Jesse Jarnow

the theme time radio hour with bob dylan

Not sure if it’s still available, but XM Radio posted the first episode of the Theme Time Radio Hour With Your Host Bob Dylan (username: press1, password: xmr0ck5!). About a million miles from contemporary radio, it is exactly the type of show I would’ve loved to discover late at night in high school when I was supposed to be asleep. Where Dylan to come on, and were he just a random announcer and not actually Bob Dylan, I would’ve likely thought “who talks like this?” His phrases are occasionally awkward, his spoken recitations of songs’ lyrics kind of hilarious, and his attempt at introducing Stevie Wonder in Italian is endearing.

But I’m equally sure that I would’ve kept listening, because the DJ sounds like he’s from another planet. In a good way, too. “If you think the sun is too hot, at least you don’t have to shovel it,” he says near the end of the weather-themed episode. (“Spoken like a true Minnesotan,” a friend commented.)

The music is great, mostly drawn from that ancient period before, well, Dylan was Dylan. There’s Muddy Waters and the Carter Family, of course. But there’s also Frank Sinatra and Martin, Joe Jones’ proto-surf-rock (“California Sun”) and cinematic Judy Garland (Come Rain or Shine”). There’s calypso (Lord Beginner’s “Jamaica Hurricane”) and tremolo-kissed gospel (The Staples Singers’ “Uncloudy Day”). I can’t say I’m going to subscribe to XM just to get Dylan’s show, but I’ll certainly make an effort to track it down (and would probably even purchase it on a per-episode basis, were that option to be reasonably offered).