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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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Monday, December 27, 2010


No, not Dylan, Geldof. When Harvey Met Bob was a TV drama by Joe Dunlop shown on BBC-2 last night (9.15-10.45pm UK time) about how Bob Geldof persuaded promoter Harvey Goldsmith to help him organise Live Aid in 1985. I thought it was quite good, interesting and quaint (any drama about organising something difficult being quaint now, if it's set in the pre-mobile phone, pre-internet world).

I particularly liked the way that the story paid no attention to the US concert at all, aside from their having to change the date of the event to accommodate Bruce Springsteen, and a reference to having to put up with Philadelphia instead of New York as the American venue. Not only no mention of Dylan's tired and emotional demeanour or his speech: no mention of him at all.

My own main memory is of rushing to a London station at the last possible moment, getting a train up north and dropping in on John Bauldie at his Lancashire bungalow home. He was surprised to see me; I was surprised that he was there alone, watching Live Aid in semi-darkness.

I remember our agitated anticipation as we waited boyishly for Dylan's appearance. Some intimation of bad news hung in the air, and we steadied our nerves with much gin and tonic. Not, as it turned out, as much alcohol as the nerves of Bob, Keith and Ron had received.

On they came, floundering through. I was so pleased Bob had chosen 'When the Ship Comes In' but there was nothing else to be pleased about. We didn't enjoy it. I've never re-watched it since.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't see the American concert, but I clearly remember watching (some of) the British one on a tiny wall-mounted TV in a pub in Invermoriston on Loch Ness. I was on holiday in Scotland with my Dad. I was 14, it was my Dad's 38th birthday.
Cheers, Tristan

11:46 am  
Anonymous pool-type said...

i remember freddie mercury killing and thinking why aren't these guys as famous as the other suspects?

and i only have watched bits and pieces of bob's part - but i am glad he didn't use the moment for cheap thrills in retrospect - using the pain of africans to sell records - that ain't our man and well, being drunk may have been the best political statement - and bursting out about the US farmers, how charity begins at home - hey isn't so bad a legacy, thx to willy nelson, of course - cheer up Mr.Gray

sure miss mr.bauldie's work

great blog by the way!

7:41 pm  
Blogger lmogan said...

It was funny to see dylan flounder but kind of endearing to see him miss the point completely. The saving grace was Dylan's unwillingness to succumb to using a charity event to further career opportunities a la freddie and chums

1:19 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was a young musician who toured with Geldof pre Live Aid in 2004. His pop career was over and his band was musically in the wilderness. We played small college venues ... post Live Aid we played again ... Man what a difference press everywhere, a great buzz and energy ... great memories.

I remember Live Aid as a 24 year old sat in front of the TV soaking up the whole magical event daring to move in case I missed anything, and thrilled that in a number of hours the whole event would be capped off by a Dylan performance.

I guess like many at the time I was so bitterly disappointed that Dylan had failed to grasp the moment and deliver something magical. Instead we witnessed a second rate awkward performance marred by poor sound. The whole episode was just so deflating after hours of expectation and excitement ... but Dylan is Dylan ... you take the rough with the smooth, the expected with the unexpected, the worts an all. The genius with the ability to surprise us, excite us and deflate us all at the same time.

In retrospect the performance probably wasn't as bad as I thought at the time, although Like Michael I have no desire to revisit that particular recording.

9:26 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should watch it it's not the best but quita a good performance, 100% Dylan.

12:45 pm  
Blogger Josh Lobley said...

I agree, re watch it. It is good.

7:22 am  

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