, a National Book Critics Circle Award-winning novel that achieved mainstream success: the movie adaptation by Edward Norton has just been released. In 2003, he published The Fortress of Solitude, which became a New York Times bestseller. His most recent novel is The Feral Detective. A Brooklyn native, Jonathan lives and teaches in California. His 2006 Rolling Stone piece on James Brown Website Trailer Spotify playlist Listeners: please subscribe and/or leave a review and a rating. Twitter @isitrollingpod Recorded 19th November 2019
Broadcaster, journalist and “swivel-eyed Dylanologist” Andy Kershaw, “a radio station within a radio station” during his time on Radio 1, gives us his unvarnished thoughts. From arguments with his dad about Bob’s greatness to his first sighting of “the human American bald eagle” at Earl’s Court in 1978, to his unravelling of the identity of the “Judas!” heckler, to Bob’s actual response (“he doesn’t say “play fucking loud!”), this is a delightful and surprising episode. Andy’s encounters include a meeting with Keith Richards (“he nicked my cigarette lighter!”), tracking down long-lost soul singer James Carr in Memphis; and his impromptu November 1985 visit to Dave Stewart’s Crouch End recording studio: “I gave Bob a jar of hedgerow jam. It was like handing a mobile phone to a chimpanzee”. What hasn’t Andy Kershaw done? He was Billy Bragg’s roadie, a presenter of Whistle Test and Live Aid, and a subversive yet respected DJ. His shows on BBC Radio 1 and 3 provided an outlet for his love of world music, soul, reggae and blues. He married this with many forays into journalism, reporting on the Rwandan genocide and travelling to 97 countries including Iran, Iraq and North Korea. When he moved from London to the Isle of Man in 2006, he continued to host his radio show there and organised concerts featuring Robert Plant, The Who, The Kinks and Lou Reed. Andy currently reports for BBC 1’s The One Show. His autobiography, No Off Switch, is “an amazing read” according to Stephen Fry. Stephen is correct. Website Trailer Twitter: @THEAndyKershaw Spotify playlist Listeners: please subscribe and/or leave a review and a rating. Twitter @isitrollingpod Recorded 7th November 2019 This show is part of Pantheon Podcasts.
As an early Thanksgiving treat, Luke and Kerry welcome American singer Piney Gir. Piney (real name Angela), hails from “a very strict part of the Bible Belt”, where she grew up listening to cassettes of wholesome Christian music and a few of the “less psychedelic” Beach Boys tracks. One day, Dylan’s Slow Train Coming caused chaos in her parents’ car: her dad, a born-again Vietnam vet, loved it but her mom hated it (“or maybe she might have hated my dad”). Piney’s parents’ church was hardcore: “speaking in tongues, fainting, dancing - and album burning in the church car park”. She finally broke away from Christian Rock and entered the world of secular music via Depeche Mode and The Cure. Eventually, Edie Brickell’s cover of A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall and Scorsese’s No Direction Home brought her to the Church of Bob: “I’m interested in his relationship with faith”. Join us for a surprising journey in and out of the heartlands of America. Piney Gir was born in Kansas but has been based in the UK since 1998. She has been described both as a musical chameleon and as “the Indie Dolly Parton". As well as being a fixture on the London music scene, she has toured to venues like Glastonbury and South By Southwest. Her songs have appeared in TV programmes including Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Made In Chelsea, Waterloo Road and Being Human. Piney’s latest album is You Are Here. https://circuitsweet.co.uk/2019/11/piney-gir-album-you-are-here-out-now-new-live-dates-announced/ Website Trailer Twitter: @PineyGir Spotify playlist Listeners: please subscribe and/or leave a review and a rating. Twitter @isitrollingpod Recorded 8th October 2019 This show is part of Pantheon Podcasts.
Is Bob Dylan a poet? We ask Ian McMillan, one of the UK’s best. Ian compares Bob to Dylan Thomas, both of them “great poets who can rub vowels against consonants and make a kind of smoke come out of them… a kind of music.” “Meaning doesn’t matter”, he says. “The basis of poetry is being able to mint a phrase like “Lay, lady, lay”. I was so excited when Dylan won the Nobel Prize. Dylan’s stuff will last forever”. Yorkshire-born Ian recalls arguing with his Andy Stewart-loving Scottish father about the merits of Lay Lady Lay, over the washing up. How he was so moved hearing Sad-Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands that he wrote a poem about it. Other topics include in-depth dissections of One More Cup Of Coffee and Subterranean Homesick Blues, Paul Simon and John Cheever’s short fiction, Dylan’s Tarantula and Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street. Join us for a free-flowing episode with plenty of literary smoke. Ian McMillan is a poet, journalist and broadcaster. He presents poetry programme The Verb on BBC Radio 3 and is a regular on BBC Breakfast, Pick of the Week, You & Yours, Last Word and The Arts Show. He’s been a castaway on Desert Island Discs (where he famously chose John Cage’s 4'33"). His television work also includes The Review Show and Have I Got News For You. He has written many volumes of poetry, in addition to his verse autobiography Talking Myself Home. Ian was resident poet for the English National Opera, was Yorkshire TV’s Investigative Poet and Humberside Police’s Beat Poet. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02yxmxw Trailer Twitter: @IMcMillan Spotify playlist Listeners: please subscribe and/or leave a review and a rating. Twitter @isitrollingpod Recorded 6th September 2019 This show is part of Pantheon Podcasts.
Music journalist Andrew Male begins by examining “the humour that turns sour… the madness” of Bob’s 1965 “speedy, hipster world”, the “fascinating cruelty” of Dont Look Back and Eat The Document (“he couldn’t stand that close to the flame anymore”). He goes on: “if you’re interested in Dylan, you have to see it as a grand narrative, even the points that you flinch from.” This episode bounces between Elvis’s version of “I Shall Be Released”, Dylan doing his “Movie Elvis” voice on “Spanish Is The Loving Tongue” and New Morning, “Dylan’s first religious album, but the religion is Buddhism: the lyrics are like koans”. Was that Dylan on harmonica in George Harrison’s version of “If Not For You”? Was “Father Of Night” Dylan’s examination of his Jewish faith? Andrew offers more questions than answers on this one, which is how it should be. Join us. Andrew Male, former deputy editor of Mojo magazine and film lecturer at Warwick University, has been writing about music, books, film, radio & TV for the past twenty-five years. He can currently be found in the pages of Mojo, Sight & Sound, the Guardian, the Sunday Times and the Radio Times. Andrew lives in South London with his wife, dog and cats. Trailer Twitter: @Andr6wMale Spotify playlist Listeners: please subscribe and/or leave a review and a rating. Twitter @isitrollingpod Recorded 15th April 2019 This show is part of Pantheon Podcasts.
When writer Geoff Dyer approaches us as a fan of the podcast, we jump at the chance. He leaps right in with a detailed analysis of Idiot Wind, praises previous guest Michael Gray, quotes Simon Armitage and Clinton Heylin, applauds Desire and Scorsese’s Rolling Thunder Revue and hails Dylan’s voice: “you always believe what he’s saying, even though he’s always an unreliable witness. It’s his incredible narrative power”. A few of the many topics: the 1978 Blackbushe gig (“explosively exciting”), his early years as Dylan freak (“I look back fondly on the exchange of cassette tapes in a pub – the early Christian era of Dylan bootlegs, this circle of initiates”) and the cleaned-up release of I’m Not There (“the value of it was somewhat diminished, I felt”). Geek out with Geoff in this passionate episode. Geoff Dyer is the author of Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi and three previous novels, as well as nine non-fiction books. Dyer has won the Somerset Maugham Prize, the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction and was named GQ’s Writer of the Year. He has won a National Book Critics Circle Award and the Windham Campbell Prize for non-fiction. His books have been translated into twenty-four languages. He currently lives in Los Angeles where he is Writer in Residence at the University of Southern California. Geoff’s most recent book is Broadsword Calling Danny Boy, about the film Where Eagles Dare. https://www.the-tls.co.uk/articles/public/twenty-questions-with-geoff-dyer/ Website Trailer Spotify playlist Listeners: please subscribe and/or leave a review and a rating. Twitter @isitrollingpod Recorded 19th July 2019
Singer Robyn Hitchcock finds “the comfort of doom” in Dylan’s “personal mineshaft of bleakness” as well as in Bob’s latterday performance style (“he’s like a mute lamppost”). Robyn first saw our man at the Isle of Wight Festival at the age of 16 (“with his white suit and his new voice, it was like watching your beloved get off the train but – it’s not them. I was riveted. I just stared.”) A conversation with Nashville cats Charlie McCoy and Wayne Moss is recounted, BD and Jim Morrison are skilfully imitated, Blonde On Blonde is rhapsodised (“You can see that music. It’s visual, like fireworks, like LSD. It’s in my DNA”). Strip your senses for this magic swirling ship of an episode. Robyn Hitchcock is a London-born, Nashville-based singer, songwriter, surrealist poet, cult artist and musician's musician. Since founding the art-rock band The Soft Boys in 1976, he has recorded more than 20 albums and starred in ‘Storefront Hitchcock’ a concert film by Jonathan Demme. Blending folk, psychedelia and British nihilism, Robyn describes his songs as ‘paintings you can listen to’. Robyn Sings (2002) is his live Bob Dylan covers album. His most recent album is Robyn Hitchcock (2017). UK tour dates (Oct 2019) Website: https://www.robynhitchcock.com/ Trailer Twitter: @RobynHitchcock Spotify playlist Listeners: please subscribe and/or leave a review and a rating. Twitter @isitrollingpod Recorded 22nd July 2019
Actor Michael Feast has a deep personal history with Dylan. He won a role in the landmark 1968 London production of Hair by singing Outlaw Blues and Highway 61 Revisited. His drama school years were dramatised by Camden Town flatmate Bruce Robinson in the cult film Withnail & I. “It looked pretty much like it did in the movie. Biba bags hanging over lights and all that sort of caper”. His Brighton Mod scooter and soul thing was shattered the first time he saw the cover and heard the contents of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. “Whatever else I was into, like Elvis, Dylan always had a place within and yet beyond that. It always fitted in and yet it never did.” Desolation Row is dissected and applauded: “The words and images hit me straight away. I see it as a dusty street in Mexico”. The Beatles, The Band, The Rolling Stones, Gram Parsons, Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson are all name-checked by our self-confessed “musicologist geek” in this classic episode. Michael Feast is a stage and screen actor: a veteran of the Royal Exchange, The Old Vic, the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company. He worked several times with Sir John Gielgud, whom he later portrayed in the West End. Feast’s many television appearances include State of Play, Silent Witness, Vera and Game of Thrones. His film credits include roles in Franco Zeffirelli’s Brother Sun, Sister Moon as well as The Draughtsman’s Contract and Velvet Goldmine. Trailer Spotify playlist Listeners: please subscribe and/or leave a review and a rating. Twitter @istrollingpod Recorded 11th February 2019
Writer/performer Christopher Green illuminates the links between Dylan and female singers such as Indigo Girls, Marlene Dietrich, Marianne Faithfull, Kacey Musgraves and Emmylou Harris. A shape-shifting performer himself, Christopher temporarily gave up on Dylan when he heard Tracey Thorn berate him in her song Me and Bobby D, thinking: “he’s the voice of the Patriarchy and he can’t even sing”. In this episode, we grapple with some controversial questions: should we overlook an artist’s biography when considering their work? Does Bob sing with deep emotion? (His most recent recording He’s Funny That Way gets a look-in.) And we receive our most unusual piece of advice: “when you’re at an orgy with a friend, don’t look at their face”. Join us as we discover Christopher’s “secret relationship” with Bob Dylan. Christopher Green is a writer and performer whose work includes comedy, cabaret, theatre and live art. He is best known for his work as a character comedian, in a range of personas, playing at venues such as The Royal Albert Hall and Sydney Opera House. Performing as one of his characters, Tina C, Green has presented his own BBC TV and radio shows. Green co-wrote Duckie's Olivier Award-winning "C'est Barbican!" which was performed at London’s Barbican Centre. Trailer Christopher as Tina C Christopher as Ida Barr Website: http://christophergreen.net Twitter: @kit_green Spotify playlist Listeners: please subscribe and/or leave a review and a rating. Twitter @istrollingpod Recorded 20th February 2019
Blinded By The Light screenwriter Sarfraz Manzoor joins us for an unexpected “Bob Meets Bruce” episode. A passionate Dylan man, Sarfraz first saw Bob in 1990, camping out with other hardcore fans for tickets at Hammersmith Odeon (he tips his hat to the legendary ‘Lambchop’). Topics include Oh Mercy (“...it feels like a contemporary album. That swampy, darker take on things feels right for now”) and Bob’s age when he recorded it (“he seemed a Methuselah-like prophet, but was the same age I am now!”). In our three-way conversation, Dylan shares centre stage with Springsteen: Sarfraz is a big fan of their “appalling” live duet of Highway 61 Revisited. Don’t miss this surprising episode with the summer’s filmic man of the moment. Born in Pakistan, Sarfraz Manzoor is a British journalist, documentary maker and broadcaster. He is a regular contributor to The Guardian, presenter of documentaries on television and radio and a cultural commentator who appears on programmes such as Radio 4’s Saturday Review. His memoir, Greetings From Bury Park, was published in 2007. He co-wrote the just-released film Blinded By The Light, based on his book. Trailer https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/whats-on/film-news/manchester-author-sarfraz-manzoor-16627048 https://www.theguardian.com/film/2019/jul/27/sarfraz-manzoor-bruce-springsteen-and-amolak-changed-my-life Twitter: @sarfrazmanzoor Spotify playlist Listeners: please subscribe and/or leave a review and a rating. Twitter @istrollingpod Recorded 4th February 2019
Sheila Atim - actress, singer, writer - won an Olivier Award for her performance as Marianne in Girl From The North Country, which transferred to the West End from London’s Old Vic. Sheila takes us behind the scenes of the most successful theatre adaptation of Dylan’s work. Did Bob come to see it? “I had a fantasy of him in a trench coat and hat, leaving a little post-it note at the stage door, saying “well done”. But that didn’t happen. A mug with his name on it was printed for him. I don’t know who has it now!” Sheila Atim’s acting credits include Othello (Shakespeare’s Globe), The Tempest and Julius Caesar (Donmar Warehouse) and Les Blancs (National Theatre) as well as work for the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal Court. This year, she begins filming the much-anticipated prequel to Game of Thrones (HBO). ANGUIS, Sheila’s first stage play, opens 31 July 2019 at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Trailer http://avalonuk.com/olivier-award-winning-actor-sheila-atim-brings-first-written-play-to-edinburgh-festival-fringe/ Twitter: @sheila_atim Spotify playlist Listeners: please subscribe and/or leave a review and a rating. Twitter @isitrollingpod Recorded 16th January 2019
Theatre director Stephen Unwin joins Luke and Kerry for one of their widest-ranging discussions; from Unwin’s favourite album The Times They Are A-Changin’ to The Bootleg Series Vol 8: Tell Tale Signs and Tempest. Topics include Bob and Brecht, Dylan and The Dead (“like orange juice and milk”), his disbelief in Tom Waits and his amazement at Bob’s awards ceremony persona (“such a tiny, eccentric, weird little guy!”). Tracks explored include Early Roman Kings (“can I be bothered with this?”) and North Country Blues (“deep American poetry”). Along the way, the mysterious location of the Red River Shore is cleared up and Roll On John is pronounced “a fantastic song”. Stephen Unwin is a director, writer and teacher. In the 1980s he was Associate Director at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh. He founded English Touring Theatre in 1993, was resident director at the National Theatre Studio and in 2008 opened the Rose Theatre, Kingston, where he was Artistic Director. As well as directing more than fifty plays and operas, he has written eight books on theatre and drama, along with four original plays. He has translated twelve foreign language plays, written numerous articles in books and newspapers and has taught at drama schools and universities in Britain and the USA. Trailer Website: http://www.stephenunwin.uk/ Twitter: @RoseUnwin Spotify playlist Listeners: please subscribe and/or leave a review and a rating. Twitter @isitrollingpod Recorded 11th January 2019
In our second Michael Gray episode, the noted Dylan authority exults in Bob’s legendary 1984 David Letterman appearance: “he breaks through the oleaginous smear that is American television and creates an authentic moment”. He goes on to describe “the fairly heavy occasion” backstage at Earl’s Court in 1978 with his young son, who bums a biro off Bianca Jagger to seek Bob’s forbidden (left-handed) autograph. Countless tracks and albums are measured up, praised or dismissed, including the recent Sinatra years: “horrible finger snapping”. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear unvarnished opinions and future plans from the man who changed the face of Dylan criticism. Michael Gray is a world authority on the work of Bob Dylan. His Song & Dance Man: The Art of Bob Dylan, published in 1972, was the first full-length critical study of Dylan’s work. Its massive third edition, Song & Dance Man III (2000), is an essential part of any Dylan fan’s bookshelf. Michael's vast Bob Dylan Encyclopedia (2006) won the International Association of Music Libraries’ C.B. Oldman Prize. Another major work, Hand Me My Travelin’ Shoes: In Search of Blind Willie McTell, was published in 2007. His articles have been published in Rolling Stone, The Times, Literary Review, Independent, Guardian, Observer, Sunday Times, Weekend Telegraph, Independent on Sunday, Sunday Telegraph, Melody Maker, Uncut and many more. Trailer Website: www.michaelgray.net Twitter: @1michaelgray1 Spotify playlist Listeners: please subscribe and/or leave a review and a rating. Twitter @isitrollingpod Recorded 12th June 2019
We devote our next two episodes to Michael Gray, one of this podcast’s literary heroes. Seems we owe it all to Linda, the university girlfriend who introduced him to Bob’s work. “Coming from a rock ‘n’ roll background, I had no interest in folk-clubbery; it just seemed weird”. Soon he was marvelling at the poetry and, at Liverpool in 1966, Dylan’s “extraordinary ability to recite at length, stoned out of his head, yet word perfect.” Michael talks us through the various editions of his classic Song & Dance Man, from the slim first edition to the gigantic third version, which Uncut called “dazzlingly brilliant... an intellectual tour de force... an essential companion”. In between, we hear about his relationship with “the bony figure who came through the middle of the curtain” and changed his life. Michael Gray is a world authority on the work of Bob Dylan. His Song & Dance Man: The Art of Bob Dylan, published in 1972, was the first full-length critical study of Dylan’s work. Its massive third edition, Song & Dance Man III (2000), is an essential part of any Dylan fan’s bookshelf. Michael's vast Bob Dylan Encyclopedia (2006) won the International Association of Music Libraries’ C.B. Oldman Prize. Another major work, Hand Me My Travelin’ Shoes: In Search of Blind Willie McTell, was published in 2007. His articles have been published in Rolling Stone, The Times, Literary Review, Independent, Guardian, Observer, Sunday Times, Weekend Telegraph, Independent on Sunday, Sunday Telegraph, Melody Maker, Uncut and many more. Trailer Website: www.michaelgray.net Twitter: @1michaelgray1 Spotify playlist Listeners: please subscribe and/or leave a review and a rating. Twitter @isitrollingpod Recorded 12th June 2019
At age 14, journalist Dorian Lynskey had a “huge resentment” towards Bob Dylan and the “horrible old has-beens” in the Traveling Wilburys: “SCREW YOU! GET OUT OF THE WAY!” Young Dorian continued to be unmoved by Dylan’s 1997 heart condition: “Oh, I guess he’s dying now: Time Out Of Mind is the mortality album”. He has since revised his opinion. “I like his weird, apocalyptic psycho-geography of America.” He admires the man’s indifference: “Piss off. I’m going to disappoint you again”. In-depth discussions include: Masters Of War, the upcoming Neil Young Hyde Park concert, Greil Marcus, Chronicles Volume One and the best Dylan cover versions (check out Phil Flowers And The Flower Shop’s version of Like A Rolling Stone). Dorian’s books include The Ministry Of Truth: A Biography of George Orwell’s 1984, 33 Revolutions Per Minute: A History of Protest Songs and The Guardian Book of Playlists. He writes on music for The Guardian, was music critic for The Big Issue and has freelanced for Q, GQ, Mojo, Word, Spin, Empire and The Observer. Trailer Ministry of Truth webpage Twitter: @Dorianlynskey Podcast: Remainiacs Listeners: please subscribe and/or leave a review and a rating. Twitter @isitrollingpod Spotify playlist Recorded 28th May 2019
Actor Jonjo O’Neill tells the true story of how Bob Dylan changed his life. Coming to Blowin' In The Wind through a dodgy guitar teacher in Catholic Belfast, moving on to full-blown Dylan conversion through Scorsese documentary No Direction Home, realising that Bob is “a messianic boy who ends up, like Jesus, saying: "Why, Father?"” He continues: “I placed myself as the character of 'Bob'. I felt totally intoxicated by playing him. I felt the drama of what he was doing. I wanted to be Bob Dylan. I was jealous that no one else got to do it!” Join us for one of our most unexpected episodes. Jonjo O’Neill, born in 1978, is an Associate Artist with the Royal Shakespeare Company, where he played Richard III and Mercutio. He also has strong connections with the Royal Court Theatre. On film and television, Jonjo is best known for Defiance, Doctor Who, The Assets, The Fall, Constantine, Patrick Melrose and the final, stagecoach section of the Coen Brothers film, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. Trailer Website: https://jonjooneill.com/ Twitter: @ONeillJonjo Listeners: please subscribe and/or leave a review and a rating. Twitter @isitrollingpod Spotify playlist Recorded 25th February 2019
Professor and playwright Dan Rebellato sets out his stall by praising Dylan’s simplicity, his humour and his relationship to the spiritual world. “I was raised on Bob Dylan. The album John Wesley Harding gave me nightmares but I love it for its religion – it’s exactly as Christian as I like my Bob.” If you don’t know John Wesley Harding, this episode is your way in. If you do know it, Dan will take you deeper. “Suddenly, he becomes a storytelling songwriter. He’s no longer mocking the conventions of storytelling. There’s something epic and foreboding about these stories, something deeply fearful and puzzling about this record.” Dan Rebellato is Professor of Contemporary Theatre at Royal Holloway, University of London. He has written over twenty plays for BBC radio and another sixteen for the stage, performed at the Edinburgh Assembly Rooms, Theatre 503, the Arcola and the National Theatre. His radio work has been nominated twice for Sony Awards. Dan writes regularly for The Guardian Theatre Blog. Trailer Twitter: @danrebellato Listeners: please subscribe and/or leave a review and a rating. Twitter @isitrollingpod Spotify playlist Recorded 28th January 2019
From New York, it’s the legendary Larry “Ratso” Sloman, author of On The Road With Bob Dylan, the up-close-and-personal story of the 1975 Rolling Thunder tour. Ratso shoots the breeze with Luke and Kerry about Bob, Joan, Sara, Joni, Roger, Renaldo, Clara and the rest of the gang. The Scorsese Rolling Thunder Revue doc is previewed and his new album discussed. From his beginnings as a suburban teenage accountant to hanging out with the foulmouthed Fugs, blagging his way into Rolling Stone magazine, accosting Dylan outside a beauty parlour and being invited on tour, to recording a duet opposite Nick Cave (with flute by Warren Ellis) - it’s been a long, strange trip. Our conversation with Ratso includes Stubborn Heart album producer Vincent Cacchione. Ratso Sloman was known as Larry until Joan Baez changed his name. He has written books on Houdini, David Blaine, Mike Tyson, Howard Stern and Anthony Kiedis. He has directed a Dylan video, edited National Lampoon and written a history of marijuana in America. More importantly, Ratso has a Master’s Degree in Deviance and Criminology. Trailer Podcast: Ratso & Friends Twitter: @ratsosloman Listeners: please subscribe and/or leave a review and a rating. Twitter @isitrollingpod Spotify playlist Recorded 10th April 2019
In a specially extended edition, beloved Barking bigmouth Billy Bragg tells Kerry and Luke how he first encountered the works of Dylan in the early 1970’s, “through the portal” of Simon & Garfunkel and Rod Stewart. “Greatest Hits, Volume 2 really messed with my head and my songwriting”. We learn that when Chrissie Hynde asks him to come backstage to meet Bob post-concert, Billy flees into the night, terrified of disgracing himself in front of his hero. Wiggle Wiggle, Woody Guthrie and Wilco also loom large in our landmark sixteenth podcast. Billy Bragg writes and sings bitingly intelligent, warmly humane songs about politics and love. His albums include Shine A Light, Tooth & Nail, Bridges Not Walls and Mermaid Avenue – The Complete Sessions. His books include Roots, Radicals and Rockers: How Skiffle Changed the World. His recent documentary is Rock Island Line: The Song That Made Britain Rock. In 2019, he’ll be touring both the UK and USA. Trailer Twitter @billybragg Listeners: please subscribe and/or leave a review and a rating. Twitter @isitrollingpod Spotify playlist Recorded 20th March 2019
Jude Rogers, Guardian music critic and interviewer, shares her thoughts with Kerry while Luke is in rehearsals. She tells of growing up with The Smiths and REM, “terrified” of the “intimidating” man who “influenced all of pop music” until she discovers the “non-intimidating” Bob on Nashville Skyline and Self Portrait. Jude eventually realises that “Bob Dylan was all these different people” and begins to see the light. An interview she conducts with Mavis Staples seals the deal, complimented by a Dylan playlist from a trusted friend. Jude Rogers was reviews editor for The Word magazine. In addition to The Guardian, she writes for The Observer, The New Statesman, The Times and Financial Times as well as Red, Elle and Marie Claire. Jude broadcasts on BBC Radio and is a senior lecturer in journalism at London Metropolitan University. Trailer Twitter @juderogers Listeners: please subscribe and/or leave a review and a rating. Twitter @isitrollingpod Spotify playlist Recorded 7th November 2018
Direct from New York City, our first transatlantic podcast features singer, songwriter and journalist Jeff Slate, who went from life in a small town in suburban Connecticut to gigging with his own band to being invited into the Dylan office “for coffee” to writing the liner notes for More Blood, More Tracks. Jeff spills the beans on future Bootleg Series releases and the music business in general: “physical product, sadly, is dead”. On hearing a preview of Shadows In The Night, he says “I was sitting there with my mouth open … at the passion, power and energy. Bob was singing his ass off!” Jeff also wrote the liner notes for the reissue of Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and is the co-author of The Authorized Roy Orbison. He has appeared on radio and TV around the world as performer and music expert. He has an unrivalled knowledge of all things Dylan, Beatles and Monty Python. Twitter @jeffslate Listeners: please subscribe and/or leave a review and a rating. Twitter @isitrollingpod Spotify playlist Recorded 15th February 2019
Film producer Robin Guise is our knowledgeable guide through Dylan’s major cinematic works. In our longest episode yet, we look back at Dont Look Back, Eat The Document, Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid, Renaldo & Clara, Hearts Of Fire and Masked And Anonymous. On the way, Robin discusses Let It Be, the Radiohead documentary Meeting People Is Easy and the upcoming Rolling Thunder project. Acting is discussed: Tom Waits and Kris Kristofferson can; Bob Dylan can’t. Or can he? Fasten your seatbelts for a bumpy, amusing and contentious episode. At our podcasting home, LipSync Post, Robin has spent 30 years overseeing marketing materials for major studio and independent films. He is the author of the entertaining online blog The Hitchcock Project. Robin has produced and directed many documentary films, including a recent short feature about rock photographer Jill Furmanovsky. Trailer Twitter @ColBlimp9 Listeners: please subscribe and/or leave a review and a rating. Twitter @isitrollingpod Spotify playlist Recorded 4th January 2019
Kathryn Williams, singer-songwriter, laughs like the flowers as she talks about Dylan as inspiration and Cat Stevens as her secret crush. Outsiders and identity are themes; she listened to Janis Joplin every morning to get through school. Kath confesses to some ”wild” teenage years: listening for hours to tapes of Dylan in a Liverpool pub car park. Lay Lady Lay was “a wakening into the adult world”, her “massive daily song: saucy and sexy”. Her songwriting is illuminated: “how to make truth ring”. Kathryn Williams has released 14 studio albums. She has written and arranged for a multitude of artists and was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize for her second album, Little Black Numbers. She has collaborated with artists including John Martyn, Chris Difford, Thea Gilmore, Ed Harcourt and The Magic Numbers. Trailer Website: www.kathrynwilliams.co.uk Box set: https://kathrynwilliams1.bandcamp.com/ Twitter: @kathwilliamsuk Listeners: please subscribe and/or leave a review and a rating. Twitter @isitrollingpod Spotify playlist Recorded 22nd October 2018
David Baddiel, a Bowie man to his core, pronounces Dylan “incredibly subversive and instinctively funny” while comparing him to Larry David. Bob’s voice is “like a buzzing fly”; Mr Tambourine Man is “a pure piece of surrealistic poetry that signals the start of the 60’s - in 1964”. There’s more: “Dylan takes leaps of the imagination that he doesn’t know he’s taking” and “Bob is John The Baptist to Leonard Cohen’s Jesus”. Don’t miss this outstanding episode. David - comedian, novelist and screenwriter - is well known for his partnerships with Rob Newman (the first stand-ups to play Wembley Arena) and Frank Skinner - Fantasy Football League and the Unplanned TV and stage shows. His solo shows FAME: Not The Musical and My Family: Not The Sitcom both transferred to the West End. Trailer Podcast: Stalking Time For The Moonboys Twitter @Baddiel Listeners: please subscribe and/or leave a review and a rating. Twitter @isitrollingpod Spotify playlist Recorded 1st February 2019
Peter Fincham, television producer, tells a hilarious story concerning Dylan’s manager and a Bob tribute band. He moves on to Every Grain Of Sand and the Bootleg Series (“Angelina is impenetrable” but it’s “a magnificent vocal performance. He sings it as if his life depends on it”). At boarding school, Peter rejected his peers’ predilection for Deep Purple and found a taste for “songs with acoustic guitars”. Dylan’s trip into the Sinatra songbook is considered, plus missing tracks from Shot of Love and Infidels, before we move on to Blonde On Blonde and other major works. Peter Fincham was Managing Director of Talkback Productions, Controller of BBC1 and Director of Television for ITV. He developed programmes including The Day Today, Never Mind The Buzzcocks, I’m Alan Partridge, Da Ali G Show, Green Wing, The One Show, Downton Abbey, Broadchurch and The Only Way Is Essex. (Apology to Bella Weiland, our engineer for this episode: I mispronounced her surname and didn't have a chance to correct it. It's pronounced WAYland, not WEEland...) - LH Trailer Listeners: please subscribe and/or leave a review and a rating. Twitter @isitrollingpod Spotify playlist Recorded 12th October 2018
Tom Sutcliffe, journalist and broadcaster, gave his fourteen year-old son a birthday iPod with a quote from Forever Young engraved on it. He swears: “I don’t randomly quote Bob Dylan” and describes Bob’s Bringing It All Back Home as “a cold shower/warm shower of an album”. Concentrating on BIABH, Tom calls Maggie’s Farm “an ordeal” and certain famous lyrics “trite” and “twee”; and admits to an irrational hatred of the tambourine, but praises Gates of Eden as “a great tune”. Tom Sutcliffe studied at Cambridge and joined the BBC soon afterwards. He has presented Radio 4’s weekly Saturday Review arts programme since 1999. He was the first arts editor of The Independent newspaper and has been chairman of Round Britain Quiz since 2007. Saturday Review web page http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/arts/saturdayreview.shtml Trailer Twitter @tds153 Listeners: please subscribe and/or leave a review and a rating. Twitter @isitrollingpod Spotify playlist Recorded 3rd October 2018
Jon Canter, comedy writer, reminds us of Bob’s physical resemblance to The Marx Brothers and of his “predictably perverse” humour (“I don’t think I’d heard sarcasm in popular song before Dylan”). He goes on to equate Bob’s Jewishness with his constant restlessness, whilst quoting a Randy Newman song about Bruce Springsteen. Jon somehow manages to relate the work of Dylan to Brexit, via a discussion of Bob’s attitude to “experts”. He praises the genius of Dylan’s early bootlegs and marvels at the man’s extraordinary emotional range (“He’s a Shakespearean songwriter”). Jon Canter is the author of three comic novels - Seeds of Greatness, A Short Gentleman and Worth. He has written stand-up comedy for Lenny Henry, the BBC2 series Posh Nosh for Arabella Weir, comment pieces for The Guardian, along with many radio and stage plays. The fourth series of his comedy ‘Believe It’ (with Richard Wilson) was broadcast recently on BBC Radio 4. Trailer Twitter: @joncanter3 Spotify playlist Recorded 20th September 2018
Sid Griffin, musician and writer, compares Dylan to Miles Davis but concludes “he’s a surprisingly normal person in an incredibly abnormal situation.” Other subjects: Bob’s open attendance at Minnesota sporting events, Dylan’s penchant for taking buses into rural Ireland and the secret of his 1960s skinny black jeans. We also discuss originality. Sid’s view: “If you take two lines from a Henry Timrod poem in the American Civil war and then have a line of your own and then you have two lines from some Japanese poet of the 19th Century and a line of your own and then a line of dialogue that Humphrey Bogart said to Claude Rains…that is an original song.” Kentucky native Sid Griffin is a successful solo artist as well as co-founder of the legendary bands The Long Ryders and The Coal Porters. His first book was a biography of Gram Parsons. Million Dollar Bash: Bob Dylan, The Band and The Basement Tapes is a must-read for any Dylan fan. Sid has contributed many articles to Mojo, Q and NME. He is often seen on BBC TV. Trailer Website www.sidgriffin.com Podcast The Sid Griffin Podcast (https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/call-all-coal-porters/id558495037) Twitter: @SidCPsGriffin Spotify playlist Recorded 1st October 2018
Sylvie Simmons, author of the definitive Leonard Cohen biography “I’m Your Man”, confesses to discovering both Bob and Leonard on the same tacky compilation album. Further revelations include her reaction to witnessing Born-Again Bob (“it was just a really boring show”) and Leonard’s unhappy reaction to the news of Bob’s conversion (“he was yelling and screaming”). Other topics include Dylan and Cohen’s Jewishness, their use of smoke and mirrors and, from the mouth of their mutual producer Bob Johnston (“Is it rolling, Bob?”), the true story of how the two musical giants first met. Originally from London, but a Californian resident for decades, Sylvie has written articles and reviews for nearly every major music magazine. Her first book was a biography of Mötley Crüe. She has published a collection of short stories, Too Weird for Ziggy, as well as biographies of Neil Young and Serge Gainsbourg. Her first album as a singer-songwriter, Sylvie, was released in 2014. Trailer Twitter: @sylviesimmons Spotify playlist Recorded 24th October 2018
Olivier Award-winning actor Kenneth Cranham wraps his RADA-trained vocal cords around Visions of Johanna and never stops. "You’ve got to go and see this guy Bob Dylan at the Royal Festival Hall,” he remembers being told in 1964. “He smokes joints all the time." So he bought four tickets - for a pound. Get ready for countless stories including Sam Shepard’s unique directing technique, a fond remembrance of Roger Lloyd Pack and blowing the minds of the Salvation Army with Dylan on his side. West End and Broadway veteran Kenneth Cranham was in Joe Orton’s Loot and Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party. He played the title role in ITV’s Shine On, Harvey Moon and has appeared in countless films, stretching from Oliver! through Hellbound: Hellraiser II to Layer Cake, Valkyrie and Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool. Trailer Spotify playlist Recorded 12th September 2018
In Episode 4, acclaimed writer Paul Morley - not widely known as a Bob Dylan man - proves his love. “Punk demolished a lot of people but...you weren’t going to demolish Bob. I always think of Before The Flood as like a proto-punk album.” Paul Morley is an English music journalist, well known for his work with the New Musical Express. He was a co-founder of the record label ZTT Records and was a member of the synthpop group Art of Noise. He has been a band manager, promoter, television presenter and staff member at The Royal Academy of Music. Paul’s many books include the Sunday Times bestseller The Age Of Bowie, Joy Division, The North (And Almost Everything In It), Words And Music and Nothing. Trailer Spotify playlist Recorded 10th September 2018
In Episode 3, singer and writer Barb Jungr compares Dylan and Leonard Cohen (having extensively recorded both), and talks about the constant relevance of Dylan’s lyrics: his “understanding of humanity…that really relentless gaze”. An award-winning song-stylist incorporating jazz, blues and European cabaret, Barb’s approach often includes radical re-readings of known writers (Bowie, Springsteen, The Beatles, Joni Mitchell) as well as original material. She has also written for children’s and musical theatre. Barb’s Dylan-related albums include Every Grain Of Sand (2002), Just Like A Woman (2008), Man In The Long Black Coat (2011) and Hard Rain (2014). Trailer Twitter: @barbjungr Spotify playlist Recorded 19th September 2018
n Episode 2, actor David Morrissey and his son Gene discuss Dylan’s take on heartbreak and darkness, as well as the art of listening to albums all the way through; especially Blood On The Tracks. David Morrissey started acting at the Everyman Youth Theatre in Liverpool, where he was born and raised. Following graduation from RADA, he worked with Cheek By Jowl, the Manchester Royal Exchange and the Royal National Theatre. The British Film Institute described David as "one of the most versatile English actors of his generation". His many television and film credits include the Brian Jones biopic Stoned; as well as Britannia, The Driver, State of Play, Gordon Brown in The Deal (RTS Award, Best Actor) and The Governor in The Walking Dead (two time Saturn Award nominee). Trailer Twitter: @davemorrissey64 Spotify playlist Recorded 5th September 2018
In our first episode: noted journalist, broadcaster and author David Hepworth talks about Dylan's jokes, the Nobel Prize and the time he interviewed him. David joined Smash Hits in 1979 and became the editor. He helped start magazines like Just Seventeen, Q, Empire, Mojo, More, Heat and The Word. He presented Whistle Test for the BBC; and Live Aid, in front of the largest TV audience in history. He interviewed Bob Dylan a year later, in July 1986. His books "1971: Never A Dull Moment" and "Uncommon People: The Rise and Fall of the Rock Stars" are both Sunday Times best-sellers. His new book is called "Nothing Is Real" and he podcasts at http://wordpodcast.co.uk/ Trailer Twitter: @davidhepworth Spotify playlist Recorded 3rd September 2018