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Bob Dylan Quiz

To coincide with the two-part Dylan documentary,"No Direction Home: Bob Dylan", directed by Martin Scorsese, to be broadcast Sept. 26-27 on "American Masters" (PBS). A longer version of the documentary will be available on DVD on Sept. 20.

The soundtrack will be a double CD set comprised of key songs in the documentary as well as rare and unreleased recordings from 1961 to 1966. Volume 7 of Bob Dylan's Bootleg Series, No Direction Home: The Soundtrack, is slated for release August 30.

The Bob Dylan Scrapbook 1956-1966 will be published on September 13. The book features Bob Dylan's early years, illustrated and packaged in a slipcased scrapbook complete with rare photographs, removable documents, reproductions of memorabilia, and a 45-minute CD.

The Pop Gospel
by David Buckna

Bob Dylan: Tangled Up In the Bible

In the history of popular music, few figures loom as large. This quiz explores Dylan's biblical connections.

"There's mystery, magic, truth and the Bible in great folk music. I can't hope to touch that. But I'm going to try." -- Bob Dylan, in a 1963 interview

1. As early as 1962 Dylan made an allusion to Jesus in song:"To preach of peace and brotherhood/ Oh, what might be the cost!/ A man he did it long ago/ And they hung him on a cross." Name the song.

2. According to author Ronnie Keohane, what one line from "Masters of War" (1963) has Dylan consistently omitted from his concerts since 1979?

3. In 1968 Jimi Hendrix recorded what is considered to be the most notable
cover of a Dylan song. Name it.

4. What are the titles of Dylan's three gospel albums?

5. On what 1980 Keith Green song does Dylan have a harmonica solo?

6. For what 1997 album did Dylan win three Grammy awards?

7. After years of speculation, it was confirmed in 2001 that Dylan was the model for this bronze statue on top of the north-western tower of Nidaros Cathedral (Trondheim, Norway). Who's the statue of?

8. What "rock" hymn did Dylan perform Feb. 2, 1999 at a concert in Pensacola, Florida?

9. When 60 Minutes correspondent Ed Bradley asked Dylan in 2004, "Why do you still do it?" (perform), Dylan replied:"Well, it goes back to that destiny thing. I mean, I made a bargain with it, you know, long time ago. And I'm holdin' up my get where I am now." When Bradley asked, "Should I ask who you made the bargain with?" what was Dylan's answer?

10. What Dylan rarity from "Under the Red Sky" (1990) did he perform July 10, 2005 in Schaumburg, Illinois?


1. "Long Ago, Far Away." Like many good stories, the song ends with an unexpected twist:"Things like that don¹t happen/ No more, nowadays, do they?"

The song has never been officially released.

2."Even Jesus would never forgive what you do". Keohane comments: "Dylan knows it is not biblically correct, because all sins that a man can commit are possible for God to forgive."--from: "Restless Pilgrim: The Spiritual Journey of Bob Dylan" by Scott M. Marshall with Marcia Ford (2002). "Restless Pilgrim" examines Dylan's career and public pronouncements, and concludes that if Dylan's thoughts and beliefs are "all right there in the music," as he says, then he is "without a doubt a man who continues to express faith in Jesus while holding on to his Jewish heritage."

3."All Along the Watchtower." Some have hypothesized that Dylan's couplet:"Outside in the distance a wild cat did growl/ Two riders were
approaching,[and]the wind began to howl" may have come from Isaiah's similarly apocalyptic:

"And the lookout shouted, 'Day after day, my lord, I stand on the watchtower; every night I stay at my post. Look, here comes a man in a
chariot with a team of horses. And he gives back the answer:'Babylon has fallen, has fallen! All the images of its gods lie shattered on the
ground!'" (Isaiah 21:8-9)

4. Slow Train Coming (1979), Saved (1980) and Shot of Love (1981). In 1980 Dylan won the Grammy for Best Rock Vocal Performance [Male] for "Gotta Serve Somebody" which includes the lines:"Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord/ But you're gonna have to serve somebody."

Catherine Kanner, the cover art designer for Slow Train Coming, was given special instructions about what Dylan wanted. Kanner recalls, "He described the image he wanted: He wanted a train and a pick axe with a symbol of the cross. I was Jewish and he was, so it was a little weird, but how often do you get an opportunity like that?" --quoted in "The Rock & Roll Rebellion" by Mark Joseph (1999).

Slow Train Coming came in second in CCM Magazine's list of the Best Contemporary Christian Albums of All Time

5. "Pledge My Head to Heaven", from the album "So You Wanna Go Back to Egypt". Dylan is also heard on U2's "Rattle and Hum"(1988), playing Hammond organ on "Hawkmoon" and doing back-up vocals on "Love Rescue Me".

6. "Time Out of Mind," Dylan told NY Times reporter Jon Pareles: "A lot of the songs were written after the sun went down. And I like storms, I like to stay up during a storm. I get very meditative sometimes, and this one phrase was going through my head:'Work while the day lasts, because the night of death cometh when no man can work.' I don't recall where I heard it. I like preaching; I hear a lot of preaching and I probably just heard it somewhere."

Jesus said in John 9:4:"I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day; the night cometh when no man can work." (KJV)

7. Michael the archangel, slaying a dragon. Sculptor Kristofer Leirdal, 85, commented: "I saw that singer as a representative of American opposition to the Vietnam war. I thought it appropriate to have a great poet on top of the tower." 

8. "Rock of Ages" (Toplady/Hastings) which begins: "Rock of Ages, cleft for me/ Let me hide myself in Thee/ Let the water and the blood/ From Thy wounded side which flowed/ Be of sin the double cure/ Save from wrath and make me pure."

9. "(laughing) With, you know, with the chief, the chief this earth and in the world we can't see." The 60 Minutes interview, broadcast Dec. 5, 2004, was Dylan's first television interview in nearly 20 years. The two-part Dylan documentary,"No Direction Home: Bob Dylan," directed by Martin Scorsese, will be broadcast Sept. 26-27 on "American Masters" (PBS). A longer version of the documentary will be available on DVD on Sept. 20.

10. "God Knows," which includes:"God knows it's a struggle/ God knows it's a crime/ God knows there's gonna be no more water/ But fire next time."

2 Peter 3: 5-7:"But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and with water. By water also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men."


1-3 Fair

4-7 Good

8-9 Excellent

10 As wise as Solomon.

For further reference:

"The Bob Dylan Albums" by Anthony Varesi (Guernica, 2002)

"Tangled Up in the Bible: Bob Dylan & Scripture" by Michael J. Gilmour
(Continuum, 2004). 

"They Refused Jesus Too: A Biblical Paradigm in the Writing of Bob Dylan"
by Michael J. Gilmour

"The Rock Cries Out: Discovering Eternal Truth in Unlikely Music" by Steve
Stockman (Relevant Books, 2004)

Bob Dylan: The American Adam

Still knocking on heaven¹s door

Bob Dylan: Expecting Rain

Bob Links

Concert Review: Dylan Aged, Yet Timeless

Review: Time Out of Mind

Review: Love and Theft

Review: Live 1975: Bootleg Series Volume 5

Review: Gotta Serve Somebody: The Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan

Copyright 2005 by David Buckna. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Buckna is the author of "The Pop Gospel", a quiz feature that has appeared in publications including The Calgary Herald, ChristianWeek and Baptist Press. He reads email at (


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