Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dylan is Dylan

Around 11, I became completely fascinated with the 1960's. Bell bottoms, beatniks, the civil rights movement, Vietnam war protest, hippies, JFK, free love, Paul Newman, The Monkees, the march on Washington, Barefoot in the Park, Batman, peace signs, Woodstock, and the music... where do I even begin with the music?

Weekly, my mom would take me to the public library in Columbus. I would borrow books, music, and movies, which is how I found and fell in love with The Beatles, Elvis Presley, The Rolling Stones, Simon and Garfunkel, The Who, and Bob Dylan. I'd pour over photography books of The Beatles, spend hours watching Viva Las Vegas and Help!, listen to album after album of any music that I could get my hands on, recreate art, and get completely lost in lyric books. The Dylan lyric book coupled with the Bootleg series became my bible of poetic aspiration. It was heaven for me, and it still is.

So a few weeks ago when I found out that Bob Dylan was coming to Tampa, I bought tickets and waited (very impatiently) for my first time seeing him live. Going in, my expectations were based on all of the reunion tours that I've seen where the artist performs a mixture of their hits with some not-so-great new songs, they throw out the name of their current city, and the crowd cheers and sings along at all the prescribed moments. The experience feels nostalgic, yet somehow over. I don't know why I would have ever expected something like that. What I love about Bob Dylan is that he never went along with what was conventional. He broke the rules and he pushed the limits. He still breaks the rules.

The setlist was enough to make any Dylan fan Ohh  and Ahh: Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat, Lay, Lady, Lay , Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again, Just Like A Woman, Tangled Up in Blue, Simple Twist Of Fate, Love Sick, Highway 61 Revisited, A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall, Like A Rolling Stone, and All Along The Watchtower, etc. It amazes me to think that the list barely even begins to crack the surface of all the amazing songs he's written. Apparently, he mixes up the set lists every night.

At first when Dylan was singing, it was a little jarring. He took each of the songs and mixed them up and made them something different. When I got past the fact that it wasn't going to be a sing-a-long, I really started listening and was floored at just how tight the band sounded. Thinking back over the experience, I realize that it was a unique, artistic experience and not some cookie cutter tour with everything carefully planned out and perfect.

Even more surprising, after years of playing into all of the myths of the different personas of Bob Dylan, I found him to be the antithesis of the common rock star that takes the stage, eats up the applause, and can't stop talking about what he ate for breakfast. When Dylan took the stage, he was part of his band, and he was just there to play some seriously badass music. No one messes with Dylan. It is not because he is a famous musician. It is because he is just cool with who he is... Bob Freakin' Dylan.

Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash - One Too Many Mornings

You can thank me later for sharing this piece of awesomeness.


Bob Dylan - Subterranean Homesick Blues

Awesome song. Very cool video with it used.


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