Bob Dylan Audiobook’s Celebrity Readers and Their Chapters Revealed

The question is no longer just what Bob Dylan will have to say about Elvis Costello’s “Pump It Up” or the Clash’s “London Calling” when he writes about them in his new book, “The Philosophy of Modern Song.” Now we can wonder how Helen Mirren or Renée Zellweger will sound giving voice to Dylan’s prose as they read those chapters, respectively, in the audiobook version, which, like the hardback, arrives Nov. 1.

Variety previously reported the titles of the historical songs Dylan has written essays about for the tome, followed by the the names of the actors enlisted to read individual chapters for the audiobook, but those two lists hadn’t been paired up till now. A look at the list below, being revealed for the first time today, shows that all of the stars involved have been given multiple assignments, including Jeff Bridges, Oscar Isaac, Rita Moreno, Jeffrey Wright, Sissy Spacek, John Goodman, Alfre Woodard and Steve Buscemi as well as Mirren and Zellweger.

As first promised when the book was announced, Dylan himself will also do some reading for the audiobook, although he’s not taking on any full chapters himself. He will read short introductions or interstitial pieces that appear between chapters in the book, described by publisher Simon & Schuster as “a series of dream-like riffs that, taken together, resemble an epic poem and add to the work’s transcendence.”

The chapters may well have been assigned at random, but Dylanologists may still have fun speculating on what reason, if any, Buscemi was picked to read about the Fugs’ “CIA Man,” Elvis Presley’s “Viva Las Vegas” and Warren Zevon’s “Dirty Life and Times”… or why Mirren was the woman for the job of intoning “On the Street Where You Live” from “My Fair Lady” and the Frank Sinatra standard “Stranger in the Night” as well as Costello’s new-wave-era classic… or why Woodard’s voice was the one for a literary exegesis of Little Richard’s “Tutti Fruitti,” the Nina Simone classic “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” and Rosemary Clooney’s “Come On-a My House.”

One connection seems clear enough: Renée Zellweger reads a chapter about the Judy Garland-sung “Come Rain or Come Shine” not too many years after playing Garland on the big screen.

One could also suppose that Bridges was picked for Hank Williams’ “Your Cheatin’ Heart” because of the Williams song catalog having played such a large part in “The Last Picture Show,” although, ironically, maybe, that was one of the few big Williams hits not included on that film’s soundtrack.

The full matching of titles and readers being released by Simon & Schuster Audio is below.

Essay/Song Narrator 
DETROIT CITY Jeff Bridges
PUMP IT UP Helen Mirren
WITHOUT A SONG Jeffrey Wright
TAKE ME HOME FROM THIS GARDEN OF EVIL Sissy Spacek
THERE STANDS THE GLASS John Goodman 
WILLY THE WANDERING GYPSY AND ME Renee Zellweger
TUTTI FRUITTI Alfre Woodard
MONEY HONEY Helen Mirren
MY GENERATION Oscar Isaac 
JESSE JAMES Rita Moreno
POOR LITTLE FOOL Renee Zellweger 
PANCHO AND LEFTY Jeff Bridges
THE PRETENDER Steve Buscemi
MACK THE KNIFE Jeffrey Wright
WHIFFENPOOF SONG Helen Mirren
YOU DON’T KNOW ME Sissy Spacek
BALL OF CONFUSION Alfre Woodard
POISON LOVE Steve Buscemi
BEYOND THE SEA John Goodman
ON THE ROAD AGAIN Renee Zellweger
IF YOU DON’T KNOW ME BY NOW Jeffrey Wright
THE LITTLE WHITE CLOUD THAT CRIED Rita Moreno
EL PASO Steve Buscemi
NELLY WAS A LADY Rita Moreno
CHEAPER TO KEEP HER John Goodman
I GOT A WOMAN Jeffrey Wright
CIA MAN Steve Buscemi
ON THE STREET WHERE YOU LIVE Helen Mirren
TRUCKIN’ Renee Zellweger
RUBY, ARE YOU MAD? Sissy Spacek
OLD VIOLIN Rita Moreno
VOLARE Helen Mirren
LONDON CALLING Renee Zellweger
YOUR CHEATIN’ HEART Jeff Bridges
BLUE BAYOU Oscar Isaac 
MIDNIGHT RIDER Sissy Spacek
BLUE SUEDE SHOES John Goodman
MY PRAYER Helen Mirren
DIRTY LIFE AND TIMES Steve Buscemi
DOESN’T HURT ANYMORE Sissy Spacek
KEY TO THE HIGHWAY Alfre Woodard
EVERYBODY CRYIN’ MERCY Renee Zellweger
WAR Jeffrey Wright
BIG RIVER John Goodman
FEEL SO GOOD Steve Buscemi
BLUE MOON Jeff Bridges
GYPSIES, TRAMPS & THIEVES Renee Zellweger
KEEP MY SKILLET GOOD AND GREASY Sissy Spacek
IT’S ALL IN THE GAME Rita Moreno
A CERTAIN GIRL Jeffrey Wright
I’VE ALWAYS BEEN CRAZY Jeff Bridges
WITCHY WOMAN Steve Buscemi
BIG BOSS MAN Alfre Woodard
LONG TALL SALLY Rita Moreno
OLD AND ONLY IN THE WAY Sissy Spacek
BLACK MAGIC WOMAN Oscar Isaac
BY THE TIME I GET TO PHOENIX Rita Moreno
COME ON-A MY HOUSE Alfre Woodard
DON’T TAKE YOUR GUNS TO TOWN Jeffrey Wright
COME RAIN OR COME SHINE Renee Zellweger
DON’T LET ME BE MISUNDERSTOOD Alfre Woodard
STRANGERS IN THE NIGHT Helen Mirren
VIVA LAS VEGAS Steve Buscemi
SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE MOVIES Oscar Isaac 
WAIST DEEP IN THE BIG MUDDY Alfre Woodard
WHERE OR WHEN John Goodman

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