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Is It Rolling, Bob? Talking Dylan


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  • 80. Sarah Lee

    53:06
    Guardian/Observer staff photographer Sarah Lee first watched Dont Look Back whilst perched on a crowded bed in a Camden flat with a struggling rock combo called Coldplay. As she’s now a BAFTA photographer, Sarah checks plenty of other names in this episode, including Idris Elba, Tom Hiddleston, Austin Butler and Cate Blanchett. On celebrity photography: “I like having no control. I like pressure. I’m always terrified”. On Dylan album cover photography: “He knows why it works. He doesn’t need Christopher Ricks to write 4000 words on it.” We also focus our telephoto lens on Sarah’s love of Joan Baez and her admiration for Cat Power’s recreation of Dylan’s 1966 gig at the Royal Albert Hall (“It felt like witchcraft”).Sarah Lee has been a photographer for The Guardian/Observer since 2000, specialising in portraiture, features and the Arts. Her work has appeared on the covers of Time magazine, Weekend and Billboard as well as in Rolling Stone, The Sunday Times and Vanity Fair. Commercial clients have included Leica, Visa, Apple and Transport for London. In 2012, she shot most of the portraits for Coldplay’s MX album. Sarah is a fellow of the British American Project and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. With the writer and broadcaster Laura Barton providing the introduction, her photography book West of West was published in 2020.WebsiteTwitterTrailerEpisode playlist on SpotifyListeners: please subscribe and/or leave a review and a rating.Twitter @isitrollingpodRecorded 21st April 2023

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  • 79. Rebecca Slaman

    50:53
    Rebecca Slaman, writer and social media guru, is a fan of Bob Dylan’s “perfect random meme humour.” Twitter? “Girls lust after him! But I’ve seen some pretty egregious stuff. Old people don’t understand the platform.” Dylan’s 1987 film Hearts of Fire? “He cannot act. How can he not act? He’s been acting his whole life. So bad - but so entertaining!” Songs like My Own Version of You? “They clue us into his mind palace. He radiates this energy.” We know you’ll enjoy this energetic episode from a born-again Dylan obsessive.Rebecca Slaman is a New York City-based writer. She graduated from Fordham University Lincoln Center in 2020 with a BA in English and Classics and has spoken at Bob Dylan conferences in Tulsa and Miami. Her subjects include Dylan fan culture and Dylan’s visual art. Rebecca has been a staff writer at The Fordham Observer, Grain of Salt Magazine and theatre satire publication The Broadway Beat. She likes “Wiggle Wiggle”.WebsiteTwitterTrailerEpisode playlist on SpotifyListeners: please subscribe and/or leave a review and a rating.Twitter @isitrollingpodRecorded 26th January 2023
  • 78. Bettye LaVette

    50:23
    In the 61st year of her singing career, five-time Grammy nominee Bettye LaVette warns us that our chat will be “straight, no chaser”. And she lives up to that promise. Bettye describes her surprise backstage meeting with Bob Dylan: “He kissed me on the mouth. It was no big deal. I’ve kissed Otis Redding and David Ruffin”. Working with Keith Richards on her Things Have Changed album of Dylan songs was more fun: “We were instant friends” (other friends/fans include Jon Bon Jovi, Pete Townshend and Margo Price). She recalls the Kennedy Center Honors where she stopped the show in front of Streisand, Aretha and Beyoncé, the Jazz Café gig where she threw out an arguing couple (“You can’t come starting no fight in the middle of my show!”) and why she loves working with her own band (“I’d rather be bit in the ass by a snaggletoothed mule than go to rehearsal”). The problem with Dylan’s Emotionally Yours versus her version? (“He was trying to say I love you. But he couldn’t. It was too simple”). Ladies and gentlemen, the one and only Miss Bettye LaVette…Bettye LaVette made her first record in 1962 at the age of sixteen. Her eclectic musical style combines elements of soul, blues, rock and roll, funk, gospel and country music. Despite recording singles and albums, touring in a Broadway musical and being a mainstay of the Northern Soul phenomenon in the UK, she didn’t begin to break through until 2003, with the release of her album A Woman Like Me (at the age of 57). Her albums The Scene of the Crime, Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook, Worthy, the Bob Dylan project Things Have Changed (which Greil Marcus named Best Album of 2018) and Blackbirds were subsequently nominated for Grammy Awards. She has been a guest on countless television programmes including Letterman and Later... with Jools Holland. In 2020, Bettye was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. Her new album LaVette! is out on 16th June.WebsiteTwitterTrailerEpisode playlist on SpotifyListeners: please subscribe and/or leave a review and a rating.Twitter @isitrollingpodRecorded 17th January 2023
  • 77. Simon Munnery

    46:26
    Like his main man Bob Dylan, comedian Simon Munnery knows a few things about heckles: aside from being arrested in Edinburgh for heckling Arthur Smith, he met his future wife when she heckled him in Australia. When not on the road, Simon joins his local Morris Men in Bedfordshire pubs, serenading fellow drinkers with his version of Blind Willie McTell. But he no longer owns any Dylan albums (“I’ve given them all away. I went through a period of being quite evangelist”). Munnery cracks us up with his drunken plot to meet Madonna at a record launch, enlightens us with his passionate appreciation of The Velvet Underground’s Beginning To See The Light, cracks us up again with his theory about Kate Bush swapping places with God and mystifies us as to why he played Kind of Blue on a loop for six months. There’s lots about Bob Dylan, too.Simon Munnery is “one of the most original and talented comics in the country” (The Observer). After Cambridge University in the mid-eighties, he worked with Steve Coogan, Patrick Marber, Richard Herring and Stewart Lee on an Edinburgh Fringe piece called The Dum Show. In the nineties, he performed sell-out solo shows at London theatres and international festivals, featuring characters including Alan Parker: Urban Warrior, The League Against Tedium and Buckethead. Simon starred in ITV’s flagship stand-up show Saturday Live, won a Sony Gold Radio Award for his BBC Radio 1 series Alan Parker’s 29 Minutes of Truth and was nominated for a British Comedy Award for his BBC2 show London Shouting. His TV series Attention Scum was directed by Stewart Lee. Simon appeared as Alan Parker on a music track by The Orb called Grey Clouds. He is currently touring Simon Munnery: Trials And Tribulations.WebsiteTwitterTrailerEpisode playlist on SpotifyListeners: please subscribe and/or leave a review and a rating.Twitter @isitrollingpodRecorded 10th January 2023
  • 76. Helen Barrett

    53:48
    Journalist Helen Barrett was lullabied to sleep as her mother sang Mr. Tambourine Man; she had it played at her mother’s funeral (“the Dylan version, not the Byrds cover”). To top it off, Baby, Stop Crying was the soundtrack to her Dylan-loving parents’ divorce. Helen analyses Dylan’s clothes (“John Lennon wasn’t given to copying people, but he copied Dylan’s look”), his album covers (“when I was nine, I wanted to be Sally Grossman”) and his current incarnation (“he’s the ringmaster of a magical circus show.”) Download this stylish episode and discover oddities like the name of the Soho shop where Bob Neuwirth purchased his famous orange and white “Highway 61” T-shirt.Helen Barrett is a writer and editor, based in London. From 2012 - 2021, she was a journalist at the Financial Times. She currently writes for the FT, the Telegraph, the Spectator and other publications on art, design, architecture, music, fashion, travel, modern life and popular culture. Her work includes features and opinion pieces which cover everything from the future of gastropubs to the new era of protest music. She also reviews theatre, dance, books and films.Bob Dylan clothes shopping in 1965Sandie Shaw photoWebsiteTwitterTrailerEpisode playlist on SpotifyListeners: please subscribe and/or leave a review and a rating.Twitter @isitrollingpodRecorded 20th December 2022
  • 75. Michael Bonner

    44:49
    Michael Bonner, editor of music magazine Uncut, takes on Dylan’s 2022 UK concerts, as well as The Philosophy of Modern Song (“Dylan mimicking the critical noise around Dylan”). Other topics include an in-depth dissection of Key West (“ambient, amniotic and immersive”), Dylan’s “thing that he has about dual guitarists” and a couple of unfortunate Donovan concerts. Plus David Lynch, Sam Shepard, Tom Verlaine, Nick Cave and novelist Jim Thompson. Bonner considers the difference between “artists who allow themselves to be manacled to the expectations of their fans” versus an artist who continues to be concerned with “what’s real and what is not” in this rough and rowdy episode.For Uncut, Michael Bonner has interviewed Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, David Gilmour, Willie Nelson, Jeff Tweedy and Daniel Lanois, among many others. After working for magazines including Melody Maker and Deadline, he joined Uncut in 1997 as Film Editor, before becoming editor in 2018. He masterminded two of Uncut's most successful free CDs, both about Dylan: a Best Of The Bootleg Series (2018) and a 2021 album of bespoke cover versions, released as part of Uncut's celebrations of Bob’s 80th birthday.WebsiteTwitterTrailerEpisode playlist on SpotifyListeners: please subscribe and/or leave a review and a rating.Twitter @isitrollingpodRecorded 29th November 2022 
  • 74. Stewart Lee

    58:38
    Comedian and columnist Stewart Lee remains “grateful to the people who brainwashed me into listening to Bob Dylan during a period of emotional and physical weakness.” He remembers seeing Dylan live at Hyde Park with his kids (“one of the greatest nights of my life”) as well as the time he alienated the audience at a Teenage Cancer Trust Benefit. “It was a good gig. 'Cause it was true. Self-sabotage keeps you alive. Chaos and confusion create a bubble that protects you.” Stew namechecks Dylan, Mark E. Smith, Jerry Sadowitz, William Blake, Roky Erickson and Mozart as fellow artists who “develop a split personality that says: what if I make him do this?” Warning: listeners should keep in mind that Mr Lee is “a cultural bully from the Oxbridge Mafia who wants to appear morally superior but couldn’t cut the mustard on a panel game.” (Lee Mack)This is a review (Dominic Maxwell, The Times) of Stewart’s current show, Basic Lee: "If someone says they’re going back to basics, can they be trusted? When Stewart Lee tells you he is going back to basics you sniff only fresh mischief in his chortlingly bold smush of sarcasm, satire, self-commentary and alternately lugubrious and exultant flights of fancy. It is hard, Lee tells us, to try to be funny in these days of frenetic social and political change. So he bookends this new show, which he wants to stay relevant until its tour ends in 2024, with a reworking of a routine he first performed at the start of his career in 1989. Self-plagiarism? Actually, Lee could profitably spend the rest of his career rejigging old routines, much as Miles Davis was able to find endless new takes on Stella by Starlight. At his best, as he delivers a comedy show that is a kind of lecture about comedy shows, he cheeks the crowd so surely that the effect is insulting yet intimate. Basic Lee is one of his more pretzel-shaped evenings. If its inner logic isn’t always easy to grasp, who cares when something is rendered with this much wit and verve? What’s it all about? It’s all about two hours long, it’s all very clever, but, basically, Basic Lee is very funny.""What would it be like if Bob Dylan from the 60's took a look a stand-up comedy today?"The Dream Syndicate's cover of Blind Willie McTell (1988)Steve Wynn, Murder Most Foul (2020)WebsiteTwitterTrailerEpisode playlist on SpotifyListeners: please subscribe and/or leave a review and a rating.Twitter @isitrollingpodRecorded 16th November 2022