Grammy Report: Bob Dylan Looks To Break Jinx

With Time Out Of Mind, the '60s folk-rock icon may finally get his hands on Album of the Year

If Grammy awards were voted on not by the National Academy of Recording

Arts and Sciences but rather only by one person -- say, singer and

songwriter Mary Lou Lord -- there is no question that Bob Dylan would get

his due when the 40th annual awards ceremony is held next month.

"I'd give him everything," said Lord, who has been known to sing the folk-rock

legend's songs in subway stations from San Francisco to London. "Give it to

Bob. He deserves every award mentionable."

Grammy winners are chosen, of course, not by Lord, but by the NARAS' 9,000

members. And only a figure as enigmatic as Dylan could hold the distinction of

being this year's biggest shoo-in for an Album of the Year award as well as the

year's least likely candidate to receive the award.

Dylan, who has never won the top honor in more than 35 years of making

albums, has actually been nominated for three awards this year. His Time

Out Of Mind LP is up for Best Contemporary Folk Album, and the track "Cold

Irons Bound" may net him the Best Male Rock Vocal award.

But it's Time Out Of Mind's nomination for the coveted Album of the

Year award that has Grammy-watchers placing bets.

Few would question those laying their money on Time Out Of Mind.

The album was universally hailed as Dylan's best record in more than two

decades. Its 11 songs, including the 16-minute opus, "Highlands," is

considered an invigorating return to form for the bard who is recognized as one

of the most important songwriters of the 20th century.

Dylan's chief artistic competition in the category is Brit-rockers Radiohead, who

were nominated for their highly acclaimed OK Computer album. Other

nominees include Dylan-contemporary and ex-Beatle Paul McCartney for

Flaming Pie, Babyface's The Day and newcomer Paula Cole for

This Fire.

But Dylan is not only competing against those other nominees. He's facing

the Curse: In 36 years as a songwriter, the gravelly voiced poet has

never won the Grammy for Album of the Year.

That's not to say he has never been saluted. His classic "Gotta Serve

Somebody" won Best Male Rock Vocal in 1979, and World Gone Wrong

received the Best Traditional Folk Album award. As one performer among the

many who contributed to The Concert for Bangla Desh, he was given

Album of the Year in 1972. And in 1989, all-star band the Traveling Wilburys, of

which he was a member, earned Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group

with Vocal. Dylan was even feted with a lifetime achievement award in 1991.

But Dylan -- the man whose albums proved more than those of any other

that rock 'n' roll could assume as its subject more than just teenage love and

heartbreak -- has never received the Grammy for Album of the Year. Not for

The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan in 1963. Not for Highway 61

Revisited in '65 or Blonde on Blonde in '66. Not for Blood On The

Tracks in 1975.

Dylan does have several ancillary factors working in his favor this year.

Last month, President Bill Clinton bestowed upon him the Kennedy Center

Medal of Honor for artistic achievement, which may garner Dylan bandwagon

support from NARAS voters. In addition, earlier last year the singer was

hospitalized with a potentially fatal heart-ailment, which may bring out the

sympathy and nostalgia vote.

Whether those details can help Time Out Of Mind beat the Curse

remains to be seen.

But Mary Lou Lord said she knows who she's pulling for. "Whatever good

fortune Bob gets is great," she said. "Bob is Bob, in all his Bob-ness."

Color="#720418">[Thurs., Jan. 15, 1998, 9 a.m. PST]