Church of Bob

Here’s to memories, to constancy, and to humour:

Church of Bob

The Church of Bob

This is the story: Ten years ago, I was sitting on the lawn outside the library with a beer and my good friend and fine Dylan interpreter Lars. Somehow, the similarities between Bob and Jesus came up: Carpenter/Zimmerman Jews from the north going south to change the world; performing their most important work in the country’s main city at 33, etc.

Since I was extremely busy at the time, working 24/7 to finish my Ph.D. in time (i.e., while I was still 33), I immediately sat down and turned our chat into a website.

I had this idea that it would be fun if it was completely anonymous: a full-scale religious framework developed solely out of religious fervor and love for the Cause. I think I spent more time on it than it deserved, and then I forgot all about it.

But that’s the nice thing about the net: I had almost forgotten that it existed, I have no idea anymore how to log in to the server, but it’s still there, the counter has been ticking in two visits a day and is now up to 21977, and it’s as anonymous as it ever was (which means that my name is there in the source code — this was in the days of Microsoft Front Page, and I’m not ashamed to admit it).

And I still think it’s hilarious . . .

Update: I couldn’t stand looking at that crappy html of the original site, so I decided to clean it up a bit. Since I can’t get in there, I put up a new version at a website near you. I cleaned up some of the mess, but left the layout mostly intact, as a memento of how things used to be. Don’t expect the external links or the mail address to work, though. The original is still over here.

15 thoughts on “Church of Bob

  1. I’m afraid so. Doesn’t make me any happier than you, but that’s how it is…
    You, my dear lady, was in fact the only one apart from Lars and myself who knew the true identity of the dark master of the Church of Bob.
    But to say that you “helped” is an understatement worth the name. Wasn’t that all your work, basically?

  2. HA! Friggin’ hilarious!!!
    However, the summum feast status of the Desire release date (and NADA for the Blood on the Tracks release) has convinced me that the church has lost its way. I feel called to form a splinter sect immediately… to the wilderness!!!

  3. I think there’s a perfectly logical explanation to that (and not a matter of religious mystery): the plan that all the record release dates should be summum, but I came to the point where I was overpowered by the size of that file, and I stopped before it was finished.
    So what you need is not a splinter sect, but a more efficient master of ceremonies…

  4. Hmm… I wonder what the “cumbersome html” of the 1st century would’ve been?
    As for the emcee… Impossible!
    Might come close if Al Kooper, Robbie Robertson and Denny Friedman agreed to share the duties following intensive web design training… but otherwise, Impossible!

  5. I would like to take into account during the religious discussions on this page the false teachings of our lord, when Bob Dylan’s evil twin Robber Sinnerman outsang the muse, fools stepped in, three angels flew away etc.; these are found scattered throughout many holy works. I am of course speaking of Dylan’s worst lyrics and rhymes. I would enjoy hearing others interpretations of the texts. Most of Dylan’s false teachings stem from loose association of awful images that dont come together as a coherent whole. My top (or bottom) three are: No.1 Gotta Serve Somebody “You may be a state trooper, you might be a young turk, you might be the head of a big TV network” in this song our saviour seems to have picked everyone who rhymes to serve somebody. No.2 If Not For You “If not for you… I wouldnt have a clue, I’d be sad and blue, if not for you”. In this text our saviour seems to have reverted to the age of a nine year-old with a crayon. No.3 Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 “Well they’ll stone ya when you’re walking along the street… They’ll stone ya when you’re walkin’ to the door”. During this composition our saviour appears to have been stoned and was frequently getting stoned on floors, at doors, seats, at home, at tables and in cars. Unfortunately this song is not funny enough to justify the plethora of stoning. P.S I have chosen some of the most well-known apochrypha but fertile grounds for apochrypha reside in Self Portrait, outtakes and the 80’s. Please leave your nominations (Rabbi Eyolf would be the cream on the unleavened bread if he commented). If ye all get whiny we could do a best of dylan lyrically thingy, but its so annoying when someone’s so good to focus on how awesome the are.

  6. Ah — my dear, young Oisin. You are so right, and yet so wrong.
    Right you are in pointing out what in secular terms and less humble circumstances might be called lyric shortcomings, and your examples are well chosen. I could mention quite a few others from New Morning, but religious fervour — as is usually the case — keeps me from making this misjudgement.

    For right as you are, you are nevertheless wrong — wrong in assuming there is a Robber Sinnerman.
    Ye have heard it said: “He may have written some strong lyrics, but he ain’t no King Midas.”
    But verily, I tell ye: “When ye think his images are weak, think again. When ye think he uses an unfit word, remember: he is the word, the word bends to his will, if he uses it, it is the right word; if his language seems wrong, language itself is to blame, not he.

  7. I feel a holy war a-brewing and I live a few catholic miles away from the queen’s cursed border, so I know (hail to the spud, ye fruit of the fruitiest, quickened to life by the holy breath(you may not know but that’s how the troubles started: when the queen refused to recognise sthe potato as holt sustenance after the vatican declared it next to the lamb and unleavened bread in the texts)). The Bible has its apocrypha, the Qu’uran its “Satanic verses” (I’m stayin’ clear of that one, I think those verses are my favourite myself) and Dylan himself in his Confessions… I mean Chronicles admitted the falsity of Self-portrait and the eponymous album and how the former was a deviation, such as Zarathustra claimed, to rid himself of followers who couldn’t expand, so my suggestion was only to weed out the holy from the… well… not-so-holy. It is well known Dylan was possessed during the 60’s trilogy and how do we know that that being Possessed didn’t Dostoyevskey up his white ass. The cross-roads weren’t in Nashville, in a word. Where does the word end and the man begin? Dylan has cried out on various crosses “why have I been forsaken”. And how did you classify the festivals of dylan, if not by worthiness of inclusion in the canon. Thou art licentious. It is more blasphemous to think that the saviour who wrote “Not Dark Yet” could also write the foul “Belle Isle”. Dylan’s too clever to be good all the time. You have made the grievous fault of opening the texts to interpretation of the masses, thereby opening a diet of worms… I mean “can” of course. Best wishes, a fan, from your nemesis.

  8. I used to be a devout follower of the Church of Bob. I believed in the literal translation of the holy texts: Dylan said “Don’t stand in the doorway”; I have have killed four people who stood in doorways. But Bob would not have smiled upon my actions. In Workingman Blues Dylan sleeps in a door and blocks up the hall! I suffered a dark spiritual crisis. But I was foolish, Lord Bob, I have grown. An image may be just an image but you are too infinite for literal translation. And thus I hereaby renounce and denounce the Church of Bob. And I’m issuing bob-wah’s on the major heretics and willing to pay five pieces of Bobgold for each scalp bestowed unto me. I am a protest-singer-ant.

    Anyways, In other news in keeping with the churches beliefs, I would like to propose the catchy “Best-Version-Of-A-Dylan-Song-Album-Versions Included-Thing”. I propose Desolation Row on Unplugged, Visions of Johanna at Royal Albert, and anything on Rolling Thunder. Rabbi Eyolf wrote a sweet-ass article on Can’t Wait, Bootleg 9 making his preference for that album. Contributions? Comments? ANYBODY?! ='(

  9. In light of my previous, wonderful contribution, I am yet undecided on the best version of Like A Rolling Stone (its not on 61 and we can safely rule out Self-Portrait). I’m stuck between the version on unplugged, which is better musically (those divine strings), and the version on bootleg 4 which always sends shivers down my spine when he plays it so fucking loud. What thinks you Rabbi Eyolf? It is the criteria of criticism to choose betwixt necessities. Slainte

  10. I actually have a soft spot for the version on Self Portrait — contrary to what one might think, given my attitude towards that album. It may not be the best version, but it certainly is the most hilarious, different, energetic, strange one. I don’t know what he was on during the ’66 tour, but on that particular track from Isle of Wight he sounds like he’s on acid mixed with helium (the “Fly high” coctail).
    Another favorite is the one from the last night of the 66 tour, the one which is “dedicated to the Taj Mahaaal” and where he claims that “we’ve enjoyed every moment of being here”. If anything, he sings “How does it feel” as if he means it.

  11. I’m not sure how he felt on the Isle, but he sounded pretty awful. But I suppose its all opinions ‘n’ shit in the end.

  12. Eyolf Østrem, you’ve done much for not only a trans-generational and classless community of Dylan devotees, but, also, for each hopeful person who realizes Art is an activity of “being-with” others.

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