Time has been short of late, but here are some interesting things I’ve come across:
- Another volume in Dylan’s Bootleg Series was released late in October. This one, Volume 9: The Witmark Demos, is a 2-disc set of early recordings. Some of the 47 songs are familiar from Dylan’s early records, though they are given here in different versions, and a fair number were previously heard, also in slightly different versions, on the Bootleg Series, Volume 1. Even so, this is a wonderful collection. Dylan was in his early 20s when he wrote the songs, and we can hear him trying his hand at the various genres of American roots music. Not all of the songs are of the highest quality, but many are very good, and that voice.
- Speaking of Dylan, the bad boys at Korrektiv have dug up a project from a few years back called Gotta Serve Somebody: The Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan, in which gospel music luminaries tackled Dylan’s overtly Christian songs. It sounds terrific.
- Speaking of gospel, I have been listening a lot lately to Mavis Staples’ recent record You Are Not Alone, and I am loving it. Here is the title track in a spare arrangement. Jeff Tweedy is on guitar, but it’s the voice and the song that are the real attractions:
- Speaking of attractions, the teenaged girls of the world and I were anticipating Taylor Swift’s latest record, which dropped a week or two ago, and has since sold gazillions of copies. There’s nothing on it quite as beguiling as “Love Story”, but it’s a good record that, on balance, I think I like better than its predecessors. The critics, too, have generally seen fit to praise rather than pan.
- Speaking of pan, I came across an interesting panel discussion on the theme “The Imagination of C.S. Lewis”. The participants are Douglas Wilson (who recently co-published a book with Christopher Hitchens), N.D. Wilson (who is currently writing a screenplay for The Great Divorce), and Alan Jacobs (author of The Narnian). It’s a wide-ranging conversation, touching on Narnia, the Space Trilogy, Planet Narnia, the film adaptations, Tolkien, and other topics, from people who know what they’re talking about. I found it worth my time. [Unembeddable, but viewable here.]
- Speaking of Narnian film adaptations, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader will be released in just a few weeks. This will be the first film in the series not directed by Andrew Adamson, so there are perhaps some grounds for hope that it will capture the Narnian magic better than its predecessors did. We’ll see.
- Speaking of magic, David Bentley Hart, who surprised me some months ago by recommending a book called The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies, follows up with a short philosophical essay inspired by garden fairies.