Last night we saw Bob Dylan play at Jones Beach. This was #22 on my life list, and all the sweeter because it was Stuart’s idea and execution. On Friday he IMed me and said, “hey, want to do something fun tomorrow night? Bob Dylan?” and proceeded to wait patiently while the SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEs accumulated on his screen.
Dylan is a lot of things to me. The Greatest Hits album was one of the first cassettes I owned, when I was about 11. He was the one musician that my two best friends in high school and I could all agree was genius (Erin liked ska, Raych liked Madonna and I liked folk). He was the reason I bought a record player in college, because a friend gave me an immaculate LP of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan and told me it sounded better on vinyl. Different albums represent different stages of my trajectory into adulthood: Freewheelin’ and Another Side of Bob Dylan were the first two albums I owned on vinyl and they represent my sophomore year, along with a battered copy of Planet Waves I bought at a record store in Princeton. Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde were my troubled, messy junior year. I discovered how much I loved Blood on the Tracks my senior year, and actually bought it both on vinyl and CD so I could listen to it in the car. “If You See Her, Say Hello” is irrevocably tied to spring break of that year and a particularly odd heartbreak that followed. But that album remains my favorite.
Even though my Dylan catalog has languished since I slid into my early 20s and divested myself of my record player and vinyl collection, the music still has a huge hold over me. Last night was nostalgic and new at the same time because Dylan’s voice is, well, different. He sang “Tangled Up in Blue” but he sang it in half time. Stuart didn’t recognize “All Along the Watchtower” until about 20 seconds in, and many verses were cut from many songs.
It was still a beautiful night, and there was a breeze coming off the Atlantic all evening, and a full moon, and Dylan did full poetic justice to the beauty of “Simple Twist of Fate”. And apart from anything else, I can say I got to hear Dylan play the harmonica like he does so well, and has, for so many years. That’s pretty good for a Saturday night.
nb title of this post: sadly he did NOT sing “Subterranean Homesick Blues” (my favorite song of his) which is not surprising - I don’t think he can sing that fast anymore.