Saturday, 20 June 2020


I was on BBC  Radio 4's Front Row last night, discussing the new Bob Dylan album, Rough & Rowdy Ways, and the TV adaptation of Eleanor Catton's Booker Prize-winning novel The Luminaries. Friday episodes are 45 minutes, so I thought we were going to have a longer amount of time to discuss each item, but unknown to me there were a number of other pieces going in the show, and they also did very well to have a fine interview about Ian Holm, who died that day. You can link to it here on BBC Sounds, our reviews (host Kirsty Lang and Guardian music writer Laura Barton) start at about 15 minutes in; the Holm tribute follows after them.

I have seen the first two episodes of the series, for which Catton herself did the adaptation, and I enjoyed them enough to watch on. As I said, I think as the two time-lines and locations converge, in the mining town of Hokitika: if they keep expanding the number of (male) characters they could lose the focus, and if they don't they need to keep the mystery, and the danger moving. One thing I didn't say was how much I thought Catton herself resembled NZ PM Jacinda Arden! Judge for yourselves.

As I said, I felt Dylan's record was his best in years, harking back to the song-writing of Blood On The Tracks, but with more of a feel of the Basement Tapes/John Wesley Harding years. It is elegiac, but when I thought about, those albums, after his motorcycle crash, were also in the vein of looking back. I was lucky to be able to squeeze in a Gregory Corso quote about Jack Kerouac into this context, and I have to say I thought it felt particularly appropriate.

I do intend to write reviews of both the record and the show here soon, so I won't say more, but have a listen to the show.

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