Monday, March 19, 2007

Pilot of the Airwaves

Bob Dylan's "Theme Time Radio Hour" on XM Radio remains not just the best show on the air, but the best possible use of radio as a medium. We all expected Zimmy to play a bunch of old 78s and speak fondly of Dock Boggs, which would have been great enough, but he's gone way beyond that into the realm of acts like the White Stripes and Run-DMC.

Now even that too may be less than surprising, given that the man has made a career out of surprises, but I have to say that even I, a borderline worshipper of the man, have been impressed by his generosity of spirit. He's not just giving maximum props to people like Jimmie Rodgers and Mose Allison. On the two-hour Christmas and New Year's special edition (probably the high point of the entire series run, with Dylan in fine holiday fettle), Bob played Bob Seger's little-known but hot-revving "Sock It to Me, Santa." Playing Bob Seger is probably uncool enough that, say, Thurston Moore wouldn't be caught dead doing it, but Dylan went farther than that. Taking his cue from the Letters page at Rolling Stone circa 1979, he noted that although some considered Seger the poor man's Bruce Springsteen, he thought of Springsteen as the rich man's Bob Seger, adding, "Love 'em both, though." Love 'em both! How cool is that?

And who would have guessed Dylan would be this funny? Okay, anyone who's listened to "Bob Dylan's 115th Dream" would expect him to be funny, but who thought he'd come on like he was Jan Murray or something? Imagine, the same man who wrote "Gates of Eden" told this joke on the air:

How do you make a blonde's eyes twinkle? Shine a flashlight in her ear.

While discussing insomnia, Dylan noted that he likes to sleep way over on one edge of the bed, "so I always drop right off." He mentioned that he went out to dinner with announcer Pierre Mancini (purportedly a pseudonym for producer Eddie Gorodetsky, and clearly a pseudonym for somebody), then added, "The only difference between Pierre Mancini and a canoe is that a canoe occasionally tips."

You would think he was trying to get booked on Celebrity Sweepstakes.

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