Sunday, September 14, 2008

Reasons to Love Bob

Jeremy got me a ticket to see Bob Dylan for my birthday. Jeb: I'm too lazy to re-write what I wrote you about the show. With apologies, I reprint it here.


Wearing his Spaniard hat and a black suit. Stood and played the keyboards the whole time. Did little toodly walks around the stage just as the lights went down at the end of each song-- his weird, sort of mincing, tripping gait was fun to watch.

It's got to be hard getting old. One thing I've learned from both Bob and Etta James earlier this summer is that you lose your range or perhaps your energy to force your voice into carrying the tune and instead you kind of float along with the tune in a one-octave (or less) zone. But while Etta has somewhat descended into clown versions of what used to be beautiful, touching songs, Bob rages, rages against the dying of the light.

The band was large-ish and competent and wearing boxy suits and skinny ties. Lap steel and rhythm guitar played in every song, along with I think the largest drum set I've ever seen (excepting the Freaks and Geeks one in the garage with the 10 or whatever snares). The sound was large and the venue gymnasium-like, which resulted in an unfortunately muddy sound and an indelicate mix.

I wasn't close enough to see his little moustache, as my illness made the idea of fighting through the sweaty throngs of old hippies and middle managers unappealing. But it was enough to be in the presence of a true legend, an artist-king. And even though his arrangements-- even of 'It Ain't Me, Babe" and "Subterranean Homesick Blues" and "Highway 61" and "Ballad of a Thin Man"-- tended towards a blast of big band-ish sound with Bob skeddaddling the lyrics in at the end of the bar, the air was filled with awe at being in the presence of The Man Himself.

There was lots of unfortunate dancing, but which I mean nerdy white people with no game dancing. It frankly made me a little relieved to have missed the sixties, especially when you factor in all the polyester of that era.

The number one thing that made me go instead of being lame and going home to sleep was the prospect of him playing "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" and me missing it. He didn't play that, but for the encore he unboxed his voice and played, fairly faithfully to the known version "Like a Rolling Stone" and "All Along The Watchtower", which I knew was a brillant song because Bono told me but it never seemed so insightful and important before.

And then he introduced the band, raised his hands to the crowd, waved, and rode on into the friscillating dusklight.

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