I saw Bob Dylan live exactly 50 years ago today, November 19th, 1965 (the first time, there have been subsequent viewings/concerts/shows). That’s kind of mind-boggling to me, partly because in 1965 America was in the middle of Nuclear Apocalypse Fever, and I didn’t think MANKIND would exist in 50 years, let alone me. (On quite the other hand, the science-fiction stories I read and loved by Ray Bradbury & Harlan Ellison promised me a future of personal jet-packs, bubble cities and human colonies on the moon & Mars in 50 years’ time. Instead, in 2015 I find myself surrounded by children held in thrall by iPads, asshole hipsters and terrorists in Paris. This was NOT The Future I was promised.)
But I digress…….
November was a pretty big month for me and rock & roll shows at the now sadly-demolished Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium. I saw Dylan there on November 19th, 1965, The Doors there on November 2nd, 1968, and The Who (touring Tommy for the first time, and for those of you scoring at home, THE BEST rock & roll show I ever had the privilege to witness) on November 1st, 1969. There are links about The Doors and The Who shows from my old blog – Growing Old With Rock & Roll – posted below, but you might wanna check out the Dylan link before I amplify some points.
Anyone who doesn’t own (or download or whatever kids do nowadays) the double-CD Bob Dylan Live 1966 (Dylan Bootleg Series vol. 4) should seek it out IMMEDIATELY if you count yourself as ANY kind of fan of rock & roll music. The electric disc of the set is as riveting a set of music as I’ve ever heard. This was not a polite back & forth push & shove between audience and performer, this was an all-out 47-minute musical/cultural WAR. That show – taped in Manchester, England May 17th, 1966, (6 months after I saw virtually the same show) – is the one containing the (in)famous “Judas!” / “I don’t believe you. You’re a liar. PLAY FUCKING LOUD!” exchange between an irate audience member and Dylan. Just as I detailed in my blog, the folkie fans of Dylan apparently sat smug & satisfied throughout the acoustic opening half of the show and then revved up the venom for the electric set with The Hawks. (Or The Crackers, in Levon Helm’s terminology, later to become the rather neutered entity reverently, politely referred to by adoring hippies as The Band. My, how the times changed between 1966 and 1968 when Music From Big Pink became a touchstone/talisman for many of the the same people who slow-clapped, booed and otherwise vilified Robbie, Rick, Richard, Garth & various drummers throughout 1965 & 1966.)
Anyway, I allotted myself 500 words for this blog, and I’m getting close, so let me just say this: listen to the audience throwing Dylan & the guys off their game between the end of “I Don’t Believe You” and the beginning of “Baby Let Me Follow You Down” on the aforementioned Bob Dylan Live in 1966. And then listen to the way Dylan & The Hawks ROAR/BLAST/PUMMEL their way into “Baby Let Me Follow You Down” and tell me that’s not where punk-rock got invented. (p.s. Listen to that exchange at brain-numbing volume on headphones or don’t bother listening at all.) - Ricki C.
(bonus Growing Old With Rock & Roll, November Veteran's Memorial links:)