The Whole Wide World is watching

The best of the web
(with thanks to Expecting Rain)

by Martin Stein


As I write this, I’m waiting for Chronicles to feature on the arty bit of tonight’s Newsnight programme. Coupled with the honorary Doctorate and the knickers ad, this has been a big media year for a rock artist who’s a stranger to the charts! 

1.  Livin’ in a political world – Visit Keith Agar’s favourite website at 

2.  Bootleg Series of Dreams? – a report on Expecting Rain claims that the next issue of Rolling Stone ("greatest rock photos" will be the cover feature) includes several Dylan-related items, but the big news is the announcement that a new Dylan CD, including "live renditions" and "never-before-released original songs," will be released early next year, coinciding with the broadcast of the long-awaited Scorsese bio/documentary. TOOM outtakes? Apparently not out of the question, but nothing specific promised. The Stone report implies only a single CD, and it might just be a companion to the documentary - full versions of songs shown in excerpt, including Newport 1965. But it might also be the long-rumoured Bootleg Series 7, by some accounts a 2-disc set - one of standout live performances, the other of unreleased original songs. Don't expect Dylan to authorise a release heavy on his earliest, more lightweight/topical material, nor a stuff-not-good enough for TBS1-2-3 compilation which implies some stuff from the last great caches of unheard studio recordings - the TOOM outtakes and the late 1980, post-gospel, Rundown (and elsewhere) sessions. 

3.  He’s Very Well Read - Commenting on the forthcoming audiobook, Chris Lynch, Executive Vice President and Publisher of Simon & Schuster Audio said, "When we were thinking of actors to read the Bob Dylan audiobook, the first name on our list was Sean Penn. We knew he would be perfect for the material, and we are absolutely thrilled that an actor of his calibre will be reading Chronicles." This is the first audiobook that Sean Penn has ever narrated.

4.  Venetta, Bob Dylan and old tired horses - “Is it any wonder Self Portrait was panned?” says Venetta Fields, who sang backing vocals for Dylan on the song, All The Tired Horses.

"He was very folky at that time. I think all his songs were really folk songs and very indistinguishable. Not a lot of melodies. He was really just a folk singer. It was a very unusual session. It felt and sounded like a negro spiritual. There were no other parts. It was all in unison. I had no idea what was in both
Bob's heads. Dylan didn't even sing on it. It's high. Like a Mariah Carey voice. But I had to do it. There was no looping in those days so you had to sing it all the way through."

"The producer was sort of in an angry mood. He was in the control room listening to the playback and all of a sudden he picked up a chair and threw it at the wall. He was so intense. But we were looking at each other singing the lyrics thinking, 'What is going on? This is very strange'."

Venetta later auditioned for Dylan
for his tour but didn't make the cut. "I don't know why. He was a very nice guy."

5.  Transcendent Bob - The official Live Aid DVD is out on 8th November. Disc 4 will include Bob Dylan, Keith Richards, Ron Wood doing 'Blowin' In The Wind'. 

6.  Making an exhibition of yourself – an new exhibition curated by Jasen Emmons and called Bob Dylan's American Journey, features more than 150 artefacts. Included are Dylan's 1949 Martin 00-17 guitar, typed and hand-written lyrics, rare concert posters and handbills, signed albums, and dozens of photographs, as well as unique artefacts from artists such as Joan Baez, Woody Guthrie, Carolyn Hester, Bruce Langhorne, D. A. Pennebaker, Robbie Robertson and Dave Van Ronk. 

At the centre of the exhibit are four films exploring different facets of Bob Dylan's career, with rare performance footage and interviews with Dylan and other artists. Visit

7.  Pop Idol - Professor Sir Liam Donaldson, Chief Medical Officer of England since 1999 has given Dylan as his idol. “He's an absolute genius, rivalling Shakespeare in the quality of his poetic ideas and imagery and language.” 

8.  Restless Farewell - Jacques Levy the composer, writer and director who headed Colgate's theatre program for the past 12 years has died at the age of 69.