Episodes

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Bob's Ballad Bases20110524

From Pretty Peggy-O on his first album, to Highlands in the 90s and beyond, folk songs and folk music have informed the melodic, thematic and structural roots of much of his work. As Radio 2's Dylan Season continues, Julie Fowlis examines and celebrates this British and Irish influence.

We hear from people involved in folk song who knew Dylan. Liam Clancy and Jean Redpath met him in New York's Greenwich Village in the early 1960s and we hear Bob himself acknowledge a debt to Liam as he performs a Scottish folksong, Lang A-Growing, at his first major New York concert in 1961.

Bob's visit to London in 1962 is recalled by Martin Carthy, who introduced Bob to a number of variants of English songs. We now also have the publisher demos, recorded soon after his return to the USA, among which are the earliest recordings of landmark songs such as Girl from the North Country and Bob Dylan's Dream, which were informed by his UK visit.

Other contributors include singers Christy Moore and Linda Thompson; the author Clinton Heylin, who has written many books on Dylan and his songs; while Rab Noakes, a singer-songwriter and this documentary's producer, demonstrates how the famous The Times They Are A-Changin' was possibly informed by Hamish Henderson's 51st Farewell to Sicily.

We hear how Dylan's songs exist in a long line, as we go behind the immediate influence to reveal the layers of the traditional sources and oral transmission. This all goes to underline Dylan's description of himself as a "link in the chain".

Julie Fowlis examines the influence of British and Irish folk music on Bob Dylan's work.

Dylan's Women20110523

As Radio 2's Bob Dylan season continues, Bob Harris takes a look at the women behind the songs and discovers how they influenced Dylan as an artist and songwriter.

Focusing largely on the music, tracks include Boots of Spanish Leather, which was written for Suze Rotolo; Like a Rolling Stone, which is said to be inspired by the model and socialite Edie Sedgwick; and Sara, Dylan's homage to his first wife Sara Lownds.

Folk singer Carolyn Hester remembers how Dylan was signed to Columbia after John Hammond saw him playing harmonica at one of her recording sessions. Bob was mesmerised by her singing: "You should have seen this little rough and scuffle little guy, with all this curly hair in the world, pulled his chair right up in front of me... he says, 'you wanna play that again?'"

Suze Rotolo met Dylan in the summer of 1961 and went on to inspire some of his most famous songs. Richard Williams, a journalist from the Guardian, explains how she also introduced him to theatre and artists he'd never heard of: "It wouldn't be exaggerating to say she opened up a new world to him." Richard also remembers the importance of the album cover for The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan which pictured Bob and Suze walking down a snowy Manhattan street.

Singer Joan Baez features, who describes how she opened him up to a wider audience: "I adored his music and I adored him... I would present him during my concert so certain credit is offered to me because of that." Billy Name, the archivist at Andy Warhol's Factory, explains the link between Dylan and Edie Sedgwick, who is said to have inspired the song Like a Rolling Stone. And photographer Elliott Landy remembers the time he spent with Bob and his first wife Sara Dylan at their home in Woodstock: "she had a calming effect and she bought him into a wonderful domestic family life".

Other contributors include film-maker DA Pennebaker; actress Sienna Miller; photographer and film director Jerry Schatzberg; Dylan's backing singer Ronee Blakley; and Dylan's first manager, Terri Thal, who remembers how hard it was to get Dylan booked for shows.

Who are the women behind some of Dylan's most revered songs? And how have they impacted on his music? We'll find out as we explore another side of Bob through the eyes of "Dylan's Women".

Bob Harris takes a look at the women behind Bob Dylan's songs.

The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan - A Folk Tribute2011051820130527

As Radio 2 celebrates Bob Dylan's 70th birthday, the cream of the British folk scene re-interprets songs from his iconic album The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. Mark Radcliffe guides us through a collection of specially recorded songs that illustrate not only Dylan's great writing skills, but also the inventiveness and creativity of British folk artists, some of whom inspired a young Dylan when he first visited Britain in the early 1960s.

Although Freewheelin' is Dylan's second studio album, it initiated the process of writing contemporary words to traditional melodies. Eleven of the thirteen songs on the album are original compositions and it contains several that came to be regarded as his best and classics of the 1960s folk scene: Blowin' in the Wind, Masters of War, A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall and Don't Think Twice, It's All Right.

In December 1962, partway through recording Freewheelin', a young Bob Dylan came to London for the first time where he met English folk singer Martin Carthy. Carthy taught Dylan the traditional songs Scarborough Fair and Lord Franklin, both of which would appear on the album just months later as Girl from the North Country and Bob Dylan's Dream. Almost fifty years on, we come full circle, as Bob Dylan's Dream is performed by Martin Carthy himself.

The cast list is a roll call of British folk's premier talents, with the complete track listing as follows: Blowin' in the Wind by Seth Lakeman; Girl from the North Country by Thea Gilmore; Masters of War by Martin Simpson; Down the Highway by While and Matthews; Bob Dylan's Blues by Ewan McLennan; A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall by Karine Polwart; Don't Think Twice, It's All Right by Ralph McTell; Bob Dylan's Dream by Martin Carthy; Oxford Town by Coope, Boyes and Simpson; Talkin' World War III Blues by Billy Bragg; Corrina, Corrina by Cara Dillon with The Scoville Units; Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance by Rory Mcleod; and I Shall Be Free by Rab Noakes with Fraser Speirs.

British folk artists re-create songs from the iconic album The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan.

01The Musical History Of Greenwich Village20110530

John Sebastian takes a nostalgic journey around Greenwich Village, New York, telling the story of a particularly creative period in modern music history.

John was born and raised in Greenwich Village and, while still at school in the early 50s, it became a focal point for a group of writers, poets, artists, and students known as the Beat Generation. Inspired by what he saw and heard around him, John became immersed in the folk and club scene that subsequently blossomed.

His skills on guitar and harmonica made him an instrumental component of the folk scene and he worked with Bob Dylan, Judy Collins and Tim Hardin, before forming the The Lovin' Spoonful in 1965 and enjoying success with hits like Do You Believe In Magic and Summer In The City.

The history of Greenwich Village is littered with influential names in contemporary music. John's journey highlights the important role it played in the careers of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, The Velvet Underground, The Kingston Trio, Richie Havens, Maria Muldaur, Tom Paxton, Phil Ochs, Joni Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix, Nina Simone, The Mamas and Papas, The Ramones, Blondie, Talking Heads, Miles Davis, and the most famous resident to become a major musical star in recent years - Lady Gaga.

The soundtrack to this journey features some of the most evocative and famous folk, rock, pop and jazz music recorded by residents of "The Village". Contributors include Steve Earle, Jac Holzman, Rick Rubin, Lenny Kaye, Richie Havens, John Cale, David Bailey, Jack Douglas, Bob Gruen and Julian Lennon.

John Sebastian explores the creative influence of Greenwich Village in New York.

02 LASTThe Musical History Of Greenwich Village20110531

In the second part of his journey through the musical history of Greenwich Village, John Sebastian highlights the continued impact Bob Dylan had on the music scene in the early 60s, how Jimi Hendrix was discovered playing in The Café Wha?, Andy Warhol's influential work with the Velvet Underground and Patti Smith, The New York Dolls, Blondie and Talking Heads striking the first chords in the birth of punk.

John Sebastian continues his journey through the musical history of Greenwich Village.