riley rock report

Bob Dylan Turns 81:

Baffling Persists

When Dylan released Love and Theft back in 2001, it forced a reassessment


Twenty years ago it seemed lik a lot of Dylan followers kept defending him beyond reason. I gave up after one too many zombie shows where he literally turned his back on the audience and acted so preoccupied it felt chilling, patronizing. So the shock of Love and Theft went beyond the bizarre moment of its release date (September 11, 2001). His vocal commitment, combined with his renewed humor, spelled out a weirdly acontextual return. And perhaps more. 

Punk’s Revenge

Loretta Lynn Turns 90, Humbles Jack White

Also: Courtney Love, Barbra Streisand, and Melissa Auf Der Maur… 

As she turns 90, Loretta Lynn’s Van Lear Rose, her comeback at age 70, doesn’t sound a day over 50. And in this 2004 article, Courtney Love goes up against Barbra Streisand… now who’s crying?

..AND IF YOUR ARE CURIOUS about how the White Stripes turned garage rock into Top Ten material, you’re going to love what Jack White has done for country legend Loretta Lynn on her new album, Van Lear Rose. Now 70, Loretta Lynn takes a page from the Johnny Cash book of C&W elder statesman: teaming up with a young producer to bypass Nashville’s stale formulas.

The result is a set of all-original Lynn songs that mint traditional themes with alt-attitude. In “Family Tree,” she takes her kids to visit her husband’s lover for a public rebuke that would make a reality show producer blush…

Lenny Kaye

Lenny Kaye, courtesy of Ulf Hoberg

Cosmic Detail

Lenny Kaye’s Ecstatic New Rock History


Lightning Striking: Ten Transformative Moments in Rock and Roll (HarperCollins, 2022)

Kaye’s voice, while sometimes cryptic, distills style into tart locutions, like his immaculate summary of Beatlemania: “Yeah times three. The mathematics of dream.”


If you can measure a book by its playlist, Lenny Kaye’s Lightning Striking surfs peak rock’n’roll moments, a music history that leaks pleasure. Its songs trace hidden galaxies in an exploding universe of ideas and feelings, and maps new orbits through a music that never stops revealing itself.

Kaye grew up in southern New Jersey, fled to the West Coast as a teenager and then lower Manhattan in the early 1970s, a road tripper in search of scenes. He resembles that subspecies of scenester who plugs away furiously as an awestruck participant, following the music religiously as both an acolyte and then sideman. The right-place right-time karma has him backing up an early Patti Smith poetry reading in St. Mark’s Church, Greenwich Village, in 1971. “It was only supposed to happen once.” He has been leading her band ever since…

Tell Me Why: A Beatles Commentary (1988)

Riley offers a new, deeper understanding of the Beatles by closely considering each song and album they recorded in an exploration as rigorous as it is soulful.

"In Tell Me Why, a labor of loving obsession, Tim Riley minutely examines the music of the Beatles... Song by song, he notes the subtleties of craft and inspiration that keep the Beatles' recordings contemporary, illuminating music so familiar it's often taken for granted."

Jon Pareles, The New York Times