Thursday, August 5, 2010
Or, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Backyard...
Having last seen this band in October, w/ less then exciting results, I assumed I’d exercised my demons and was released from the grip of the beast. So, when I was bombarded by emails and texts when this show was announced, I didn’t really feel any strong pull to go. In fact, I was actually a little happy NOT to be going. Having only listened to the Tony Garnier Hall tape, I knew that that first tour last fall was obviously not the height this band could reach, but the thought of paying money, to wait all day in late summer TX heat, to see (what I considered to be) the shell of some of the funnest times in my life was not exactly something that made me squeal w/ glee. Plus, I am living in Austin, where seeing good music isnt a problem
But after running into and chatting w/ the guys around town all week, I realized just how much I have really missed seeing the band (especially Tony!). I never stopped liking any of them (this goes for Dylan as well), so when a ticket dropped from the sky w/ my name on it, I figured I may as well use it, since it could be another long while before I see Tony or Stu again. It was 3.46 am Wed morning.
My mind, long out of touring shape, tries to pull together a crude list of GA essentials, none of which I seem to have anymore. I got far less sleep then I would have liked to, but still timed it so I would make it to the venue later then I’d ever gotten to a GA line before. I didn’t want to be first, and I certainly wanted to minimize time spent in a forecasted 105 (mercury reading) day. I did show up later then ever before….and I was first (ugh!)……. by at least an hour and a half Great.
For those of you unfamiliar w/ the venue, it moved from its original location (where BD played in the past) to up the road a few miles. Its hosted 2 or 3 shows at its new location, the most famous being Willie’s 4th of July Picnic this year, where they managed to run out of food, water and bathrooms early on, and it was a 2 hour wait to get to your car. To say the place is still working out the kinks is an understatement. But this ended up working to our advantage in many ways, the coolest of which being we got to watch soundcheck. Obviously we weren’t in the park for it, but there were more then a few holes in the fence/gate, and the stage was RIGHT in front of us. The first recognizable song was Cry A While, which only reminded me they very rarely play the songs they check Next was Absolutely Sweet Marie, followed by a VERY cool Cant Wait. Not a full start/stop arrangement, but one that broke for George to fill. It was incredible! Having not listened to any tapes, I cant say w/ any authority that is was a new arrangement, but I asked someone who’d done the Euro tour, and he said this was definitely funkier then it had been in Europe. I can say that it was incredibly tight, and I was a bit sad that, since they checked it, we probably weren’t going to get it. They ended w/ Don’t Think Twice. The entire check was solid, from start to finish, powerful and full, assuredly not what it was in the fall. Sound was excellent too, though, obviously, sound outside and sound inside are two different things. All band members and Dylan were easily identified through the holes, but no one could figure out who the stocky shorter figure in the dark shirt was.
It was also one of the best entrances, second only to KCMO in 08. A short brisk walk got us our pick of rail real estate, and time to fine tune that, as no one was rushing right behind you. The rail filled up slowly, as more people eventually moseyed on over. I, of course, chose to stand between Tony and Stu. Again, having not seen/ heard ANYTHING for almost a year, the word “new” will be a bit subjective throughout, but there were all sorts of new amps littering the stage; in addition to Stu and Charlie’s signature Fender and Vox (respectively), each had a 65 Royal Albert amp set up as well. Never seen those anywhere before, so unfortunately, I cant elaborate further. I’m even hesitant to say they were actually used ......
W/ a west facing stage, it didn’t matter what time the ticket said, they weren’t about to set foot up there until the sun went down, but finally that old familiar intro music snaps the crowd to attention. They strap in, and w/ a snap, they explode into Leopard-Skin. This is definitely not the Fall 09 band anymore. The sound, for the rails, is unbelievable. Perhaps a bit too unbelievable, for I must admit, when Dylan started singing, it took me a good minute to get used to it again. No no, I haven’t turned into a detractor, as much as I kid, but having not heard it for 10 months, coupled w/ the fact that this was, by far, the cleanest and loudest vocal I’ve ever gotten at the rail…… it was a bit shocking.
Once I got past that, however, I was able to concentrate more on the music. Everything was incredibly solid. No longer a collection of 5 musicians, they were once again a band. The sound stayed strong as they moved into Lay Lady Lay. And, for perhaps the first time in my life, I think I heard Donnie at a Dylan show! haha Of course, that may be stretching it a bit far, but each entity was contributing to the sound in a meaningful way. I have never really liked this song, but there was absolutely nothing to complain about here. It was just a solid rendition. There’s no critique to be had.
Tom’s Thumb brought about another interesting occurrence; a decent Dylan solo. Was it the best? No. Should he be playing guitar in this town, a town full of guitar players? Probably not. However, it was very good, completely passable, and never once sounded like he was hitting notes for the sole purpose of making noise. Again, it’s not something to marvel over, but the last time I was around these parts, a Dylan solo was something that made you cringe, and this definitely didn’t.
Stuck Inside saw Dylan remain on guitar. A less ‘inspired’ solo came, but more noteworthy, for me at least, was the sharp and RAPID decline in sound quality. Granted, no one in their right mind goes to the rail thinking that’s going to be a great sounding place, but it was almost like someone sat something on the mixing board that just slid all the way down and messed up half the levels. Stu’s amp was pointed right at me, so at the very least I should have been able to hear him pretty well, but even that was touch and go at certain points. At this point, my critiques, while I will still make them, I’m sure have more to do w/ the fact that I couldn’t hear certain parts, and wont be as applicable when I listen to the tape.
The one thing that bugged me, and believe it was during this song, though I can say for sure, is that Tony, Charlie, and Dylan all standing in a row w/ Trussarts looked like the three damn stooges! While Trussarts aren’t my favorite sounding guitar, I could understand their use here or there, but three of them, employed on the same song….. gimme a break. Like I said, the sound mix dipped sharply after the 4th song, so I cant judge one way or the other too harshly (perhaps 3 Trussarts sound really great, I cant say for sure) but visually, they looked like a damn novelty act, a Trussart advertisement or something. All I do remember about the song, whichever it was, was that Stu was on acoustic…..thankfully Trussart doesn’t make acoustics!
Beyond Here saw the stocky unidentified figure from soundcheck bounce out, revealing himself to be Ivan Neville! He stood impishly behind the keys, as if he didn’t know if he’d actually be allowed to play them, or if it was just a joke. It wasn’t, and as the band kicked in, I came to the horrible realization that I couldn’t hear the keyboard!!!!!!! &*%^^&@%$&%^@%*&%^!!!!!!!!! Just my luck, we FINALLY get someone who knows what he’s doing behind the keys, and I cant fukin hear him! Aside from that, the song was just entirely too short. Neville didn’t stick around after the song was over (and yes, to kill those rumors, it WAS Donnie on trumpet, because I specifically watched him play some. on that song)
Tangled had weird phrasing, vocally, which I didn’t much care for, and but at least I could hear Stu’s acoustic real well. This might have been the three Trussart song, since I don’t think Stu plays acoustic for Stuck, but I had not brought near enough water and the middle songs began to run together until I borrowed some water from Lily. (You know something is wrong when you stop sweating when its that hot out!) This was NOT the show to be unprepared for.
Despite the joking and the kidding, I really am ‘over’ the lineup change, and do not compare one to the other (you cant, as far as I am concerned). The only time I ever felt ‘slighted’ the whole night was during Rollin and Tumblin. Even before the first note is struck, the tech outfits Charlie w/ the old Gibson hollowbody Denny played back in 05 (looks like a 175 but I don’t think it is, check the Amazon concert if you want to see it). Oh, man Then I notice he has a slide on his finger. Really?!
Yup, the band kicks into Rollin……oh man….. Denny plays a slide that will rip your skin off, Charlie….well, if he can, he sure as hell didn’t. I’m all for putting a personal touch on a song, and he did, near the end, and that was when it was actually really nice to listen to, but his slide before that was a couple steps down from ANY version I’ve ever heard of the song, Dylan, Muddy, anyone. The last part though, where it was ‘Charlie’, rather then just ‘someone covering a song’, was great. More of that next time they play it, and it could easily become a highlight.
Tryin was where the show really picked up for me. The sound issues were not (and would not be) resolved, but by now I’d learned how and what to listen, and just simply could not get over how tight this band was! Absolutely solid. Last fall, the thing that really turned me off the most, and its bound to happen any time you have a lineup change, was the big gaping hole in the sound. Even if you didn’t know what it was, something was definitely missing. No more! Tryin has and will always be a favorite of mine, and I was glad to see it standing strong.
Cold Irons though could not have been better if it tried, in my mind. Was there one particular player/moment/etc that made it stand out? No, it just cranked, from start to finish; a polished, well rehearsed song given a powerful performance, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Not because of one, but because of all.
Hot on its tail, Workingman’s was another standout. The last time I’d seen this, Stu, the backbone of the song, looked bored out of his mind, and it came through in his playing; a textbook case of going through the motions. Not tonight. Highly polished, GREAT emotion, cant find one wrong thing to say about it, at all. Dylan grabbed his harp on this one, and after a terrified second that he might be about to ruin the song, that worry was quickly put to rest. The last couple of times, his harp playing struck me as touch and go, which was disheartening; I’ve always loved his harp playing, but tonight, and during this song, it was back to being exactly what the song needed. Just speaking personally, I felt strangely peaceful listening to this song. I know you can always come back, but you cant come back all the way…… but, maybe you don’t need to come back all the way, ya know?
Pagel’s sources list that Ivan Neville came back out on that song, but the more I think about it, the more I am sure that that is NOT true. Someone suggested that he came back out for Cant Wait, and I think that is far more accurate. I wish I could have HEARD him, but alas, I must admit that the second time was just the same story as the first, and just as disappointing. (I also think there is something ify w/ the ordering thus far, but I was dehydrated, so what do I know? haha The tape will clear it all up) However, being that the 2nd Neville song was (most likely) Cant Wait, that disappointment evaporated pretty fast! My only compliant was that the sound was not as good as it was outside the gates, but that is to be expected. Again, I don’t know if the arrangement was new or not, but it was new to me, and I was digging every minute of it. This is a song that definitely required everyone to be on the same page, and they hit every mark RIGHT on time. Very cool, very funky, very powerful. I was very happy to have gotten it, especially since it was checked.
H61 seemed to have no high end, only rhythm (which, believe you me, I’m NOT complaining, I could see and, more importantly, hear Tony very clearly, always a huge thrill), but that is a direct problem of the sound mix, and obviously, I cant comment on the quality of something I cant hear. The only thing I can say is that there seemed to be slightly less energy on stage, which was probably the case; these guys were drenched.
Thunder was, for some inexplicable reason, the only time I could hear the keyboards. He and Charlie “dueled” back and forth, which was kind of entertaining, but I think it would get on my nerves if I were doing more shows this tour. It didn’t necessarily hurt the song, but it didn’t help it either. I remember really liking Thunder back in Oct, it was one of the highlights, but this time, I wouldn’t call it such. I think this is just because of the higher quality of songs I have to compare it to this time.
Ballad was another, like Workingman’s, which I had been disappointed by in the fall, especially in regards to Stu’s role. His tele still delivers the bite, but the song overall has matured, for lack of a better word. Before, it was full of youthful anger and confrontational spirit, an almost punk, in your face attitude, like they’d come up and punch you in the face and scream at you, just to piss you off. That anger is still there, but more veiled, more sinister. You really do have no idea whats going on, and they will hurt you in ways you cant even dream of, so just walk away. This is one of those that everyone groans about seeing on a setlist, but when done right, it can be one of the best of the night. This was one of those times.
I don’t like LARS, ever, and Watchtower was just as rockin and solid as anything that night, definitely a high note to end it on.
Due to the strange mix where I was, I was given the opportunity to really pay attention to George. He was easily the highest in ‘my’ mix all night, and it gave me a whole new appreciation for the guy. Having surrounded myself for the last year w/ a whole lot of drummers who don’t venture out of a TX shuffle (not that that’s necessarily a bad thing) it was surprising just how refreshing it was to hear that New Orleans flavor back behind the kit. When I play myself, drums become subconscious, only heard if they’re NOT working, and that’s what happened all the other times I’d seen George; he fits so well he became invisible. Tonight though, he drew my attention more then a few times, and in a good way. I’d really forgotten how much I enjoy hearing him play (even if I’m not always aware of it.)
Tony was Tony, and there’s just no one better then him. Smooth as silk, it’s always a trip to see that guy. When I quit touring, not seeing him was what made the decision hard. Thinking back now, I think WMB was the only time he pulled out the upright, which, while I would have liked to hear more from it, beggars cant be choosy.
Unfortunately, Donnie was completely inaudible again, but I’m thinking that has more to do w/ the early remix. Perhaps he was heard by those in the middle/back. My one true complaint of the night is the fact that Stu is now a COMPLETE rhythm player. “Wait a minute!” you say. “You always said you liked his rhythm playing!” And I do, I really do. I think his strength lies first and foremost in his acoustic fingerpicking, and many times that makes the song for me. I also believe that if Denny is on your stage, he should be taking all leads. Now that that is no longer a factor, I sincerely believe that Stu and Charlie need to be sharing guitar duties more evenly. This is not to say I tired of Charlie, but each guy has his own lead to bring to the table, and I think certain songs may sound better w/ Stu on lead. Obviously, Forgetful Heart and WMB need Stu on rhythm. But in other situations, Charlie on rhythm would work just as well.
Based the show in Oct, I really didn’t want to see another show again. I certainly didn’t want to pay for it. But tonight’s show was truly fun, and the band was rock solid, truly leaps and bounds above the last time I saw them. I really enjoyed the show and would gladly go see them again.
But perhaps the thing that made me happiest was that, after the show, I wasn’t driving up to OK.
Monday, May 10, 2010
Dallas. Forever the “road” city in my mind, it is the ugly stepsister of my adopted hometown, a place everyone in Austin loves to hate. I’m not here all the time, but I’ve been known to drop by semi-frequently, and I think even if I lived here for the rest of my life, it would still remain completely foreign to me. It’s the one place that Mapquest print-outs still ride on the passenger seat to EVERY destination, even if its just up the road. Hence the “road city” title; it represents the essence of every city I ever went to ‘on tour’. It still retains the fun/frustration of exploration (and, especially w/ Dallas, the looming threat of getting irreversibly lost) and the ineffable thrill of being in a new place every night that has all but disappeared from my travels.
Being on the cusp of recovering from a months-long creative block, and being back in Dallas, where everything is the same, yet completely different, I decided to try my hand at another review, this time without using “I.” All my Bob Dylan reviews were written for a very specific audience, which was nice, it meant I didn’t have to explain that Donnie Herron was the fiddle player every night, but it also makes the reviews a bit jarring for those “on the outside.” This one, I want someone w/ no previous knowledge to be able to pick up, read, and (hopefully) enjoy………
Sitting on the edge of downtown Dallas, a few blocks from where some of the most famous blues recordings were made, a few more blocks in another direction from Deep Elum, a locale any blues fan should know, 3 spectacled, grey haired men took the stage of a small club. To onlookers passing on the streets, it was perhaps not the most impressive sight. To those in the club, however, it was a performance seeped in the essence of the blues, and one not likely to be forgotten; if they were paying attention.
Throughout the night, Denny Freeman, augmented by Jim Milan on bass and Michael J Dohoney on drums and vocals treated those in attendance to what the familiar I-IV-V pattern can accomplish, if done right. Too often, the blues are dismissed for their three chord simplicity, and the penchant for everyone who can play a scale over them (often at blisteringly fast speeds and ear shattering volumes) proclaiming themselves ‘blues guitarists’. This neglects the simple reason the blues are the blues; the feeling. With many of the (more famous) greats dead and gone, perhaps the biggest factor of a pending blues extinction is the lack of any sort of emotion in most playing.
Thankfully, this does not apply in any way to Freeman. Across the spectrum, he plays a purely physical kind of blues, the kind that take hold of every muscle in your body and don’t let go until they are good and ready. Without realizing it, your arms tighten and your breath catches, your feet strain against the floor. Employing a deceptively simple combo of Bassman and Strat, the pure, rich tone and Freeman’s stylistic prowess unlock the magic that every I-IV-V progression has the potential of becoming. No matter what you’re coming from or where you are going, you cant help but notice an ineffable truth to Freeman’s playing as if he, like those select few before him, have somehow tapped into the collective unconscious, the shared experience of what it is to be human. In 3 sets each comprised partially of genre-spanning covers, and partially of Freeman’s own material, this essence never waned.
Often overlooked, the rhythm section in this band is a formidable asset. Never overbearing, never aurally invisible, and, more importantly, never out for the glory themselves, they are the textbook examples of the role drums and bass should play. Sometimes funky, sometimes with a more soulful vibe, there was never anything less then solid. Dohoney’s vocals perfectly mirrored the guitar work; they too were full of experience and a sort of melancholy joy, a reluctant acceptance of the world. Covers were the only songs needing vocals, but you would never know that by the performance. Combined with Milan’s ultra smooth fretless Fender jazz bass (Does your part time bassist at the local tavern play one of those? Didn’t think so), the result was a truly seamless delivery. Adding to the notion of the collective unconscious, it was at times difficult to believe that there were three separate brains creating this music. That each player has different bands and gigs he plays, and that they rarely, if ever, rehearse as a trio speaks volumes.
This is not ‘blooze’. You do not need to get liquored up on cheap LoneStar, and multiple servings of bourbon and scotch stand to detract from your appreciation (though, that is certainly not to suggest you need a Masters degree in music theory to enjoy the show either). If that is your kind of thing, you should probably show up early, pay your cover, and then promptly leave. You will not get it.
However, if you are the type who wants to see and hear true music before it becomes something that exists only in memory, you need to make every effort to see this band.
I wrote this at 4 am, the result of too much lingering caffeine and one of those fun N. Texas thunderstorms. I also closed it without saving the second half of the document (something I have never done in my entire life). Thanks, Dallas!
Saturday, February 6, 2010
Until last week, when I got an email from a friend, asking if I was going to the Jackie show this upcoming Monday! Oh no! A 12 dollar show isn’t exactly expensive, but I had 2 dollars to my name. By chance, I see that the local record store is offering 2 in a contest. I enter and think nothing of it…………. until I get an email the next day that I had won! I never win anything! You cant make stuff like that up. When something like that happens, you know you’re in for a good show.
No matter that it was a mellow Monday night Boulder crowd, to whom the thought of tearing into a theatre full tilt had never once occurred, the tension of the moment of doors opening was quick to return. Every experience is different, every experience is the same. It wasn’t imperative that I get the front, but as one of the first 20 or so through the door, it was impossible NOT to be against the stage. In what would have been celebrated on a Friday night (but slightly inconvenient on a Mon) we were to have 2 opening acts. The first was a younger guy who neither stated his name, nor was mentioned on the poster or ticket. Which is a shame, because Mystery Man was a fairly good opener. In the Greene-Blum-West Coast ‘singer-songwritter’ vein he had some, perhaps a bit underdeveloped, but poignant things to say. Still a young man, he has time to develop, and if we’d have been told his name, I’d happily be on the lookout for him in a few years. He has the potential to be good enough to be someone who will never make it big. That sounds absolutely terrible, but let me try to explain; the was the music industry is today, someone w/ substance, someone who has something to say, will never be given the opportunity that a talentless, here today, gone tomorrow flavor of the month will. This Mystery Man, if he’s ok w/ not making much money and not being ‘famous’ and continues to write, will be a very good songwriter. And, lucky you, appreciator of good music, you will never have to shell out hundreds of dollars to see him.
The second opener, who unfortunately had a name (and even gave away free CDs) was Danny Shafer, and he was everything that this first guy was not. The quintessential stereotype of a “70s singer songwriter” his songs were lighthearted jaunts about BBQs and “Johnny Prine” and had about as much depth as a footprint in the dust. He was just like….. that one guy, and…….ol’ whats his face, and……you know who I’m talking about……..The one hit wonder who was extremely big back then, but you cant even remember his name now. I found it extremely telling that the 3 arrogant, holier then thou, staple of Boulder, frat boys behind us could not shut up during the Mystery Man’s set, but hoped and hollered and cheered when mindless masses pleaser Shafer sang about eating spicy chicken wings. Apparently he was from Boulder………figures.
Thankfully, each opener only played a half hour set, and it wasn’t long before Greene and co. took the stage. While the players were the same since the last time I saw them in 2008, a lot has changed. From the opening chords of I Don’t Live In A Dream, it was clear that Greene has matured a LOT, both as a performer and as a musician. Last time, I remember being struck w/ “lead” guitarist Nathan Dale’s work, but tonight, I was decidedly unimpressed. Be it an off night, or the fact that I myself have grown as a guitarist and have been exposed to many more players, but Dale was simply average, nothing more. Greene, on the other hand, seems to have only gotten better. Obviously, a trio has a different sound then a band w/ two guitarists, and it can be argued that the two-guitar sound is what he is after right now, but, to be completely honest, Dale is simply NOT a necessity on the stage, musically speaking. Not that he spoiled any song during the evening, but he is utterly replaceable by any professional musician.
While he was never one to lack presence or audience command, Greene has taken it to another level these days. Despite my comments on Dale, the band is very strong behind him, and during New Speedway Boogie, a song that, even when playing w/ Phil, I always considered more of a Jackie song, he had the audience almost eating out of his hand, snarling and growling at the mic, removing his hat and twisting reminiscent of a 66 and 75 Bob Dylan (as if that comparison hasn’t been made enough haha). I believe it was during this song that I noticed an unmistakable Larry Campbell influence, another Phil Lesh bandmate. Again, he was great before, but now he is stepping it up a notch.
The show continued on in this manner, until Gone Wanderin’, when Greene invited the audience to sing along. All were happy to oblige, until he stepped away from the mic and let the sing on their own. Embarrassed, everyone stops w/i one second. The band stops too. “What was that?” chides Greene. “We’re stoned!” a woman from the crowd offers. ‘We don’t know what part we’re at!” He smiles, “The chorus”, and this time everyone makes it through not one, but 2 choruses.
The next song was easily the highlight of the night. I Shot The Sheriff came out of nowhere (apparently this was its debut) and smacked everyone over the head w/ more then just a taste of Jamaica. If there was one song that embodied the comments I’ve made about the entire show, this was it. A real pleasure to witness, and one of a few times I was really exited that there were two guitars.
As is usually the case, Greene also spent some time on the keyboards. First one of these to really catch my attention was Tell Me Mama, which had been turned into a very slow blues from what I was used to. At the beginning, it sort of rubbed me the wrong way, and I didn’t feel the tempo suited it all that well, but as time went on, the song grew on me and while still an interesting choice, I felt it worked well.
Immediately following was the next highlight, completely on par w/ Sheriff, an extremely funky Lord Mistreats Me. Keyboards switched to the organ setting, great Dale guitar work, just incredible funk/blues tune in a show consisting mainly of jam and rock songs. Not that I don’t like jam and rock, but this was more up my alley then anything else all night.
The remainder of the night stayed solid, a few Beatles tunes (Taxman and Don’t Let Me Down), some Dead, some originals. We were treated to Mexican Girl for the electric encore (always a favorite of mine) then the band retired leaving up treated to two new acoustic songs of a soon to be released record. The first, 1961, tells a story that, by the end, is extremely predictable, but I really liked it nonetheless. I’m sure after multiple listens I’ll be sick of it, but on a first listen it was really very nice. The second, Holy Land, was more involved, a first person interrogator rather then a removed narrator, and one with more staying power in the long run, perhaps a closer. However, tonight’s closer was Sweet Somewhere Bound, which fits its slot perfectly. I know I have good memories of it, I’m sure everyone in the audience does as well.
There was the option to hang around and meet him afterwards, but having nothing specific I wanted to say to him, and faced w/ a long and cold walk home, I opted to just get going. However, if there was ever a doubt, he has surely cemented his place among the greats, even if too many people aren’t hip to it right now. Regardless of how the future will look back on him, Jackie Greene is one of, if not the best artist under 30 working today.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Chills radiated up my spine, out my shoulders and into my arms, the world stopped spinning and time moved backwards. I see and feel the same filling, satisfying, ineffable out-of-self feeling I felt the nearly 23 times I was in the audience when it was played (and the countless other times I listened to tapes). This song always signified the end of a VERY long and thrilling day. Whatever lows had occurred, they were but a mere afterthought to the incredible high you were feeling now. Yes, the show was in its final moments, but those moments seem to last forever. A part of me is still out there in some of those final moments, especially encased the some of the more exceptional solos by then lead guitarist, Denny Freeman. All I have to do is hear a few notes, and I will forever be transported, to the balmy heat of a TX summer night, or the cavernous theaters of New England, or the hockey arenas of the upper Midwest. This was one of those renditions, except, I wasnt at this show. But hearing those notes brought everything back.
I will never forget the way I felt late that night of Aug 20, 2009. As pathetic as it sounds, my world really did come (at least partially) crashing down. The Bob Dylan tour had literally been the only constant in my life since the government chose to classify me as an "adult". After growing up in a poor rural place, getting to actually GO to all the places I'd heretofore been forced to experience vicariously was more then a dream come true. To have people take what you said seriously, to discuss the music you loved the most w/ those who felt the same; it was a luxury that I'd never known before, and it was as close to heaven as a 19 year old kid could get.
That was when I was still naive, before I discovered the backstabbing, the immaturity, the nastiness, the clique-ish subculture that seems to permeate deep into the community. That was when waiting in line ALL day through all sorts of hellish weather was actually a BLAST, when I wasnt anxious about who might show up and how thick the tension in the air would get. Back then, I LIVED for the instant the gates opened, when it was just us vs. them (venue "security"), before I knew that there were certain people/groups you had to watch out for, groups who wouldnt hesitate to throw an elbow in your side, or a leg underfoot, people you had to be careful of brushing against (while being herded like cattle through a labyrinth, mind you) least they think it an aggressive move on your part and now make a POINT of taking you down.
Dont get me wrong, that stuff was always there, but I just didnt or couldnt see it. I thought that when we all went in, we were all focusing on all aspects of the music being created, just as I was. I thought we were ALL fascinated by the instruments, and that we all saw each of the band members as separate individual entities, I thought everyone felt the same way I did. By and large, I was wrong. (Turns out, most people just want to gaze at Dylan, not that there is anything wrong w/ that.)
So when my tenure as a continued audience member was abruptly ended, I was lost at sea as a million adrenaline fueled, vein tingling memories flooded back. All that, literally, all my "adult" life, was done, over, finished, never to be recreated or found again.
Naturally, such a realization was accompanied by sadness. In the coming months, I watched a new tour be built, tickets go on sale, friends arrive at new venues in exciting new towns, all that used to excite me like no other. I listened to tapes 05-(summer)09 w/ a heavy heart; Dylan's music would NEVER sound as good (a fact which remains to this day). Having attended one show and sampled a few tapes from the new tour, I knew the experience was not the same and did not regret that I was not attending any more on the tour.
I did, however, feel some remorse that there was not a reason to go anymore. This would be exacerbated in those proceeding months by that feeling that inspired this writing; the instant flashback of being there; being a part of something bigger. In those fleetingly eternal moments inside the solo of the last song, especially looking back, I felt as though we were all lifted outside ourselves, to form somewhat of a collective soul, drawn together by the shared association of being where we were at the exact second this "thing", this song, was being created (and I should not have to say this, but no, this was not chemically induced). This "togetherness" probably existed in my mind alone, as more then a few people were probably plotting how to sabotage thier rivals next entrance, or loathing the person next to them for dancing too much or not enough.
So tonight, when my fingertips grew icy and my lips curled into a smile at hearing a remarkable solo, I was surprised to notice that I did not long to be at a show, did not want to experience these things again. It is true, Dylan's music will never again sound as beautiful as it did between March 05 and Aug 09, but, for some inexplicable reason, I am now content to let the past be the past. It was pure joy, and nothing else, that rose in me upon hearing that familiar Strat. That I can probably never attend any ticketed event where the performers whisked to and fro, like ghosts in the wind, under the same guise is a given, but I accept that I walked out a different person then I walked in. There was never any ill-will, but there are no longer any hard or remorseful feelings that come w/ the memories.
And so I bid farewell and not give a damn..........