16 August 2009

Heard Dylan on the 7th of August

Been trying to let my thoughts about the Dylan concert solidify into something coherent. I have been wondering what many people who haven't seen Dylan live might have expected? The Dallas Morning News pretty much panned the show, said the band was great but Dylan sort of hid in the music and growled his way through it. I think that is basically unfair.

Greil Marcus (Like A Rolling Stone-Dylan at the Crossroads) points out that there never has been a performer/composer in pop who has more devoted fans who are consistently disappointed or confused about his live performances.

I recently acquired all the bootlegs (volumes 1-8) and what is clear is that from the beginning Bob either didn't want or wasn't compelled to recreate the recordings as they appear on the original releases. He lets the band determine the style, texture and in some cases the harmony. (The current band is a flat out rock band, dense textures from three guitars, deeply bluesy, with a slight tinge of country here and there, and very loud) Bob recreates the melodies with little attention to the original versions. BUT, he is meticulously careful with the lyrics. Once in a while a new phrase creeps into the live performance but not often. Never a misplaced pronoun or preposition. Before the concert I printed out the lyrics to ten new songs that, based on recent song lists, I thought he would play. Everyone in our little group had them. My enjoyment of the concert was more complete. If you can't hear and don't know the words the music is pretty boring. I doubt if the reviewer from the Dallas Morning News brought his own Libretto. There was only one surprise: Thing's Have Changed. At the concert I could not remember the song. This morning I found it in my itunes. Another gem uncovered. Here is Friday's set list:

Leopard Skin Pill-Box Hat
Don't Think Twice
*Thing's Have Changed
*Spirit On the Water
*The Levee's Gonna Break
*If You Ever Go To Houston
*Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum
*I Feel a Change Comin On
Highway 61
*Nettie Moore
*Thunder On the Mountain
Like A Rolling Stone
All Along the Watchtower

*Written since 1999.

Bob could easily play the hits that everyone knows but he generally chooses to use more recent material. Only 5 of the 14 songs played on Friday date from the early albums. I think 9 are less than 10 years old. For those who hadn't heard them before I am sure that Friday was confusing and perhaps a bitter-sweet affair. I sure many thought: "where is the old Bob?". I think it is more important to remember that Bob Dylan is and remains a moving target. Never has there been an artist in pop who has remade himself so many times and yet remained so close and true to music deeply rooted in the American experience. I am continually fascinated by him.

First Two Tracks of CD Completed

Saturday we finished mixing the first two tracks of our CD. You can hear Tex sing Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat on the the page: Tex Sings Leopard Skin, and you can hear Gary Eckert sing Saved on the page: Gary E Sings Saved. Enjoy. Tell your friends to check it out.