Singer-songwriter Bob Dylan is one of the more inscrutable — and yet accessible — music legends. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member, and the only songwriter to receive a Nobel Prize in literature, tours regularly, releases new recordings and even has his own whiskey label.
But fully understanding the publicly reticent Dylan is something else entirely, and a challenge no doubt welcomed by his legion of fans. He will return to A.C. to perform 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 17, at the Etess Arena at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City.
Ahead of his show, here are five things to know about Dylan:
1 His set list is iconic. When Dylan takes the stage, he will survey his vast catalog, including classics like “It Ain’t Me Babe,” “Highway 61 Revisited,” “Like a Rolling Stone” and “Blowin’ in the Wind,” as well as more recent work like “Things Have Changed,” from the 2000 film “Wonder Boys” and two tracks from his 2012 release, “Tempest”—“Pay in Blood” and “Early Roman Kings.” Although you will likely know the songs, you may not recognize the interpretation — Dylan and his longtime backing band are famous for re-working his material sometimes beyond recognition. His choice of covers may also surprise: A performance earlier this month in Roanoke, Va., ended with Dylan’s take of James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World.”
2 Sip while you listen. You can now sample Dylan in a whole new way, via his Heaven’s Door American whiskey brand, which made its debut earlier this year. The first three iterations include a 7-year-old Tennessee Straight Bourbon Whiskey, a Double Barrel Whiskey and Straight Rye Whiskey that’s finished in oak barrels from Vosges, France. The bottle design features Dylan’s own welded iron gates that he forged in his studio, Black Buffalo Ironworks.
3 You can get your Dylan Rx at Stockton. Sample Dylan’s vast catalog, as interpreted by others, at “The Great Bob Dylan Medicine Show,” a series of free, live performances from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 16, at the Stockton University Campus Center Café. The bill will include John Flagler, The Charlie Buvis Jazz Band, Sharon Fornuto, The Stockton Faculty Band, Sarah Brown and Ray, The Kip Rusty Walker Group, Tina Notaro, Steve Marcus, Lauren Fonseca, Cardinal Arms and The Stockton Circus Arts Club. There will also be a Dylan trivia contest, with two tickets to his Hard Rock performance as a grand prize.
4 There’s fresh “Blood on the Tracks.” Dylan has just issued “More Blood, More Tracks: The Bootleg Series Vol. 14,” which features studio tracks from his legendary 1974 “Blood on the Tracks” sessions. The recording is available as a single disc/two LP edition with all 10 songs from the original album, as well as a previously unreleased version of “Up to Me,” or a six-CD, limited edition set that includes the complete New York City recording sessions and five Minneapolis/Sound 80 Recordings.
5 Prize fulfilled. As the first songwriter to receive the Nobel Prize in literature, Dylan took a typically nontraditional path to accepting the October 2016, honor. He waited two weeks before publicly acknowledging the prize and didn’t actually receive the gold medal and diploma until April 2017. He faced a June 10, 2017, deadline to present his Nobel lecture, delivering a 4,000-word treatise and accompanying 27-minute recording on June 5. If he missed the cutoff, he would have had more than prestige at stake — he risked forfeiting the $900,000 check that accompanies the prize.