Bob Dylan First Artist With Top 40 LPs in Seven Different Decades

Bob Dylan set a daunting new record with his latest LP, Rough and Rowdy Ways, becoming the first artist to reach the Top 40 of the Billboard 200 album chart in each decade since the ’60s.

The record, which debuted at No. 2 last week, marked the songwriter’s highest chart entry since 2009’s Together Through Life, which peaked at No. 1. Rough and Rowdy Ways is now Dylan’s 23rd top 10 LP and 50th to crack the Top 40, Billboard reports.

Dylan’s longevity of Top 40 chart success is astounding. He achieved eight entries in the ’60s (including 1963’s The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, 1964’s The Times They Are a-Changin, 1965’s Bringing It All Back Home and Highway 61 Revisited, 1966’s Blonde on Blonde, 1968’s John Wesley Harding and 1969’s Nashville Skyline) and a whopping 14 in the ’70s (including 1970’s New Morning and Self Portrait, 1973’s Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid, 1974’s Planet Waves, 1975’s Blood on the Tracks and the Basement Tapes, 1976’s Desire, 1978’s Street-Legal and 1979’s Slow Train Coming).

He then earned seven in the ’80s (1980’s Saved, 1981’s Shot of Love, 1983’s Infidels, 1985’s Empire Burlesque and 1989’s Oh Mercy) and a career-low four in the ’90s (including 1990’s Under the Red Sky and 1997’s Time Out of Mind).

Boosted in part by his archival Bootleg series, Dylan then bumped back up with seven Top 40 albums in the ’00s (including 2001’s Love and Theft, 2006’s Modern Times and 2009’s Together Through Life) and nine in the ’10s (including 2012’s Tempest, 2015’s Shadows in the Night, 2016’s Fallen Angels and 2017’s Triplicate).

In total, Dylan has earned five No. 1 albums: Planet Waves, Blood on the Tracks, Desire, Modern Times and Together Through Life.

Rough and Rowdy Ways features the 17-minute “Murder Most Foul,” which topped Billboard’s Rock Digital Song Sales chart, making it Dylan’s first No. 1 on any of the publication’s song charts. The record also features the singles “False Prophet” and “I Contain Multitudes.”

Powered by ProGo Productions

Brian Johnson Stole Bob Dylan Album Because It Wasn’t Selling

AC/DC singer Brian Johnson revealed the first album he ever owned was a Bob Dylan record – and that he stole it from a store in his native Newcastle, England.

Johnson was speaking in an AXS TV interview series titled Rock & Roll Firsts, where artists list some of their most formative experiences.

“The first album I bought – well, actually, I stole it, because my girlfriend at the time was in Newcastle and she worked in the record store,” Johnson admitted. “And she said, ‘You know what? There’s an album over there that nobody’s buying. It’s awful. If you nick over and stick it up your … .’ And I did, and it was Bob Dylan’s Freewheelin’.”

Johnson then acted like he was hiding the LP under his shirt. “I walked out of that shop with the biggest nipples in Newcastle,” he said. “That’s what vinyl did to you!”

You can watch the interview below.

Johnson went on to recall that his first band was called the Gobi Desert Canoe Club, and that the name was his idea “because I thought I was a smart-ass.”

He added that the first concert he attended was by a skiffle group called the Brownsuits and “they were rotten.” He was also asked about the first time he heard one of his own songs on radio and about his first car – a low-powered Ford that “couldn’t pull your cap off” but represented “freedom” to him.

He also recalled his first-ever concert, which was at a rough bar known as the Scrog. “Nearly every car was on bricks,” he said. “But we called it home!”

Powered by ProGo Productions

Bob Dylan, ‘Rough and Rowdy Ways’: Album Review

Bob Dylan spent most of the ’10s looking back.

Besides an album of new material in 2012, Tempest, the legendary singer-songwriter used the bulk of the past 10 years cleaning out his vault with various archival projects, including seven volumes of his Bootleg Series, and recording six LPs’ worth of standards that dated back to the ’40s.

Rough and Rowdy Ways, Dylan’s 39th album, is in some ways a nostalgic look back too. Its centerpiece, the sprawling, 17-minute closer “Murder Most Foul,” details the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy down to various conspiracy theories and its Dylanesque connection to Eagles, Fleetwood Mac and Woodstock.

And it doesn’t stop there. The album is full of name checks, references and direct lines to 20th century cultural touchstones – from political and geographical talking points to life-long influences and his musical peers that helped shape the rock ‘n’ roll landscape in the ’60s.

It all unravels at a pace that’s befitting the 79-year-old Dylan: grizzled, ornery, wizened and loaded with musical signposts from genres that were barely still in style when he was born. Like the albums that have marked his past quarter century – starting with 1997’s Time Out of Mind and going through to the recent trilogy of Shadows in the NightFallen Angels and Triplicate – Rough and Rowdy Ways is a road map of the people, places and events that have dotted the last century.

So, when Dylan sings, “I’ll take the Scarface Pacino and The Godfather Brando / Mix ‘em up in a tank and get a robot commando,” you know he’s done his homework. Or maybe he’s just just throwing together some of his favorite movies. Whatever the case may be, the references come quick and often here. In a career filled with timely records (going all the way back to his earliest songs, when he was still called a folk singer), Rough and Rowdy Ways is one of his timeliest. Even with much of it drawing inspiration from the decades before the 2000s even started, the album sounds like a census of modern times, more so than the LP that had that title back in 2006.

Dylan has always been like that. His stretch of mid-’60s classics came at a time when rock ‘n’ roll was being rewritten by new trailblazers like himself and the Beatles; in the ’70s he tried on everything from diary-revealing singer-songwriter to minstrel troubadour. Then there’s his kick-starting country-rock, finding salvation in the words of Jesus Christ as Reagan reigned and those late-career classics that have somehow anticipated and summed up post-9/11 anxieties as they mined the past for inspiration.

The looming dread surrounding Rough and Rowdy Ways‘ “I Contain Multitudes,” “False Prophet,” “Black Rider,” “Goodbye Jimmy Reed” and “Murder Most Foul” can pretty much serve as the soundtrack to 2020. “Another day of anger, bitterness and doubt,” he sings on top of a bluesy stomp during “False Prophet,” summing up lots of people’s moods in this day of pandemic, racial discrimination and incompetence in the White House.

But there’s humor here too. You can almost hear Dylan singing many of these lines with a wide smirk. Even when he’s detailing the catalytic killing of JFK, he turns “Murder Most Foul” into a checklist of songs, artists and actors that somehow sound perfectly in place within the context: “What’s new, pussycat? What’d I say? I said the soul of a nation been torn away.

The songs are long, but not needlessly so. The wordy narratives really wouldn’t make much sense any other way. Like a classic novel that rewards repeated readings, Rough and Rowdy Ways immediately comes off like a significant work, but benefits from deeper explorations. What may seem like a tossed-off line at first gains importance later; likewise, quoting an Eagles song may mean nothing more than that Dylan really likes “Take It to the Limit.”

That mix of mystery and mischievousness has always been part of Dylan’s appeal. Has any artist gone so far out of his way to confound and alienate fans? His records in the 2000s have gotten more earnest – “I’ve Made Up My Mind to Give Myself to You” here is among Dylan’s most heartfelt love songs – but didn’t those standards albums seem a little like a test by the time we got to the final three-LP release? Rough and Rowdy Ways is classic Dylan, right down to the album-closing epic.

Like Tempest, the record can get dark in its examination of America. “Go home to your wife, stop visiting mine,” he warns on “Black Rider.” “One of these days I’ll forget to be kind.” It can also be exhausting in its scope and sprawl. Dylan’s voice – which has progressively aged into a soggy croak – suits the material here, way better than it did on those Sinatra-channeling American Songbook albums. But there are still a few hurdles to overcome; particularly, the last third seems to be biding its time by building to the majestic “Murder Most Foul.”

But when that payoff comes, hold on. It’s a sign of the times that a 17-minute song based on a killing that happened almost 60 years ago is the launching point for one of the most relevant pieces of music to be released this century. “Murder Most Foul” is the sort of song that will inspire college theses and endless dissections long after we’ve moved on from 2020’s hell. It’s Shakespearean in both its influence and breadth, and if it ends up Bob Dylan’s last masterpiece, it’s fitting. No other artist has surveyed his time and place with such insight and wit while carving out a legacy one well-timed work at a time.

Powered by ProGo Productions

Why Bob Dylan Never Improvises

Bob Dylan discussed his approach to performing and writing ahead of the release of his new album, Rough and Rowdy Ways, on June 19.

In a rare interview with The New York Times, he was asked how much improvisation was involved in his musical process and replied, “None at all.”

“There’s no way you can change the nature of a song once you’ve invented it,” he explained. “You can set different guitar or piano patterns upon the structural lines and go from there, but that’s not improvisation. Improvisation leaves you open to good or bad performances, and the idea is to stay consistent. You basically play the same thing time after time in the most perfect way you can.”

Dylan said most of his recent writing were composed in a “trance,” as if the songs “kind of write themselves and count on me to sing them.” He cited the example of the recently released single “I Contain Multitudes,” which name checks Nazi holocaust victim Anne Frank, the Rolling Stones and movie hero Indiana Jones.

“The names themselves are not solitary,” he said. “It’s the combination of them that adds up to something more than their singular parts. To go too much into detail is irrelevant. The song is like a painting: You can’t see it all at once if you’re standing too close. The individual pieces are just part of a whole.”

Dylan added that “it’s the way I actually feel about things. It is my identity and I’m not going to question it, I am in no position to. Every line has a particular purpose. Somewhere in the universe those three names must have paid a price for what they represent and they’re locked together. And I can hardly explain that. Why or where or how, but those are the facts.”

When it was pointed out that Indiana Jones is a fictional character while the others aren’t, Dylan responded, “Yeah, but the John Williams score brought him to life. Without that music, it wouldn’t have been much of a movie. It’s the music which makes Indy come alive. So that maybe is one of the reasons he is in the song. I don’t know, all three names came at once.”

Powered by ProGo Productions

Bob Dylan Picks His Favorite Eagles and Rolling Stones Songs

The famously press-shy Bob Dylan has given his first interview in more than three years now that a new album, Rough and Ready Ways, is coming out next week.

The conversation with Douglas Brinkley published in The New York Times is actually excerpts from two chats he had with Dylan — the first in April and a second from a couple weeks ago — that discussed the new material. Because the first two preview tracks, “Murder Most Foul” and “I Contain Multitudes,” mention Eagles and the Rolling Stones, Brinkley asked Dylan about his favorite songs by those artists.

“Maybe ‘Angie,’ ‘Ventilator Blues’ and what else?” Dylan replied regarding Stones songs. “Oh yeah, ‘Wild Horses.'” For Eagles, he cited “New Kid in Town” and “Life in the Fast Lane” as favorites, adding that Joe Walsh‘s “Pretty Maids All in a Row” “could be one of the best songs ever.”

Unveiled back in March, Dylan’s 17-minute “Murder Most Foul” uses the assassination of President John F. Kennedy as an opportunity to explore 60 years of history and popular culture. “I Contain Multitudes,” on the other hand, looks inward. Dylan revealed that it wasn’t difficult to balance the lighter early verses with what Brinkley called the “take-no-prisoners stoicism” of the last two.

“It’s the kind of thing where you pile up stream-of-consciousness verses and then leave it alone and come pull things out,” Dylan said. “In that particular song, the last few verses came first. So that’s where the song was going all along. Obviously, the catalyst for the song is the title line. It’s one of those where you write it on instinct. Kind of in a trance state. Most of my recent songs are like that. The lyrics are the real thing, tangible, they’re not metaphors. The songs seem to know themselves and they know that I can sing them, vocally and rhythmically. They kind of write themselves and count on me to sing them.”

Powered by ProGo Productions

Bob Dylan Reveals ‘Rough and Rowdy Ways’ Track Listing

Bob Dylan announced the track listing for his upcoming album Rough and Rowdy Ways, which will be released on June 19.

His first collection of new songs since 2012’s Tempest includes the three recently released singles, “False Prophet,” “I Contain Multitudes” and “Murder Most Foul.” You can see the full list below.

Dylan released “Murder Most Foul” without any advance notice in March, noting in a brief statement, “Greetings to my fans and followers with gratitude for all your support and loyalty across the years. This is an unreleased song we recorded a while back that you might find interesting. Stay safe, stay observant and may God be with you.”

The album’s cover photo was taken in 1964 at a long-gone club in London by photographer Ian Berry, now 86. Although he’s not a massive Dylan fan, Berry told Rolling Stone it was a “great compliment” to be asked for use of the image. He added that he didn’t ask permission to be in the club when he shot it.

Dylan was one of many artists who were forced to postpone summer touring plans as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, noting that dates were pulled “in the interest of public health and safety.” “We hope to be back out on the road at the earliest possible time, once we are confident that it is safe for both fans and concert staff,” he said.

You can watch a brief trailer for the album below.

Bob Dylan, ‘Rough and Rowdy Ways’ Track Listing
1. “I Contain Multitudes”
2. “False Prophet”
3. “My Own Version of You”
4. “I’ve Made Up My Mind to Give Myself to You”
5. “Black Rider”
6. “Goodbye Jimmy Reed”
7. “Mother of Muses”
8. “Crossing the Rubicon”
9. “Key West”
10. “Murder Most Foul”

Powered by ProGo Productions

Bucky Baxter, Bob Dylan’s Pedal-Steel Guitarist, Dies at 65

Bucky Baxter, a pedal-steel guitarist who played extensively with Bob Dylan in the ’90s, has died. He was 65.

The musician’s career stretched back more than three decades and included session work and tours with country, alt-country and rock acts.

His death was confirmed by his son, singer-songwriter Rayland Baxter, who wrote on Instagram that his father “is my everything and now he is an angel. My heart is broken yet I am blinded by joy.” No cause of death was given.

Baxter was born in New Jersey and started playing pedal steel guitar in the ’70s. In 1986, he appeared on Steve Earle‘s debut album, Guitar Town, and continued to play with him on a series of albums into the next decade. He was a founding member of Earle’s longtime backing band the Dukes.

Around that time, Baxter met Dylan on tour, where Earle’s band was opening for the music legend. Dylan asked Baxter to teach him how to play pedal steel, and soon after invited Baxter to join his band.

Baxter remained a part of Dylan’s group throughout the ’90s, logging more than 700 dates on the Never Ending Tour and appearing on 1995’s MTV Unplugged album as well as the 1997 Grammy-winning Time Out of Mind.

In 1999, Baxter released a solo album called Most Likely, No Problem. Within the next couple of years he began a working relationship with Ryan Adams, performing on his albums Gold and Demolition and touring with the alt-country singer-songwriter.

Over the years, Baxter contributed a number of instruments – including steel guitar, acoustic and electric guitar, dobro, mandolin and organ – to records by Ben Folds, Kacey Musgraves and R.E.M. He also played on most of his son’s records.

In Memoriam: 2020 Deaths

Powered by ProGo Productions

Bob Dylan Announces New ‘Rough and Rowdy Ways’ Album

Bob Dylan will release Rough and Rowdy Ways, his first album to feature new original material in eight years, on June 19.

Along with the news came Dylan’s third new song of the past six weeks, “False Prophet.” You can hear the track below and pre-order the album here.

A complete track listing for Rough and Rowdy Ways has not been made available, but listings on Dylan’s site and Amazon confirm that the 10-track effort will contain “False Prophet” as well as his other two recently released tracks, “I Contain Multitudes” and “Murder Most Foul.

Hear Bob Dylan’s “False Prophet”

On Thursday, May 7, Dylan posted artwork to his official Twitter account featuring a top-hat wearing skeleton holding a needle in his hand. The image – which was adorned with the words “False Prophet” – also came with a cryptic message: “What are you lookin’ at – there’s nothing to see.” Six hours later, a new tweet spilled the beans.

Dylan has been busy over the last couple of months, releasing new music every three weeks. In March, he surprised fans with the 17-minute epic “Murder Most Foul.” The track used the framework of the JFK assassination to explore 60 years of American popular history. When “Murder Most Foul” hit No. 1 on the Billboard Rock Digital Song Sales Chart, it marked the first time that Dylan had scored a chart-topping hit under his own name.

21 days later, he returned with another song, “I Contain Multitudes.” The soft-swaying track saw Dylan comparing his personality to everyone from the Rolling Stones, Walt Whitman, David Bowie and Indiana Jones.

Dylan’s last album of original material, The Tempest, came out in 2012. His three LPs since then – Shadows in the Night (2015), Fallen Angels (2016) and Triplicate (2017) – have seen the singer covering classic pop standards.

Powered by ProGo Productions

Bob Dylan’s Handwritten ‘Times’ Lyrics on Sale For $2.2 Million

Bob Dylan’s original handwritten lyrics for “The Times They Are A-Changin’’ were placed in a memorabilia auction with a starting price of $2.2 million.

His words for “Subterranean Homesick Blues” were also offered at $1.2 million while “Lay, Lady, Lay” opened at $650,000. Auctioneers Moments In Time provided pictures of each item, noting that authenticity was “guaranteed without time limitations, for full refund of purchase price.”

“History is constantly being made all around us,” a statement read. “Possessing these items gives one a sense of pride. With these manuscripts you can fall into the moment of their creation as they are truly a ‘moment in time’.”

TMZ reported: “Bob’s handwritten lyrics were acquired from a collector who bought them from the singer’s manager years ago, and you can see Bob’s mind at work just by looking at the pages — there are tons of edits, scribbles, notes and even doodles! Bob won a Nobel Prize for literature, but it’s still crazy to see how much his artistry is worth.”

Bob Dylan – ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’’

Dylan recorded “The Times They Are A-Changin;” in 1963 and it appeared on his album of the same name the following year. He said of the song: “I wanted to write a big song, some kind of theme song, with short, concise verses that piled up on each other in a hypnotic way. This is definitely a song with a purpose. I knew exactly what I wanted to say and who I wanted to say it to.” While his motivation came from the civil rights activism of the time, the song acquired a new meaning after the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy a month after he’d first performed it.

Powered by ProGo Productions

Listen to New Bob Dylan Song, ‘I Contain Multitudes’

Bob Dylan has released another new song without any previous announcement. You can listen to “I Contain Multitudes” below.

It follows the unveiling of “Murder Most Foul” three weeks ago, a 17-minute piece that gave him his first-ever No.1 chart placing (on top of the Rock Digital Song Sales).

While “Murder Most Foul” explored the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, the new song seems to be a more lighthearted and playful affair, as Dylan compares his personalities to those of the Rolling Stones, Walt Whitman, Indiana Jones, Edgar Allan Poe and David Bowie – even using the lyric “all the young dudes” at one point.

He hasn’t revealed if the release of new songs comes ahead of an album of all-new material, though speculating is increasing that the plan is to reveal a follow-up to 2012’s Tempest in the near future.

In a 2017 interview on his website, Dylan reflected on the placing of songs in the modern world. “There’s a lot of great singers who write weak songs and a lot of great songwriters who don’t sing,” he said. “Trouble for them is they don’t have the outlets we used to have – nowhere to place these songs, no movies, no radio shows, TV variety shows, recording sessions, programs that were always calling for songs. So they have to sing them themselves.”

He added that “songwriters have to have a reason to write songs. … There has to be some purpose to performing it too. And sometimes it doesn’t connect. There is no magic formula to make that happen. … If you can write your own songs, that’s ideal, but nobody will fault you if you don’t. Barbra Streisand and Tom Jones don’t.”

Powered by ProGo Productions