His voice works for me but it may be for others to bring out the musical quality of his
songs. Sheryl Crow, for example, recorded a fine ‘Mississippi’ and Adele turned ‘Make
You Feel My Love’ into a standard. On this album, the most likely winner is ‘I’ve Made
Up My Mind to Give Myself to You’, despite its clumsy title. It would benefit from a
smokey, jazz arrangement from, say, Norah Jones.
On the other hand, there are songs that are too arcane for other performers and I would
need to study mythology to appreciate ‘Mother of Muses’. Similarly, I am not sure if
‘Crossing the Rubicon’ has anything to do with Julius Caesar and it certainly contains a
verse that is as bitchy as ‘Like a Rolling Stone’.
The most unlikely song is ‘My Own Version of You’ in which Dylan is visiting graveyards
as, like Dr Frankenstein, he wants to create another being. Dylan is not sure how to do it
but he is inspired by Al Pacino in Scarface and Marlon Brando in The Godfather. He
wants someone who can play the piano as good as Leon Russell. As you can appreciate,
this song is hitting out in all directions. ‘Black Rider’ is an apocalyptic song of marital
infidelity in which he plans to chop off his rival’s arm. Is this to get the rhyme right or is
he making a strong point here?
I’ve recently been playing Jimmy Buffett’s new album, Life on the Flip Side, which is
about life in a tropical paradise, notably Key West. Dylan’s musings in ‘Key West’ are a
long way from Buffett’s all-dancing, hard-drinking life-style and the sound is more
subdued. The accordion adds local colour and gives the track the feel of of the Basement
This is Bob Dylan’s first album since he won the Nobel Prize for Literature and it is unlike
any other album by any other artist. Nearly 80 years old and Bob Dylan can still surprise
us and Rough and Rowdy Ways is set to be a No.1 album in both Britain and America.
Don’t expect him to explain the songs as he told the New York Times: ‘I’m just as
bewildered by my songs as anybody else.’ Let’s hope he can do it again: I don’t think he’s
Anyone who wants a signed copy of the book (signed by me, not Dylan!) can order one
from here. Many thanks.