Expecting Rain: Meeting Place For Bob Dylan Fansby Best Classic Bands Staff
One of the great music resources on the web is ExpectingRain.com, a site curated by its founder Karl Erik Andersen that’s devoted to Bob Dylan as well as related topics that pass muster via Andersen’s lens. Each day, he reads through scores of email submissions–largely sent to him by his devoted following–of stories, videos and more. It’s become an indispensable read for features and news.
Andersen did an interview that originally appeared on the CBC Music website in 2012. It was conducted by Vish Khanna, a musician and editor, who has also worked as a host and producer at CBC Radio. (He also hosts a topical interview podcast called Kreative Kontrol.) We’re grateful to Khanna and Andersen for allowing us to re-run a slightly updated version.
The words “expecting rain” are in the lyrics to Dylan’s 1965 opus “Desolation Row,” from the Highway 61 Revisited album.
How would you describe ExpectingRain.com in terms of what it does for Bob Dylan fans?
KEA: ExpectingRain.com is a hub and a meeting place for Dylan appreciators. Daily updates on all matters surrounding Bob Dylan and the musical styles he works in ensure that a visit a day keeps you informed ahead of the general media trickle down of news.
When and why did you start this site? What is the nature of your personal relationship with Dylan’s music and seeing him live? Oh, and where are you based?
KEA: I started the site in 1994 because I loved a girl. She wanted me to make still frame photos of the art used in Dylan’s “Jokerman” video, and I found the Internet and made a web page for the scans. I started following the news group rec.music.dylan and was impressed by the extent of discussion and interest centered around Bob Dylan. At that time I only had one Dylan book, the Anthony Scaduto biography from 1972, and it was a revelation to discover there was bookshelf upon bookshelf of Dylan literature that I did not know about.
From there it seemed a good idea to collect and preserve meaningful posts from rec.music.dylan and not only keep it on my own hard drive, but also make the contents of that hard drive accessible to others. So I used the Mac at work to set up a web server which became among the first ten thousand web sites in the world. After a few years with the server on my desktop Mac at the National Library in Mo i Rana, Norway under the Arctic Circle, I moved it to a U.S. hosting service. In 2016 I moved myself to Oslo.
My personal relationship with Dylan’s music began around 1964 and was on hold between 1978 and 1994. After watching the “Jokerman” video I discovered The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3 from 1991 and my eyes were opened to the great songs he had written and kept unreleased until then. Who else could have come up with “Blind Willie McTell”? I went to my first Dylan concert in Oslo in 1995, and have attended most of his concerts in Norway since. I have also been to a few concerts in Sweden, Denmark and England. My total number of Dylan concerts is still below 20, which keeps me way behind the big league people that have hundreds of concerts under their belt.
To me, it’s always been the ultimate online Dylan resource. What kind of feedback have you gotten about it from fans and perhaps even the Dylan camp? Can you recommend complementary Dylan sites?
KEA: The feedback from visitors has been gratifying. [Andersen has saved some messages; excerpts of several are included at the end of this article.] As for other Dylan sites, I have to admit that I don’t have time to read any other sites than the ones I carry links to. But I must mention Bill Pagel’s BobLinks.com, where you can always find last night’s playlist after a Dylan concert.
This site seems like a lot of work. How are you able to maintain it? Is this your main gig so to speak?
KEA: The site is a lot of work. I do have a full time day job, but ExpectingRain.com means I have no problems finding things to do with my free time. I have updated the site with daily news since the year 2000. I spend some time every morning, afternoon and evening adding new links of interest. Most link suggestions come from contributors who dig up much more material than I could hope to find by myself.
Related: Bob Dylan at 75
Let me add that a large part of the appeal of the site is the forum called Expecting Rain Discussions with 26,000 registered members and 1.5 million posts made. All the credit for the forum must go to the members and especially the moderators who are making an invaluable effort to ensure the survival of this meeting place.
Finally, what do you suppose it says about Bob Dylan’s work that inspires fans to create things like ExpectingRain.com?
KEA: All this because of Bob Dylan. It is his undisputable greatness that inspires to take part in preserving, protecting and spreading awareness of his work. It is only natural that this is done, and I am happy to be part of this undertaking.
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Selected reader comments to Anderson:
You have created an international community of Dylan listeners, watchers, fans and scholars all of whom share a profound devotion for an artist who has elevated the human condition over a lifetime of dedication to his craft. Thank you, Karl, for bringing us all together in harmony.
Can’t tell you how much your site has meant to me over the past 20 years! Thanks for all your hard work – it is certainly appreciated.
Every day, there are new posts on ER that give me new insights and perspective on music, musicians, songwriters, and the people who are part of the collective whole who have changed all of us for the better. Thank you for doing that for me… and so many others.