Thursday, January 08, 2009

Dylan's Jesus Years

I've never got into Bob Dylan (any more than Bob Marley), but there is an interesting CT piece about a doco on his experience of Christianity in the late 70s and early 80s. I know this will be of interest to Ben Myers and HTC's own Len Cazaly.


dylandevotional said...


The best African-American covers of Dylan songs since Jimi Hendrix. --International Herald Tribune

"This DVD overflows with interest, and, more importantly, with music." -Michael Gray, author of The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia and Song & Dance Man III: The Art of Bob Dylan.

An interesting rewind to the powerful gospel music Bob Dylan wrote in the late 70's and early 80's.

Interviews with Dylan musicians: Jim Keltner, Spooner Oldham, Regina McCrary, Fred Tackett, Terry Young, Mona Lisa Young, and producer Jerry Wexler

Participating artists: Bob Dylan, Shirley Caesar, Chicago Mass Choir, Dottie Peoples, Aaron Neville, Sounds of Blackness, Helen Baylor, The Fairfield Four, Great Day Chorale, Arlethia Lindsey, Mighty Clouds of Joy, and Rance Allen.

Commentary by: Paul Williams and Alan Light

This musical documentary premieres 1980 footage of Bob Dylan performing "When He Returns," the first archival performance released from this important era. Editorial Review
Gotta Serve Somebody - The Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan is all about redemption. That's apparent enough in the music, where the struggle between sin and salvation is inherent in the tunes that are interpreted here by a host of superb gospel artists. But in a larger sense, the very existence of this DVD (and the Grammy-nominated CD that preceded it in 2003) can be viewed as redemption for Dylan himself, who weathered another controversy and emerged, if not triumphant, then certainly vindicated. When he plugged in an electric guitar in 1965, he was labeled "Judas" by the folkie faithful; ironically, when he turned to Jesus some 15 years later, proclaiming himself born again and releasing Slow Train Coming and Saved, the outcry was even louder. But once again Dylan has the last laugh, as now, a quarter of a century after the fact, it's clear that the material on those recordings was his strongest not only since 1975's Blood on the Tracks but perhaps since his '60s heyday. The quality of the songs lies in what Jerry Wexler, co-producer of the two Dylan albums, describes as the "immaculate funk" of the music, and especially in the heartfelt simplicity (especially by Dylan standards) and emotional directness of the lyrics; clearly, that's what attracted great gospel singers like Shirley Caesar (singing "Gotta Serve Somebody," the most recognized song on the two Dylan albums), Dottie Peoples (a powerful version of the beautiful "I Believe in You"), the Mighty Clouds of Joy (a rockin', sanctified "Saved"), the Fairfield Four (the stirring, a cappella "Are You Ready"), and the angel-voiced Aaron Neville ("Saving Grace") to this project. We also get Dylan himself, performing "When He Returns" at a 1980 concert, along with an animated rendering of his original "Gotta Serve Somebody." Hallelujah, y'all. --Sam Graham

Bob Dylan's Gospel songs, widely reviled when new, have steadily grown in stature and acceptance over the years. Here in the hands of Gospel greats, likely the folks best suited to do them, they come up stronger than ever. Strong recommendation. Much better and more gripping than I expected. -Sing Out!

Directed by Michael B Borofsky
Edited by Christine Mitsogiorgakis
Jeffrey Gaskill Executive Producer

Featured Performances:
Every Grain of Sand (Arlethia Lindsey)
When He Returns (Bob Dylan)
Solid Rock (Sounds of Blackness)
Gotta Serve Somebody (Shirley Caesar)
I Believe In You (Dottie Peoples)
Saving Grace (Aaron Neville)
What Can I Do For You? (Helen Baylor)
Are You Ready (The Fairfield Four)
In the Garden (Great Day Chorale)
Saved (Mighty Clouds of Joy)
Pressing On (Chicago Mass Choir)
When He Returns (Rance Allen)

Bonus Features include: Animated video to -Bob Dylan's original GRAMMY® -winning, "Gotta Serve Somebody."

andrea said...

I have a pained childhood memory of being sent to learn to play the organ(unsucessfully)and practiced Mr Dylans blowing inthe wind for hours to impress my older brother who was a fan, only when I played to him his responce was "what was that?" . Anyway I really enjoyed Adeles version of Make you feel my love the words made me reflect on what christ had done for us .