Inside Dylan’s Brain: “Not All Songs About Crying Are Necessarily Sad”

Totally true, and just one tiny bit of wisdom you can nab from Bob Dylan if you’ve spent any time listening to his rather excellent XM satellite-radio program, Theme Time Radio Hour. We’ve definitely imbibed (a couple years ago Brandon even detailed his love in print), but we haven’t taken the analysis as far as Vanity Fair, who’ve gone about “cataloguing the themes [he’s] chosen for the episodes, the artists he has favored, and Dylan’s other preferences and quirks … [constructing] a revealing portrait of America’s most enigmatic musician.” Of course, this pop psychology is heavily resting on the idea that Dylan’s choosing everything himself, not working with all those writers and producers attached to the program. But whatever, it’s fun! On the VF website, they’ve expanded the list that appears in the May issue of the magazine: We hoped that if we studied closely enough, we’d figure out that Victoria’s Secret commercial (because we already got the Cadillac hawking). Turns out, we were in luck…


See, right under a section called “Useful Tips.” Via VF:

How to Hang Dry Wall

What to Pack When You’re Traveling

How to Walk Like A Runway Model

How to Give Yourself Dreadlocks

Spot it? Other sections we found helpful (for one thing or another):

The Themes

Weather, Mother, Drinking, Baseball, Coffee, Jail, Fathers, Wedding, Divorce, Summer, Flowers, Cars, Rich Man/Poor Man, The Devil, Eyes, Dogs, Friends & Neighbors, Radio, The Bible, Musical Maps, School, Telephone, Water, Time, Guns, Halloween, Dance, Sleep, Food, Thanksgiving Leftovers, Tennessee, Moon, Countdown, Christmas, Women’s Names, Hair, Musical Instruments, Luck, Tears, Laughter, Heart, Shoes, Color, Texas, Trains, Fools, New York, Death & Taxes, Spring Cleaning, Hello, Youth & Age, Days of the Week, California, Classic Rock, Cadillac, Head to Toe, Smokin’, Dreams, Party, Countdown One, Walkin’, Around the World, Lock & Key, Mail, President’s Day, Doctors, Danger, Birds, Joe, Heat, Cold

Poets References

Aesop, W.H. Auden, St. Basil, Bertolt Brecht, Gwendolyn Brooks Charles Bukowski, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Gregory Corso, Stephen Crane e.e. cummings, TS Eliot, Robert Frost, Ted Hughes, C.S. Lewis, Christopher Marlowe, Sylvia Plath, Alexander Pope, Rainer Maria Rilke Anne Sexton, Shakespeare, Gertrude Stein, Jonathan Swift, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Dylan Thomas, William Butler Yeats

Authors Referenced

Cervantes, Anton Chekhov, Herman Hesse, Oliver Wendell Holmes, James Joyce, Jack Kerouac, Marcel Proust, Edgar Allan Poe

Playwrights Referenced

Molière, George Bernard Shaw

But most of all we love his Deep Thoughts like “Lipstick traces on cigarettes can get you in trouble or remind you of the wonders of the night before” (it’s also a good book!) and “All of our shows are for truckers, if not about truckers.” There are also “Bad Jokes” a la “My friend’s wife is a really bad cook. I broke a tooth on her coffee.” This is why he won the Pulitzer. Check out the agglomeration here. There are recipes. Now we need someone to do one of these for Al Roker. Gabe?

Tags: Bob Dylan