He can heal the sick, raise the dead

bob_dylan_narrowweb__300x4790He can heal the sick,
Raise the dead
He will set you right,
Settle your dread
The lame will walk
The dumb will talk.
Hurry up before he goes
Get down to the show.

After seeing three Bob Dylan shows in a row last summer, I hadn’t planned on seeing him again until my girlfriend suggested it.

Cool, let’s go.

So with little planning and we headed to the border at Calais, ME.

Unusually friendly border guards wished us a good time and they were bang on. Last year they called us Dead Heads which was highly complimentary. 

We meandered through the White Mountains for two days and arrived in Pittsfield , MA just about supper time. Getting tickets, beer and sausages, we missed Elana James. It sounded like Les Paul and Mary Ford with the syncopated swing and odd-ball harmony.

The people in Pittsfield are great – the food at the park is awful. I love Wahconah Park: it has that older ballpark nostalgia. The crowd had a family feel to it: aging hippies, middle aged business types, people who shave every day, twenty/thirty somethings, teenagers and kids. Kids under 12 free – great idea. Lots of beer, less weed than Canada. Things are different south of the border.

Junior Brown came up to the mike and garbled “Is this thing on?” and proceeded to run through his set like he needed to be somewhere else. Perhaps he did. I was glad when he got off and wondered what kind of management was allowing him to go on.

Jimmy Vaughn knows all the standard blues licks and guitar leads. He can’t sing and his act sadly needs a good vocalist. He can swing sort of and the whole set was like bar blues. He did bring out a female singer – sorry no name – who made me wish for Etta James. She had some of Etta’s phrasing without the sexy swagger. Passed the time.

Bob Dylan on stage 2006

They give Dylan this amazing intro. Aaron Copeland’s “Appalachian Spring” and “Rodeo” are played over the PA. They Dylan is announced as the poet laureate of the 60’s counter-culture, chemically dependent, cured born-again, washed-up has been of the 80’s and now back better than ever. Wow, bare your soul Bob.

Then the Man came out with his band. It was rocking. It was blues. It was the best thing that happened since last year. The band is super tight and rocks constantly. Dylan is still the king of his material, even when he re-interprets it. Dylan is Picasso re-painting the nude one more time. You have to admire the beauty and the passion. His words are the catch phrases of the last 50 years. They the American experience. His voice is full of emotion, color, timbre. Only once did I regret his approach: I like “I Shall Be Released” as a torch song. He sang it with a somber emotion. Hey, he’s the artist.

Bob Dylan in concert 2005

He did at least four harmonica solo’s. Each of them pleased the crowd. They were fresh sounding and powerful, especially the upbeat coda to Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right. Dylan plays harp like a lead guitar solo.

The concert was long, exhausting. I stayed in the mosh pit until my one good leg gave out and had to go back to the stands with my girlfriend. I belted out “Like a Rolling Stone” and “Rainy Day Women” at full voice. It was ecstasy. My girlfriend said he was better than last year. She also said she like my version
of some songs better than his. She is getting good: she can recognize some tunes just from lead in. Is she a keeper or what?

Bob Dylan in Concert August 2006

Leaving the ballpark, the cops squeezed our car behind the band’s bus going out of town and through the traffic we came alongside Bob’s bus, you know the one pulling his motorcycle.

This realization came into my mind: I am going to meet Bob before I die. Why? What will I say? How to act cool and not like
a fan?

I let those negative thoughts go and just cruised along in the night on the inside lane. The bus was dark and shinny, its wheels glimmered. We pulled into our motel in Lennox and the bus rolled over the next hill and into the night.

Stephen Pate
(temporarily in Manchester NH)

Photo credit – Bob Dylan in Concert 2006 dontdothisathome Flickr