BOB DYLAN PLAYS LITTLE RICHARD illustrated by bob at the piano.

BOB DYLAN PLAYS LITTLE RICHARD

Bobby turned on the radio late one night in 1957 and the sound of Little Richard hammering out Tutti Frutti over over the airwaves changed his life. Tutti frutti, oh rootie / Tutti frutti, oh rootie, ooh Next day in the storeroom at the back of his father’s appliance store in Hibbing, Minnesota, he blew the dust off […]

Dylan at the piano shows THE ENEMY OF THE UNLIVED MEANINGLESS LIFE

THE ENEMY OF THE UNLIVED MEANINGLESS LIFE

I’m the enemy of the unlived meaningless life. This line struck me like the unexpected blow with the cane Zen teachers use to spark fire in the souls of acolytes on the edge of Nirvana. I thought: who am I? Where have I been? Where am I going? Has my own life been full and worthy, […]

Dylan album cover Freewheeling illustrated THE ANSWER IS BLOWIN’ IN THE WIND

THE ANSWER IS BLOWIN’ IN THE WIND

Blowin’ in the Wind was a song drifting through the ether waiting for someone to reach out and grab; a lyric ‘that the times seemed to call forth,’ to quote critic Greil Marcus. Dylan scribbled the words down in ten minutes, he said. ‘If I hadn’t written it, someone else would have done.’  Blowin’ in the Wind is […]

Dali holds Josep Pla illustrating JOSEP PLA WAS MY FIRST SPANISH TEACHER

JOSEP PLA WAS MY FIRST SPANISH TEACHER

Josep Pla was my first Spanish teacher. If I drop the odd anachronism into the conversation, don’t blame me, blame the great Catalan writer, journalist, bon vivant and, it has been said, forerunner of magic realism.  It all started after spending Semana Santa climbing the dirt track to Sant Pere de Rodes with my wife […]

The fourth man story illustrated by Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn

THE FOURTH MAN

Nobody remembers the fourth man in the Olympics. Or the climbers who followed Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay to the peak of Everest. Who took to the stage at the Royal Ballet after Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn?   In the 2012 Olympics, Mo Farah won gold in the 10,000 metres. He went on to win the 5,000 metres […]

IT'S NOT DARK YET illustrated by Bob Dylan

IT’S NOT DARK YET

Afdera Fonda knew everyone. She was the daughter of Baron Raimondo Franchetti, the explorer and ambassador to Abyssinia considered the one man who could unite the North African tribes behind the Axis Powers in the Second World War. The bomb that killed him in a plane flying from Cairo to Addis Ababa had been planted […]

Image shows BOB DYLAN FOREVER YOUNG performance with The Band

BOB DYLAN FOREVER YOUNG

When Bob Dylan inspires us to stay forever young, he is not pondering the ageing process. You can’t hold back the hands of the clock. A fresh ring appears every year on the tree. The map of our face is being redrawn constantly by life and its myriad experiences.  On the surface, Forever Young is […]

Dylan and Orwell Light the Way - illustrated by Dylan reading a newspaper

Dylan and Orwell Light the Way

Dylan and Orwell. Different times. Different genres. But both were lighthouses beaming out shimmering brilliant words to light the way. I was in hospital aged 14 with a cracked skull after a tree fell on my head during a lightning storm in Epping Forest. My dad gave me a copy of 1984 while I was […]

How Dylan Turns News Into History

It was 1.30am on 9 February 1963, bitter cold outside in the streets of Baltimore, warm and lively on the dance floor in the Emerson Hotel, where William Devereux Zantzinger was attending a society gathering with Jane, his pretty young wife. Zantzinger was 24, six foot two, the owner of ‘a tobacco farm of six hundred […]

a pint of Guinness for Tristram Kent and Clifford Thurlow drinking and smoking in 1966

Dylan, Dublin and a Pint of Guinness

Arthur Guinness signed a long lease on a disused brewery at St James’s Gate in Dublin in 1759 and began brewing the frothy dry stout that would make his fortune. His formula was to blend malted barley with unmalted roasted barley and add a pinch of ‘aged’ brew to the fresh concoction. The result was […]