May 27, 2006

Bob Dylan, the old geezer DJ.

Have you been listening to "Theme Time Radio With Bob Dylan"? I have. I dash out to my car and go for an hour-long drive every Wednesday at 9. (The satellite radio's only in the car.) I was driving, listening to "I Drink" -- the theme was drinking -- when a cop pulled me over and gave me a speeding ticket 10 days ago. That was the first speeding ticket I'd ever gotten -- in many decades of driving.

This past Wednesday, Bob turned 65, and I don't think he mentioned it on the show. The theme wasn't birthdays or getting old, it was baseball. He started off the show by singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," not trying to sing it well, just singing it like your grandad might do if he was trying to remind you why it's great to go to a baseball game. In fact, Dylan does the whole show as if he's an old grandad reminding us of the past:
The majority of the music Dylan plays predates his own rise to fame.

"I think it's more akin to the way radio sounded in 1952 than it does in 2006," said Lee Abrams, XM Satellite Radio's chief creative officer.

Dylan's entertaining baseball show also mixed in calls from classic baseball games, like Curt Gowdy announcing Ted Williams' home run in his final at-bat with the Boston Red Sox.

He refreshingly avoids the obvious: Dylan spins Billy Bragg and Wilco's "Joe DiMaggio Done it Again" and not Simon & Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson" ("where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio ..."). He plays Buddy Johnson's "Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball" and ignores John Fogerty's overexposed "Centerfield."
He tells jokes that are either old or written to sound like they're old:
"If diamonds are a girl's best friend, why do so many girls get mad when you want to go to the ballpark?" Dylan says during this week's show. "You tell me."

That sort of absurdist humor is what may most surprise listeners. Dylan told mother-in-law jokes a la Henny Youngman during one show ("I just came back from a pleasure trip — took my mother-in-law to the airport"). He discussed — seriously, we think — watching the old country-flavored musical/variety TV series "Hee Haw."
And he does some surprising things in his old geezer persona, like the week when his theme was mothers and he played something by LL Cool J:
Dylan's intro to "Mama Said Knock You Out" became an old white man's rap.

"Here's LL Cool J," he said. "Don't call it a comeback. He's been here for years, rockin' his peers, puttin' 'em in fear, makin' tears rain down like a monsoon, explosions overpowerin' the competition. LL Cool J is towerin'."
And here's how he introduced the mothers theme:
"Going to pay tribute to that bountiful breast we all spring from, mother dearest," he said. "`M's' for the many things she gave me. `O' is for the other things she gave me. `T' is for the things she gave me. `H' is for her things, which she gave me. `E' is for everything she gave me. `R' is for the rest of the things she gave me. Let's talk about mothers."
Do you understand the mystery of why that's so funny?


Brent said...


SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hamsun56 said...

I told you to be careful during drinking hour!

Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

A Dylan post, and no comment from Meade? Well, it's still early.

Mister DA said...

Damn! I may have to give myself an XM receiver and subscription for -- what? What? Right! Job anniversary coming up Tuesday! That'll do.

Beth said...

Dylan does Madeline Kahn?

Joan said...

I don't understand why you think it's a mystery that it's so funny.

I haven't heard Dylan speak in years, but just imagining his voice and knowing a little bit about his public persona, speaking these lines -- it's cracking me up.

Unknown said...


You could listen through your computer using the subscription number for the subscription to your car.

Walt said...

No offense Ann, but have you heard about our global shortage on gas. I am glad you are doing your part by limiting these excursions to 1 hour.

Ann Althouse said...

Peter: I know. I just haven't bothered to make the necessary phone call. And I like to go for a drive with music. I probably wouldn't pay much attention to the show if I had to sit around inside.

Walt: Are we not supposed to take pleasure trips anymore? I didn't get that memo. I've always bought a car that gets very good mileage. And I've always lived very closed to work and use almost no gas to commute. Now I can't take a pleasure drive? Are we supposed to not go on vacations too? I haven't heard that announcement. Is anyone sensible advising us to cut back on driving? Planes take a lot of fuel too. I'm not seeing anyone saying stop traveling. Point that out when it happens.

Jeff said...

We have a global shortage of gas? Huh, I drove to KC this weekend and stopped at 7 gas stations. All had plenty of gas. I am now driving a 2001 harley that is giving me 45-50mpg, I left the Pontiac in the garage, it only gets about 30-31 mpg. I only wish I had enough money to really be a devoted envirnmentalist, it would have kicked ass to fly to KC by myself in a gulfstream.