Bob Dylan’s songs are part of American consciousness, with sources and symbols drawing from old-time country and folk, blues and ballads, ancient and modern poetry, the beauties and absurdities of life, love and loss. His contributions to the big river of songs have grown and been recognized worldwide. The young man from Hibbing, Minnesota, is now an elder… a Nobel Laureate; but his listeners didn’t need that or any such weathervane to prize Bob Dylan. It was, and is, always in his words and voice, music and memory where fans and friends found inspiration. Bob’s songs ask questions and seek action. They remain timely in this dark season with a New Year ahead. We hear Dylan’s early, classic, rare and more recent recordings along with comments from Joan Baez and filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker (Don’t Look Back). Also Dylan’s music as played by the Byrds and the Band, Stevie Wonder and Nina Simone, Doug Sahm and Sandy Denny. We hope you enjoy listening to this program as much as we did making it.
Our “Sonic Season” includes Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzza and Boxing Day. We celebrate with New Orleans Zion Harmonizers live in our studio. Woody Guthrie sings a Hanukkah song while Bob Dylan tells of “Three Angels.” We interview a black Santa about his Christmas days in Vietnam, and Bob Dorough sings “Blue Xmas,” the song he wrote for Miles Davis. Meanwhile, life in America goes on… in hopes and dreams that bring light to the darkness…
This week on American Routes, we talk to Barbara Sims about her time working at Sun Studios as a publicist and promoter, and the search for the next Elvis. Then we dig into the archives for classic interviews with Sun’s founder Sam Phillips, Elvis’ sidemen DJ Fontana and Scotty Moore and the Killer, Jerry Lee Lewis. Then we head over to North Alabama for a conversation on love, God and music with soul and disco siren Candi Staton.
We celebrate the songmaker, piano “professor” and producer from New Orleans who passed away suddenly in November, 2015. A beloved Creole gentleman, Allen Toussaint was a hometown hero and giant on the American music scene. He wrote over 800 songs and produced regional and national hit records such as “Java” (Al Hirt), “Mother-in-Law” (Ernie K-Doe), “I Like it Like That” (Chris Kenner), “It’s Raining” (Irma Thomas), “Yes We Can” (Lee Dorsey) among others. Toussaint worked closely with the Meters, Neville Brothers, Dr. John, Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello. He is in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame and received the National Medal of Arts. Allen Toussaint’s famed autobiographical song is “Southern Nights.”