Chronicles Volume Two and Other Legendary Bob Dylan Projects

Fred Bals
11 min readMar 7, 2021

Over the course of his career, Bob Dylan has announced — even started — a variety of projects that have never been released — at least not as they were originally described. Here’s three Bob Dylan legendary projects dear to my heart. Like their chameleon-like progenitor, the first two evolved into different forms. I still hold out hope for the last.

The Bob Cummings Show of the late `50s had the perfect title for a Dylan sitcom

“Love That Bob”
The Bob Dylan Sitcom That Became a Movie

According to comedian/writer/producer Larry Charles, Dylan, inspired by watching too many Jerry Lewis movies on his tour bus, contacted him with the idea of doing a vaudeville-style TV sitcom series. Dylan produced a box filled with character names, one-liners, ideas, verse, and prose scribbled on scraps of paper and told Charles, “I don’t know what to do with all this.”

“We wrote this very elaborate treatment for this slapstick comedy which was filled with surrealism and all kinds of things from his songs and stuff,” said Charles in a podcast interview. “So, we say to Bob, ‘If you come to HBO with us, we’ll definitely sell the project because they won’t have the balls to say no to your face,’ and he agrees.”

Unfortunately, the ever-mercurial Mr. D. had cooled on the idea by the time Charles had arranged a pitch for the HBO suits. His mood wasn’t improved by an HBO executive VP proudly showing off his unused tickets to the original Woodstock festival. “I wasn’t there,” Dylan growled, and spent the remainder of the meeting silently staring out a window while Charles desperately tried to sell the show solo.

Even though their would-be star looked to be contemplating defenestration and the show’s producer was wearing pajamas — “I probably was having a nervous breakdown [at the time], but I wore pajamas everywhere I went,” Charles later explained — HBO still greenlit a pilot. But Dylan informed Charles as they were leaving that he was no longer interested, calling the idea, “too slapstick.”

Masked and Anonymous, 2003

Solidly on the Bob Dylan train by this point, Charles ended up rewriting the sitcom treatment as a movie script…

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Fred Bals

Corporate Storyteller. Tech enthusiast. Mini Cooper fanboy. One-time chronicler of Bob Dylan’s Theme Time Radio Hour. Husband of Peggy. Human of Lily Rose.