Rana Blad

8 Nov 2003

Text and photo:
Marte Bjerke

English translation:
Karl Erik Andersen

On first name terms with DYLAN

It's sort of an electronic neighbourhood, says Karl Erik Andersen. And quite a neighbourhood, too: 8-10.000 pay a visit to the web site expectingrain.com every day. One of them is Cliff.

- I have never met him, but he must have some time to spare, Karl Erik chuckles behind his computer.

He checks today's in box, 30 messages, and not surprisingly, one of them is from Cliff Warnken.

Some names stand out, they crop up again and again.

They have one passion in common, the people who meet at Andersen's allotted spot on the Internet. They love Bob Dylan. Cliff is one of the most active. A count of links contributed over the last year showed him at the top of the statistic.

- So I wrote him and said I would cover his expenses in buying the box set of remastered versions of 15 Dylan albums, released this fall, Karl Erik says.

There is a two-way relationship of trust between Karl Erik, Cliff and all those who drop by during a day. They contribute tips, Karl Erik disseminates the information from expectingrain.com. This is the web site that's recommended even by Dylan's record company, and the place his manager points people to when the questions become too many.

- My philosophy is to have a site where people can trust there to be something new every day,

In the evening Karl Erik sits down in front of the keyboard and prepares the next morning's news page for publication.

If he is away, he calls in a replacement.

The Dylan reawakening

Few people from Rana have received as many millimeters of copy in the international press as Karl Erik Andersen. On his shelf are magazines and books. Karl Erik modestly pulls out some. Behind yellow sticky notes there are references to expectingrain.com and himself. Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, Mojo, New York Post. In Nick Hornby's book "31 Songs" there is this passage, "I have a friend who stays logged on to the Dylan website Expecting Rain most of the day at work - as if the website was CNN and Dylan's career were the Middle East".

- I rediscovered Bob in 1992. As a teenager I bought some albums, from 64 into the 70s. But I lost interest when he became a Christian. In 92 someone made me aware that he was still around, and my interest was reawakened, Karl Erik says.

The Dylan System

His newly kindled passion for Bob, combined with Andersen's sense of order, resulted in the web page Expecting Rain in 1994.

- What struck me was that you could collect knowledge and information on your hard drive and at the same time share it with others, like an encyclopedia. This was the idea at the beginning, to collect what others wrote, place it in a system and make it available, Karl Erik explains.

His web page was among the very first ones about Bob Dylan. He is also the only one to keep it updated daily after almost ten years.

- What I am trying to do here, is maybe not just a page about Bob, but for Bob. A page of things he might be interested in too.


Dylan fan or not, it's hard to avoid being fascinated by the universe hiding behind Expecting Rain. Here Bob Dylan is a science.

In the "Atlas" you can approach the artist through geography, lists of place names, streets and cities that appear in Dylan's lyrics.

- And then there is the "Who's Who". This section is quite extensive. It deals with characters in Dylan's lyrics, his life, or musicians he has played with. I did not write it, it's based on contributions I have assembled. There are several hundred names, getting close to a thousand now.

Karl Erik searches down the list.

Here's one you know? He points at a quote about Erica Jong. "She says, 'which ones have you read then?' I say, 'I read Erica Jong!'"

And behind another icon is the Bob Dylan Exhibition. Ranging from juvenile line drawings to more advanced paintings.

During the early eays people mailed me photocopies of their art work, and I scanned them. Now most of it arrives in email attachments, according to Karl Erik.

The Dylan family

- Oh yes, I have met people through this site.

This autumn Karl Erik joined some of them at concerts in Sweden.

Other times the acquintances are more spontaneous.

- I have been in a pub in London and met people who wanted to buy me a beer because they know me from the web site. I just might be able to get by with no money in my pocket there.

Another time this happened: Karl Erik was following events on his computer screen. Dylan was going to play a small theater in an anonymous Danish town. The line of fans in sleeping bags had placed themselves in front of the ticket office hoping to get their hands on the 250 tickets at a price just under 1000 Danish Kroner.

Some people in the line had been discussing whether they should buy me a ticket, as thanks for Expecting Rain, Karl Erik says.

The manager of the Horsens Ny Teater inspected the line and told them he would donate a ticket to one person chosen by the fans.

- They voted for me.

During the first year Karl Erik laid down a third of a work year in order to lay the foundation for his web site about Bob Dylan. Not only Cliff is glad he did:

"I truly believe that you will be immortalized and that Expecting Rain will go on for ever through the ages". Mail from Matt.




  • One of the first Bob Dylan web sites.
  • Created and edited by Karl Erik Andersen from Rana. His day job is at the National Library.
  • The site has a news page which is updated daily, based on tips from readers. Karl Erik gets between 20 and 30 contributions a day. Other important sections: BDX (gallery), Atlas and Who's Who.
  • 8 - 10.000 daily visitors.
  • Last year the page had 3.800 links.
  • 48% of the visitors come from the US, 10% from the UK, 25% from the rest of Europe and 2% from the rest of the world.

The name "Expecting Rain" comes from Bob Dylan's song "Desolation Row": "Everybody's making love, or else expecting rain".

Rolling Stone, 21 April 2001:
"Tangled Up In Bob" by Mark Jacobson

"...expectingrain.com. The latter is maintained by the genial Karl Erik Andersen, who works in the national library in a small Norwegian town astride the Arctic Circle and is happy to tell you how he rigged up a wireless system so he can listen to Bob while he shovels snow, which is most of the time."

Excerpts from mail to expectingrain.com

"Thank you, Mr. Andersen for your glorious, dare I say, divine work. My (and my friend's) days are brighter due to Expecting Rain. God bless you."

"For me, an added benefit to the more personal ones I mentioned in my earlier e-mail is being able to recommend expectingrain (along with bobdylan.com) to students as a gateway to Dylan (I'm a writing teacher)."

"I have been in India, Hong Kong and South China for the last three years, and as I get ready to head home to Canada, I just wanted to thank you for all the great hours spent connecting with Dylan's new music and news about Dylan from all over (and envying all the concerts I was mising) that your site has given me. Thanks so much."

Rana Blad 1996 article