Our readers probably know by now that the "deluxe" edition of Together Through Life will include as a bonus disc the "Friends & Neighbors" Theme Time episode, first broadcast way back in Season 1, August of 2006. The track listing on Amazon matches up to the aired show, and I think one can safely assume that Our Host's commentary will be included.
"Friends & Neighbors" will be the second "official" full TTRH show to be released. The first, of course, was the "Baseball" show from Season 1, itself a not-for-sale promotional CD that was haphazardly distributed to some stores such as the now-defunct Circuit City. As I remember, you had to buy both Modern Times and at least one other Dylan CD at onerous CC prices in order to get your "free" copy of the "Baseball" show. Being the total TTRH fanboy that I am, I have two copies of the show. It still remains one of the best TTRHs ever aired, if, for no other reason, Mr. D's a capella rendition of the full Nellie Kelly version of Take Me Out To The Ball Game.
The Fan's Conundrum
Speaking of "official," there's been a minor kerfuffle in various online forums about Our Host's comments to a supposed email in this week's "Family" show. In reply to a listener's aside that she copies various TTRH episodes to pass on to her family, Mr. D. notes that he "can't condone that," goes into Ann Landers' mode to straighten out the listener's family problems, and concludes his commentary with a stern, "And stop giving my shows away!"
The comment generated some angst among fans. Is he talking about us? Does he mean it? What does that mean in relation to Mr. D.'s remark in an earlier show that listeners should go "illegally download" TTRHs that they've missed?
"Who knows?" is what we say here at Dreamtime. You can drive yourself crazy trying to parse any Bob Dylan remark, of course. If he said, "the sky is blue," there would be several articles - if not books - written on its exact meaning, postulating everything that it had been an ironic commentary on the American political situation to proof positive that Dylan was a Freemason.
On the other hand, he might have meant that the sky was blue.
The whole bootleg/download thing is something that any Bob Dylan fan has to confront and deal with on an individual basis. At Dreamtime we subscribe to Sirius XM as a means to assuage our conscience, and we encourage others in a position to do so to do the same. We also make copies of the show, usually for personal use only. Occasionally we make copies for family and friends. We don't sell them.
That still doesn't make it right. Plus, we have to deal with the fact that bootlegging is one of the few issues I can remember where Dylan's position has been unchanging and unyielding. Space travel is the only other subject I can think of where his opinion has been the same each time it's been brought up. He doesn't like either, period. He's compared bootleggers to thieves and house-breakers and complained that they've diluted his artistic opus. He won't play any new work on tour until it's been released on album for fear that the first release would be a bootlegged release... which, of course, it would.
So, we're dealing with a revered figure that has flatly said that he doesn't want us doing what we're doing, while we grasp at straws like, "some of these bootleggers they make pretty good stuff," in our defense.
Yet we still do it. Such is the conundrum of the fan.
It's a conundrum that even Our Host has fallen into at times. In at least three instances Theme Time Radio Hour has played bootlegged music: a Frank Sinatra commercial for Pete Epsteen Pontiac in the "Cars" episode of Season 1, and more recently, the "Blood" and "War" shows featured two Jerry Lee Lewis songs that have never been officially released. An obviously delighted Bob Dylan noted, "You know, if anybody ever asks me why I do this radio show, I could just play them that - Jerry Lee Lewis singing Shakespeare. That's what this show is all about."
Indeed. And we all would have been the poorer if he hadn't played them. Such is the conundrum of the fan.
Name That Tune
We'll leave it at that and with a question for our readership which is bugging the usually infallible crack Dreamtime research team. At the beginning of the "Truth & Lies" show, when Mr. D. claims that we're listening to Little Steven's Underground Garage, there's a song playing in the background. It's annoyingly familar to me, I can even hum it all the way through, but damned if I can think of its title or the artist. Can anyone clue me in?