Famed contemplative hermit Thomas Merton wrote in his journal in the mid 1960s, ‘Should a hermit like Bob Dylan? He means at least as much to me as some of the new liturgy, perhaps in some ways more. I want to know the guy. I want him to come here, and I want him to see one of my poems.’(p. 107) And after hearing Dylan’s album Blonde on Blonde, Merton pronounced, “One does not get ‘curious’ about Dylan. You are either all in it or all out of it. I am in his new stuff.” (p.2)
Robert Hudson has written a book that seems tailor made to my interests, it’s call The Monk’s Record Player: Thomas Merton, Bob Dylan, and the Perilous Summer of 1966. This book is for every Merton fanatic, Dylanphile, and those whose ears perk up at the calling of the artist as a contemplative vocation. A master wordsmith, a recognized Bob Dylan scholar and a member of the International Thomas Merton Society -- Robert Hudson is the perfect person to have written this book. In our conversations we’ll unpack Bob Dylan’s meteoric impact on Thomas Merton, wonder about Dylan’s awareness of Merton, share a playlist of songs to go along with this book and so much more. I’ve been waiting for a book like this my whole life, and Hudson breathes poetic life into the retelling of the intersection of Bob Dylan, Thomas Merton and the summer of 1966.