Bob Dylan’s debilitating writer’s block in the late-1980s and how he came out of it. And why the world missed the ensuing masterpiece.

This is perhaps the most interesting story in Bob Dylan’s life. The most human moment in a superhuman career that has changed the course of music several times. Despite many who think he was a “folk singer”, not realizing that was just one-fifteenth of his near-sixty-year-old career, that he outgrew at the age of 24. Despite his legacy defined by his pioneering approach to song lyrics when he is actually the greatest and most prolific creator of…


And why Abba’s songs are no longer mere guilty pleasures

It’s an obvious truism that the real test of any kind of art is not if it is popular as the flavour of the season but if it lasts, and resonates years after it first came into being. This is where all those currently mocking Abba’s comeback spectacularly miss the point.

Abba’s stature in world music became evident a few days ago from the rapturous worldwide reaction to their two new songs in forty years. …


In 2019, 151,000 people died in India due to road accidents. Anyone suggesting that no one should step outside anymore to save those lives would get pronounced insane, right? But have we been witnessing a similar kind of madness in Mumbai for a while now, officially ratified, which our Covid-conditioning cannot identify anymore?

The Covid deaths tally in Mumbai went back to February 2021 levels about six weeks ago. As it is, a false narrative had been spread about Mumbai doing a great job during the Second Wave for not having its health services overwhelmed for too long. But two…


Bob Dylan’s new film Shadow Kingdom breaks new ground, after a fashion

Bob Dylan’s latest sleight of hand is the new “live concert” called Shadow Kingdom, that he did on July 18th 2021 - his first broadcast event this century (after MTV Unplugged in 1994). The $28.75 (including taxes) to watch it on livestream could not have been better spent for not just Dylan fans to choose to walk with him without entitlement, but anyone interested in what happens to great artists after they cross the threshold of retirement age.

“What Was It You Wanted”

It wasn’t a live show but a carefully choreographed, tastefully shot, music film. At times, the editor hasn’t even tried too hard…


A week after India’s loss to New Zealand in the WTC final, it has been amusing to witness the sheer small-mindedness from so many quarters. Many ex-cricketers, perhaps smarting from the imagined ignominy of getting their prediction of an easy Indian win wrong, are attributing this to luck and the conditions that favoured New Zealand. Some are convinced India’s inferior preparation compared to New Zealand’s is the only reason for their failure.

Here is a cross-section of some reactions with a counter for each. Fake news built on unjustified outrage requires a proper pushback.

“India batted poorly on the last…


A conversation that took place in March 2017 about a format formulated by Impact Index for the World Test Championship.

Illustrations: Vasim Maner

Lawrence Booth is the editor of Wisden Almanack, the youngest in 72 years when he was appointed in 2011.

He responds to a new idea on this tournament to Jaideep Varma, founder, Impact Index.

Jaideep Varma: With Test cricket facing so much competition from limited overs cricket, especially T20, how important is it to do something to increase its popularity?

Lawrence Booth: Test cricket’s biggest challenge is the need for context, which really should override everything else. And if you…


Two posts between New Zealand’s thrashing of England in the second Test at Birmingham and the WTC final at Southampton.

WHY NEW ZEALAND ARE STRONG FAVOURITES IN THE WTC FINAL
Posted on 16th June here.

With cloudy weather along with some rain now being predicted at Southampton during much of the WTC final, this gives New Zealand even more of an advantage now. It also increases the space between the two sides on several counts.

Not many seem to appreciate how much of an underdog India is in this match. It could be the biggest thrashing India has ever received…


Casual and shallow alarm-mongering as a regular accompaniment to Covid

Just for perspective, even if we take only official Indian Covid figures into account, more people died in the two months of April and May 2021 than the entire 12 months before that. That’s about 170,000 Covid deaths in two months flat. Even without accounting for the massive under-reporting, especially in UP, Gujarat and MP, this is by far the most destructive two-month period in the 73 years of independent India. …


VAN MORRISON’S STRONGEST ALBUM IN 30 YEARS BREAKS NEW GROUND

The football score-like headline above alludes to the number of songs in Van Morrison’s recently-released album that directly or indirectly take on the “Woke” identity politics of this era, and its manifestations in mainstream and social media. While 28 songs on the album, plainly called Latest Record Project Volume 1, make it Van Morrison’s longest studio album in his 54-year-old career, those 19 tracks constitute not just a huge thematic departure in Morrison’s career but fire the first notable salvos by any major musical artist in that direction.

This is…


This is a historic moment in India, for the scale of crisis upon us, and the precipice we’re facing.

Whichever way this goes, it is important to remember that is a man-made crisis on a scale that demands accounting for, for the sake of history and for never repeating it again. We need to be very clear about the trajectory in the blame game.

One of the more cogent overviews.

CITIZENS ARE NOT TO BLAME

It is very important to stress on this, in times when the real responsibility is being consistently shrugged off. …

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