Bootleg Series v5: Live 1975



I need to write this one so that I can move on.

2002 saw the release of Bob Dylan’s Bootleg Series v5: Live 1975, The Rolling Thunder Revue. I’ve just listened to this double-CD twice and I’m enraptured by it. There is not a single bad performance on here. In fact, the album is so good that it actually reminds me of the few things that I don’t like. For instance, I don’t like “One More Cup of Coffee” here, but it is a good version, which, I guess, means that I don’t much like that song. That was instructive.

For me, this is clearly one of Dylan’s best albums, and if you reduced me to only a couple of albums that I could ever listen to by him ever again, this would be one of the ones that I would save. This is one of my favourite eras of his music, and the selection here is fantastic. Over the course of this year I’ve been slowly acquiring bootlegs of all of his 1975 performances where I can – I have dozens now – and I could even imagine extending this long and wasted year to another one where I listen to the entire tour. Bootleg Series v5 takes a lot of that work away. I can’t say for certain that these are the absolute best versions of each of these songs from the tour, but if they’re not they must be pretty close.

Moving back in time like this has been a bit of a revelation. While I’ve been enjoying early-2000s Dylan, this is a stark reminder of what he used to be – particularly in terms of vocal control. I actually think he is slightly better live on his early Gospel tours, but I prefer the song selection on this tour. This is really prime material.

People that nitpick Bootleg Series v5 note that it doesn’t really mimic the format of the shows. That’s a fair complaint. Some bootlegs give you the whole deal – with the sets by all the supporting acts – and those are generally the ones that I prefer. Obviously, a lot of Dylan fans aren’t buying double or triple disc sets to hear Roger McGuinn. It might have been nice to release an alternate version structured that way. Nonetheless, you do get Dylan and Baez on four tracks here, which gives some sense of what was going on. Very clear reminder this morning while driving my wife to the airport that Baez is the only person to ever successfully duet with Dylan – the two of them are great together in the same way that Dylan and almost anyone else is always terrible. I’d quickly buy a Dylan/Baez live duets through the years album.

I do think that there are a couple of missed opportunities here. One of them is “Sara”. Though this is a brilliant version of a song that Dylan only played live 33 times (and never since January 1976 – I can’t imagine that he’ll ever play it again, but I’ve been surprised before), part of me would have liked to have seen them include his final performance of that (though, technically, 1976) in Houston (acoustic guitar and fiddle) just for the pathos of the whole thing. I also would’ve liked a “Simple Twist of Fate” from the period where he was messing more deliberately with the lyrics and rewriting what is, on the album, an absolutely flawless song.

Nonetheless, this is a great compilation. All of the (then unreleased) songs from Desire are included (“Romance in Durango” (with a shout-out to Larry Sloman!), “Isis” (missing a verse), “Oh, Sister”, “One More Cup of Coffee”, and “Sara”. There’s really not a dud on the whole thing.

This was, I believe, the first Dylan album that I ever downloaded. I don’t have the CDs, but I was curious to have this album even after years of not really listening to Dylan at all. At this point it was clear to me that the Bootleg Series was a seriously great project – all of the five first volumes are absolutely essential listening. Look, I’m putting this one away for the rest of the week. I can’t get trapped back in 1975 when there’s still so much to 2002. I mean, Dylan’s going back to the Newport Folk Festival – the scene of the original crime – almost forty years later. Now who wouldn’t want to listen to that?

2002 Grammy Awards



This is nothing much more than a placeholder post, sorry.

Bob Dylan came out of the 2002 Grammy Awards with another statuette – this time for Best Contemporary Folk Album for “Love and Theft”. This continues a new trend in which the Grammy’s love Dylan as he enters into his distinguished old man phase.

2002 was the year of the O’ Brother soundtrack cleaning up, and it featured a lovely performance by Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch, and Emmylou Harris followed by Ralph Stanley and the Soggy Bottom Boys. You should watch that here:

Elsewhere on the show, Dylan and his band performed “Cry A While”, one of the songs I like least from “Love and Theft”. That’s a picture of him from the show up top, and here’s a link to the audio, but I can’t for the life of me find any video of it, which is surprising – I figured everything was on the internet by this point.

This version of the song isn’t particularly noteworthy – pretty faithful to the album version. If I find the video I’ll throw it in here.

“Love and Theft”



Holidays and travel have conspired to stop me from turning the clock to 2002 on my Dylan year, since I’ve needed to find the chance to write about the 2001 album “Love and Theft” (please note: the quotation marks are part of the title, although it seems like less than half of the reviews of it seem to care). This was Dylan’s first new album in a month (four years in real time), and it was another well-received work. It peaked at number five on the charts despite the fact that it generated no singles.

“Love and Theft” has been a really tough album for me to get my head around. I only listened to two albums this past week: “Love and Theft” and a bootleg of 2001 live performances of all the songs from the same album. Dylan rotated virtually the entire album into his live sets very quickly after the album was released, although he didn’t vary them from the album cuts nearly as much as he has done with some of his other recent music.

“Love and Theft” was released on September 11, 2001, and so it was received into a deeply unsettled world. With so much going on culturally and politically, it is almost surprising that the album wasn’t completely overlooked and forgotten. I think that this is one where the critical consensus rolled out gradually over some time. It isn’t an album that I immediately grasped this week. I don’t think that I had ever listened to it before this past week (perhaps once) and my first impressions varied a great deal from my final impressions.

Initially, I listened to this as a sort of pre-Dylan Dylan album. “Love and Theft” is filled with simple blues riffs, and jazz numbers that would have sounded plausible on the radio in the years before Dylan’s birth (though many of the lyrics would not have). A lot of the songs like pre-folk music, as if Dylan is excavating the sounds that filled the airwaves before he and his cohort arrived. Some of those songs still sound like that to me. Initially I was quite excited by the jazzier numbers, but as the week wore on I found myself preferring some of the more traditionally Dylan-y songs better. I do like the album as a collection of songs – I’m not really sure that there are songs here that I dislike – though I find it sort of hard to listen to as an album, if by album you mean some sort of consistent statement or tone. It lacks that – it is all over the map in a lot of ways. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. The live versions play a little bit more consistent because some of the elements that make songs unique on the album (the banjo on “High Water”, for instance) disappear in the live versions, making the songs seem a little more consistent.

This is one of those albums where it is probably best to go song by song:

“Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum”. I had low hopes for this one just based on the title, but I quite like it. On the album this song is all about the fills – the jarring sharp guitar bits at the end of each line – which I love. The lyrics are dark and somewhat hopeless, filled with references to New Orleans. Lyrically I’m not sure that it amounts to all that much, but the production here is really strong. It’s a good song to lead things off.

“Mississippi”. By far my favourite song on the whole album as of this writing. This is an odd one. I knew this song primarily because The Dixie Chicks covered it on their live album. I didn’t realize that it was a Dylan song that they were covering, and I became very used to that version (which actually owes a lot to the Sheryl Crow version). Dylan does the song at about half the speed of The Dixie Chicks. When I first started listening to it I couldn’t get the Chicks version out of my mind. Today, I listened to their version and couldn’t get the Dylan version out of my mind – he has sort of completely swept them aside for me. That was an interesting accomplishment. Anyway, this is a really great song. Here’s the Chicks version:

“Summer Days”. This is the first song that gives the album a really retro feel. This is a pretty straight rockabilly song. Musically it is pretty predictable and lyrically it doesn’t do much. This sounds like it could have been recorded by any of a hundred retro rockabilly rockers over the years (I mean, the Stray Cats could have recorded this). This song has my favourite lines on the whole album:

She says, “You can’t repeat the past.” I say, “You can’t? What do you mean,
you can’t? Of course you can.”
It’s the tripled use of “can’t” that makes that so bizarre.

“Bye and Bye”. This one is even more retro. Bing Crosby could have recorded this, or Frank Sinatra. Certainly would have sounded different, since Dylan’s voice croaks a few times here, and Crosby and Sinatra didn’t sing songs that were this dark. This is a light-toned, velvety song with this as the final verse:

Papa gone mad, mamma, she’s feeling sad
I’m gonna baptize you in fire so you can sin no more
I’m gonna establish my rule through civil war
Gonna make you see just how loyal and true a man can be

This is one of the most unusual songs that Dylan had recorded on one of his own albums at this point, what with the jazzy organ and drumming. If you don’t pay any attention to it, it sounds like nothing. If you listen to the words, it sounds like he’s losing his mind. He didn’t play this live for the first time until October 2002.

“Lonesome Day Blues”. This is retro in a totally different way – a straight blues song. At first I had almost no interest in this one. The repetitive, predictable blues riffs sounded like anyone could have written them. Then, once again, the lyrics start to sneak up on you and you start to ask: “What the hell is this guy doing?”

Samantha Brown lived in my house for about four or five months
Samantha Brown lived in my house for about four or five months
Don’t know how it looked to other people
I never slept with her even once

All of these songs that sound like they could have been played in the 20s wind up having odd sorts of twists.

“Floater (Too Much to Ask)”. This sounds akin to “Bye and Bye”. Another one that Crosby or Sinatra might have crooned. Same drumming, same tempo, this time abetted by some fiddling and some organ. This one has the best lyrics of any song on the whole album:

My grandfather was a duck trapper
He could do it with just dragnets and ropes
My grandmother could sew new dresses out of old cloth
I don’t know if they had any dreams or hopesAt the same time, this is the one that opened the whole plagiarism can of worms.

Let’s stop for a second. There are two lines in this song that Dylan is accused of lifting from Junichi Saga’s Confessions of a Yakuza: “I”m not quite as cool or forgiving as I sound” is comparable to Saga’s “I’m not as cool or forgiving as I might have sounded” and “My old man, he’s like some feudal lord” is akin “My ole man would sit there like a feudal lord”. I am going to come back to these accusations particularly around the discussion of Chronicles because there is an awful lot to say here. Long version short: the album is called “Love and Theft”. The album uses quotation marks in its title. I think Dylan knows exactly what he is doing.

“High Water (For Charley Patton)”. On my first listen this was the song that I liked the best, and it is still up there near the top, not the least because of the banjo playing. This isn’t the first Dylan song with banjo, but it is the first where the banjo is the most prominent instrument and where it sounds like a banjo song (Larry Campbell, one of Dylan’s touring guitarists, plays the banjo here). I don’t know, there’s nothing on this song that I don’t like – it’s one of my favourite things from him in a long time. Lyrics (“They got Charles Darwin trapped out there on Highway Five”), music, vocal performance, the whole thing is flawless as far as I’m concerned. The high point of the album as far as I’m concerned. By the way: Why is Dylan not accused of plagiarizing the line “The cuckoo is a pretty bird, she warbles as she flies”? It’s a standard folk song line.

“Moonlight”. This is almost the same as “Bye and Bye”, slow, meandering light jazz. “Bye and Bye”, “Floater” and “Moonlight” could all be the basis for an entirely different album entirely.

“Honest With Me”. A total whiplash change of pace from the previous song. Uptempo, with trademark inscrutable imagery in the lyrics. This is my least favourite song on the album, although I don’t mind the live version of it. I don’t like the guitar fills that they use on the album version, but those are toned down live. This is a pretty straight forward Dylan rocker.

“Po’ Boy”. This one, however, I just love. It is much better on the album than it is in any live version that I have heard yet. The minimal instrumentation and the foregrounding of Dylan’s sort of failing voice – he sounds like he’s barely hanging on to this one, he can’t get up there to hit that note on “Po’” and his voice cracks almost every time. Love the guitar here, love the lyrics:

Othello told Desdemona, “I’m cold, cover me with a blanket
By the way, what happened to that poison wine?”
She says, “I gave it to you, you drank it”
Poor boy, layin’ ’em straight—pickin’ up the cherries fallin’ off the plate

I would have made this the final song on the album if it had been me.

“Cry a While”. This is a fairly familiar one. It starts as a simple blues song, then picks up the tempo, then slows down again. Angry Dylan with a bitter anti-love song. We know the all too well, but he’s done this genre a lot better than this.

“Sugar Baby”. Of course this is also a great final song for this album. I guess maybe this should go last, but maybe they could have lost “Cry a While” because this following “Po’ Boy” would have been quite the gut punch. A little bit of guitar, some organ, and Dylan’s once again failing voice. The whole thing comes down to the pacing and the phrasing of the chorus. The verses are long, slow, dirge-like and then he rushes through the short, staccato lines of the chorus. It’s a beautiful contrast. Here’s how he ends the whole album:

Your charms have broken many a heart and mine is surely one

You got a way of tearing the world apart. Love, see what you done

Just as sure as we’re living, just as sure as you’re born

Look up, look up—seek your Maker—’fore Gabriel blows his horn
Sugar Baby, get on down the line

You ain’t got no sense, no how

You went years without me

Might as well keep going now
I have to think that with every album Dylan has made in the past fifteen years there has been the looming possibility that this could be the final one, and that if it were, this would be the final thing he’d say to us. This might’ve been a fitting end.

So. Really strong album. In some ways it sounds like it has about three albums in it – a crooning album; a blues album; an album of new Dylan material that stretches from the past couple of albums. Ultimately it is that last one that I personally prefer: “Mississippi”, “High Water”, “Po’ Boy” and “Sugar Baby” are the surefire keepers for me. Most of the rest is interesting, but those four are fantastic.

Here’s Sheryl Crow also doing “Mississippi”. She tells a little Dylan anecdote to start, and talks about real estate:

Two Covers




Whatever else one might say about Bob Dylan, he has impeccable taste in music. As we’ve moved into 2001, I’ve been listening to “Love and Theft” a ton this week, and I’m fascinating by the particular ways that it harkens back to a pre-Dylan musical era. More on that later this week. He also released two non-“Love and Theft” tracks in 2001, both of which were covers and both of which he recorded in 2000.

The first was “I Can’t Get You Off of My Mind” from the Hank Williams tribute album, Timeless. Let’s start with Hank from 1947:

At first Dylan’s version doesn’t sound to my ear like it dates from 2000 – his voice sounds younger here than it has in quite some time – but wait for the second verse, there comes the croak. It’s a jazzy little number driven by the bass-playing (for a more innovative take on Williams, try Beck and Jon Brion’s version of “Your Cheatin’ Heart” from the same album).

It’s a pretty faithful version of an artist that Dylan has long admired. If you recall, Dylan and Baez sing Hank Williams songs together in a scene from Dont Look Back:

The Dylan song is not the lynchpin of Timeless, although it is the first track. It’s a good compilation as these things go, with Sheryl Crow, Keith Richards, Tom Petty, Lucinda Williams, and Johnny Cash among others. Lots of love for Hank.


A month later Dylan appeared on a second tribute album, Good Rockin’ Tonight – The Legacy of Sun Records, doing a cover of Warren Smith’s rockabilly song, “Red Cadillac and a Black Moustache”. Here is Smith:

Dylan’s version is musically a bit more full, but, again, pretty faithful to the original version. The Good Rockin’ Tonight album is another all-star cast – Paul McCartney, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, Elton John, Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, Sheryl Crow (again!)… and a lot of the music is quite faithful to the stylings of Elvis and Carl Perkins. There was quite the excavation of America’s musical past going on in fall 2001, probably tied to the fact that the mid-century explosion of things like rockabilly was now fifty years in the past.

I don’t think that either of these Dylan songs is particularly essential listening, though both are fine. They do seem to begin to set the table for “Love and Theft”, with its jazzy, retro musical stylings, and are probably most notable as a kind of warm-up to that album. If these had come out in 2000 I think that they might have been taken as a signal that Dylan had once again dried up as a songwriter. As it was, they were released shortly after one of his most heralded albums, so there was no such discussion. I actually don’t think that there was much discussion of these at all – I don’t think either album got a lot of attention in the immediate aftermath of the attacks of September 11, 2001 – and the compilations sort of faded despite their incredible pedigrees.

Halfway to EGOT



For some reason I have a really clear memory of the fact that it Philip Michael Thomas of Miami Vice who coined the term “EGOT” – meaning the act of winning an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony. Wikipedia even confirms that he was the person who came up with the term, though it doesn’t link to the article that I read. My best guess would be an interview in Time, because we subscribed to that when I was fifteen and Miami Vice was first on the air (I never watched even a single episode – still haven’t). I’m not sure why I would have read an interview with him, but apparently I did. I mean, I have a bizarre, crystal-clear memory of the idea of EGOT from when I was fifteen years old. I’ve been somewhat fascinated by the accomplishment ever since.

Wikipedia has an entry (of course) on those who have accomplished it. There are twelve in total, with composer Robert Lopez being the most recent to complete it (winning an Oscar for Frozen this year). There is controversy about people whose Emmy is a daytime Emmy (Lopez, who has two daytime Emmys for Wonderpets is in this category, as is Whoopi Goldberg), but those obviously count. Duh. Non-competitive awards also clearly do not (Lifetime Achievement and so on), so Barbra Streisand, Liza Minelli, and Harry Belafonte all have work to do. I feel like James Earl Jones could still make it.

Philip Michael Thomas, of course, is still working on it. In fact, he hasn’t even been nominated for any of these awards as yet, but I’m sure he’s still out there, grinding. It’s a tough club. Twelve people. Songwriting is a good way to go (Richard Rodgers, Marvin Hamlisch, Jonathan Tunick) although you don’t really have to be a singer (though with the Grammy it likely helps). Whoopi’s Grammy is for a comedy album, for example, as was that of Mike Nichols, while Mel Brooks won Grammys for comedy albums and for songwriting on The Producers. Only four people who are known primarily as performers have won the EGOT: Goldberg, Helen Hayes, Rita Moreno, and John Gielgud (his Grammy was for a recorded version of a play). Mike Nichols is the biggest winner of the group, with fifteen total awards (including nine Tonys).

Dylan already had several Grammys, including three for the album Time Out of Mind. In 2001 he added the Oscar to get him halfway there. “Things Have Changed” won the Oscar for Best Original Song, having been written for Wonderboys. Dylan appeared on the Oscar broadcast by remote from his tour in Sydney, Australia – live from a television studio (it would have been sometime in the morning his time). It’s a good version:

Immediately following that, Dylan picked up the prize, and gave a really comprehensible speech, which was close to a first for him. He seems to have liked getting this award (as opposed to the Polar Prize) since he toured with it for a while, placing it on a speaker onstage.

Dylan also won a Golden Globe for the song in January, 2001, but that’s not worth mentioning because, well, Golden Globe. Even Philip Michael Thomas was nominated for a Golden Globe, and you’ll notice he didn’t include that on his bucket list. Dylan’s speech to the foreign press was considerably less heartfelt:

It seems increasingly unlikely that Dylan will pick up the Emmy (Dharma and Greg probably didn’t do much to help him) and seems even less likely that he’ll get the Tony. Not impossible, but not likely.

If you’re handicapping at home: Likely to complete the EGOT are Kate Winslett (needs a Tony, could probably get one if she does any major star turn on Broadway) and Al Pacino (needs a Grammy, should read an audiobook). Cyndi Lauper needs an Oscar and should start cranking out songs for Disney musicals. Cynthia Nixon is a pretty good bet to eventually get a showy supporting role and pick up her missing Oscar. I also have to figure that Trey Parker and Matt Stone will eventually pick up the Oscar they so desperately want.

Polar Music Prize



I feel sort of bad for the poor king of Sweden. In 2000 Bob Dylan was awarded the Polar Music Prize (with Isaac Stern), and he flew to Stockholm to receive it in mid-May. He was clearly not in a good mood. He looked terribly uncomfortable and he skipped the dinner where he was supposed to perform and flew to Helsinki, because he had a tour date the next evening.

The Polar Music Prize, I just learned, was founded in 1992 and funded by ABBA money. So that’s something. Conceived as a sort of musical Nobel, although given to two people every year, they have honoured an extremely eclectic group of performers and composers, beginning with the likes of Paul McCartney and Witold Lutaslawski and more recently Youssou N’Dour and Kaija Saariaho. Dylan received the prize in its ninth year, after artists who he had strongly influenced (Bruce Springsteen, Joni Mitchell). It doesn’t seem like he cared one iota.

With three YouTube clips we can reconstruct most of the ceremony as it pertains to Dylan. In the first, Princess Christina basically botches the task of reading prepared remarks off of a piece of paper – she calls Dylan a “songer” early on and it never really gets any better than that. When the time comes to give Dylan his plaque (what an awful prize, by the way) – I wouldn’t hang that in my home – they essentially fumble the handover. You can watch all of that here:

The whole thing falls apart with this second video. Here Bryan Ferry does a version of “Falling In Love Again” followed by “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”. This is the worst version of that song I have ever heard:

The whole thing is just a disaster. Ferry’s “ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha hard” is probably the nadir (though the outfits on the violin players don’t help), but the whole thing almost made me hate this song. It is really dreadfully bad. The only thing notable about it is that it produces this reaction from Dylan:

Screen Shot 2014-10-05 at 9.27.26 AM

Poor Bryan Ferry. I can only hope that he couldn’t see Dylan from the stage. I can’t even imagine what it might be like to be singing in honour of someone like Bob Dylan at a televised event and to have him look at me like that. Traumatizing, I’m sure.

Better is this version of “What Good Am I?” by Louise Hoffsten. This is a perfectly nice, perfectly safe version of an underrated Dylan song:

Anyway, the whole evening seems like it was a bit of a farce. You bring in Bob Dylan, he takes your plaque (and the cheque), glares at everyone, and then he splits before dinner. I’d have been bummed. It’s not easy being king.

“If Dogs Run Free” Live


Back in March, I wrote about New Morning “I will NOT be listening to “If Dogs Run Free” again” because it is, simply but, a goddawful song. So imagine my surprise, listening to the bootleg compilation Dropping Songs Down Into Our Ears (highlights from the late-2000 tour of Europe, with a focus on the UK) to hear that song at the end of the first CD.

Dylan first played “If Dogs Run Free” live in Munster, Germany on October 1, 2000, and that is the version on the bootleg. The crowd cheers the first lines out of recognition and/or shock and/or sheer habit (Dylan fans seem to cheer the first line of anything). The version is actually pretty faithful to the album version, without the skatting female singer. By 2000 it’s not good, but it has lost some of its terribleness, or I’ve just become nostalgic for March of this year.

Dylan has performed “If Dogs Run Free” 104 times – 22 in 2000, and most recently in 2005. It’s still not something that I would look forward to, though. Dylan hasn’t played every song he ever wrote live (not even close), and he hasn’t even played all of his early material (from Freewheelin’ he has never played “Down the Highway”), but his excavation of older material is really fascinating. Thirty years after recording one of the worst things he ever did, he suddenly feels the urge to start playing it live, and it becomes a regular piece of his set for most of the rest of the year. I wonder what set him off?

Here’s the album version, which I didn’t link to earlier. Enjoy!

“Things Have Changed”



The first new Bob Dylan song in quite some time also happens to be one of his better songs in quite some time. Funny how that works out sometimes.

“Things Have Changed” was recorded for the soundtrack of Curtis Hanson’s 2000 film, Wonder Boys. I’ve seen that movie and read the Michael Chabon novel. I like the movie – it captures a lot of what is great about the book (particularly the comic moments), and the major drawback is that the entire day that Grady (Michael Douglas) spends with his ex-wife’s family is excised (it probably would have required the film to be another forty minutes longer). This is probably Douglas’s best ever performance, and the whole cast is really strong. I had intended to rematch the opening just to hear the song being used, and I wound up watching the whole thing. It’s sneaky that way.

I’m not sure I’d say that this is the best song that Dylan wrote for a movie soundtrack (“Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” would be a strong contender for that title), but it perfectly used here. If you wanted to knock it, you’d probably say that it is a little too on the nose about the plot and characterization in the film. Only the first verse is played during the opening credits (the whole song is played over the closing credits), and this is how it introduces the film’s lost lead, creative writing professor Grady Tripp:

A worried man with a worried mind
No one in front of me and nothing behind
There’s a woman on my lap and she’s drinking champagne
Got white skin, got assassin’s eyes
I’m looking up into the sapphire-tinted skies
I’m well dressed, waiting on the last train

Standing on the gallows with my head in a noose
Any minute now I’m expecting all hell to break loose

People are crazy and times are strange
I’m locked in tight, I’m out of range
I used to care, but things have changed

This is the great old Dylan back – fantastic, potent imagery coupled the fatalism that has haunted his last few recording projects. I love this song.

It’s not the only Dylan that shows up in the soundtrack either – Hanson walks us through a lot of great late-period Dylan, incluindg “Shooting Star”, “Not Dark Yet” (given a prominent spot when Grady rescues the young James from his parents’s house – an absolutely on point use of that song), and “Buckets of Rain”. Three Dylan compatriots also get used quite well: John Lennon (“Watching the Wheels”), Leonard Cohen (“Waiting for the Miracle”), and Neil Young (“Old Man”). Of these, only the Young felt out of place – Hanson plays it when Grady betrays James by sending him back to his parents and it seems like such a direct literalization of the sentiments of the scene that it didn’t work for me at all.

The music video for “Things Have Changed” was also directed by Curtis Hanson, who drops Dylan into stylized pieces of the film so that it looks like he’s signing directly to Robert Downey, Jr. or hanging out in a diner with Tobey McGuire. It’s one of the better Dylan videos in quite some time. It has an odd moment at the end where Dylan morphs into Michael Douglas. That hat does absolutely nothing for Dylan. You’ll see what I mean:

The disappointment of the video is that they don’t include Dylan standing on Grady’s front porch in the rain while wearing a pink bathrobe. Somewhere there’s an alternate universe where Dylan’s career quickly faded out and he’s a pot-smoking 60s relic spinning his wheels in a pink bathrobe. Fortunately, that’s not the world we live in.

I want to note that this was the first album on the Dylan project that I accessed through Spotify, which has just launched in Canada. They have a lot of Dylan, which is useful to me for when home sharing isn’t cooperating for me, but apparently perhaps not Young or Van Morrison, because both of those songs were blocked out on Spotify Canada. That was frustrating.