Bob Dylan, Sasktel Centre, July 14 2017

image1-2I’m still trying to process this show. Bob Dylan. American icon. Artist. Musician. Lyricist. Modern renaissance man. Bon vivant. No doubt. I understand Bob is not everyone’s cup of tea. I’m not here to persuade you otherwise. I think last Friday was my 7 or 8th time seeing Bob. I’ve enjoyed him every time. This time was exceptional and I’m glad I convinced myself to go. I wasn’t going to. Then I saw some footage from his recent tour. It was killer. Then I realized they’ve been doing the same set all tour. To me, that meant the band should and would be tight. And they were. As the lights went down and the band walked on stage the vibe was immense. And then…there he was. Bob fucking Dylan. That old familiar feeling washed over me…”I’m in the same room as Bob Dylan”. A privilege. For the next little while the band tore through a variety of Bob’s catalogue. From early numbers like Don’t think Twice, to tunes from the “Time” series of albums, to his re-working of the old classics like Stormy Weather to the swinging blues of the album Tempest. It was all displayed and played expertly. Bob’s voice (again, I’m not here to convince you to like it, but I do) was sounding great. He sang the song book tunes with confidence and swagger. Nailing them. Standing confidently with his hand on his hip as his band became an orchestra. Simply as badass as one can be at 76 and clearly aware of it. All night he seemed to clearly be having a good time. Rocking his baby grand, chatting with band mates. He even addressed the audience with a little fist bump to the heart before they left the stage. Something I’ve never seen him do even once before.

The entire night has been replaying in my head over and over since the show ended. Like a good film I’ve been revisiting each scene. Trying to figure out what it all means. I had a number of moments during the show where things seemed to make sense to me. A vision of the timeline of American music. Blues. Jazz. Swing. Torch. Singer songwriters. And of course, RocknRoll. Bob was/is there amidst all of it. It occurred to me that night, there in that room, that Bob is as important a musical figure as anyone. It must have been a similar feeling to be in the room watching Muddy Waters or Howlin Wolf. Sinatra or Miles Davis. Just the knowing that American Music was being made. Real and true. And all night, whether Bob was at his piano or standing impishly with his hand in his hip, it was as if he was saying to me “I know where I fit in music history. You can put me beside Muddy. Frank. Springsteen. ANYONE, and it will all make sense. I am American music.” Thank god I went one more time because Who knows how much longer we’ll get to keep Bob on this sphere.

I always sort of feel bad for the folks I talk to leading up to and after the show. The folks who went to hear knocking’ on Heaven’s Door or Mr Tambourine man, performed as recorded. Of course Bob doesn’t do that. Not, ever, just rarely. You don’t necessarily get what you want at a Dylan show. You always get what you need though. Whether you realize it or not. One thing I have learned for sure in my few decades on this earthly realm, is that when you enter a situation projecting your own expectations, knowingly or unknowingly, you are nearly always met with disappointment and frustration. This is a common human trait. We seem to expect others to behave or deliver what WE want. What WE desire. As if they would even know what that is. That is not how life works. We are individuals. Unique. Singular. It requires great amounts of communication to understand what another human wants or expects. Until that conversation happens we typically just project our own desires onto a situation or someone.  image2

In a conversation about the show with my must friend, Sean Burns, we came to the conclusion that to enjoy his Bobness live now, you can’t just be a “Like A Rolling Stone Fan”, you can’t just be a “Mr. Tambourine fan”, you can’t just be a “Oh Mercy” Fan. You have to be a BOB DYLAN fan. That means loving him and more importantly, accepting him, through all facets of his journey and the all encompassing weirdness that is Bob Dylan.