Archive Fun: Bob Dylan

May 24, 2011

Though we have never got Bob Dylan to appear on A Prairie Home Companion, he has had a great influence on the music we present. To celebrate Dylan's 70th birthday on May 24th, we will take you on a tour of the on-line archives and discover some incredible performances of Dylan songs.

Robert Allen Zimmerman was born 24 May 1941 in Duluth, Minnesota. His family moved to Hibbing, Minnesota where he taught himself piano and guitar and formed several high school rock bands. He began performing as Bob Dylan at clubs in Minneapolis in 1959. The following year, he moved to New York and was soon signed by Columbia Records. Bob Dylan is one of the leading pioneers of the singer/songwriter generation. His music spoke to people. He was named by Time magazine as one of the "100 most influential people of the 20th century"; he has won Grammys, Oscars and Golden Globe awards for his music; Rolling Stone magazine ranked him No. 2 on its list of "Greatest Artists of All Time" (behind the Beatles); and he has even been nominated many times for the Nobel Prize in Literature and received an honorary Pulitzer Prize for his "profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power."

Bruce Springsteen said of Dylan: "Bob freed your mind the way Elvis freed your body. He showed us that just because music was innately physical did not mean that it was anti-intellectual."

Rich Dworsky

We begin our salute to Bob Dylan with a performance by Rich Dworsky. Since 1986, Rich has led The Guy's All-Star Shoe Band and appears as keyboardist, composer, and arranger. Other than the "Catchup" song, you rarely hear him sing. That changed with this riotous version of "The Times They Are A-Changin'." The song was performed in honor of Dylan's 60th birthday and featured new lyrics by Garrison Keillor.

"The Times They Are A-Changin'"


Sketches and comedy routines are a large part of A Prairie Home Companion. In the early '80s when Prairie Home first started going national, Robin and Linda Williams would drive by car to the Twin Cities, stay at Garrison's house, and would perform on 2-3 shows. One day, they were sitting on Garrison's porch after dark and he said "I am thinking about this week and what I would like is a medley of Broadway songs done bluegrass. Think of some names and we will do it as a record company promotion from Do-Tell records. So we came up with Marvin and Mavis Smiley and he added The Manhattan Valley boys." The routines were a memorable parts of the summer tours throughout the '80s and '90s. Marvin and Mavis still occassionaly make a cameo on the show. Here is a very rousing and funny sketch called "Bob Dylan: Blowin' in the Bluegrass" from 2002.

"Bob Dylan: Blowin' in the Bluegrass"


Old Crow Medicine Show

We welcomed back some old friends in October 2009 to perform one of their best known hits — a song based on lyrics originally composed by Bob Dylan. Here we present the boot-stompin', fiddle-pluckin', heart-breakin' "Wagon Wheel" by Old Crow Medicine Show.

"Wagon Wheel"




Andra Suchy is a frequent duet partner of Garrison. On the cruise and at concerts, a crowd favorite is their version of Dylan's "If Not For You." They have performed this song memorably on the show several times including the 4th of July A Prairie Home Companion 35th Anniversary birthday bash attended by over 10,000 fans on a few weeks notice.

"If Not For You"




Roseanne Cash

Rosanne Cash was a conduit of country music heritage, articulating the classics in her own stunning voice. She joined the show in 2009 to promote The List which is a collection of 100 essential country songs passed on to her by her father, Johnny Cash. Among the gems on the list was "Girl From the North Country."

"Girl from the North Country"




Here is a tune performed in 2009 from Duluth, Minnesota. It is preceeded by a few words about Bob Dylan by Garrison Keillor. A gorgeous duet by Joe Ely and Pat Donohue of "Tomorrow Is a Long Time."

"Tomorrow Is a Long Time"




Growing up in rural Maine, Heather Masse sang hymns and folk songs around home with her family. Now based in New York, this New England Conservatory of Music alum is a one-third of the Juno Award-winning Canadian trio The Wailin' Jennys. Here, she is joined by Garrison Keillor and The Guy's All Star Shoe Band on "Mozambique."

"Mozambique"




Leon Redbone

You can't miss him: Leon Redbone, in the dark glasses, the hat — the dapper gent with the great gravelly voice and one-of-a-kind interpretations of classic American song. Leon was joined by Cindy Cashdollar and Arnie Kinsella on a cover of Dylan's "Livin' the Blues" when the show traveled to Erie, Pennsylvania in 2004.

"Living the Blues"


Dan Newton is in eight bands and does solo acts in two incarnations, one as the sophisticated Accordioniste and the other as the funky Daddy Squeeze and His Ethnoclectic Accordion. The bands all get good reviews; people write things like "quietly dazzling" and "the Cafe' Accordion Orchestra is the real deal." He says he just likes to play music and the only way to do that is to keep working. His bands cover everything from Paris, France, to Paris, Texas, and they can stop in Chicago, Nashville, Memphis and New Orleans on the way. Here, he travels north for a Polka inspired by the music of Bob Dylan. Dan is joined by The Guy's All Star Shoe Band on the "Bob Dylan Polka."

"Bob Dylan Polka"


Maria Muldaur

Maria Muldaur grew up in Greenwich Village surrounded by music of every sort. At five years old, she was already singing Kitty Wells songs, while her aunt played piano. In her teens, she branched out into R&B and rock 'n' roll and formed her own girl group, the Cashmeres. During the '60s folk revival, she joined the Even Dozen Jug Band and later the Jim Kweskin Jug Band. It was during this period she met a young Bob Dylan. Here she shares a few stories before regalling us with "Buckets of Rain" which was first featured on the Blood on the Tracks album.

"Buckets of Rain"


A song by Pat Donohue and Joe Savage. When you hear him play, you understand why Chet Atkins said he "was one of the greatest finger-pickers in the world today." Pat is joined by Joe Savage—a multi-instrumentalist and frequent guest musician with APHC's Guy's All-Star Shoe Band. Joe is a fixture on the Twin Cities music scene, performing with a number of artists in addition to keeping up his work as a studio musician. He is a two-time Minnesota Music Award winner and recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Minnesota Rock and Country Hall of Fame. Pat and Joe team up on a great rendition of "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright."

"Don't Think Twice, It's Alright"




There are so many great performances in the online archive. The majority of A Prairie Home Companion broadcasts since 1996 are available for your listening pleasure. Many of the shows can be heard in their entirety or parts that have been cleared. Have fun, explore and find some gems by browsing through the years.

Old Sweet Songs: A Prairie Home Companion 1974-1976

Old Sweet Songs

Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).

Available now»

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