“The Best Bad Dylan I Ever Saw”

In a not so shocking development, Bob Dylan’s coming to Charleston, South Carolina, in his Never Ending Tour.[1]

The cat’s indefatigable: March 16, Austin, March 18 Shreveport, March 19 New Orleans, March 21 Montgomery, March 23 Nashville, March 24 Atlanta, March 26 Savannah, March 27 Charleston . . . [2]

And the beat goes on, as they say.

I just checked the last set list from December of 2021, and if you’re planning to attend a show, I strongly suggest purchasing the album Rough and Rowdy Ways because a majority of the songs performed (at least in December of 2021) come from the album, his first album of original songs since 2012.

Here’s the first paragraph of Jon Parleles’ review in the Times:

Latter-day Bob Dylan is for die-hards. His voice is tattered and scratchy, not always bothering to trace a melody. His lyrics can be cryptic or throwaway when they’re not downright bleak. His music is adamantly old-fashioned, and he’s not aiming to ingratiate himself with anyone.

And the last:

And in “Black Rider,” a string-band ballad that tiptoes along, pausing each time Dylan takes a breath, he addresses a mysterious figure — Death, perhaps — with alternating sympathy and aggression. “Don’t turn on the charm,” he warns. “I’ll take a sword and hack off your arm.” For all he has seen and sung, on “Rough and Rowdy Ways” Dylan refuses to settle down, or to be anything like an elder statesman. He sees death looming, but he’s still in the fray.

I should add, perhaps, that his shows are for die-hards as well. Sometimes, because he has changed the melodies and his voice is indistinct, you might not recognize a song, even an iconic one like “Blowing in the Wind,” until it’s almost done.

Obviously, I’m one of the die-hards, and I’ve seen some fantastic concerts, one in Columbia, SC, in 1988, one at the North Charleston Coliseum in which he played a killer electric guitar, and my favorite, at the Orange Peel, a bar in Asheville, during the 2004 election campaign.

I’ve also seen some less than stellar shows, the worst outside at the Joe with Willie Nelson as the opening act.

But I’ve never seen one quite as bad as my pal, fellow die-harder, Jeremy Jones described to me last night at Low Life, one of Folly’s coolest spots. Anyway, I’ll let Jeremy tell it.

“The best bad Dylan I ever say was at the Saegner Theater in New Orleans. He was as drunk as a skunk. The band went into the Hendrix version of “All Along the Watch Tower,” and he stumbled to the mike and started singing “Like a Rolling Stone,” and the band was like, what the? I mean it was absolutely fantastic.”

This occurred in the Aughts, so I suspect we’ll not witness something so conjunctificated, but if we do, I’ll be smack dab in the middle of Row A in the orchestra, if Dylan and I are still among the quick, that is.

illegal photo by my son Ned Moore

[1] It began 2 June 1988 and has featured 3,066 shows and counting. Of course, one day it will end, when ol’ Bob succumbs to something or another. Certainly, Keith Richards will be named one of the pallbearers.

[2] No wonder is voice is raspy.

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