Pressing On

On November 17, 1978, Bob Dylan was performing in San Diego at the San Diego Sports Arena. He recalled an incident that happened onstage: “Towards the end of the show someone out in the crowd … knew I wasn’t feeling too well. I think they could see that. And they threw a silver cross onContinue reading “Pressing On”

License to Kill

The concept of having a “license to kill” is popular in espionage fiction and films. The origin of that device is commonly thought to be from the James Bond novels by Ian Fleming. In the first James Bond novel, 1953’s Casino Royale, Fleming introduces the “00 Section” of MI6, Britain’s secret service. This “00” sectionContinue reading “License to Kill”

The Groom’s Still Waiting at the Altar

Nick Tosches writes in his book Where Dead Voices Gather: “Some people are so cool, so lie-down hip, that they can steal the right breezes simply by breathing…inhale one vision, exhale another. To steal consciously is the way of art and of craft. To steal through breath is the way of wisdom and of artContinue reading “The Groom’s Still Waiting at the Altar”

Foot of Pride

Like “Blind Willie McTell,” “Foot of Pride” was originally recorded in 1983, left off of Infidels, and finally released on The Bootleg Series, Vol 1-3: Rare & Unreleased 1961-1991. The song has a slinky groove with minimal instrumentation; the only musical solos are occasional harmonica flourishes by Dylan. The song maintains this spare sound throughoutContinue reading “Foot of Pride”

Every Grain of Sand

In 1985, Cameron Crowe asked Bob Dylan about the song “Every Grain of Sand” for the Biograph box set. Dylan said: “That was an inspired song that came to me. It wasn’t really too difficult. I felt like I was just putting words down that were coming from somewhere else, and I just stuck itContinue reading “Every Grain of Sand”

Changing of the Guards

Jonathan Cott asked Dylan the following question about songs on his recent release Street-Legal during a November 16, 1978 Rolling Stone interview: “As in a dream, lines from one song seem to connect with lines from another. For example: ‘I couldn’t tell her what my private thoughts were / But she had some way ofContinue reading “Changing of the Guards”

Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door

Unlike “Billy 4” which was written before the movie Pat Garret & Billy the Kid went into production, “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” was inspired by the movie itself.  The song plays during the death scene of the sheriff who dies in a shootout alongside his wife. The sheriff is played by cowboy movie character actorContinue reading “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door”

Angelina

ConcertinaHyenaSubpoenaArgentinaArena When I was first getting into Bob Dylan, I laughed about this song with my old friend and Dylan running mate Mike Vago (author of the Wiki Wormhole column and host of the podcast Why Is This Not a Movie?). Namely how this song seemed like a dare: “Hey Bob, write a song withContinue reading “Angelina”