This week’s Bob Backwards feature lands on a big year for me. 1980.
In a weird way we pass like ships in the night. Bob found Evangelical fundamentalism just as I was losing it.I remember the atmosphere at that time. I had graduated in June of 1980 and spent that summer commencing work for the first time. Except that it wasn’t really like work at all. I had decided not to take the teaching post offered to me and work as a volunteer for a city centre church in Dundee. It was a brilliant summer spent getting involved in various pieces of youth work, renovating a flat where I would be based along with a couple of pals and falling in and out of love with a girl. Oh yes, and there would be some time spent in an odd band I had become involved in who were mainly based in Edinburgh. (I know!)
The reason I probably never bought a copy of Saved by Bob Dylan was that I probably couldn’t afford it. I was on a volunteer wage and many of the records I did have were stolen or scratched to bits by various folk who came calling around our place at that time. I also (half- heartedly) joined in with my cousin Laura’s post punk year zero approach and started flogging off anything pre 1977….but that’s another story.
However there is another reason that I’ve never listened to ‘Saved’ until this week. Bob was going where I’d been and, if I’m honest, I’ve never really wanted to go back to that place. I’m not a good fundamentalist at anything. I think, however, it doesn’t agree with many of us when it snakes its way into religion. I was enjoying uncertainty for the first time in a long time. Living where I was and meeting the people I met meant the answers I’d trotted out for years came over as a little glib. Bob was singing about ‘salvation’ and having found it. What does it mean to be saved and still live below the bread-line, what does it matter to be told Jesus loves you if the reality you experience is that no one loves you enough to give you a job? I’m guessing I never listened to the album as I found the triumphalism of the sleeve too off-putting. It would be 9 years before I found myself enjoying a Dylan album, a lot of things happened in those 9 years and I felt happier when he started asking questions again and allowing the answers to blow in the wind a little.
I listened to the record for the first time from beginning to end today finally. I’ll tell you my full thoughts on the record tomorrow – not that it matters a jot what I think – safe to say there are some great things to play.
We have no guest artist tomorrow and it’s a good thing. I have a pile of records I want to play and gigs I want to tell you about. Look out for some fine old things from Emmylou Harris, Diana Jones and Neil Young. New things from Gregory Alan Isakov,Nathaniel Rateliff and the great Matraca Berg and some lovely new music from Scotland in the shape of Starwheel Press.
And …….I’m going to tell you about the night I didn’t have and the one I did have in this great building…
It all starts at five past eight on Friday evening. BBC Radio Scotland.