Category Archives: Real Live Bob

Age of Light Update

Back in the year of our Lord two thousand and eight, on November the fourth, Barack Obama was elected to the presidency of the United States. Bob Dylan happened to be playing a show in Minnesota that night, and came back for his final encore obviously having heard the news backstage on how the electoral contest was going. He introduced his band as he normally did and then made some off-the-cuff comments, which were covered back then in this space in excruciating (although highly accurate) detail.

So, in total, he said:

I wanna introduce my band right now. On the guitar, there’s Denny Freeman. Stu Kimball is on the guitar too. Donny Herron as well, on the violin right now, playin’ on the steel guitar earlier. George Recile’s playin’ on the drums.

Tony Garnier, wearin’ the Obama button — [applause] alright! — Tony likes to think it’s a brand new time right now. An age of light. Me, I was born in 1941 — that’s the year they bombed Pearl Harbor. Well, I been livin’ in a world of darkness ever since.

But it looks like things are gonna change now …

Change was the thing: it was “hope and change,” the theme of Barack Obama’s campaign, as older readers might remember.

Dylan’s remarks caused quite a hoopla, hailed ’round the world as an optimistic endorsement of the new president, who would clear away all of that post-Pearl-Harbor darkness for Bob and for everyone.

We took a different view here, as expounded upon in that post way back then. In short we thought Dylan was being ironic and philosophical rather than triumphalist.

Things always change, of-course. And things have changed. An age of light? With all respect to Tony Garnier’s touching optimism, I think there is now probably exactly no one who would say the past eight years have been an age of light (albeit that we may have wildly varying reasons for saying so).

I was greatly struck, and still am, by Bob Dylan’s performance at President Obama’s White House in February of 2010 (just one year into that presidency), billed as a “Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Era.” He showed up and played only one song, “The Times They Are a-Changin'”; not as a celebratory duet with Joan Baez (who was also there that night) but in a new, spare, and quite melancholy arrangement.

There’s a lot that could be said, on January 19th, 2017, but it would be way too much. Those times, they sure just do keep on a-changin’. (And that I can tell you.)

Daily Verse

So I’m on one of those “Daily Bible Verse” e-mail lists, and yesterday got this one:

Daniel prayed and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding: He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him. I thank thee, and praise thee, O thou God of my fathers, who hast given me wisdom and might, and hast made known unto me now what we desired of thee: for thou hast now made known unto us the king’s matter.

Daniel 2:20-23 (King James Version)

That would naturally remind one of this, a song Dylan wrote and performed in some shows in 1979 and 1980 but never recorded and released: Continue reading “Daily Verse” »

Here comes the rain again

I know I’ve noted it before, and it’s a pretty obvious thing to note, but the set list from the first night of Bob Dylan’s tour of Japan is another reminder of how often Dylan uses water as an image and/or metaphor in his songs. (The fact that it’s been raining heavily in my locality for the past few days adds to the timeliness of this observation.) Continue reading “Here comes the rain again” »

Bob Dylan: Real live at the White House [weather permitting]

On Wednesday at 5:15 pm Eastern Time, the event titled “In Performance at the White House: A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement Concert” is scheduled to take place, and will be streamed live on the internet. The White House page devoted to the event is at this link. The live streaming will be offered on the page at this link. [ADDENDUM TUESDAY 2/9/2010: This event has been moved up to TODAY.] Continue reading “Bob Dylan: Real live at the White House [weather permitting]” »

Rock of Ages, again

Back a few months ago there was a flurry of unofficial Dylan-related videos being deleted from YouTube. Thinking, “Yikes, the jig is up!” I took down the handful of clips I’d posted myself over the years. But it turned out that only a limited number of clips were targeted, apparently (according to the Web Sheriff) with the aim of making the official videos more readily visible to YouTube surfers, especially for the promotion of Christmas in the Heart.

In any case, today I uploaded again one of the clips I had deleted. It’s Bob Dylan and his band performing the song Rock of Ages in Durham, New Hampshire, on November 17th, 1999. Continue reading “<em>Rock of Ages</em>, again” »

Bob Dylan in New York at the United Palace Theater, 11/18/2009

One always wants to compare: to compare one show to another, and one artist to another. However, the Bob Dylan who I saw tonight (now technically last night) at the United Palace Theater in New York City was working an alchemy quite unique to himself. And perhaps unique to this particular tour. Maybe invoking comparisons is not the way to go. Anyway — to what could I compare this man, arms stretched out, sporting that hat, center-stage at the microphone, casting a big black shadow on the stage’s backdrop, singing “Here is your throat back — thanks for the loh – ooan!” When comparisons utterly fail, that might be when Dylan utterly succeeds. (There’s no success like failure, after all.)

He was that good. There’s been a lot of praise during this tour; I’m not going to do a retread of it all, but I sure saw what has inspired it. Tonight Bob was a storyteller, crooner, showman and rock’n’roll magician. Continue reading “Bob Dylan in New York at the United Palace Theater, 11/18/2009” »

More Dylan live notes

Thanks additionally to our friend Russ for these snaps of the current Bob Dylan tour program, which I offer in tiny cropped versions for the benefit of people who don’t have the opportunity to see it, or who may be wondering if they want to fork over the money to buy it. Below is the cover:

Tour program

The major surprise to me — versus the last tour program that I actually bought — was that it actually contains an article relevant to Bob Dylan’s live performances! It’s a spirited review of a gig Dylan played in Glasgow (Scotland) in 2004. (Below.) Continue reading “More Dylan live notes” »

Tom Waits makes another guest appearance on Bob Dylan’s tour

I suppose that you can make of all this whatever you want. Last night, Bob Dylan again introduced a special guest, “Tom Waits,” (he first did this on Hallowe’en night) and again guitarist Stu Kimball went to the microphone and performed a snatch of one of Tom’s songs — this time San Diego Serenade (a real early one, that, and a lovely tune).

The audio is currently on YouTube. In his performance, Stu is again a pretty good ringer for Waits. Continue reading “Tom Waits makes another guest appearance on Bob Dylan’s tour” »