Today, a video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfDbHxW_1Lg) began to make its way around my circle of Facebook friends, more specifically, my Bob Dylan friends. Normally I dont watch Youtube clips of Dylan show, but since this was from 2008, I clicked on the link, a particularly beautiful Blowin In the Wind....
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..........