Bob Dylan's New Tour, Interview Request

Bob Dylan's new tour opened in Seattle last week. Here's the schedule. Playing with him are Merle Haggard and the Strangers and Amos Lee.

The last time I saw Dylan play was in Chicago, in November, 2002. It was a spur of the moment thing, I was at a criminal defense lawyer's conference, and 15 of us got last minute tickets from a scalper and my seat was in the 2nd row, center. It was a good show, particularly because I could see that Dylan was enjoying himself.

He's playing Denver on March 28. This time, I'd like to interview him for TalkLeft. It's probably a pipe dream, but you never know. I remember that in 1998, I was doing one of many Rivera Live shows on CNBC about Ken Starr and the Clinton investigation. This night, we were talking about Starr's promised report. Lanny Davis and Salon's David Talbot were on too. (CNBC News Transcripts April 9, 1998, available on Lexis.com.)

  • Lanny opined, "Mr. Gingrich, Mr. Armey and Mr. DeLay have already characterized the report as going to do damage on the president. They've already politicized the document. Mr. Starr, I believe, is a diminished asset as a credible, objective investigator of the truth, and therefore, I believe that report will have diminished value."

  • David Talbot said, "...his investigator has a clear political agenda, as we've documented in Salon numerous times. He's funded by someone who is the chief Clinton hater in the United States. The same man has paid off his key witness, David Hale. It's an unseemly web."
  • I said, "You know, Bob Dylan once sang, The pump won't work 'cause the vandals took the handles.' We'd better get Ken Starr far away from this investigation and get some neutrality here. Otherwise, we're gonna have the vandalization of the criminal justice system."

Two days later, I got a package in the mail. It came from Indiana, no return address. I opened it up and inside, there was a short, unsigned handwritten letter, that said, almost verbatim, "I saw you on Rivera Live the other night and thought you would enjoy these. If not, please give them to someone who would."

Inside the package were a lot of non-commerical but professional quality audio and video tapes, wrapped in colored paper with replicas of album liner notes on one side (I still have them and am looking at them as I write this.) Here's what I got:


  • Dylan Press Conference, San Francisco, December, 1965
  • Dylan--Hard Rain (Indoor), Clarwater, 1976
  • Folk Music at Newport (1963 - 1966)
  • Getting to Dylan --Omnibus--BBC--1986
  • Bob Dylan Compile

Audio Cassettes:

  • The Circus is in Town(HBC TV, June 26, 1965)
  • Folksinger's Choice (Radio Show, March 11, 1962)
  • Dylan, Acoustic Troubadour (November 4, 1961)
  • Guitars Kissing & the Contemporary Fix (Double cassette, Royal Albert Hall, 1966.) It came with this typed note:

This is Bob Dylan's famous concert performed at the Royal Albert Hall in 1966. The first half of the performance went without incident. But towards the end of the second half of the show (Dylan was performing electric) a fan stood up and yelled "You're a Judas." Dylan responded saying "You're a liar." You can also hear considerable booing during this show as well as others of that time period. It was a very curious time."

To this day, I have no idea who sent me these tapes. But, in case he or she is reading TalkLeft, consider this a belated thank you. Also, in case you are in touch with Bob Dylan, please let him know I'd like to interview him for TalkLeft when he's in Denver next week. Not about his politics, just about his vision, his music and how he perceives its impact (if he cares,) what's important to him now, and the like. You can e-mail me here .

So that's my pitch. Admittedly it's a stretch, but stranger things have happened. I'll let you all know if I get a bite.

Post-script: Since its inception in June, 2002, the tag line of TalkLeft (see the bottom of the left-hand column) has been, "The pump don't work 'cause the vandals took the handles" -- a line from Subterranean Homesick Blues. It's not a reference to these tapes or to Rivera Live, there's another story behind it-- one pertaining to criminal defense lawyers in our activist mode--and probably I'll recount it another day.

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    Re: Bob Dylan's New Tour, Interview Request (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 01:17:25 AM EST
    I just saw him in Oakland last wednesday...He was not worth the 75 bucks. I understand that he has been touring and playing the same songs for over 40 years but he deconstructs all his songs so you don't even know what he is playing. Songs work because they sound right and pleasing in their harmonics...he changed all his songs to different rythyms and beats and cadences till they are unrecognizable to the originals. If you don't want to sing your songs, don't go on tour 10 months out of the year and get tired of what you are doing. Yes he is a legend. Yes he is one of the greatest songwriters of our generation. I don't need studio recreations of his songs but to take classic material and massacre them, I don't need that either. Merle on the other hand is comfortable with what he does and it shows...

    Re: Bob Dylan's New Tour, Interview Request (none / 0) (#2)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 01:17:34 AM EST
    Chronicles V.1 was a masterpiece, it will eventually become as ubiquitous as Catcher in the Rye, and I hope it will advance the efforts to get him awarded the Nobel he richly deserves. Good luck with your efforts to meet him.

    Re: Bob Dylan's New Tour, Interview Request (none / 0) (#3)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 06:13:15 AM EST
    Dylan? A noble? Perhaps. Given the history of what the noble has become. I am LOL. That matches well with Bono and the world bank. And Lanny Davis was so fair and balanced himself....

    Re: Bob Dylan's New Tour, Interview Request (none / 0) (#4)
    by cp on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 07:57:48 AM EST
    as ubiquitous as "Catcher in the Rye"? omigod, i hope not, for Dylan's sake! not to get too far off the point, but spare me the "Rye" referrence, puh-leaze! it was a dorky book when i read it in hs, and it completely escaped me why everyone - no, make that all the girls, thought it was so great. most of the guys i know, that actually wasted the time, time i will never recover, reading it, thought it was a joke. when i discovered that it had been written by a female, all was explained. in fairness, the fact that there was a war going on, and i looked forward to the possibility of being drafted into the "southeast asian conference" out of hs, colored my perception of its deeper meaning. it's amazing how the prospect of being killed tends to focus the mind. last time i saw dylan was several years ago, on tv, doing a bit for some show. he seemed completely out of it, mentally elsewhere. it was difficult to tell if he was suffering from alzheimers, or just bored. i was very bummed. as far as his changing chords, etc. on his songs, that's kind of his prerogative, artists do it all the time. it works, or it doesn't.

    Re: Bob Dylan's New Tour, Interview Request (none / 0) (#5)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 10:58:58 AM EST
    I totally disagree with "wool." One of the things that proves the greatness of Dylan's songs is how wonderfully new they are each time he reimagines them and performs them in a whole new way. Live at Budokan is a terrific example -- those arrangments of his "classics," all very different from the originals, are marvelous. And to Dr. Ace, I am both a Dylan fan and a lover of J.S. Bach. (And of Dock Boggs and of Keith Jarrett and of Laura Nyro. Great music comes in all sorts of packages.) Again, part (yes, only part) of what reveals the greatness of Bach's music is how new aspects of its beauty and truth are revealed in very different arrangements performed at different tempos with different instruments with (or without) different sorts of singers.

    Re: Bob Dylan's New Tour, Interview Request (none / 0) (#6)
    by jondee on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 12:01:21 PM EST
    Ace - Good thing Buckley used Bach,otherwise you would never have heard of him. Btw,theyve been playing "the same" J.S for 300+ years,so whats your point other than to stretch the limits of TL's liberal posting policies by seeing how much of a d*ck you can get away with being?

    Re: Bob Dylan's New Tour, Interview Request (none / 0) (#7)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 02:26:09 PM EST
    Good call, Peter. I thought I was the only one who liked Budokan. The versions of I Want You, Love Minus Zero, It's Alright Ma and especially the inspired reggaed up Don't Think Twice are amazing. Although even I balk at some of the arrangements, notably Mr Tambourine Man. In general though, his concerts these days are either awesome or terrible, and there's no real way of knowing before the night. I've been to six or seven in the last five years, and all but two were incredible. The two were really bad. He also takes a few songs to really get in the swing of things, it seems.

    Re: Bob Dylan's New Tour, Interview Request (none / 0) (#8)
    by Dadler on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 02:54:52 PM EST
    the ghost of electricity howls in the bones of her face.
    first time i saw him was in '85 on the tour with tom petty. my mom went with me, ran for the front of the stage, then came back ten songs later very stoned and talking about what a cute ass bob had. and i hope that you'll die and your death will come soon and i'll follow your casket on a pale afternoon and i'll watch while you're lowered down to your deathbed and i'll stand over your grave 'til i'm sure that you're dead. from "masters of war".

    Re: Bob Dylan's New Tour, Interview Request (none / 0) (#9)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 05:44:28 PM EST
    I saw Dylan in Seattle. I think it is possible that his voice has gone and that he is no longer able to sing the songs the way he used to, which is his motive behind rearranging all of them. He didn't appear to have any vocal control, so he spits the lyrics out in a machine gun raspy rap. I was disappointed but at the same time it was cool just to be in the same room with him.

    Re: Bob Dylan's New Tour, Interview Request (none / 0) (#10)
    by Che's Lounge on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 09:04:14 PM EST
    JM, Isn't it kind of risky to use general admission or has the Fillmore got it covered? Not that Dylan would create a mad rush, but do they do that all the time?

    Re: Bob Dylan's New Tour, Interview Request (none / 0) (#11)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 09:28:15 PM EST
    I think they do it all the time. It's a great way to hold a concert. The times I've been there, there has been no traditional seating, just some tables and chairs on the sides of the huge space. You can dance or just move around, get a drink, or sit and watch or listen.

    Re: Bob Dylan's New Tour, Interview Request (none / 0) (#12)
    by Che's Lounge on Sun Mar 20, 2005 at 10:19:06 PM EST
    I just saw those two words and thought of Cincinnati. I'm not familiar with the layout of the venue. Thanks.

    Re: Bob Dylan's New Tour, Interview Request (none / 0) (#13)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 05:13:46 AM EST
    Hi Wool "Don't even know what he is playing" The crowd at the Glasgow Barrowlands 6/24/05 managed to sing along :-)

    Re: Bob Dylan's New Tour, Interview Request (none / 0) (#14)
    by Che's Lounge on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 09:17:13 AM EST
    Wool, Ever seen Phantom of the Opera? I guess they should have left that one alone also. And it started in a whole different medium.

    Re: Bob Dylan's New Tour, Interview Request (none / 0) (#15)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Mon Mar 21, 2005 at 11:36:04 AM EST
    Say hello to Valerie say hello to Vivian give them all my salary on the waters of oblivian.

    Re: Bob Dylan's New Tour, Interview Request (none / 0) (#16)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Fri Mar 25, 2005 at 11:38:12 PM EST
    I caught Bob a couple of times in Little Rock. The acoustics seemed poor, although it was a concert hall. The lighting folks made the auditorium "blue" for "Tangled Up in Blue", although the song was unrecognizable. Bob brought on stage one of his old rockabilly friends and they did a nice rendition of "My Gal Is Red Hot." Bob seemed to enjoy this immensely. In "Chronicles I" Bob talks about an early folk hero of his who performed his songs differently every night. I suspect that is the genesis of his reworking all his songs.