Is It Rolling, Bob? Talking Dylan

Actors Kerry Shale and Lucas Hare talk to interesting people about Bob Dylan. And lots of other things.
Sunday, April 16, 2023

Bettye LaVette

Ep. 78
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 AppleEpisode playlist on SpotifyListeners: please subscribe and/or leave a review and a rating.Twitter @isitrollingpodRecorded 17th January 2023
Sunday, March 19, 2023

Simon Munnery

Ep. 77
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 AppleEpisode playlist on SpotifyListeners: please subscribe and/or leave a review and a rating.Twitter @isitrollingpodRecorded 10th January 2023
Sunday, December 25, 2022

Stewart Lee

Ep. 74
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 AppleEpisode playlist on SpotifyListeners: please subscribe and/or leave a review and a rating.Twitter @isitrollingpodRecorded 16th November 2022
Sunday, November 27, 2022

Matt Rowland Hill

Ep. 73
Writer Matt Rowland Hill is well placed to comment on Dylan’s ‘Property of Jesus’ years: “the kind of fire-and-brimstone Christianity that I grew up with was exactly the kind that Dylan converted into. He was ripe to be captured”. At the age of 17, Matt wangled his way past security in London, hoping to accost his hero, only to told by members of Dylan’s band that “Bob’s getting his pre-show acupuncture”. He did, however, manage to spend a drunken evening with legendary literary critic Christopher Ricks, discussing Dylan. As a former addict, Oxford literature graduate Matt is also well placed to give advice on what to do if you’re being watched while waiting for your man (“the police won’t pay any attention to anyone waiting to buy Class A drugs if they’re reading Jane Austen”). This is an episode that accesses areas we have never entered before. Don’t miss it.Matt Rowland Hill grew up as the son of a preacher man in an evangelical Christian church in South Wales. After a loss of faith in his late teens, Matt began his search for salvation elsewhere, turning to books before developing a growing relationship with drugs. He became addicted to crack and heroin in his early twenties, an ordeal that stretched over a decade. His memoir of that time, Original Sins, published in 2022, was nominated for the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction. Matt has also written for The Independent, The Guardian, The Literary Review, The New Statesman and The Daily Telegraph. He lives in London.TwitterTrailerEpisode playlist on AppleEpisode playlist on SpotifyListeners: please subscribe and/or leave a review and a rating.Twitter @isitrollingpodRecorded 26th October 2022