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, […]

Illustration shows CASA ANITA IN CADAQUES


Casa Anita in 1984 was still a well-kept secret, The Ritz for those with a bohemian spirit and a taste for fresh fish that has leapt straight out of the sea and landed on the grill. Named after the effervescent owner, Anita was a beautiful woman with dark lustrous eyes, hair black as coal and […]

Ed Sheeran Revives Masters of War illustrated by portrait of Dylan

Ed Sheeran Revives Masters of War

As the death planes drop bombs on the hospitals of Ukraine and the young people’s blood flows out of their bodies and is buried in the mud, Ed Sheeran’s new recording of Masters of War is a prayer for peace and a homage to Bob Dylan’s original written sixty years ago in 1962. Like Dylan, Sheeran […]

Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan contemplating the idea that there must be some kind of way out of here

There must be some kind of way out of here

Two riders stop on a hilltop. They gaze across the valley at a castle surrounded by farmland where people labour in the fields. In the castle, princes and their beautiful women drink wine while barefoot servants come and go unnoticed. ‘There must be some kind of way out of here?’ says one rider to the […]

Does Bob Dylan have Duende?

Dylan, Duende, Death and Lorca

Does Bob Dylan have duende? Do you have duende? What is duende?  Duende is a Spanish word with two meanings. A duende is a goblin or a pixie that probably lives at the bottom of the garden and gives three wishes to old ladies who deserve a break. The duende was best defined by Spain’s great […]

Clifford Thurlow's 1973 press card

My Secret Writing Tutor

A writing tutor may be a flesh and blood man or woman who pores over your scribblings and offers shrewd advice. You may find your spark in the words of your favourite songwriter – Bob Dylan, say, or an author, William Boyd or John Grisham. If you want to learn how to write elegant sentences with […]

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 […]

Bob Dylan typing

The First Line

‘It is the first line that gives the inspiration and then it’s like riding a bull. Either you just stick with it, or you don’t,’ Bob Dylan. The first line is the spark that ignites the forest fire. The words come out like a rocket. Or a shooting star. Or they come out like teeth […]

Bob Dylan’s Secrets of Success

Bob Dylan’s secrets of success are as illusive and subtle as his writing. All success is fragile, hard to pin down, describe or quantify. Dylan said, ‘A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.’ The […]