Category: Bob Dylan

No direction home: Disturbing and unhelpful driving advice from Bob Dylan

Bob DylanThe Minnesota-born songwriter knows how many roads a man must walk down. But do you want him as the voice of your onboard GPS system?

Originally published on Aug. 26, 2009. Read the complete article.

Inventory: 8 Songs About Sexual Mishaps

1. Ike Turner, “She Made My Blood Run Cold”
These days, Ike Turner is mainly remembered as the violent, abusive ex-husband of Tina Turner, but in the 1950s, he was on top of the R&B world with tracks like “Rocket 88,” often cited as the first true rock ‘n’ roll song. He recorded the chilly classic “She Made My Blood Run Cold” in 1957, lyrically riffing on Little Willie John’s earlier sexiness-as-sickness R&B hit “Fever.” Turner’s tune turns down the temperature with the tale of a woman whose kisses literally cause a drop in his body heat. Turner complains to his doctor of symptoms including a frozen heart and “icicles hanging from my eyes”—especially unusual since STDs typically cause a burning sensation instead. Perhaps reflective of Turner’s view of women, the frosty femme fatale doesn’t appear to have any remorse for her icy touch, even after she kills Ike’s doctor merely by flirting with him. Now that’s cold.

5. Bob Dylan, “Ballad Of A Thin Man”
In the ’60s, “Thin Man”‘s stinging refrain—”you know something is happening, but you don’t know what it is, do you, Mr. Jones?”—became a widely embraced reference for a square who couldn’t see the revolution right in front of his eyes. But there’s another meaning hidden not-so-deeply in the song’s hazy identity issues, suggesting a far more personal confusion: Mr. Jones is a deeply closeted, self-loathing gay man slowly forced to confront his true sexual identity. Dylan fills the song with blatant phallic imagery and metaphors for male-on-male oral sex wrapped in the description of a hopelessly bewildered man lost in a circus sideshow, strangely compelled by visions of naked men and sword-swallowers in high heels. And then there’s the “one-eyed midget” who demands that Jones give him “milk.” Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, but not here.

Originally published on Feb. 2, 2007 as part of a group-written Inventory feature; I wrote the sections on Ike Turner and Bob Dylan. Read the complete article.

Bob Dylan, Love and Theft

Bob Dylan, “Love and Theft” (Columbia)

4 out of 5 stars

1997′s Time Out of Mind found Bob Dylan brooding on death at midnight; Love and Theft, his 43rd album, is much more lively, even joyful. It doesn’t really break any new ground, but that’s not the point. This record is about Dylan cutting loose and celebrating the richness of American music—Dylan swirls together a brew of folk, vaudeville show tunes, and most of all traditional 12-bar blues. Backing him up are a group of mostly Texan sidemen, including guitar whiz Charlie Sexton and longtime Doug Sahm collaborator and keyboardist Augie Meyers. It’s not entirely successful—the great lyricist indulges in a penchant for cornball jokes—but there’s enough of his inimitable spark to appeal both to Dylanophiles and the general public. Bob’s voice has aged into a potent blues machine, smoky, ragged and full of vinegar, and the loose, rolling “Lonesome Day Blues” is a real treat.

Originally published Sept. 14, 2001 on

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