Arts and Entertainment

Does success in one genre guarantee it in another?

Bob Dylan 70th Birthday Season, BBC

Many happy returns Bob, love Auntie

Album: Thea Gilmore, John Wesley Harding (Fullfill)

Thea Gilmore's 70th birthday tribute takes the form of re-recording her favourite Dylan album in its entirety, triggered by her acclaimed 2002 cover of "I Dreamed I Saw St Augustine", which sustains its solemnity despite the inclusion of congas.

Is Philip Roth a truly great American novelist?

As a Booker judge resigns with a tirade against Philip Roth, Terence Blacker asks if a literary reputation is being rewritten

70 reasons why Bob Dylan is the most important figure in pop-culture history

Bob Dylan is 70 on Tuesday. Andy Gill gives that many reasons why he is a pop-culture colossus.

Bob Dylan denies censoring his shows in China

The voice of a generation isn’t easily silenced. Not according to Bob Dylan, who has issued a rare public statement denying speculation that he gave in to government censors by agreeing not to perform 60s-era protest songs during his recent tour of China.

Dylan Jones: 'The Canyon Country Store in LA is still the place to go for an espresso after partying all night in the Valley'

The Sixties are still very much alive and kicking in Los Angeles. If you know where to look, that is. Laurel Canyon is often written about as the place that gave the world Crosby, Stills and Nash – which is obviously why a lot of people hate it – the place that inspired Joni Mitchell's "Ladies of the Canyon", Danny Sugerman's Wonderland Avenue and the neighbourhood of benign bad behaviour. Everyone from Clara Bow and Christina Applegate to Frank Zappa and Marilyn Manson has lived there, and it retains a genuine local feel – an almost implausible ambition in LA. The area has also had its fair share of dark moments, not least the Wonderland murders in 1981, when four people were bludgeoned to death.

Dylan Jones: 'Bobby Darin was a sickly child, and his weak heart coloured pretty much everything that he did'

"Beyond the Sea" was the "Stairway to Heaven" of its day, beginning quietly, almost casually, and then building into something of a euphoric crescendo. Bobby Darin's swinging version was definitive – it's one of the greatest singles of its year (1959), a record that sounds as wistful today as it probably did when it was released.

Album: Randy Newman, The Randy Newman Songbook Vol 2 (Nonesuch)

There used to be an ad campaign claiming that "Nobody sings Dylan like Dylan", a boast that applies equally to Randy Newman.

Bob Dylan: Writings 1968-2010, By Greil Marcus

So here it is, the big one. America's top (or at any rate longest-lasting) rock critic on America's top (or at any rate longest-lasting) rock star. Except that it isn't. Anyone expecting something similar to, say, Harold Bloom on Shakespeare is going to be disappointed.

Dylan Jones: 'Most people’s favourite painting is fairly obvious, as they tend to be chosen when young'

Everyone, I would have thought, has a favourite painting. Yes, I realise it might be a little naff to admit this – in the same way that it's a little naff to admit to having a favourite book ("Oh, I just love One Day, have you read it?"), favourite record (usually Coldplay), favourite film (The Shawshank Redemption) or (the worst, this) favourite dish (I'm not going there) – but admitting a preference for a particular painting is a difficult thing to fake with any conviction. And because it's a preference that has to be considered – I don't know anyone who innately has a favourite work of art – it's usually a fairly big window into the soul.

Dylan Jones: 'A Wild Holy Band is an unapologetic road song'

In case anyone was in any doubt, magazine cover-mounted gifts have always been subject to the law of diminishing returns. I have rather a lot of previous in this area, and in my time have stuck CDs, videos, DVDs, books, memory sticks, posters, leather wallets, even sunglasses on the covers of various magazines I've worked for, and I've never known how effective they've been. Not only do many readers take free gifts for granted – is there any monthly music magazine that doesn't offer a free cover-mounted CD as a matter of course? – but as so many magazines offer them these days, they have long since ceased to be special. (Giving me a free memory stick? Can't I have a man-bag instead?)

Bob Dylan - Ballad of a thin man, from half a century ago

As Bob Dylan approaches 70, we present an exclusive, unseen extract from Robert Shelton's definitive, newly expanded, biography. Here, he goes behind the scenes of the singer's controversial 1966 'electric' tour

The Low Anthem, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Londo

We're only two songs in at the Queen Elizabeth Hall and already ill winds are blowing through a very delicate musical landscape. Ben Knox Miller, the lead singer and bandleader, is a mite displeased. "How come all your cameras," he swipes at the photographers crouching in front of the stage, capturing the last moments of the barely-there "Ticket Taker", "which I know are digital, still make a fake shutter sound?" Oops. Shush, everyone. It's The Low Anthem.

Joan Smith: How many times can a man turn his head?

Protest has given him a living, but Bob Dylan said nothing about Ai Weiwei and human rights when he meekly performed in China

Album: Alexander, Alexander (Rough Trade)

How do you begin to assess an artist whose work – in both his Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros mode and here – ranges from the sublime (the hippie-hip-hop-meets-Morricone classic "Truth") to the ridiculous (the Dylan pastiche that is "Bad Bad Love")?

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