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the pioneer of Dylan Studies; writer, public speaker, critic; became a Doctor of Letters in 2015 (awarded by the University of York, UK)

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Thanks to Rainer for alerting me to this. Apparently it happened a day early because of the "snowmaggedon" on the US East Coast.

As the person who uploaded this says, Bob is playing acoustic guitar, the other musicians have been pruned down, and it's good!


Anonymous carl Finlay said...

After leaving my last post under the Bob Marley blog i scanned back up to see this!!!! Hallelujah!!!!
It has been a good 24 hours for my Bob Dylan fandom! After seeing a thoroughly uninspiring show in Dublin last May, aswell as countless on youtube, Together Through Life and the stomach churning christmas album. It seemed to me that Bob had lost all control of nuance and subtlety of emotion in his singing. This is just what i had hoped for. He sounds great.!!! The "Do re mi" cover and this are examples of what i love about Dylan. I hope to God there is more of this to come. A short tour where he plays small intimate venues with an acoustic band would be me my dream come true. even if i only got to hear the bootlegs. WOOOOHHOOO!!!

5:41 pm  
Blogger Michael Gray said...

Love your enthusiasm - people should read your comment under the Marley posting, if only for your delighted remarks about the with-strings version of 'Sign On The Window' (though for myself, nothing beats the vocal on the released version) - but here I have to demur a couple of times over. First, as you'll know, I think the Christmas album is a fine piece of work, and very absorbing - and second, I don't at all feel that you can say of the Obama 'Times' that he "sounds great". I like it, but...

I note too that a Ewen MacAskill for the online Grauniad today ends his report of the White House concert with this:

"Obama's singing might be weaker than his rhetoric but it was better than that of Bob Dylan, who gave the worst performance of the night.
Dylan, who had performed during the 1963 march on Washington, in which Martin Luther King gave his 'I have a dream' speech, sang his own The Times They Are A Changin'.
Obama said Dylan had interrupted his 'never-ending tour' to appear at the White House. It could have been the near-constant touring, or a cold, or just old age, that added an extra coarseness to his voice. He did not help by pecking intermittently at his guitar, as if he could not make up his mind whether to play or not.

I've also received independently a private e-mail and then a phone call from two long-term Bobcats condemning the performance as too readily fitting in with a self-congratulatory occasion, not least by using a pretty-pretty piano part to make it more palatable, and generally taking a phony stance of "I'm liberal but to a degree..." - a position he satirised when he was so much younger.

And it's true sometimes, I can see it that way. But I liked seeing him with the acoustic guitar, less of a band and no hat.

6:17 pm  
Anonymous Carl Finlay said...

hey Michael it is great to feel enthusiastic! okay he may not sound "great",but to my ears he sounds so much more engaged than he has done live for a long time, there is a melancholic gentleness to it that is augmented by that pretty pretty piano part, which yes, thank goodness makes his voice seem more palatable than hearing him cough and splutter over a belligerent version of "Thunder on the Mountain" .All in all it is to me the most intimate I have heard him since the acoustic version of "Mississippi" on the recent bootleg series.
With regard to "Sign on the Window" where he does truly sound great. To my ears the vocals on both versions are exactly the same take, the album version seems to just have the strings omitted from the mix. Or maybe you are hearing something that I am not?

9:20 pm  
Blogger joe butler said...

I wouldn't be too concerned with the performance
The fact that he showed up and looked sorta interested may show that he isn't without feeling for his and our past.

dont hold yer breath for an acoustic tour tho'

9:31 pm  
Blogger Michael Gray said...

Thanks for these. Carl, I agree with your description of the performance's attractions. And yes, mea culpa, re 'Sign On The Window': you're quite right that the vocal is the same. (I think!: I'm too close to evening's end to check it anew now). I'd misremembered what I preferred about the issued version.

Very true about the tour - unless it should happen to happen because it's the most unpredictable thing Dylan can do next.

11:52 pm  

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