Richard Williams


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Journalist Richard Williams joins us to talk Dylan and to surf “the waves of his career”, from Freewheelin’ (“one revelation after another”) to Murder Most Foul (“I was astonished by it. The level of detail. It’s like a John Coltrane quartet.”). Richard reminds us of “one of the great things I learned from Dylan: if you don’t understand something, that doesn’t invalidate it”.

Our discussion includes generally unloved albums like Knocked Out Loaded (“Brownsville Girl contains the best single line of phrasing in Dylan’s entire canon”) and Down In The Groove (“we all lose our way a bit but the last three tracks are really very good”). Since writing his 1991 Bob Dylan book, A Man Called Alias, Richard has remained a true believer. “His phrasing has always been astonishing. Like that list of flowers he recites on Theme Time Radio Hour. He reads a seed catalogue and makes it sound like Visions of Johanna”. Prepare for the concise and clear musings of one of the best Bob brains out there in this ‘lectric episode.

Richard Williams is a music and sports journalist. He was a writer, then deputy editor, at the weekly music newspaper Melody Maker, where he became an influential commentator on the rise of rock music in the 1960s. From 1970, he contributed to the Times. He left journalism to join Island Records’ A & R department, becoming department head. He was the first presenter of the BBC2 rock show The Old Grey Whistle Test and later became editor of the London listings guide Time Out and then Melody Maker. He also worked at the Sunday Times and the Independent On Sunday. Richard’s music journalism has been gathered in the volume Long Distance Call: Writings On Music. He has written biographies of Dylan, Miles Davis (The Man In The Green Shirt) and Phil Spector (Out Of His Head). Williams is also the former chief sports writer of the Guardian (he has written several books on Formula One). His comments about music and film, photography and art are published in his blog, The Blue Moment.

Bob Dylan: Where to start in his back catalogue (The Guardian)

2021/2020 selected blog pieces:

When the Supremes met Jimmy Webb

Bob Dylan in Surbiton

The Band at the Albert Hall

Bob Dylan and Barbara Allen



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Recorded 16th March 2021

This show is part of Pantheon Podcasts

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