From Sean Wilentz's new book, Bob Dylan in America, on Bob Dylan's radio show, which ran from May 2006 through April 2009 and is still available in reruns (on satellite radio) and accessible on the net.
From out of this past, Dylan the DJ — no latter-day Symphony Sid Torin or Alan Freed, his voice sounding as old as the hills — spun his platters (of which, of course, there were none in this digital age), playing a great deal of music that one doesn’t hear on the radio anymore — except on some college stations and the odd listener-supported radio station like WWOZ in New Orleans — telling something about the performers and, often, even listing the label on which the recording appeared, as if we could run out and buy them. And Dylan’s tastes turned out to be even more eclectic than most listeners could have imagined. There was, not surprisingly, plenty of blues and rhythm and blues, beginning with the very first record on the very first show, Muddy Waters performing “Blow, Wind, Blow”; and there was plenty of country (from the Carter Family onward), western swing, gospel, doo-wop, and rock and roll, by performers and groups both famous and long forgotten; and occasionally, Dylan played jazz (including, as the preface to his show “Moon,” Charlie Parker playing “Ornithology,” which the DJ instructor pointed out was based on the chord structure of “How High the Moon”).
But Dylan also played a great deal of Glenn Miller, Frank Sinatra (the performer played most often in the first season), Patti Page, and various crooners from the 1930s through the 1950s, including Bing Crosby. He played LL Cool J and spoke knowledgeably about rap. He took time to recite repeatedly fitting lines of serious literature, from Yeats’ “Drinking Song” to Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s “Baseball Canto.” And sometimes, instead of juxtaposing one thing and another, he threw different things into the same pot and stirred, as on the “Devil” show, when he read of Satan from Paradise Lost, while he played the Reverend Gary Davis in the background, performing “Devil’s Dream."
-- Sean Wilentz
Read more of this excerpt posted on the Daily Beast