It is the aim of this website to spotlight a certain part of Bob Dylan's recent artistic output and to provoke some thoughts. This site is mainly focusing on some of the songs performed occasionally by Bob Dylan in recent years, many of which he has never performed live before 1999.
Some of the songs on this website are cover songs with rather daring lyrics, which should not be overlooked by anyone interested in Dylan's performing art. If you ever get a chance to listen to recordings of these cover songs performed by Bob, do! (For some songs you will find mp3 files on the respective pages of this site.)
There has been a lot of discussion about Bob singing gospel covers, and some might wonder why he still continues to confront his audiences with rather challenging lyrics of his own, like "Gotta Serve Somebody", "Man Of Peace", "In The Garden", "Solid Rock", "I Believe In You", or "Saving Grace".
I do not think that Dylan said to himself before certain shows: "Well, tonight I am going to sing a Stanley Brothers song with an overtly Christian message I don't believe anymore. And maybe I will throw in 'Gotta Serve Somebody' or 'Solid Rock', just because it rocks." I do not see him as a hypocrite pretending to be somebody he is not.
It is my contention, that Bob Dylan believes what he sings in those songs, and that the biblical viewpoints conveyed on stage are his own. I assume, that Bob has experienced, like countless other believers, his Lord and Saviour as the Good Shepherd, who cares for his sheep, and who is looking out for them, even when they go astray in their own ways.
Bob did not initiate his relationship with Jesus. God did that decades ago and the results were obvious. It was not Bob, but his Lord, who began the good work in him. And it is not Bob, but his Lord, who will be the one fulfilling his promise to be faithful to complete this good work. Bob keeps on "hanging in the balance of a perfect finished plan", as he keeps on "hanging on to a solid rock".
So when Bob is singing certain songs in recent years, it not only tells me something about Bob and his beliefs. It tells me also something about the one he believes in. His Saviour Jesus Christ, whom Bob let in, and who saved his soul from sin, as Bob confessed repeatedly to his audience, remains for Bob Dylan "a wonderful Savior to know".
And when Bob is singing about Jesus these days, it does tell me something about his Lord, who in his never ending mercy keeps on touching Bob, and who keeps on prompting him to confess this in concert, so he can sing: "I know I'll make it by the saving grace that's over me."
I am confident that Bob Dylan's wonderful Savior and risen Lord will keep on touching Bob with his nail-scarred hand, and will finally lead him "beyond the burning sand".
On the song pages of this site I have juxtaposed performance dates and song lyrics with some comments and biblical references. Not all of the songs have mainly theological content, and some of the biblical references are cited simply to point out an allusion or source. But all of the songs listed are simply brilliant works of art, the live performances of which are real gems in any set list.
Another section on this site, "Theme Time", is dedicated to the tracks Bob Dylan presented on his weekly radio hour from 2006 to 2009, where he chose at times to expose his listeners to some very fine old gospel tracks recorded by various artists he prizes.
If you would like to comment on this site, feel free to send me an email.
~ Markus Prieur ~ County Cork ~ Ireland ~