Bob Dylan at the Greek, 6.9.16

(Oh geez, now that it’s July, here’s the follow up to my previous post. Sorry it’s so late; last month was cray.)

PART TWO of epic, once-in-a-lifetime shows at the Greek Theater by legendary American singer-songwriters: BOB DYLAN

Six days after Paul Simon, Alex and I were back at the Greek to see Bob Dylan. Now, I must say, I went into this show with somewhat low expectations. I’d heard multiple accounts from family and friends that Bob Dylan tends to be unpredictable, generally unsociable, and pretty much always impossible to understand.

True, I couldn’t tell what he was saying 80% of the time, and also didn’t know a majority of the songs he played, but I was actually quite pleasantly surprised (hooray for low expectations!). Bob appeared on stage in a cowboy hat, bolo tie, and what appeared to be track pants, and proceeded to serenade us with two hours of old standards and 90s semi-hits. Even if he was pretty unintelligible, just listening to the man sing was entertainment enough (à la Tom Waits). There were times when traces of that youthful folky voice surfaced out of nowhere, or when he pulled a harmonica out of his pocket and played a few bars to everyone’s delight, that reminded me that this was the same guy who emerged from Minnesota playing Woody Guthrie songs in 1960 and man, what a crazy thing to realize.

Bob’s setup was pretty simple: minimal instrumentation accented by 15 or so yellow lightbulbs positioned around the stage, which glowed every once in while and made it feel like we were all in one big backyard party (UGH the Greek is just so cool). Luckily I’m a sucker for pedal steel guitar, because there was a lot of it. Definitely a very old timey, country vibe going on.

If you went into the show knowing he’d mostly be doing covers and recent stuff, with the occasional “Tangled Up in Blue” and “She Belongs to Me,” then there weren’t really any surprises. UNTIL THE VERY END OF THE NIGHT, when we witnessed something that as far as I can tell, has never happened before and might not happen again. Bob Dylan and his band closed the ENTIRE night with the outro to “Freebird.” FREEBIRD.

Unpredictable is right.

So yeah, it was a good concert. Also, shoutout to Mavis Staples – although we only caught the last two songs from her (lots of pre-show scrambling for food and parking), she was so much fun. Unlike Bob (ha), she really knows how to work a crowd! Still going strong after 6 decades, that Mavis.

I can’t believe it took me this long to get to the Greek (I mean, I seem to be making up for it, but still). Both mine and Alex’s parents saw plenty of shows there back in the 70s and 80s (The Dead, Dylan, Tom Petty, Van Morrison…maybe they even went to some of the same ones!), and it just so happens that now we can carry on the tradition. :)

Anyway, July is shaping up to be just as crazy as June, so my posts will probably be minimal. I suppose if you really wanted to keep up you could follow me on Twitter. Until next time!

Here are some people I like

So many words lately… I’ll just casually drop this picture here:

George, Jeff, Tom, Roy, Bob

Ladies and gentlemen, the Traveling Wilburys. “We’re the only band in the world with five rhythm guitar players.”

Also, shout out to my favorite Tumblr and the source of this gem, It’s basically a compilation of lovely personal anecdotes/quotes about George Harrison, most of which give me the warm fuzzies…some of which make me cry and curse the world for taking George away from us. Some of my recent faves: George helping Ringo write Octopus’s Garden, talking about gardening with an unsuspecting gallery worker, and being a cool dad (part two). My favorite Beatle and Wilbury. <3

The end of the line

I’m sorry, but can we just take a second to recognize how awesome of a band the Traveling Wilburys were?

The band is comprised of the following people:

[Note my nifty YouTube-playlist-embedding skills]
[Also, why are there like 0 videos of Bob Dylan on YouTube? His people must have some crazy copyrights set up.]

That’s right: George Harrison, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, and Jeff Lynne thought it’d be cool to just kick it and record some songs together. How awesome would it be to witness them all fooling around on guitars and hanging out like this?

Moral of this post: go listen to the Traveling Wilburys (I’d suggest starting here). And then go listen to each member’s solo stuff because they were all equally awesome. And then go buy tickets to Tom Petty’s next US show (whenever it may be) and invite me along, because I WANT TO SEE HIM SO BAD IT HURTS.

"He has his finger on the pulse of our generation"

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of reading. Finished Ravi Shankar’s autobiography Raga Mala, as well as Suze Rotolo’s memoir A Freewheelin’ Time. Both were fascinating, and described – in detail – places that are extremely allusive and appealing to me. The beginning of Ravi Shankar’s book presents such beautiful imagery of India that I am getting really hungry to go there (someday). And the beat/folk scene described in Rotolo’s book make Greenwich Village in the 60’s come alive again, with its underground venues and brick apartments. The parts about Bob Dylan were fascinating as well. Highly recommend both books!

Interesting note: I have seen many “Greatest Songs Ever Written” lists and “Like A Rolling Stone” always seems to be (if not number one) at the top of the list. It’s certainly always the top Dylan song. And while I agree it is fantastically written and sounds great, there are other Dylan songs that I think should come first. Of course this is all my own humble opinion…but what about “The Times They Are A-Changin'”? I know it seems obvious, but when you take the time to think about it – not only are the lyrics incredible, but that song was so powerful at the time it was written. Maybe those lists are trying to look at the music and lyrics objectively (not in context), but to me, part of what makes a song so great is how it related to that point in history. Rotolo made a great point of this in her book: in the early 1960s, the new generation of young people were already starting to recognize the problems surrounding them, and beginning to stand up for change. Dylan’s song served as an anthem for this new outlook, whether he meant for it to or not.

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who that it’s namin’
For the loser now will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is rapidly fadin’
And the first one now will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’