International Writers Magazine:Dylan's
Modern Times Concerts
Dylan and his Band, 2006
eleven years old when I first heard Bob Dylan. I was singing what
is still to this day my all-time favorite song, Mr. Tambourine Man.
I thought it was a song by a band called The Byrds. I didnt
understand the words but the tune was cool. My father heard me and
asked if Id like to hear the song by the guy who wrote it.
He said that was the way the song should be sung.
(pic: Dylan they way he used to be)
He put on a record
called Bringing It All Back Home. At first I thought, what the
But by the end of the song, Mr. Tambourine Man really knocked me out.
So did The Gates of Eden and Its Alright Ma (Im Only Bleedin).
My father played more songs for me that I thought were the music of
others; Blowin In The Wind; I thought that was Peter, Paul and
Mary. Then there was Dont Think Twice, Its Alright. I thought
Sonny And Chers version of It Aint Me, Babe was cool until
I heard Dylan. When I heard Bob Dylan back in 1965 he took me on a musical
ride that I still havent gotten off of.
© Jeffrey Beyl
From that point, when my dad first played that album for me, I started
to backtrack through the years and got into earlier records, The Freewheelin
Bob Dylan, The Times They Are A Changin, Another Side of Bob Dylan.
I also moved on to Highway 61 Revisited, then on to Blonde on Blonde,
John Wesley Harding, Nashville Skyline. Dylan never let me go. I didnt
care that he went electric. I was already into electric rock and roll.
Besides, he did it before I came around anyway. I liked the old acoustic
Dylan of Blowin In The Wind, but I also liked the electric Dylan
of Like A Rolling Stone. It was all great stuff. It still is. He did
some things that may not have been as good as some others; Planet Waves
never made it to my favorites list. I liked New Morning and some of
Self Portrait. I liked Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid (I liked the movie
too). But when Blood On The Tracks came along, damn, Dylan had done
it again. Then I lay off for a while until Time Out Of mind came along.
I liked that one. I thought Bob was back at it. There have been several
bootleg albums over the past couple years. Ive got them all and
like them a lot.
Now he comes out with his new album, Modern Times. The first album of
new songs since 1997. Wow, a new album by Bob Dylan! It was even getting
some decent reviews. I couldnt wait to get it. I couldnt
wait to rip it open and put it in the CD player in the car on my way
well, hmmm, I didnt really like it. I gave
it a pretty good chance. I played it several times. I still put it in
occasionally. I downloaded the lyrics off the Internet so I could follow
..well, I hate to say it but Im not so sure about
this one. Okay, I kinda like a couple of the tunes. I kinda
like Thunder on the Mountain, When The Levee Breaks, Rollin and
Tumblin. I kinda like those songs.
Then I saw that he was coming to Seattle on a concert tour. Okay, I
thought, I gotta go see Bob Dylan. Ive been a Dylan fan since
1965 but Ive never seen him in concert. I waited on him once in
a restaurant called Alices Restaurant where I worked many years
ago. Alices Restaurant was on Malibu Pier and I worked there as
a waiter. One night, in walked Bob Dylan and the hostess seated him
and his entourage in my section. Holy shit! I got to wait on Bob Dylan.
He never made eye contact with me, didnt say a word. But I got
to wait on Bob fucking Dylan. That was big. Another time I was sitting
in the third row center stage at a Paul Simon concert at The Santa Monica
Civic Auditorium. This was about 1974. The lights went down and Paul
came out and began to play when someone came in and sat in the second
row right in front of me and I recognized Bob Dylan. Cool! I got to
sit right behind Bob Dylan at a Paul Simon concert.
So, while I had seen Bob Dylan, I had never seen him play live. I quickly
bought a couple tickets. I was really anxious to go see Dylan. Maybe
I built him up too much in my mind all these years. I dont idolize
him. I just think he did some great shit. Maybe I do idolize him. Dont
But at this concert, well
..he came out, never said word one and
plowed into the music. He didnt play the guitar; he stood at an
organ the whole time. The only movement I could see was the shuffling
of his feet. Now, as I said, I like electric Dylan. But this band sounded
like a shitty garage band. Nothing in the world like Robbie Robertson
and the boys in The Band. I couldnt even recognize what song they
were playing until I could somehow pick up a lyric or two. Oh, this
is Like a Rolling Stone. Hmmm, I think this is All Along the Watchtower
(actually that was probably the best song they did that night.) The
singing was muddy. The band was messy and overpowered the vocals. Basically
it sounded like shit.
Thats an amazing thing to hear myself say. Im a huge Dylan
fan, always have been. But he sounded like shit. I know this may sound
bad, unappreciative maybe, but if he had only come back out with an
acoustic guitar and sung Mr. Tambourine Man, Id would have head
home a happy guy. I must say I was disappointed. Oh it wont stop
me from listening to all the old stuff. In fact, I immediately started
putting in Bringing It All Back Home, Blood On The Tracks, The Basement
Tapes, I love the Scorsese thing, No Direction Home. But Modern Times
and the concert? I know it must be hard to be a person like Bob Dylan.
It must be hard to always have to play the same songs again and again
and again through the years. It must be hard to always be on center
stage, spotlights shining and perform up to everyones expectations.
But hey, thats the life of a musician. Paul Simon has had to play
The Sounds Of Silence a lot too. James Taylor has had to play Fire And
Rain how many times? Come on Bob, at least try.
Modern Times. Maybe itll grow on me. My father says its
growing on him. My father introduced me to Dylan when I was eleven so
Ill trust him and keep trying. Maybe you can too.
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