March 23, 2022
Review by Laurette Maillet
Nashville March 23rd. My birthday.
Bob Russel drops me at my hostel. Nice funky hostel.
My friend and BD Fan, Simon, will join me at the "Country Hall of Fame" in the
morning. They removed the Johnny Cash/Dylan section. Too bad!
We then have lunch in a 'noisy' cafe/bar. They call it music I call it noise. The
instruments are too loud to hear any of the lyrics?! That's on Broadway. We
walk Broadway avenue. Then we separate, each one going to rest.
I pack up my translucent bag as requested.
By 6pm Bob's bus parks along the Ryman. We don't see him getting out.
I take my sign out. We are 4 looking for tickets as it is sold out. Totally this
time. By 7.30pm a man comes to me. "You need a ticket?""Yes. How much?"
"Nothing". The man looks at his telephone screen and find only one code bar.
"I'm sorry I thought I had two". "Are you sure?" We then walk to the
entrance. Absolutely no security search. The usher scann the one code bar
and let me go. Two tickets on one code bar ? Plus the man says " we are
not together, note the seat number". Ok.
Floor , section 3, row V seat 5.
I've been at the Ryman before. I know it used to be a church and the seats
are wood benches. What I didn't remember are the pillars. One is blocking
my view. :(.
Until the fourth song I have no one on my right side. Then arrive a couple:
man obese and woman talkative. I have to ask them to stop talking about
what I don't care and I squiz tight on my bench.
The public is reactive in the front. The audience will be up until "I contain
multitudes" and the front left section will be up during the entire show.
First time on that tour.
The show is good. Bob will repeat again "Everything gonna be like a
RAPSODY when I paint my Masterpiece".
"Crossing the Rubicon" is the hilight.
After "Jimmy Reed" he mentions being in the music city...and this is
precisely the name of my hostel : Music city hostel. But he didn't
mention it is my birthday today :)
That ticket was truly a miracle ticket. Highly unexpected. Thank you
Thank you all the good people who wished me a happy birthday!
It worked. I had a wonderful birthday...without a cake. But who
needs a cake on a Bob Dylan tour?? Thank you Simon for my
birthday lunch and a great time in Nashville.
The show was not surprising but it was at the Ryman. And for me
the third time in that mythical theater.
See you in Atlanta Bobby..
Review by Bob Russell
Nashville and the Ryman Auditorium. Took a magnificent tour of the Ryman
as Dylan’s crew was setting up the stage. It is a moving experience to
see and appreciate the history of the building, and the list of performers
who were on this stage is just incredible. The Ryman is one venue tour not
to be missed if you are in Nashville.
Same setlist tonight, another excellent concert! This was Dylan concert
136 for me and my 6th of the spring tour.
• The Ryman was alive this night, with the best audience response of any
concert I have seen this year! After taking the auditorium tour, I was
expecting a magical night, and that is what we got. The town is “Music
City”, as Bob called it this evening, and the band, crowd, and building
combined to live up to that name. Dylan made at least four of his
marvelous wanderings to center stage to bask in applause! • Broadway in
Nashville is the place to be, and the scene is much more dynamic than I
remember, with crowds, people, noise, and bands everywhere. Some small
clubs even have two loud bands playing at once, a battle of the bands
which is great unless you want to be heard in conversation. Nashville
needs to be visited. Nancy Cobb and I met some really nice and interesting
folks on the tour, especially Jeff, Martha, and John from Illinois, my old
stomping grounds. I’ve been eating lotsa good food here, surprise,
surprise. • More song closeups: o Key West (Philosopher Pirate).
“McKinley hollered, McKinley squalled”, the opening couplet, is taken
straight from the bluegrass classic “White House Blues” (see, for
example, the cleverly named band the Earls of Leicester for a fine live
video of this song on the assassination of President McKinley in Buffalo
in 1901.) Dylan has played two different strong arrangements of Key West,
leading to a cattlemen-vs-farmers type of feud among fans over which is
best. I will not take sides at all, other than to say that the original
arrangement is clearly superior. And who are “Louis, Jimmy, and
Buddy?” My take would be Louis Armstrong, Jimmy Buffet, and Buddy Holly,
but we may never know for sure. Thoughts?. o 9) Gotta Serve Somebody. An
all-out balls-to-the-wall rocker, certainly the most attention-grabbing
non- Rough and Rowdy Ways song of the setlist! The original live version
in 1979 was a strong rocking set opener. In its current form, it rises
even above that. People, THIS is the song to rise up and dance to!! Btw,
the lyrics have changed drastically, but the chorus and the drive of the
music tell the story. o 10) I've Made Up My Mind To Give Myself To You.
One of Dylan’s three best love song melodies. The band plays delicately
but sure-footedly. This one deserves to stay in the setlist for the next
decade! (Overly optimistic?? ). “I've traveled from the mountains to
the sea I hope that the gods go easy with me.” They will, Bob!!
After another day in Nashville, I will be off to Savannah, Georgia (long
drive!), then Charleston! The road goes on forever and the party never
Review by Peter Kramer
This was my last show following the tour, and what a night to end on.
If you’ve read my other reviews, I’ve been following Dylan since San
Antone. I ran into some trouble on a cold dark night by the Spanish
stairs, involving some uneven pavement and a nearby tree.
So, I got myself stitched up in San Antone and then got them pulled out in
They were bright blue stitches too, so I was glad to hopefully draw a few
less looks. Honestly, the worst part about it, aside from being away from
my fiancee, was finding time to rest between the drives to each location.
I love to to drive, especially in new and beautiful places, so going
across country is normally no problem. Having stitches just to the side of
my right eye was not something I anticipated and, depending on how much
sleep I got, did make some of those drives a bit tough - at least it
didn’t during the long haul from Minnesota to Texas.
Every struggle I went through was completely worth it. Each night, by the
time I took my seat and Dylan took the stage, all worries and aches seemed
to disappear. These concert truly are an Ivory Tower.
By the time I made it to the Ryman I felt a sense of completion.
I ended up waiting outside the venue for a before the show waiting to meet
up with my friend. This is the same friend I mentioned in other reviews,
who I met when I sold him a last minute ticket to San Antonio - to
summarize again, we ended up being around the same age and following the
tour in our vans for the roughly the same shows. We like to walk around
the area bit, check out the front of the venue and people, and chat before
the shows. This was the final show of the tour for both of us.
Of course, standing outside of the venue that long, I ran into the weird
If you’ve been to Dylan show recently, you may too have run into him. He
carries a big white cardboard sign that he writes his message on in large,
sharpie letters and hands out his pamphlets.
I had actually saw him leaving the Majestic Theater in San Antonio where
he gave me one of his pamphlets - the front was a decoy that said
something about respecting the jewish people, flip to the back and it gets
to the wild stuff.
When my friend showed up, he said that he had actually talked to the guy
once or twice before, outside of shows, and apparently saw someone bought
his homemade sign for $20 in Montgomery.
He apparently goes around to every Dylan show, at least in the states, to
hold his sign, spews some stuff to passerby's, and hands out pamphlets
before and after the shows. If he can get a ticket then he’ll go to the
show, but often times is left out in the cold. Neither of us knew what
exact organization he said he belonged to, and one can only guess.
He had a freshly-sharpie’d sign tonight, and I could see one of the
sides had his regular “Gotta Serve Somebody” line that goes off into a
My friend also confirmed that he was the person screaming out requests at
Dylan in Shreveport, including all the way up until Dylan started singing
on Black Rider and after the song finished. His screaming killed the vibe
of that show and Dylan said “Ah, what’s next,” into the microphone
in obvious annoyance.
While I wasn’t interested in saying anything to this guy, as I did not
want to hear this fellow’s particular sermon, my friend was intrigued by
the character. Having talked to him for a moment before other shows, my
friend was able to shed some light the guy and lead the conversation.
He found out the guy was from California, of course, and kept telling my
friend, once he said he was from Canada, that he should “go to Florida,
He also confirmed that someone gave him a twenty for his sign the other
As we were walking away, very casually my buddy asked to see the other
side of tonights sign, which said the following:
“Bob Dylan King Of The Jews & Prophet Of The Last Generation.”
I mean, jeez man…
I had to stifle my bewilderment. Half amused, completely mortified.
Also stricken with awe, my friend managed to ask a final, “Do you really
believe that?” or something to that extent.
His reply, to me, was priceless.
“What do you think he means when he sings ‘I ain’t no false
prophet’ every night?”
I had to turn my head back around to the sidewalk in front of me to
contain my bemusement.
Once we rounded the corner, my friend and I couldn’t help but burst.
“Yeah, I’m pretty sure he’s specifically saying that I’m not a
prophet,” my friend chuckled out to me, as we had a good few laughs
Songs, especially Dylan songs, can be interpreted so many different ways
and every interpretation is valid in its own way. But, I just can’t see
how you can read the lines, “I ain’t no false prophet, I just said
what I said,” any other way than Dylan saying that no, I am not a
prophet, I am what I am.
Further more there is the, “I ain’t no false prophet/ No, I’m
nobody’s bride,” which I can’t help but personally feel relates to
Dylan’s other lyrics about matrimony on the album, including Black Rider
and Key West.
Themes and analysis aside, it was such an interaction that was so purely
Dylan that you’d expect it to be from Masked And Anonymous.
I am pretty damn sure that Dylan does not appreciate this type of person.
I know he did not appreciate this specific person screaming song requests
and bible verses during his set in Shreveport.
For someone like me, it’s something I can almost laugh off as a sort of
novelty - when he’s not interrupting the show and being a nuisance to
I really do enjoy seeing all the facets of people at a Dylan show, due to
his wide range, and I particularly like to stand outside the front of the
venue after the show to witness the crowd and their reactions.
Luckily, my friend had also asked whether he was going to the show
tonight, to which he replied, “No, I couldn’t get a ticket!”
Glad I didn’t have to worry about obnoxious song requests tonight.
I ended up forgetting my ticket in my van around the block after my friend
and I stopped to drop his backpack off and change, so I only got to my
seats with minutes to spare.
As I only got there about eight minutes before showtime, my latest arrival
yet - all of my praises to the swift Ryman security and staff - I didn’t
hear that for this show they announced that you cannot use your phone
whatsoever before or during the performance. I heard from my friend that
staff was letting people know as they walked in, and people were even
stopped from taking pictures of the stage before the show.
Honestly, I was happy to hear that, as it’s not a big deal for me
anyway. I’ll take the occasional quick photo either before or after,
normally to capture the venue and crowd, just to send to my fiancee since
she had to stay home this trip. Otherwise, I just like to enjoy the entire
experience, and chat with my seat neighbor before the show. It’s not
hard to tell how much Dylan doesn’t like it during his shows, and as a
concert goer as well as a musician, I agree.
The lady who sold me my ticket was next to me. From what I gathered, she
had taken a break from seeing Dylan because she had a young child, so she
was very excited for the show.
From the moment Dylan walked out, he had total command over his stage.
His stage, as technically the lighted stage he has brought with him since
last fall sits on top of the venue’s stage. I did wonder how that might
play into the acoustics, especially here in the Ryman, but no matter what
Dylan was standing on this was the best sounding show that I saw this
Dylan seemed to be having a great time at this show. He was laughing,
pointing at the crowd and doing his usual crooner, almost gospel styled,
hand gestures over the piano
The entire audience in the pit was standing the whole show, including the
people row right in front of me. I had no choice but to stand the whole
time or else lose my view of the show. I did feel bad for those behind me,
who eventually stood up too, but I wasn’t missing my last show.
I like to express myself to live music, especially stuff as authentic as
Dylan’s. Audience participation is a key aspect of live performance.
Normally when seated, I do keep it fairly contained out of respect for
others, but tonight I was able to stand and dance. Luckily, the lady next
to me, who sold me her ticket, was just as enthused as I and we were both
dancing the entire time.
Watching The River Flow was greeted to great applause and a powerful,
jovial vocal delivery from Dylan.
Dylan seemed to be keeping his band on their toes tonight. He started
singing early on Most Likely You Go Your Way. As with his new tradition,
Dylan improvised new lyrics again tonight: “Ain’t gonna meet yah, only
teach yah, you some times your just, your just plain wrong”
Dylan’s vocal delivery was strong and quite sassy. It felt like he
really meant it tonight.
As has happened often on the softer songs this tour, people chatted a bit
during the start of I Contain Multitudes but were soon hushed by the
Dylan seemed to dig in on some lines, especially his phrasing “sell you
down the riverrr, put a price on you’re headdd,” elongating his words
at the end of those lines, as if those are his last, weary weapons of
False Prophet takes the perfect spot in the set to blow the top off, and
nailed it right back into place. It’s blues form, and Dylan’s lyrics,
give the audience the perfect chance to respond in cheers and hollers.
It’s always been a favorite of mine.
The Ryman crowd was ready to respond, and I could hear cries from all over
the auditorium in between verses, or after lines like, “last of the
best, you can bury the rest.” I was beyond grateful to dance to this
once, and damn did I dance. Even though people were standing, there were
few actually moving to the music. I was, and so was the lady next to me.
Dylan sang that one to us. I could see him looking our way the whole time.
Dead in the eyes at points. I’ll be damned if that’s not the most soul
I’ve seen him put into that song.
Carrying the energy from the previous song, Dylan launched into
Masterpiece with fierce harp playing. Again, Donnie seemed to really find
places to let his graceful touches loose.
Black Rider’s intro seemed to form out of nothing. The band provided
atmosphere, a slight sense of time, and then Dylan jumped in with
precision. Dylan was leaning over his piano like he was using his sword as
his crutch, hammering a few low menacing notes with his left hand.
Dylan gave extra spacing to his delivery in I’ll Baby Tonight, often
delaying the last line of the phrase for effect. He also changed a lyric
to, “tonight, you’re gonna get made,” to which he looked my way and
smiled. People cheered during the breakdown and Dylan let out a laugh in
appreciation. He also let out a laugh as he sang, “bring that bottle,
aha, bring it over here.” The crowd was eating up every morsel the
singer would provide.
My Own Version Of You has become a sonic laboratory with Dylan the chief
scientist of destruction and creation.
The audience was attentive yet responsive, especially as the song built in
intensity. There were loud cheers after, “I’m saying to hell with all
things that used to be,” and, “I’ll see you baby on judgement
Dylan led an extended piano outro that wound down the songs madness to a
Being a very responsive audience in Music City, the crowd let out a big
whoop after the first refrain in Crossing The Rubicon. Enthusiasm
continued, held back a bit in attention after the initial outpour, but
ever building with the songs crescendo. A much more subtle build tonight,
like in Montgomery, with Dylan taking the wailing solo’s on his piano
instead of Bob Britt on guitar.
Again, a blues number like this gives the perfect place for hoots and
hollers from the audience, and the crowd perfectly filled that space. When
done right, audience participation on a song like this will drive the
performance down any road the performer wants to take.
This crowd knew exactly what to do.
No one was talking while Dylan sang, but a lot of people were giving it
right back to him after he’d finish a line or verse.
What can I say? What more needs to be said? It was a perfect performance
of the song.
To Be Alone With You was jiving as ever and, after audience hollers during
the first instrumental, Dylan decided to let the rhythm roll through for
another section before finishing off the song.
Dylan found some excellent new melodic and rhythmic phrasing in Key West,
with it’s new, dramatic arrangement. I really love this arrangement, how
it feels so specifically crafted and fitting with this leg of the Rough
And Rowdy Way’s Tour.
Gotta Serve Somebody - feet-stomping, high-praising, and dead-raising..
I dunno, but the current arrangement and reworked lyrics, which are
crystal clear, really drives the audience to exuberance each night. After
the density of Key West, it’s almost a righteous relief.
Something unfortunate, yet somewhat compelling, happened during this song.
From my spot, I saw Dylan point and do some sort of gesture towards the
center of the crowd. He didn’t give a kind look. I later found out from
other people at the show that someone, against the policy, was taking
No low quality cell phone video is worth disturbing the performance. As
I’ve said, the audience can power or drain a concert depending on their
reaction. Taking pictures and video is something that drains Dylan’s
With how much I know filming bugs Dylan, I am normally somewhat reluctant
to watch footage of the current tour. The video has since been uploaded
online, and even though I really don’t care to see whatever blurry shot
they got, someone told me it might explain what I saw.
It’s very clear, not the video but the moment it captures. Not even ten
seconds into the song and you can see, as the poor footage pans up, Dylan
sees the phone and makes full eye contact.
He stairs at it for a few seconds once the phones angle settles, then
looks off with a frown.
He then keeps singing the first verse, back again still glaring down the
After he sings, “hiding in the bushes,” and without missing a damn
beat, Dylan shakes his heads in disappointment, finishes the line with,
“holding a smoking gun,” while simultaneously jabbing his finger at an
usher in the crowd and giving an ‘away-with-them’ hand signal, all
right as he’s jumping into his first, “you gotta serve somebody.”
Just a few seconds later, the usher Dylan gestured to was on the person
filming and shut it down. My friend said that the usher even made the
patron show that the phone was off and in their pocket.
Dylan was in command. Almost like a conductor.
If anything, that video can exist as evidence of how much Dylan’s focus
and power over the stage. I tried to do justice describing it, but it is
truly a swift justice done by Dylan’s hand while keeping perfectly with
Please everyone, for everyones sake, just put the phone away and
experience the show.
Even with the intrusive start, Dylan fell into the song and brought the
same powerful vocals he had been offering the whole show. The audience
fell into his arms with the applause, which was appropriate given the next
song of the set.
Dylan sang I Made Up My Mind To Give Myself To You with the most heart
People couldn’t contain themselves during the first verse, and cheers
rang out after the elevated vocal melody which ended the first verse.
Dylan kept his glissando’s reaching ever higher with each verse, and
each verse met to the same glorious uproar.
Cheers continued. Full audience appreciation in every shout. There was no
breath wasted between the performer and audience.
Like many others, I’m sure, this song has a deep impact on me. For all
the times I’ve heard Dylan sing it in the past year, this performance is
the one that brought me the most tears before wiping them all from my
Dylan had such certainly when he said, “I knew you’d say, you’d say
yes,” emphasizing the word “knew” and drawing out “yes” until it
faded into the balcony, then followed it with a plain spoken, truthful and
honest, “I’m saying it too.”
He has spoken on a similar topic, but if there’s one song that really
feels like Dylan should have written it, but didn’t, it’s Melancholy
Mood. I’ve loved Dylan’s version since it’s release and think it’s
a great choice to have taken with him.
As previously stated, this crowd understood it’s assignment. For all the
hollers during the rowdy numbers, there was mostly silence during Mother
Of Muses aside from the roar at the end. Dylan lead a beautiful
instrumental section with a rather elegant piano solo.
During the first and fourth verse of Goodbye Jimmy Reed Dylan pushed his
phrasing to fully eliminate a measure from the first live of those verses,
creating an 11 bar blues instead of a 12 bar blues.
During the last verse, Dylan fully eliminated two measures which created a
10 bar blues.
Did I notice? Yes, because I study music. Did the band miss a beat? No.
The was total focus on their bandleader and where his vocal cues were
taking them Maybe Dylan was testing the band or testing the bounds of his
phrasing powers. Either, way it remained tight and inventive.
Every Grain Of Sand is the perfect closing song for Dylan right now. Often
times, a rock concert ends on an upbeat number to leave the crowd
pumped-up. Dylan has done this before with his hits.
Not this time.
This time around, Dylan save’s this special sentiment for last to leave
the crowd with a tranquil meditation to hang on to as the evening comes to
This leads me to my final point of discovery.
Following this part of the tour, and especially seeing this show, has
given me a much better sense of what I think Dylan is conveying with Rough
and Rowdy Ways.
I can break this down into two general parts.
First, this is an album that was intended to be experienced live as Dylan
sings to it to you.
There’s a reason for the tour name. It’s on every ticket.
Dylan has said that his albums just capture a snapshot of the songs in
that time and place, which is so true of his newest album as well.
The best musicians and performers sound better live, and Dylan is of that
These songs have grown in their live performance in a way that could not
have happened in a studio. They are as much part theater as they are song.
We can read Shakespeare, but to see his works performed is to experience
them in their most authentic form, especially the original performances.
Before recording technology the only way to experience music was in a live
setting. Songs travelled and changed that way. The songs from Rough and
Rowdy Ways comes from that place and mindset. While they are clearly
documented with the release of the album, the songs are meant to be
My Own Version Of You has become much more of a driving force due to
it’s development. The section where it’s just Dylan and the drums, and
the band hitting on the downbeat, is magic at every show. False Prophet
especially plays much rowdier live than it does on the album, and Dylan
sings it with much more passion. Then there is the intimacy of the slower
songs like Black Rider or Mother Of Muses, which can only truly be
captured when you are in the theater with the singer.
So many of the lyrics shine through much clearer live to show that Dylan
is truly embracing his career as a performer.
So much of Rough and Rowdy Ways is deeply personal and often becomes more
biting live, like the rewrites on Crossing The Rubicon.
“Seem’s like ten - twenty years now, that I’ve been gone,” is
possibly the most gut wrenching line on the song, and it’s not even on
the album. While Dylan’s “comeback” was hailed with 1997’s Time
Out Of M ind, he’s almost saying that he’s been in the “Highlands”
since then. For people who aren’t familiar with the catalogue it might
not make as much since. When it’s directed at the audience who has come
with him, the line takes on a different level of meaning. It’s a deeply
revealing line that, while about himself, serves as a sort of confession
to the audience.
In the same song, Dylan rewrites another verse to, “The killing frost is
on the ground, and the early day’s are gone,” letting the audience
know exactly what they are already beholding in front of them. “You know
what I mean, you know exactly what I mean.”
Another large portion of the album also seems to involve, and sometimes be
directed at, Dylan’s audience.
Think of the line, “I opened my heart to the world and the world came
in,” during False Prophet. Hearing that line live, often times to great
cheers and hollers, almost creates a third dimension in the performance
where the audience is actually entering into the song for that moment. We
are entering into Dylan’s heart, if only for the evening.
It’s abundantly clear when Dylan performs I Made Up My Mind To Give
Myself To You that he is singing to you every night. Everyone one of you.
It was sung with such certainty, almost with glee, by Dylan at the Ryman
in such a way that the line could not be taken in any other context except
for being sung to the audience in front of him. The audience responded
like howling wolves.
That song is not just about Dylan’s audience, he’s also seemingly
singing to himself, but there are many other lines in most of the songs
that are in some way directed at, and involve, the audience. Sometimes it
depends on his performance of the songs.
Sometimes the lines are blurred.
It’s a similar function as the audience in a Shakespearean play.
The Audience also takes on a different part sometimes, and play an
essential role in helping the full meaning of the work come to life - like
the dimension in brings to False Prophet.
When Dylan sings, “Can you help me walk that moonlight mile? Can you
give me the blessing of your smile?” he is summoning the audience for
help in his creation.
Dylan need’s the audience to help complete the cryptic task he has
started - to create his own myth. It’s just like when he sings,
“Follow me close - I’m going to Bally-Na-Lee/ I’ll lose my mind if
you don’t come with me.”
What is an artist if they are in the void? Shakespeare’s plays need an
audience in order for his works to function as theater.
Likewise, Dylan needs an audience to be considered a performing artist.
I won’t even touch on the older material that Dylan features. Most
Likely You Go Your Way, I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight, the new lyrics on To
Be Alone With You, and en Every Grain Of Sand only further express this
When it comes down to it, the experience of seeing the songs from Rough
and Rowdy Ways performed live, in the breath of their originator, adds a
wholly new layer of meaning and understanding
My second point is that, and most crucially, Rough and Rowdy Ways is the
religious album that Dylan had sought to originally create with Tempest.
I think this whole tour is the new version of Dylan has been going for
recently, what people refer to as “the set” that he has played in
recent years, specifically, and not coincidentally, following Tempest. I
firmly disagree with that name as I feel his setlist decisions relate more
closely with that of scenes and acts of a play.
So much of the content of this new material is what seems to be Dylan
finally pulling the curtain back, at least part way, to put some light
upon how he feels about himself, his work, and his audience. In his own
The more personal themes come out in most clearly in songs like I Contain
Multitudes, Crossing The Rubicon, and My Own Version Of You.
The latter of which is like a spell, magic, which is how it comes across
in the live setting with Dylan’s poignant delivery.
He created Bob Dylan, and Bob Dylan will live on long after he’s gone.
Bob Dylan the figure has always been about myth, creation, masked or
hidden identity, and personal journey - and songwriting.
Dylan puts himself at these places of myth in the same songs I just
mentioned. Dylan is, “going to Bally-Na-Lee,”, and then not much
later, “Crossing the Rubicon.”
What Dylan seems to be saying is that he will soon pass into myth, pass
into song. Much like the subjects he sings about. His creation, Bob Dylan,
will only actually, truly, come to life at that point.
Dylan has gone to great lengths to set up his legacy with the Bob Dylan
Center, among his artistic endeavors. That’s likely why he is putting in
so much effort now with his live performance.
Bob Dylan has created his own myth during his lifetime, which is not
common when you think of other folk, country, or blues legends.
Myth is legend. Dylan is considered a living legend. Dylan is living myth.
He created his own name, his own brand, his own sound, his own way of
writing; Bob Dylan.
Robert Johnson is almost completely myth aside from his limited
recordings, two known photo’s, and a small number of first hand
accounts. He didn’t create the myth, it was created around him after his
death. The only reason Robert Johnson has his myth is because he
eventually found an audience, but it was long after his death.
Something similar can be said of William Shakespeare, but to a different
degree because we are so far removed by time, technology, and written
Robert Johnson now exists in his recordings like William Shakespeare lives
now in his writings.
And, tying into my earlier concept, Shakespeare’s writings are what live
on, as the original performances of his plays are lost to history given
the nature of a live show. Just like how the live performances of most of
the original folk and blues artists are lost to time.
There is a transient beauty to live performance that almost echo’s the
human condition itself.
That’s why Dylan doesn’t want a cell phone in his, and your own, face
- he needs his art to be experienced.
This all ties into religion by way of another key theme; old age and
death. There’s death imagery in every song. Yet there are also so many
references to love.
The fact that, when live, so many of the lines become, quite literally,
directed at the audience.
*For Dylan to receive the “blessings of your smile” each night is for
him to know that his efforts are working. Our smiles, our applause, our
cheers is almost a glimpse into immortality.*
If he succeeds in his task, then he will be, “saved by the creature that
[he] create[’s].” He will be saved in the songs.
Dylan is actually going to Bally-Na-Lee when he transcends into myth, and
he will indeed loose his mind, his love, his works, if we don’t follow
Dylan, in the interview before Rough and Rowdy Ways came out, said that
these songs are, “not metaphors, they’re the real thing.”
This time, I am taking him, mostly, at his word.
There may be metaphors, but what it comes down to is mostly layers of
themes and references within his lyrics which come together, often in
their literal interpretation, to create new meaning. The album functions
as a song cycle, with all the songs sharing ideas, and even common words
or phrases. In other words, “everything's flowing, all at the same
time.” Much like how all of Dylan’s work will be considered as a whole
piece once he turns into myth.
Dylan is constantly referencing other peoples songs, and musicians,
throughout the album
This is ever so clear in Murder Most Foul, but also Goodbye Jimmy Reed,
False Prophet, Black Rider, and Key West among others.
To talk about Key West and it’s final references, I want to first talk
about something in False prophet
There is a theme throughout the album of religion being referenced in
terms of marriage and love.
“I ain’t no false prophet, ain’t nobody’s bride.”
If Dylan is declaring that he is not a prophet in the first statement,
then in the second statement it has to be thought that he is saying that
he is not tethered to the bounds of ordered religion.
Now, in Key West, there is the very specific reference.
“Twelve years old, they put me in a suit/ Forced me to marry a
prostitute,” and the following, “She’s still cute, and we’re still
friends,” is clear example of religion, specifically Dylan’s jewish
faith, being referenced alongside love and marriage.
In the final lines of that verse, the last verse of the song, Dylan wraps
the various song titles which have multiple functions. First, they
function as actual song titles to serve as the actual, “last
request[s[,” the narrator hears. Yet, they are written, and sang, as if
they are lines that the narrator himself is speaking, “Fly around my
Pretty Little Miss, I don’t love nobody,” then to the audience as he
performs it, “give me a kiss.”
The lyrics of all the songs referenced here all play on the themes of
Rough and Rowdy Ways when considered the context of this album and how
Dylan is using his word play.
The key is that Dylan, when performing live, is directing that final
demand at the audience. He’s saying it out for the world to hear.
I’m not even going to try to get that far into here, but when he sings
to the audience, “give me a kiss,” which itself is a reference to a
song, Dylan is putting himself in his own place next to these songs. Just
like he has written his own myth.
Think how for a few years, and in two shows last fall, Dylan ended the
show with, “And if I don’t make it, I know my baby will.” Why end
with this song - aside from the fact that its a killer blues number. He
know he won’t make it, but his baby will.
There is so much more to be said. The layers get denser the more they
Dylan can say it better than I can;
“This is the flat-out truth; I find the religiosity and philosophy in
Dylan has put his faith into the songs, and the songs have become his
Review by Charles Cicirella
What can I say last night was what dreams
are made of. He really got cooking on I'll Be Your Baby Tonight. He's
only playing harp now on Masterpiece and woe it's really on fire. There
were so many stellar versions best Gotta Serve Somebody I've ever heard
really really really strong baptism by fire Bible thumping rock 'n roll.
Version Of You which is not my favorite song on the record, but last
night they took it to new heights. Rubicon, well it's Rubicon and it was
quite a pilgrimage, journey, Joseph Conrad Heart of Darkness zeitgeist. A
foray into the human psyche and all the trappings that go along with it.
Bob broke civilization and civilization thanked him last night at The
Ryman in Nashville, Tennessee.
| Click Here
to return to the
page by Bill Pagel
| Bob Links
| Set Lists
| Set Lists