- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Where’ve I been? What’s my story?

To paraphrase Steven Tyler, I’ve been sick as a dog. Better now, thanks for asking.

Anyway, it’s probably for the best that I was laid-out the past couple of days. It’s been nothing but horrible, horrible news, what with the Amish girl-killer in southeastern Pennsylvania to our own and unlamented former congressman, Mark Foley. You all know the sordid story. What you don’t know — and may not care to know — is that I once received a very strangely social-sounding phone message from Foley the day after meeting him at a literary party. Didn’t think much of it then. Makes much more sense now.

Anyway, on to less unnerving things, like the fact that, on his latest album, Bob Dylan seems once again to have borrowed lyrics from an obscure source — in this case, the 19th-century American poet Henry Timrod. (Did Dylan perhaps come across the South Carolinian’s stuff while he was cooking up a contribution to the “Gods and Generals” soundtrack?)

Bobphiles will, of course, recall Dylan doing something similar with his 2001 album “Love and Theft,” some of whose lyrics bore a striking resemblance to passages written by Japanese novelist Junichi Saga.

I don’t mind this kind of thing, really. Like Chuck Berry said, “We ain’t doin’ anything that Mozart ain’t already done.” If anything, it’s proof of the wide range of Dylan’s reading. He’s something like the John Updike of rock! He could, however, stand to be a bit more open about his inspirers.

Before I sign off, let me mention a singer-songwriter I’ve been listening to quite a bit lately — Adem. He’s a pots-and-pans multi-instrumentalist from the U.K., and his songs are somehow both very space-trippy and earthy. The disc I’ve got — “Love and Other Planets,” his second — is uneven, but the first track, “Warning Call,” is an absolute knockout. If you find yourself so inclined, Adem is at IOTA Club & Caf Sunday night.


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