Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Gratitude is Blowin' in the Wind by Barbara Quinn

Bob Dylan played Asbury Park’s Convention Hall this past week, and I was lucky to see this national treasure perform. Convention Hall is a small venue that holds 6000: a couple of thousand in seats, and a few thousand more standing on the floor. It’s where Springsteen often rehearses for his tours. (In fact, I heard that Bruce and his wife Patty Scialfa were there watching, and so was Patti Smith.) Even with a muddy sound system, the concert was still an amazing exploration of Dylan and his music.

Bob’s in his sixties, but he’s still rocking hard. His band was tight and enjoying themselves. Dylan was covered in a long frock coat, with a huge hat pulled down on his head. It was all about the music for him, not about the fans or audience. He stood sideways at his keyboard, not facing the crowd, legs spread, leaning into the instrument. Besides keyboard he played sonorous harmonica. After a few songs he faced the crowd and gave a small wave, and one time a curtsey.

He may be best known for his folk tunes, but at heart he's a rocker. He started out playing rock, moved to folk, plugged in at the Newport Jazz Festival, and has never looked back. His seventeen song set was hard rock, with some jazzy spots, and not not one folk tune in the mix. There were a number of new songs. The old standards have gone through the musical blender of his brain and have come out in completely new versions. It’s as if he’s bored with his old stuff and won’t play anything nostalgic. I can understand that. He wants to live in the present, wants to play what’s calling to him now, not what used to call to him.

So It Ain’t Me Babe, and Tangled Up in Blue were strangely old and new at the same time. For an encore there was Like a Rolling Stone, Thunder on the Mountain, and an almost unrecognizable Blowin’ in the Wind. How can you not feel great hearing him do those songs?

Sure many of them were not what they used to be. But neither are any of us. Thanks, Bob. I’m grateful for you and your music. Keep on rockin’!


Kathryn Magendie said...

Well, then maybe like Joni Mitchell's new sound, I will be a new fan -- I admit I never liked Joni Mitchell or --sorry millions of fans including my hb -- Bob Dylan; both just didn't do it for me. However, Joni has a new sound - earthy and jazzy and full-throated and I love it---so I need to check out Dylan's "new sound" as well. Everything old is new again? Maybe, or maybe as you said they're just going back to what they loved in the first place before "popularity" and "famous" made them into something else -- a lesson for us writers, perhaps?

Angie Ledbetter said...

Nice food for thought from both Barb & Mz Kat this morning. Happy Hump Day.

Patresa Hartman said...

wow. what an event!

you know, i've never given bob dylan much of a listen. (i'm so sorry.) but i did used to play blowin in the wind at my grandma h's house. it was old and horribly out of tune and had missing keys. (the piano.)

you know who i am discovering i love -- as she's grown and i've grown? cindy lauper.

Joanne said...

Barbara, What an amazing show you saw. I just love when artists put their older music through the "musical blender" and you hear the new interpretation. Steve Miller did that a bit this summer, it's very moving to see how they've grown through the music. Blowin' in the Wind sounds like it was purely a gift ...

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