Thursday 28 May 2009

The other Bob Dylan

'He divides opinion' is generally a euphemism for 'no-one can stand him,' and it's been applied on occasion to the commentary of RGD Willis. Rather unfashionably, I like Bob, have done ever since I was given his Diary Of A Season as a kid. 

The man that emerged from those pages was a thoughtful, mordant character who ran obsessively to protect his knees and who spent most of his days fretting about his bowling, his batting, his team-mates, his life. He escaped as often as he could into his Bob Dylan albums. 'Home to more Dylan' was a regular sign-off; he'd even added Dylan as his middle name via deed poll. 

Bob's voice, like Bob Dylan's, turned out to be something of an acquired taste. He's much better in his new role as a studio foil to Charles Colville. There, he can be as terrifically trenchant as the other Bob, too [A friend of mine knew the guitarist Mick Ronson, who'd once played with Dylan, and he said that Dylan wouldn't tell the other musicians what key he was going to play the songs in. They had to wait till he started and watch his hands]. 

So Bob's Dylan affinity runs deeper than just music, I'd guess. Someone told me a funny story about him the other week. It only works written down if you read it with Willis's voice in your head, the words drawn out to impossible length.

In the story, Bob was asked if he got much mail at the Sky Sports offices.

'Oh yes,' he drawled.

What was it like?

'Ooh,' said Bob, 'vilification, mostly...'


Brit said...

I like Willis too, but as with the other Bob, you need to be in the mood.

Nobody is better when it comes to a really good, lengthy and detailed lambasting of Team England after they've had a stinker ("an abyyysmal perfooormance, truuly woooeful"). I particularly enjoy it when the tirade then moves seamlessly on to the administrators, going on and on, piling accusation upon accusation with a climactic denunciation of the ECB as an "aaabsolute dissgrayce" who have "made a compleeete hash of it from Daay one."

Ceci said...

I love furious Bob - even when he is attacking my heroes; for his mauling of any umpire he suspects of getting past it; for lambasting the ECB for their frequent faux pas and for the way he drawls out "Now Chaaaarles" when combating some fatheaded point spewed forth by the pointy fathead.

He's 60 tomorrow and I hope he has a terrific birthday with ranting and moaning galore.

Prabu said...

Now then, you're not too old are you??

The Old Batsman said...

Hope the great man had a good B/D... few glasses of wine, bit of bob on the stereo...

Brian Carpenter said...

Totally agree. I always disliked him intensely as a commentator, but as a studio foil for Charlie he's magnificent.