January 3, 2009 – 4:45 am

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Bob’s Big Freeze [no label, 1CD]

Broadcast on BBC Radio 2, November 25, 2008.

Here is a slice of pop history that some Bob Dylan fans might have forgotten and many fans are not likely to know about.

This is the blurb in the English Times about the BBC programme:

“Bob Harris tells the fascinating story of a significant but largely unknown chapter in the life of that living god, Bob Dylan. In 1962 the newly famous Bobster came to Britain to appear in a BBC TV play called Madhouse On Castle Street. While he was here he stayed with that eminent British folkie, Martin Carthy, who opened Dylan’s ears to a whole new way of making music (Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright, and Bob Dylan’s Dream were heavily influenced by his exposure to traditional English folk music). He also had the unequalled joy of living through the famously bitter winter of 1962-63, when Carthy was reduced to chopping up a piano for firewood.”

However, seasoned fans will say that this ground was visited before by the BBC in 2005 in the programme, Dylan In The Madhouse. Or as Dylan fan, raggedclown, wrote in his Ramblings of A Ragged Clown blog (, “There is so much that Bob was absorbing at this time (including Brecht, which is a major influence on The Times, They Are A-Changin’). That’s why he’s so fascinating, and why programmes like this one, which only focus on one element, miss the point. The first part of Martin Scorsese’s brilliant No Direction Home is the best documentary of Bob’s early period precisely because it shows what a sponge he was, soaking up a wide range of influences incredibly quickly and using them to produce something new.

“Incidentally, it is ironic that Bob left Minnesota because (as he tells us in his interview in No Direction Home) it was “too cold to be different”, only to arrive in New York in the middle of “the coldest winter in 17 years.” Then when he went to England for the first time, it was our coldest winter since the 18th century!”

But for first-timers, this is an informative and interesting documentary, as one walks away with an amusing picture of Dylan having a go at chopping up a piano for firewood.

Thanks to eddiethecat for sharing the show on the internet.

Note: Click on the highlighted tracks to download the MP3s (these are high quality stereo MP3s - sample rate of 192 kbps). As far as we can ascertain, this recording has never been officially released.

These tracks are no longer available for download. Kindly email us at [email protected] if you want to download them at a later date.

Track 01. “He was a man on the brink of stardom…”
Track 02. “It was on the night…”
Track 03. “But London was still a monochromed city…”
Track 04. “It’s hard to get people to agree…”
Track 05. “But at the end of December…”
Track 06. “To Ewan MacColl and his wife…”
Track 07. “What do you think about it?”
Track 08. “Jim McClain who had been there…”
Track 09. “In January 1963…”
Track 10. “But later that same evening…”

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  1. 8 Responses to “BOB’S BIG FREEZE”

  2. Nary a peep from Zimmy, simply the precarious reccollections of geezers from a by-gone era. Great quality, but a questionable foundation of half guesses & preposed imaginations.

    By Timmy on Jan 3, 2009

  3. Lighten up, Timmy. I found this fascinating… first-hand anecdotes from a little known, but highly influential period in Dylan’s life. Good peek into the London folk scene of the time too.

    By Trevor on Jan 7, 2009

  4. Thanks … never heard of this and I am glad to hear it now! Cheers!

    By Canute on Jan 7, 2009

  5. great offering. Thanks

    By Matt on Jan 20, 2009

  6. This radio show is a fascinating companion to the 2005 BBC TV documentary ‘Dylan In The Madhouse’ about the fruitless search for the film, but which showcased the found audio. Philip Saville and others told me more about Dylan’s trip for my Pauline Boty biography at

    By Adam Smith on Jul 29, 2010

  7. I saw Dylan in concert just once: Late june, 1989, in San-Sebastian.
    The performance was extremely electric, heavy, and the volume went higher and higher all through the 90 minutes of the show. Towards the end, there’s was more distortion than music to be heard.
    After the show, I couldn’t say if I was disappointed or not… So I just thought: “Well, at least I saw him in concert…!”.

    To return the favour a bit, there’s actually a great site for Dylan completists: http// But most of you here are already familiar to it?!

    By Serge Zéni on Jul 30, 2010

  8. I would like to experience this magical show but I am unable to find any podcast link of this show. Please share if you have any links.

    Thank you

    By Peculiarblend on May 25, 2012

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