Shot of Love, Dylan's last explicitly Christian release, is also the most solid of his "born again" era. The album features the best overall collection of songs penned by Dylan at the time, and the record isn't as heavy-handed as the two previous outings, though it's not without one massive clunker — the plodding "Lenny Bruce," Dylan's eulogy to the late comedian. The title track balances its theological lyrics with some biting blues riffs, while "Heart of Mine" is one of Dylan's best pop songs, period. "The Groom's Still Waiting at the Altar" rocks like "Subterranean Homesick Blues," and "Dead Man, Dead Man" rides a reggae vibe, with an insisting baritone sax blurting away under the chorus. "Trouble" examines the curse of Adam with a nasty, dry snare-heavy rhythm, and closer "Every Grain of Sand" features beautiful harmonica work and one of Dylan's finest vocal performances.

Following these albums, Dylan quickly distanced himself from strident, "born again" proclamations. In a 1997 interview with Newsweek, he stated: "Here's the thing with me and the religious thing. This is the flat-out truth: I find the religiosity and philosophy in the music. I don't find it anywhere else."

Thus, the Christian Dylan remains simply another chapter in his string of chameleon-like public personas, as anthologized in Todd Haynes' brilliant 2007 film I'm Not There. Who knows where or when exactly Dylan experienced his moment with Christ, or whether it was ever as literal as Heylin suggests? What we're left with is an enduring myth, a story that illustrates in vivid detail a moment when Dylan decided he was going to "serve somebody," resulting in three interesting albums and a couple of killer gospel tunes.

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8 comments
Metalgddess
Metalgddess

Hey thanks for such a great story, but I coulda done without the Rod Stewart rumour after reading about Bob Dylan's spiritual experiences.. yuk!

Jason P. Woodbury
Jason P. Woodbury

Hey, sincere and gracious thanks for you taking the time to read. I don't claim that Dylan "abandoned Jesus." I have no idea where he stands religiously as of today, but he certainly isn't making explicitly Christian records like the three I discuss here these days.

Keesdegraaf
Keesdegraaf

Do you really believe he has abandoned Jesus? He never did this. If he did why would the tour speaker on each and every concert - for so many years on end now - proclaims that "who (that is Dylan) emerged to find Jesus"? Your article just doesn't make sense.

Rkelly8
Rkelly8

I strongly disagree that Lenny Bruce was a bad song. You're also giving Haynes' movie far too much credit, because it perpetuates a myth: that Dylan keeps "changing." If you truly follow his career, he's remained true to his core. He began his career singing about God and he's never stopped (hence, your comment that he "distanced himself" is too simplistic). He's not a "religious" or "Christian" singer, but he's a spiritual one...and thank God for that!

naoma
naoma

What was Bob smoking?

Found God in a hotel? Usually people find "him" when they are in PRISON.Sounds like a bit of a stretch...

Tobias
Tobias

great article Jason. very balanced! looking forward to the future w you at the helm.

helentroy4
helentroy4

Jason - the truth is as near as the Maricopa County Recorder of Deeds. Take a look.

Jason P. Woodbury
Jason P. Woodbury

Thanks for reading, R Kelly. I guess we'll have to disagree about "Lenny Bruce," but I completely agree with you that Dylan is a "spiritual" singer.

 
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