“What is Bob Dylan?” That’s the fundamental question behind this new podcast, which explores the work and career of Bob Dylan in a series written and produced by Michael Hacker. The first season is a projected 12 episodes covering from Dylan’s roots in Minnesota up to his 1997 release, Time Out Of Mind. With literally hundreds of books already written about Dylan, along with countless documentaries, radio shows and articles devoted to his life and music, one might ask if there’s a need for anything else about the man. A BOB DYLAN PRIMER is an attempt to cut through the enormous mass of material already produced, to create something simple and enjoyable, yet with journalistic accuracy and a depth of insight that can engage both the brand-new fan and the wizened Dylanologist, as well as anyone in-between. Drawing on a lifetime spent listening to and studying Dylan’s music and career, A BOB DYLAN PRIMER is unabashed in its appreciation for the magnitude and amplitude of Dylan’s achievements. Still, every observation is filtered through a freshly polished and contemporary lens, examining the varied path of Dylan’s work with a deep historical perspective and a heavy shot of humor.
Goodbye is too Good a Word
As we say fare thee well, Dylan drops his best music in years
Spotify playlist for A Bob Dylan Primer Episode 15
Dylan – Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech
Bob Dylan speech at the 2016 Nobel Banquet, as read by American Ambassador to Sweden, Azita Raji
Patti Smith – Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall – Nobel Prize Ceremony December 2016
Frank Sinatra – It Was a Very Good Year – Filmed Recording Live 1965
Dylan – The Night We Call it a Day – Video
Dylan – The Night We Call it a Day – Live on Letterman
Dylan – Girl from the North Country – London July 2019
Dylan – It Ain’t me Babe – Live at The Beacon December 2019
Definitely Dylan Podcast – Episode about “Murder Most Foul”
Modern Times, Olden Times
40 years after showing up in New York, Dylan propels himself headfirst into the 21st century with a quartet of ferociously strong albums and a sweet book that tells more than the most telling tell-all.
Dylan – A Change is Gonna Come – 2004
Victoria’s Secret Ad – Love Sick
Dylan – Must be Santa
Dylan – Duquesne Whistle
Dylan – Chronicles Vol. 1 Audiobook (read by Sean Penn)
Dylan – NPR Radio Interview Re Chronicles
Time is in the Mind
Never a dull moment for Mr. D, he contracts a serious infection of the heart, sings for the Pope, and releases his strongest album in 20 years.
Not Dark Yet – Dylan with Eric Clapton
Love Sick – Dylan at the Grammys – SOY BOMB!!! – 1998
Time Out of Mind – Dylan – Complete Album/Different Live Versions
The Sounds of Silence – Dylan with Paul Simon – 1999
Sugar Baby – Dylan – live May 5, 2002
Sugar Baby – Dock Boggs
The Lonesome Road – Gene Austin
The Lonesome Road – Fank Sinatra
Beginning the Next Beginning
Dylan somehow stops his creative slide at the end of the 1980s and turns it all around, again.
Dylan Live (TV Broadcast) – 1993 – Hard Times
Dylan – Live in Paris – February 23, 1993 – Simple Twist of Faith
Dylan – Live w/Orchestra – Nara, Japan – May 22, 1994 – Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
Dylan – Live at Woodstock II – August 14, 1994 – Complete Concert
Dylan – Live at Stratford-on-Avon – July 14, 1995 – Tears of Rage
Dylan – Live from Prague – 1995 – Shelter from the Storm
Dylan – Concert for the Pope – 1997 – Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
Dylan – November 12, 1996 – Dubuque, Iowa – Craziest Show Ever
Few who lived through the nineteen-eighties would claim the decade as their greatest era. Dylan is no exception.
Dylan 2019 – Girl From The North Country (partial)
Dylan 2019 – When I Paint My Masterpiece
Dylan 1985 – Dylan rehearses We Are The World (very entertaining)
Dylan 1986 – Press Conference – Sydney, Australia
Hard to Handle (with Tom Petty) Concert Video
Dylan & The Dead – The Times They Are A-Changin’ – July 4, 1987
A Voice in the Wilderness
Twenty years into his career, Bob Dylan unleashes his most shocking transformation
…and finds religion.
Bob Dylan – June 1978 Live – Like a Rolling Stone
Bob Dylan – Pressing On
Bob Dylan – Solid Rock
Bob Dylan – Jesus Met the Woman at the Well
Bob Dylan – Sermon from Toronto Concert
Bob Dylan – What Can I do for You?
Both a pr-eye-mer and a primer, this series came at a most unique time in history-dedicated to an impossibly unique artist, laureate and entertainer that voices a love, a respect and an awe of the talent of an individual that himself has expressed he is no different than you or I. Thank you Michael & Associates
Road Map for the Soul
2020 was shaped up to be my “Year of Dylan.” Even before the zeitgeist defined itself by the events of the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter Movement, I found myself pulled towards Dylan. Clairvoyance or coincidence, it turned out to be a saving grace. It is no exaggeration to say that my yearlong obsession with Dylan was one of the few crutches that allowed me to limp across the 2020 finish line.
This is not a new found obsession. Rather, in the spirit of Kierkegaard, I find myself returning to Dylan in an act of “repetition”. As a boy, I was obsessed with the protest songs and the 60’s albums where Dylan first “plugged in.” In my 20’s, I gravitated to some of Dylan’s more exotic material—such as “Desire.” Now in my 30’s, I’m immersed in everything he’s done since the return to the profane marked by “Infidels”.
The World of Dylan is really a universe. I had my five albums, my Hohner Marine Band Harmonica, my houndstooth scarf and my fussed up hair and I thought the heaven’s spun around me. But now that I’ve taken a mature effort to understand the man, I realize I am staring into a blackhole. I’m not a fan. I’m an extraterrestrial who picked up Subterranean Homesick Blues on a radio station a million light years away.
There are a lot of great Dylan podcasts out there, but Michael Hacker’s is the best I’ve heard. Hacker’s podcast places Dylan’s career in the larger context of musical and cultural history it is both a part of and has helped to shape. The unity of narrative and sequence of episodes raises the podcast to the heights of an “audio documentary”. Hacker manages to present his material in a way that is both objective and deeply personal by placing himself as a listener in the same larger historical and cultural context that he places Dylan. Hacker is profoundly aware of the influence of history and technology on our lives. Some of my favorite passages from the podcast come when he steps back to meditate on the implications our technology has on our ability to appreciate our cultural heritage and properly remember the events and artifacts that comprise our past.
Probably the most endearing aspect of Hacker’s podcast is the charity he offers in his interpretation of Dylan’s work. A survey of Dylan podcasts shows that some of Dylan’s biggest fans are also some of his biggest critics. Hacker is never sycophantic or fawning in his treatment of Dylan. Rather, he seeks to break through the “screen memory”— hackneyed, boilerplate— interpretations of Dylan’s catalogue. He listens to every album with new ears as though he had never heard another person’s opinion. He provides wonderfully original interpretations of Dylan albums that have traditionally been dismissed by others.
Hacker convincingly establishes a continuity to A career that is most often summarized as “disjointed” and referred to in phases and periods. Hacker is “revealing” where others interpret. He is interested in understanding Dylan’s music as personal and historical acts, not words or notes to be compared or analyzed. He allows Dylan’s work to speak for itself while simultaneously expressing his appreciation for how Dylan has influenced his own life in significant ways.
Hacker opens each episode by asking: What is Bob Dylan? When the distinction between the artist and culture dissolves, the beauty of art reveals the truth of history. And perhaps, in some sense, this is what “Bob Dylan” is.
I came to this podcast with a great appreciation for Dylan’s iconic works, and I hoped to leave with more appreciation for his lesser known and under appreciated works. I was not let down. A truly terrific exploration of Dylan’s life and art, this podcast has me listening to Tempest, Street Legal, and Empire Burlesque for the first time. Can’t wait to keep going. Thank you!