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Dylan author Michael Gray on his upcoming 'Discussion Weekends' in France

We’ll fly the night away/Hang out the whole next day
Things will be okay/You wait and see
We’ll go someplace unknown/Leave all the children home
Honey, why not go alone/Just you and me? -

A few shades of Michael Gray
Courtesy Michael Gray

Bob Dylan, "One More Weekend," Copyright © 1970 by Big Sky Music; renewed 1998 by Big Sky Music

Noted Bob Dylan scholar Michael Gray, author of the first serious study in book form of Dylan’s work in his “Song and Dance Man” series, has just announced he’ll be holding two new “Bob Dylan Discussion Weekends” at his home in South-West France this coming autumn, his first in a year and a half.

“My big news being that the September date has sold out already, partly from people on a waiting list!” Gray informed me by email.

As I have written before, when I read “The Art of Bob Dylan: Song and Dance Man II” in the summer of 1981, it gave me the tools necessary to plumb the depths of Dylan’s art in a way I felt existed, but appeared too mysterious and overwhelming to understand. Gray’s writing raised my admiration to another level, which has remained unabated, through think and thin, to this day.

I asked Gray to elaborate on his "Discussion Weekends," which he hosts with the help of with his wife, food-writer Sarah Beattie.

“Sarah and I enjoy these weekends, and it’s true that our ‘Bobcat’ guests do too. I think you can tell that from the feedback on the website from people who’ve been. And people (who have attended) are very varied.”

Are there any misconceptions about your “Discussion Weekends”?

“Sometimes the media thinks all Dylan fans are geeky obsessives, all of a certain age, and all men. Not the case at all. We’ve had women fans from England, France, Australia and Germany – and the men who’ve come have included a British lawyer, Dutch teachers, an Australian retiree, an English wheeler & dealer, a Thailand hotel owner, a very young Swiss couple – and David Kinney, the American journalist whose book 'The Dylanologists' comes out next month in the States. I haven’t seen it yet, so I don’t know what he’s said about us, but I’m told we come out of it O.K.!”

I told Gray I have seen an advanced copy of “Dylanolologists,” and assured him that, yes, he does come out O.K.

These "Discussion Weekends" are also about more than just Dylan.

“The thing I’d like to stress, too, is that while we give plenty of time to talking about, and listening to, Bob Dylan, we’re also serious about food and drink, and giving people comfortable rooms, and the house is in a lovely, old-fashioned rural part of South-West France."

Anything else to add?

“I don’t know of any other writer – certainly no other Dylan writer – who has ever done this. But like the talks I give, these weekends are a way of connecting very directly with people who like my work as well as being Dylan afficionados. And we don’t hold these events too often, so we keep it fresh. This year’s two will be the first we’ve held for 18 months – and I have no idea when we might do any more!”

Below are the details:

  • Places are limited to a maximum of six people per weekend and are offered on a first-come-first-served basis.
  • Cost: £399 per single person, or £599 per couple sharing a room.
  • The dates are in September (Friday 12 to Sunday 14) and October (Friday 3 to Sunday 5).
  • These events offer Dylan enthusiasts vacation weekends of great food and Bob Dylan Discussion with the author of Song & Dance Man III: The Art of Bob Dylan and The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia in an elegant 1870s house 40-odd miles from the Pyrenees and the Spanish border. The house lies on the edge of a small country village.
  • More info and booking details at Gray’s official website.

Keep up with Bob Dylan Examiner news. Just click on Subscribe above, or follow @DylanExaminer on Twitter. Harold Lepidus also writes the Performing Arts column for Thanks for your support.

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