Bob Dylan’s Theme Time Radio Hour

BOB DYLAN KNOWS a lot of songs. His own extensive—and wordy—catalogue aside, the covers he performed live between 1988 and 2000 alone take up nine CDs. This is nothing new—Dylan has been absorbing everyone else’s repertoire since before his 1962 debut album, Bob Dylan, which combined songs and arrangements he had learned from Eric von Schmidt, Dave Van Ronk, and others. In the oral history of the folk revival Baby, Let Me Follow You Down, von Schmidt describes a typical visit from Dylan back in the day: “He wasn’t much interested in playing; he wanted to listen. So I played. . . . It was something, the way he was soaking up material in those days—like a sponge and a half. Later somebody said, ‘Hey, Bob’s put one of your songs on his album.’”

Since May, Dylan has been using his preternatural memory in a new way, as DJ for a show on XM Satellite Radio, Theme Time Radio Hour with Your Host

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