Bob Dylan Keeps On A-Changin'

bob dylan 60 minutes CBS

Coming from the radio speakers, Bob Dylan sounds as craggy and weather-beaten as he looks — and quite playful, too.

The rock 'n' roll poet, who turned 65 on Wednesday, is carving out a new role as a part-time radio disc jockey. His weekly "Theme Time Radio Hour" airs at 10 a.m. EDT Wednesdays on XM Satellite Radio, with Dylan as both curator and narrator. (It's available eight times throughout the week.)

Much like his concerts, Dylan's radio shows are a journey through 20th-century musical Americana, the sort of thing he would have heard growing up in Minnesota with a transistor radio hidden under his pillow when he went to bed.

So far, about the only thing missing is Bob Dylan music, unless you count the off-key verse of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" that he croaked at the beginning of this week's show on baseball.

Each week Dylan builds his show around a theme, like the weather and drinking songs. For Mother's Day, he celebrated moms with an hour that mixed Buck Owens' "I'll Go to Church With Mama," Ruth Brown's "Mama He Treats Your Daughter Mean" and LL Cool J's "Mama Said Knock You Out."

The majority of the music Dylan plays predates his own rise to fame.

"I think it's more akin to the way radio sounded in 1952 than it does in 2006," said Lee Abrams, XM Satellite Radio's chief creative officer.

Dylan's entertaining baseball show also mixed in calls from classic baseball games, like Curt Gowdy announcing Ted Williams' home run in his final at-bat with the Boston Red Sox.

He refreshingly avoids the obvious: Dylan spins Billy Bragg and Wilco's "Joe DiMaggio Done it Again" and not Simon & Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson" ("where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio ..."). He plays Buddy Johnson's "Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball" and ignores John Fogerty's overexposed "Centerfield."

"If diamonds are a girl's best friend, why do so many girls get mad when you want to go to the ballpark?" Dylan says during this week's show. "You tell me."

That sort of absurdist humor is what may most surprise listeners. Dylan told mother-in-law jokes a la Henny Youngman during one show ("I just came back from a pleasure trip — took my mother-in-law to the airport"). He discussed — seriously, we think — watching the old country-flavored musical/variety TV series "Hee Haw."

  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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