Before you comment on this post, please read the follow-up post “Genius, Guitars, and Goodbyes” — what you wanted to say may already be said there.

So, I broke the promise-to-self, to let Dylan tour on his own, without my help. I decided, after the last Scandinavian tour, that this was it; the shows were decent enough, but nothing more. I hyped myself up to enjoying them, liking them even, perhaps loving them, and moments like Desolation Row in Karlstad (best D-Row ever? Best D-Row ever!) made it a whole lot easier, but I also knew that I wouldn’t follow another tour again. Enough singsong, enough mumbles, no more days at the office for me. NeverEndingTour-Dylan never got better than 1995.
But things have changed, and for reasons more related to Wedding Song than to Desolation Row I had to give him another chance. Since he decided not to play Copenhagen this time, it had to be Gothenburg, and I was on the road again.
For the first time in a very long time, I was quite unprepared too. I haven’t heard a new show in two years, and I was looking forward to the closest thing to a virginal experience that I would ever get again. I knew there were some new band members, but I didn’t even know their names, let alone their faces. I was ready. C’mon, Bob, surprise me.
And man, was I surprised. It was a time-stopping experience. Two years just vanished, everything was just as I had left it. Given that that was two years ago, and that the man has been out there doing it all that time, that was not a good experience. One would expect that something had happened, but if it had, I don’t know what it was.
Call me Mr. Jones, call me Judas, but honestly, I had hoped for some development.
And the band… The band… Some years ago, even though I couldn’t always say the shows were great, inspired, etc., at least one could stand proud and claim that Dylan was backed by the best and tightest rock combo in the world, who played Brown Sugar better than the Stones themselves did.
Not anymore.
Tight? Nah.
Exciting? Nope.
Hard? Hardly.
I don’t want to sound negative; the steel guitar player was quite good — at times, he made his instrument sound like something Bucky Baxter might have handled. The guitarist behind Dylan — I think it was Stu Kimball — had his moments too. I guess someone likes the new guy’s solos (that must be Denny Freeman, then) but don’t count me among them. Melodic in the bland, cover-band style that you might hear in light entertainment TV shows; and a repertoire of licks so vast that they reappeared every other song.
After a couple of songs, every taste bud in my aesthetic body yelled: “We miss Freddy!” Initially, I just had to agree, and joined the choir. After all, I summed up my last concert experience (at least I believed it would be my last), writing “About Guitars and Kissing”, my eulogy to Freddy Koella, the guy who plays in Dylan’s style, but actually knows how to play.
But being the rational academic I am paid to be, I had to pass beyond that kind of populist clamour from the lowly senses — I had to think about it. Why has Dylan let Freddy go (or kicked him out?!) and replaced him with this? Images flash by: Michael Bloomfield — savage (and dead, of course). Robbie Robertson — there is a second-and-a-half scene in Eat the Document, just a soundcheck, where Robbie plays a few tones in E major and proves what a tremendous guitarist he was. Fred Tackett — he may wear glasses (so do I), but don’t let that fool you; he could be mean too. G. E. Smith — not my favorite guitarist, but there certainly was a bite there, some rough edges which we haven’t heard again before the days of Koella, paired with a certain dexterity which could become quite furious. J. J. Jackson — probably my favorite NeverEndingTour guitarist before Koella…
And now…! Where in this lineage does the current band belong?! Why is it that I suddenly came to think of Hearts of Fire in the middle of the show?
Again: Why does he do it? He used to say, about the mid-eigthies, that he didn’t know what his songs meant any longer. Well, he doesn’t seem to now either. “Leledi-laaay“, “painting the passports brown“, “justlikea woman” — all sung to the same melody, with the same emotional character. He might as well have sung “two litres of milk“, or “upmg kfadl ksdfie ewok” — it wouldn’t have mattered more, or less.
I’m not going to analyse him or his motives — is he just doing it for the money? is it just this pact with the Commander-in-Chief? Is it, perhaps, just another day at the office? — but my impression is that he is no longer hungry, he is no longer nervous, he is tired and content. It may be a very long time since he last went to the beach and danced with one hand waving free, but up until recently he has sounded like he wanted to. Not anymore. He’d be afraid of getting dirt on his boots, he’d be repulsed by the fish, he’d be too tired to walk through the dunes. He was so much younger then. That bothers me, much more than the lack of melodic variety.
I’m not talking about age here, but about guts and hunger, interest and desire. If he doesn’t know what it’s like on the beach any more and by the way doesn’t want to either, then why on earth does he have to sing about it? Why doesn’t he give us something he’s interested in? He obviously loves old music, the kind of songs he rips off and records with new lyric collages, the kind of stuff he sings when he’s all by himself. That’s what he does amazingly well, so why not do it more? How about ditching the war-horses — they’re as tired as him — and playing a show once in a while, with Doc Boggs, Gene Austin, Johnny and Jack, Charles Aznavour, stuff we know he loves?
Why not? Well, because if he did, he probably wouldn’t fill the halls he plays in now. The popular response, which he finally seems to embrace and enjoy after years of resisting it an trying to destroy it, has become too pleasant, it seems.

I expect to be flamed for this. I don’t mind. I don’t either want to convince anyone who truly thinks his current shows are better than ever. I don’t have the time for that: I have boxes upon boxes of old tapes full of flame and nervous energy that I have to listen through again.
Bye, Bob.

96 thoughts on “I MISS FREDDY!

  1. I saw him in Irvine CA and he rocked, he’s just throwing another curveball this time around. I almost died laughing when before the show a man comes out and tunes dylans acoustic guitar and sets it next to the piano. bob never even looked at it the entire show, his new band sounds like a band you would find in some southern texas bar. no retrospective old man here, he growled a wall of sound for an hour and was gone.

  2. I think that’s exactly right… the audience have a large influence on the show, and I guess even greater influence than if it’s one guitarist or another, or if the bass is uninspiring. Of course those things matter, but not as much as the energy of it all… I was in Aalborg where the energy was great and the audience rocked and then so did Dylan. Two days later I was in Hamburg, where everybody remained seated during the whole concert – except for the last applause, and I think that was a little too late. And it had a tremendous influence on the show. I came out a little dissapointed, not at all with the music or the actual performance, but with the energy among the audience – which undoubtly influenced Dylan and the band as I compare it to Aalborg.

    As I see it, the need is for a younger audience, smaller settings and no seats… and then ok maybe a little more enthusiastic guitarist.

  3. I would like to reply to Robert who saw him in Dresden in 1999. Firstly, this was maybe four years after his sickness, secondly if Dylan was sick he still will not let his fans down, he will play to the best of his ability and thirdly, you dont sound like a Dylan fan!!!! Why were you even looking at this site???? Why are you going to see him again? How do you know whether hes singing from the heart? I you were on Stage 200 nights of the year do you think you would play fantasticly every night? I would seriously doubt it, in fact why am i even responding to your comment when there are true Dylan fans who care….

  4. He’s an old man, he wants to get paid, so he’s gonna go out and do what’s he’s always done ’cause that’s his job. He didn’t care what people thought in ’66, and he was just a kid then, so do you think it really matters to him what people think now? You are not divinely entitled to a life-changing experience every time you see him; he’s just a guy playing guitar (or keyboards, or whatever). The fact that you wrote this bitchy little essay (not to mention your inane ramblings about Self Portrait and New Morning, two brilliant albums) proves that the problem here is yours, not Dylan’s. Like all those ignorant assholes in Eat the Document, forever immortalized as trashing some of the best rock and roll ever made on principle, you’re forgetting that history will remember Dylan when your pointless, nit-picking whining is deleted and this URL becomes a porn site.

  5. I noticed that no one seems to mention Charlie…He always was my favorite in the Sexton/Campbell/Garnier/Kemper or Recile group. His solo on Summer Days from Boston 2002 was probably the highlight of my concert-going life.

  6. It’s a sad thing that he’s lost the passion for it and that you have to get insulted for noticing. Yeah back then he was what i think everyone should be when performing, just nervous enough to put everything you have into making it better than you had originally concieved. I really hope its not a final Hurrah because with a legacy like that a lackluster final tour is really a shame. If not there are always the likes of us that can’t write it but love it enough to try to put the Flare back in. I really think it’s up to the musical fans to remind him of the brilliant things he’s done by playing it back to him as we all took it to heart not by just saying it was good.

  7. To say that Dylan has ‘lost the passion’ is to not understand the man or what he stands for. Go and see the majority of artists and bands doing the rounds and you will find that most of them are performing the same old setlists, with the same arrangements.

    Accuse Dylan of anything you like but please don’t question his commitment to his art, or his songs.

    I have seen Dylan 30 times since 1965. If, you don’t know by now that he never chases a mood, that he simply let’s it happen naturally, without forcing the issue then you know nothing about his performance art.

    I have seen him blow a 2 note solo to 13,000 Aussies who just wondered what the hell he was doing. In 1984 at Wembley he blew the same inane solo, but somehow he took it somewhere special and 80,000 people went crazy. I listen to it on Real Live and no matter how many times I play it, that moment is gone, just like notes strummed on a guitar.

    Dylan is always looking for something new, night after night. The thing that separates him from most performers is his willingness to play his way.

    He certainly doesent need ‘the musical fans’ to remind him of anything.

  8. He never chases a mood, and he simply let’s it happen naturally, eh? Well, thar’s them wot don’t like that goofing off.

  9. Mr.Stock,
    I don’t believe anyone is entitled to claim that they understand ‘the man or what he stands for’. Similarly, I would question how you know that Dylan is ‘looking for something new night after night’ or that he ‘never chases a mood’.
    Many thanks, Will

  10. why are there so many negative comments about this great man who has marked the music world with his touch of humanity, in his personality and lyrics. Mr. Dylan is still the same man he was when he wrote about Hattie Carroll or Sweet Marie – still passionate (maybe not enthuastic) about about the issues facing society today, because many of the causes were there before he came. i respect him for not being overwhelmed withthe bullshit from his day, and for focusing his outrage into honest music. Can he really be blamed for being bored of his tunes? he’s been singing them for decades but the causes are still being faught with no direction. maybe he’s frustrated- more with the lack of progress in society rather than a lack of new material.

  11. Well I went to the consert in Stockholm and it was the worst shit I have EVER heard in my life! I wasted good money on bringing my son too. Can you get a refund? If he doesn’t like the songs anymore or enjoy playing them then he should just stay home and save us the trouble of going to hear it trashed that way.

    //Gerrie Warner

  12. Mr.Stock,
    I don’t believe that anyone can claim to understand ‘the man or what he stands for.’ If you have any special understanding of Bob Dylan please tell me how you acquired it. It is very rare for people to understand themselves, let alone other people.
    Similarly, to claim that he never ‘forces a mood’ implies that you have some insight into Dylan’s performing style. I would again like to know why you persume to know something about Dylan taht could only be gained by being acquainted with him or his band.

  13. he’ll eventually make it new and it will arrive naturally. i’ve seen him enough to leave sometimes frustrated with his performance, sometimes elated.

    once he smiled and this sustained me through serveral mediocre shows afterward.

    but why is his craft unassailable? it’s public, we’re voluntary ticketholders. i’ll never claim to understand him, like those who have sancified him, but i have faith in him that he’ll come around, since he has in the past.

    and if you’re happy with this current incarnation, if his recent performances move you, i’m envious. because i’m not though i’m very patient.

    but grumble on eylof! because i’m grumbling too. i find myself bored at some shows, but grateful nonetheless.

  14. Dear Anonymous,

    Theres no mystery. Contrary to popular opinion Dylan has said a lot about recording and performing over the years. Other artists have also commented, people who have played with him.

    Only last week the lass who recently played violin at a few shows commented about learning from Dylans constant attempts to find new rhythms etc in his songs on a nightly basis.

    If you want to put yourself out you can find direct comment on these matters by Dylan.

    Good luck.

  15. Mr. Stock,
    I thank you for your answer. However, it is one thing to understand what he says about himself and his music and quite another to understand him or his music.
    I can listen to him and his music and interpret these things in one way, and you can listen to the same and interpret these things in a completly different way.
    Thus if you take that violinist’s comments as evidence for Dylan’s commitment to his songs I will not object. That which I do take issue with is your claim that you can understand Bob Dylan himself.

    This may seem to be a point about semantics, and perhaps I miss interpreted your initial response to Eyolf’s post, but I don’t believe you can claim to understand someone just by listening to them, or their music.

  16. Seen Dylan play at Rotterdom, Netherlands.
    Awesome show, great setlist, nice band. He was having fun, he was really conscious about his phrasings…he’s an artist, he don’t look back.
    10 times more enjoyable than the 2003 gig in Amsterdam.

  17. Went to see Bob in Vancouver B.C. Thought I’d take my wife and my two sons (22 and 25) to their first Dylan experience. $400. bills later I was stunned. Over a half hour late, terrible band, undecipherable lyrics a short set and one encorce that took twenty minutes of coaxing by the audience was just flat. Boring to say the least. I hate to say it but I got fooled by the Master Theif! He played me and that really bugs me.What the hell was the accoustic guitar on stage for…props? He took my money and ran…hope he enjoys it….as a blue collar worker I can hardly afford to pay for his fortune and fame…call me choked!!!

  18. I first saw Bob in Rochester, NY, during the Rolling Thunder Revue. It was the last time he was truly on top of his game; vocally, musically, emotionally, and with a backing band that was spirited, talented, inventive, and had the ability to play along with and keep up with Dylan’s stage games. I saw him at the Warfield Theater, trying out his new religion.I saw him again with Tom Petty, with G.E. Smith, opening (fer cryin’ out loud) for Santana, and opening (what the…!) for Paul Simon. I saw him again, last year, in Cary, NC. Every time was special. But, nothing compared with the RTR show, on every possible level.
    My brother saw him at Gerdes, in The Gaslight, At The Cafe Wha?, The Caffe Lena, and crashed at his apartment on 4th St. He hung out with him in ’61 and ’62. It’s taken me years to get some stories from him. But, he says the best way to see him is solo, in a small club, about fifteen feet from him. Damn. Now that would be the way for me….

  19. Wow, that Desolation Row must have been really great seen that it must have been blocked in my memory. I have no recollection of that particular song from the show I was on. Weird stuff, hu?

  20. Seen Bob a few times, ’74 SF, ’76 SF,
    ’86 San Diego, ’87 Anaheim, ’03 NH and
    ’04 NH.

    Jay comments:
    Does he seem to have any affection for his fans? I’ve seen him up there, at the end of most shows…it’s usually the same routine: He stands in a row with the other band members and stares straight ahead, his expression blank as the audience goes wild. I can only imagine what goes on in his head.

    I can answer best for ’03 NH. At this great show,
    after 2 encores, Bob came to stage front,
    smiled, SMILED! , waved and even blew
    kisses to the audience. THIS was something special. It may not happen every night, but it does happen. Hope that you all catch
    such a night…

  21. I think you all are going a bit overboard on Eyolf’s review. I have seen Bob over 50 times and there have been two of three times where I have been so disappointed that I’ve muttered something to myself like, “This is it for me, Bob, I’ve had enough.” However, then I always remember how great Bob can be when he’s “on”, and then I return to see multiple shows on the next tour.

    I ultimately think the issue for many of us is that we expect so much out of him because we have seen unbelieveable concerts that we will NEVER forget, and we feel that Bob should be able to duplicate something like this every time out. Well, as we all know, this just isn’t going to happen. One night Bob will play a horrible, disappointing show with a terrible setlist. The next night, however, you leave the show wondering if any musician could possible top the performance you just saw.

    I am sure that Eyolf is just a little disappointed with Bob and wrote his “Bye, Bob” statement out of frustration. Once he clears his head he will decide he overreacted and give Bob another shot, just I as and others have done.

    As for me, I just hope Bob starts to get rid of all the L&T songs during his shows. Other than “Mississippi” and “High Water”, that album is terribly overrated. And with so much material he could use, even with his new voice (Quinn The Esko is a perfect example) , I know I am disappointed to keep seeing shows with a similar setlist over the last four years.

    You are all to enflame me as you wish, but I think Eyolf is just venting and needs to be cut some slack.

  22. I have just seen and heard a great show in Zurich. I was even able to hear the piano,I could not hear it in Freiburg or Bonn. And it was a great choice of songs.
    But I understand that you miss freddy. I missed him too,but I was glAD TO SEE HIM AGAIN PLAYING WITH WILLY DE VILLE. Willy is not Bob,but it is always good to hear and to see him,for me he does not appeal to my brain,
    but to more emotional strings, and sometimes I need that.

  23. I, too, grow tired of Bob’s upsinging (although I grant him the right to do any goddamn thing he wants), and I yearn for the likes of Winston Watson and JJ. Or maybe some guys like those he played with that time on Letterman. But don’t start me talkin’.

  24. Wow, that was obnoxious. The fact is that Dylan is not just a guy playing the keyboards, he is the greatest songwriter of all time. People expect more of Bob Dylan than of any other musician I can think of (whether that’s fair or not). And to compare this person to the people in Eat the Document is absurd. The problem with this concert (according to the author) was asthetic, it didn’t have anything to do with the kind of music he’s playing, or his principles, or anything like that.

    This blog may have been harsh (I can’t say I agree with it, myself) but you really need to get over yourself and stop acting like such a snob. Dylan doesn’t belong to you, your opinions on him aren’t the word of God, and if you really think the only reason he still tours is to get paid then you don’t really understand much about Bob Dylan, do you?

  25. Somewhere back around 1996, I paid $55 to see Dylan play the Masonic Temple in Toronto, a venue that can’t hold more than about 2,000 people. The reason the press gave for him playing such a small hall was that he was washed up, out-of-the game, and never coming back. His career was supposedly nowhere, releasing “accoustic” albums that didn’t even have any of his own songs on them.

    A year of so before, a friend of mine had seen him at Massey Hall where he was supposedly “dreadful” “disinterested” and at one point blew his harmonica so hard it flew out of it’s holder and went clattering across the stage. whereupon he stopped playing, walked over, picked it up and put it back in the holder and then resumed.

    Anyway the Masonic Temple was packed to see a washed up legend and they weren’t disappointed. He came out wearing black pants, and a shiny pink shirt over a t-shirt. He looked like he had dressed himself the way a lot of us do when there’s nothing clean to wear. You just picked the first three things you see of the floor and put them on.
    The concert was not particularly memorable for any of the music that was played. In fact I don’t recall a single song from that night. But I do recall being about 20 feet away from the most important cultural figure of the 20th century, close enough to actually see him with binoculars, close enough for him to hear when some young guy thought it would be really clever to mock him by calling out, “Nice shirt, Bob” and some woman called out, “We love you, Bob,” which, as you’ve noted, someone almost always does. And close enough to feel awe at being in the presence of greatness. Was I disappointed by the music? A little. I hadn’t gone expecting all that much, just a few glimmers maybe. It was obvious he was going through an unispired time. Did I feel ripped off? Not even a little bit. I left that concert feeling the way I often have, thinking, well it didn’t really soar the way it sometimes does, but in the first few minutes of the concert, I got what I always get at a Dylan concert, a momentary melting of the heart to know that he’s still there, still trying, gutsy as hell, hard as nails, and never willing to pander to the desires of the crowd, 75% of whom are only there to see a legend, get stone, and yap away on their cell phones. (I once actually saw a guy playing a hand held video game at a Dylan concert, if you can believe it.)

    Anyway, my point is, two years after the Masonic Temple concert which confirmed the press and just about everyone else’s opinion that he was in fact washed up and out of gas, he came out with Time Out of Mind. So get a grip. Dylan is no different than any other performer this way. Sometimes you find the groove and things soar. Most of the time you don’t and the best you can hope for is to be credible. I’ve never been to a Dylan concert where there wasn’t something memorable to take away from it, not necessarily something musical, though. Sometimes all you take away is a moment where he almost got to that point where you felt things were going to soar. Sometimes though, he just staggers you, the way he did a couple of days after September 11, 2001 at the Air Canada Centre. Most of the audience was in shock, yapping away on their cell phones, afraid, anxious, preoccupied with recent events. Bob came out and played one of the most beautiful, inpiring 20 minute harp solos I’ve ever heard.

    So the next time you go to a Dylan concert with a bag full of expectations and he doesn’t meet them, you might want to be grateful that you were lucky enough to see him at all. And if the music isn’t everything you hoped for because it isn’t a recapitulation of some concert you heard two years ago, you might want to consider that what that has always meant in the past is that sometime new and unutterably brilliant was on it’s way, and that “lowest common denominator musician” who no-one thinks is very good, just might be another Al Kooper.

  26. Well I look at it like this – I paid to go see Mt Dylan (Zimmerman) in a context that requires a certain amount of reponsablitity towards the customer by the seller. I have a garden store – I don’t sell anyone trashy plants just cause I feel “off” that day. I take my part of the deal and do it as well as I can – if I’m not up to it or into it I wouldn’t go to the store that day – stay home chill ot and don’t cheat anyone. I feel that if mr Dylan doesn’t feel like taking a bit of responsability for his conserts he should stay home and chill instead of fucking off like he did in Stockholm. Anyone cloese enought to be able to ask him honestly about that particular consert would most probably get a rather cynical response from said artist about the performance that night. That’s NOT what I paid for. Honesty and proffetionalism – in what evre way he would care to deliver it would satisfiy me.

  27. i just read the comments (posted oct.25th) about dylan’s show in scandinavia. i see dylan every chance i get. especially after the death of johnny cash. i never know at 64 years old (dylan-not me) when my last chance will be. but i have also noticed the lack of motivation and inspiration in dylan’s show as of late. i don’t miss freddy though. freddy was amazingly talented, but just did not seem to mesh very well with dylan or larry (my personal favorite!!). it is sad to see dylan going through the mostions, but every once in a while, he just hits you right between the eyes with something. in detroit two years ago, it was the set list, in lafayette, it was the rendition of shooting star where stu kimball (on his tele)and dylan (on his harp) echoed and talked to each other through the solo. it was beautiful. dylan can actually play harp quite well and quite clearly when he wants to, and that performance was truly inspired. it’s for moments like this and for the simple fact that i might not have too many more chances to see him that i keep going back.

  28. Rhythyms? Hah! Both times I’ve seen him his vocals have had no rhythym whatsoever! The band were great, but he rushes the vocals so badly. If I’m wrong, and that’s a “good thing”, I dare him to release a record like that!

  29. Someone earlier said:

    “People expect more of Bob Dylan than of any other musician I can think of”

    Actually, in terms of live shows, people expect LESS from Dylan than any other musician that I can think of. Very few people would be able to get away with the lack of enthusiam and general (lack of)quality of performance that he has these days in his shows.

    He can get away with croaking his way through a setlist of songs that all sound very similar, because so many people see him as some sort of holy figure. Its kinda pathetic to see people saying stuff like ‘the performance sucked, but he SMILED once at the end, so I went away happy at the end’. Basically a lot of people would cheer if he walked out and armpit-farted his way through a show, because they are just thrilled to be in his presence, like I said above, because he is considered by alot to be some sort of holy figure.

    And all this comes from someone who loves Dylan as a songwirter and recording artist, who absolutley adores Love and Theft (and hence has nothing against his current voice when it is put to proper use). I can relate to the whole Dylan worship thing that goes on, but you have to take a step back at some point and ask yourself ‘am I being ripped off here?’. Looking at some of his live shows, he general attitude to the audience shows almost contempt for them. And The live show I saw in 2004 consited of him almost hiding behind his keyboard for the whole setlist, oblivious to the fact that half the arena he was playing in had to sit and stare at his arse for an hour and a half due to his lack of movement (fortunatley I was not seated on the arse-side of the arena).

    The acoustic guitar on stage is also intersting, since its nothing more than a bit of furniture that he has no intention of using. However, anyone in the audience who doenst know about the currrent show format will be sitting thinking “well this is a bit crap, but that acoustic guitar beside him will be picked up eventually!”. But it never is. It’s as if its there to taunt people.

    The show I went to in 2004, was before I became a big fan. I knew little beyond the greatest hits at that point, and I didnt know what to expect from the live show. I remember all the songs just blending into one big mess, and my hopes rasing the couple of times he walked over to his band mates to say something in the middle of a song, because I thought he was maybe gonna pick up his acoustic guitar. Then I thought he would maybe do an acoustic number for the encore. But he didnt. I left the gig actually feeling angry because I found it that unenjoyable. Since then, oddly, I have started buying his albums and getting into his stuff a great deal more. A couple of months ago, I got some bootleg recordings from the fantastic DVDylan.com site. Two of the DVD’s were live shows, one from 1999 and one from 2004. The 1999 one was really enjoyable, bob at the centre front of the stage (exactly where the lead singer SHOULD be!) playing a Strat. The 2004 one, in the same format as the show that I had seen, was so unejoyable that I just didn’t bother watching past the first couple of minutes of it.

    I could have seen Bob on this tour, by travelling to Dublin or accross the water to mainland UK. But I decided not to, as I am a student with limited funds, and the shows, lets face it, are nothing to write home about. I went through the ‘maybe I should just go to be in his presence’ thing again, but like I said you have to stop and think maybe your being a mug paying to see a show that you know wont be very good, and where the artist won’t even pretend he is enjoying himself. On the other hand, I do think to myself, what if he retires/dies soon, and I never have the chance to see him again? Will I regret not going to the shows? Only time will tell.

    The constant touring despite the fact that he doesnt seem to enjoy it…..the prop acoustic…..I wish I knew what went on in the man’s head. But then again if he wasnt so mysterious he wouldnt be Bob, would it? But I think I will stick to my albums and bootlegs. I’m not a relgious person, and I’m not about to start being one by paying good money just to be in the same arena as ‘Saint Bob’.

  30. I saw No Direction Home and thought it was a virtual masterpiece. I’ve never seen the man in concert so don’t want to blow the image I have of him; which is almost sacred. Regardless of how he is “live”, his words captivate us and (I think) we feel a little more tied to the world or Earth once he has touched our hearts. I have his lyric book to read as well, which rarely leaves me without a tear in my eye.

  31. Oh, Sonny……you make me laugh out loud. I have to agree as well. I don’t know what Mr. Dylan feels or thinks now that he is a little older and perhaps wiser but he must continually tour because he is still inspired (I hope). P.S. Dylan is old??? You must be a young buck.

  32. I agree completely, Manchester was my last Dylan show.I prefer to remember him as the great recording and performing artist of the 20th century, not the bored, disinterested figure that performed on autopilot last night.His voice is not up to performing his greatest works and he knows it.I believe the new ‘arrangements’ are alienting old fans and certainly won’t generate any new ones. It’s time to retire Bob, why continue to do something that you obviously no longer enjoy? I spent a lot of time watching him thro’ binoculars, and not once in the entire performance did I see a smile on his face or any other sign of enjoyment.I can’t believe he does it solely for the money, but he’ll get no more of mine from live performance

  33. i couldn’t have said it better!!!! no direction home made me cry, FEEL, and love him even more than i ever had. i am only 29 yrs old and to me, bod dylan is not old, he’s AGELESS! he doesnt’ have to pronunciate the words clearly cause their already written in our souls from him to us… im glad you appreciate him EXACTLY for what he is right now, cause so do i, SO MUCH… my heart aches for him

  34. I was very sceptical if I could have fun seeing him another time in Zürich this Year. I have been to about 17 Shows since 1987 and was never bored. I am a bit at a loss for words about your kind of its-time-to-retire-he-only-does-it-for-the-money discussion. Who are you all to advance such thoughts, the moment you buy the ticket you made a decisison, nobody forces you to see him. But have you thought about that: Which performer have you been able to see only twice without being bored? In my opinion there is nobody like him. But perhaps I am like this because I don’t have no expectations. One thing I know is that I was not bored one second in these two hours in Zürich. And the show was different. I don’t expect anything from a 64 year old performer and for my taste he can do as he like. As for development like history it is never and I say never linear – only the fucking economy development from wallstreet point up all the time. but are we only shareholders?

  35. Okay, someone has to say the word. Dimentia.

    He’s forgotten how to play the guitar. He has regressed to simple words and the piano, which came before the guitar in the brain game. He sings the words but has really no idea of what they mean anymore. That bulky-ass thing that will be appearing soon? That’ll be the diaper. But hey, it’s just his final message to us. “Cause this is what’s coming to all of us . . . IF we are lucky and make it that far.

    Thanks Bob.

  36. Wow! Lost souls looking to each other, to the ears that listen, or the eyes which hasten to read: When have so many eyes for so many years scrutinized your work, or private creations? When did you face a critical public consciousness? Maybe we all do driving down the roadways. Maybe I do when I hang my thumb out asking for a little help further down the road. I think it matters most that we can identify with an opinion or stated fact that our esteemed musician has provided our curious minds. I always wait for the next album. And I buy it to, but I never throw them away. I don’t think he does either. I think it helps that ONE man has made so much with all the help and appreciation and criticism.

    I also wish more people would write with a bit more respect to others who bother to read and respond. Kind of like the way we acted when the teacher was in the room, huh?
    and pick me up, or at least bother to ask how far I am heading when you see me hitchin’ it along. The pack gets a touch heavy after a while.

    I think my favorite song recently is I was young when I left home.

  37. I have read this essay and I found it very negitvive and piciune beyond belief,I have never heard any one say any thing negitve about Larry Cambell, and here we have Eyolf spewing something about the way he looks on stage, and that his playing on boots was lame cause he used 3rds and 6ths. wow whats so bad about that.The critique on Bob’s new band made things sound like the music is completely awful and not worthy of his highly esteemed ears.It just is not like that, listen to the available performances on Bobdylan.com from spring 2005. Thats not exactly half bad. I agree that some of the intensity is gone ,but the music is still very good. it seems like your attacking his artistic integerty and that at times smacks of snobishness, especially when you say he should be booed. Why? It is no where near bad enough to deserve that to me. I saw him in Apirl W/ Merl and that night i think Merl was a little better, but Dylans set had some great instrumental breaks, some sweet interplay, some great harp. I mean one note Bob does happen but oh he plays that note good. I think you should take a step back yourself. Your verbose but but very good english at times boarder lines on pompus windbag mixed with deep knowledge. I read a previous post that mentioned Hank Williams when he was burning out, the people booed , well he was less than half Bob’s age.Bob is not out drooling all over himself, no quite the contrary. He has polished off nearly 100 diverse tunes in a 40 day tour of europe. If you are burnt out stay home. It aint dark yet but it’s getting there. Merry Christmas God Bless America, my home sweet home.

  38. First of all: I can’t recall saying anything negative about Larry, other than that his playing — which I actually praise highly in that article — is more pretty and polished than raw and dirty. If you like a clean, perfect rock guitar, I don’t think you’ll find anyone better than Larry to play it. Personally, I preferred Freddie.
    I’m not attacking Dylan’s artistic integrity — on the contrary: I’m craving it. A fundamental premise for what I’m saying is that art does not and cannot live in a vacuum in the artist’s oh so brilliant head: it is an act of communication, which involves two actors, with a shared responsibility for making it work: the artist and the audience. If the audience is content with “intensity gone”, “not exactly half bad”, and “Merle was better”, but still make it sound like it was the best show ever — every time — that’s not taking that responsibility. And if Dylan is content with playing not half bad, perhaps because that’s all it takes to fill the venues with enthusiasm — every time — that’s not taking his.
    “Pompous windbag mixed with deep knowledge” – perhaps that’s what I am… These are important questions, deserving to be treated with some pompousness and gravity, especially in these dire times with Bushes and Blairs around every corner, when national culture is used as a means of oppression and not for edification and liberation. If I can use some of my knowledge to rock someone’s confidence in “eternal values” geniuses, and icons, I can live with being a windbag.
    There may be an answer blowin’ in there. Or a question, which is even better.

  39. Well some of the intensity is gone does not mean all of the intensity is gone, it was still exciting and it was in my hometowns finest theatre, I had to go and was psyched to see him. The band was still new this was in the spring so i expected it to be different. The posted songs on bobdylan.com are chuck full of sweet riffs and fills. Is this the material that you suggest should be booed? Cause i would not boo such a fine performance.As for the Bushes and Blares,I hope they stay true to thier mission statement, the extermination of the hate filled close minded terrorists,the ones that think it’s ok to kill innocent people. They understand only one language and the last thing we need now are wimps and cowards in office. Appeasment is seen as weakness, the in your face chase em to the 4 corners of the globe and kill em approach they do understand.

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