Expecting Rain

Harpless Bob ?
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Author:  chester drawers [ Wed April 5th, 2017, 01:36 GMT ]
Post subject:  Harpless Bob ?

Towards the end of today's Oslo Live Set List, Atzmann reported that he had just listened to Stockholm # 2, and that Bob did not play the harp for the entire show.

The few of us remaining in that forum tried to find out from the online Oslo attendees if Bob played the harp at all in Oslo, and it appears he DID NOT.

One poster claimed that Bob did play harp on Tangled Up In Blue on Opening Night in Stockholm.

Seems like this should be a fairly big deal in Bob World if this information is correct.....it seems like a BIG DEAL to me.

What do my fellow ER'ers think ?

Author:  Jordan [ Wed April 5th, 2017, 02:40 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: Harpless Bob ?

When was the last time he didn't play harp at a concert? 1988?

Author:  Still Go Barefoot [ Wed April 5th, 2017, 02:43 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: Harpless Bob ?

I can remember a private Boston University gig where he didn't play harp several years back.*
I only remember that because of a friend I was with. She was bummed because Bob didn't touch the harmonica that night. I didn't think much of it at the time. It was a decent show, kinda weird venue.

That guy who did that giant lyric book, which was used for the Nobel, was there that night too. Christopher Ricks. Good guy. I spoke with him. I remember him sitting with his eyes closed, concentrating on the lyrics later in the night.

Ha, "Standing" might've even been played that night too. I'll look it up.*
But no harmonica.

Other than that show, Bob usually picks it up at least once a night, as far as I can recall, at least at the hundreds of shows I've seen.

I wouldn't fret much about it though. It'll be back.

* EDIT: Nov 10th, 2000 (if there's a boot, check it out. I'm pretty sure no harmonica...
...and yes, Standing was in the set, as was the only Dogs Run Free with Matt Glaser on violin)

Author:  smoke [ Wed April 5th, 2017, 03:58 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: Harpless Bob ?

I'm pretty sure he didn't play when I saw him in 1998...maybe 1997 as well.

Author:  Sandy [ Wed April 5th, 2017, 07:34 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: Harpless Bob ?

The thing about Stockholm is true. Bob played harp on TUIB the first night only. On the second night, there was no harp at all.

Tbh, while I enjoy listening to Bob play it, I didn't feel like the song was missing anything. Also, we were already down to so little harp playing that it felt like a natural thing to just drop it entirely at some point.

Like Barefoot said, he'll bring it back whenever he feels like. For now, I think the show works pretty well without it.

Author:  Oneofusmustknow [ Wed April 5th, 2017, 11:12 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: Harpless Bob ?

It's happened before. As Smoke says, 1998 hardly featured it much at all.

It's fairly rare for it not to feature on Ballad of a Thin Man.

Author:  ingate94 [ Wed April 5th, 2017, 17:56 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: Harpless Bob ?

The harp was great on tangled in Stockholm. Wasn't met with the normal cheer that the first blow of the harmonica normally gets though, which I thought was weird (although obviously no bearing on why he hasn't played it since)

Hasn't he only been playing it on she belongs to me and tangled lately anyway? Haven't heard a ballad of a thin man with harmonica for a while, though

Also, when did he stop playing it on things have changed? I always thought it really suited that on the more uptempo versions from a few years ago

Author:  toilandblood546 [ Wed April 5th, 2017, 19:46 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: Harpless Bob ?

Are we just talking no harp in a single show? I'm pretty sure that's happened a lot and fairly recently. Maybe even in like 2012. I know there's been regular shows between 2004-2012 where he didn't play harp on some nights.

Author:  Handsomeinthefog [ Thu April 6th, 2017, 19:05 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: Harpless Bob ?

smoke wrote:
I'm pretty sure he didn't play when I saw him in 1998...maybe 1997 as well.

That is correct. After his health scare in May 1997, he did not play harp for the entire Summer and Fall 1997 tour and for most of the January 1998 leg. The harp returned (somewhat sponatenously) at the second Boston show in January 1998 during a duet with van Morrison.

There might have been more instances after that when he didn't play harp for entire shows, but that was the longest stretch for sure.

Author:  belleseb32 [ Fri April 7th, 2017, 19:11 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: Harpless Bob ?

ingate94 wrote:
Hasn't he only been playing it on she belongs to me and tangled lately anyway? Haven't heard a ballad of a thin man with harmonica for a while, though

Also, when did he stop playing it on things have changed? I always thought it really suited that on the more uptempo versions from a few years ago

You're right that it had largely been present only on "She Belongs To Me" and "Tangled Up In Blue." I think it had actually disappeared from "Things Have Changed" as early as 2013; the arrangement from 2011 was used up until 2016, I think, when he altered it, but the harp hadn't been a component for years.

Author:  Anr Bjotk [ Sat April 8th, 2017, 18:57 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: Harpless Bob ?

Maybe the harp is too heavy for him? That darn arthritis :lol:

Author:  Amos [ Sat April 8th, 2017, 22:29 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: Harpless Bob ?

Anr Bjotk wrote:
Maybe the harp is too heavy for him? That darn arthritis :lol:

It hurts his back. :mrgreen:

Author:  Atzmann [ Sun April 9th, 2017, 18:28 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: Harpless Bob ?

His harp solos are always highlights in his shows. But over the years the intensity and quantity of his harp playing has varied a lot. So let's hope it will return.

Author:  Guthrie [ Mon April 10th, 2017, 07:07 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: Harpless Bob ?

I saw him in Munich, Olympiahalle 1999. He didn´t play the harp for the whole show. I think there where several shows in 1999, he didn´t play the harp.

Author:  Still Go Barefoot [ Sun August 6th, 2017, 15:43 GMT ]
Post subject:  Re: Harpless Bob ?

This front page link today, to a Joost Nillissen article, triggered the notion that I have not paying as close attention to Bob these days, compared to the past. Do you?

It seems not-as-fun to "armchair" it when the Set List remains nearly exact Night after Night, Tour Leg after Tour Leg, Year after Year. The infiltration of American Standards has contributed to some interest-loss too.

In my case, I'm not grabbing boots for every show, as in the past, so I can't really say WHEN the last time Dylan blew into a harmonica on stage was. Anyone know?

Even lost track of the stray random guitar sightings. Was it Vegas?

I really don't wanna get sucked into a "I Used to Care" scenario. Gotta keep Pressin' On.

Bob Dylan’s creative challenges, and
why doesn’t he play the harmonica any more?

Tony’s article (http://bob-dylan.org.uk/archives/5077) on the seemingly rather absurd question of why Dylan writes songs came just when I was mulling a similar absurd question of why he is still performing about 70 to 80 shows a year (in 2016) when he is 76 years old.

It’s almost like asking the goose why she lays eggs. Because that’s what a goose does, stupid! He writes songs and he performs. I do not have a lot of friends (none, as a matter of fact) who share my fascination for Dylan and when I bring him up, they ask me: “He’s old, rich and famous, he sings like a crow. Why doesn’t he retire, lean back and enjoy the rest of his days?

But the questions are not absurd, as Tony proves in his article. I believe the short version of the answer is: creativity.

As any creative person knows, creativity can sweep you up and away into the dazzling heights of heaven, only to throw you back a few moments later into the depths of the darkest pits. We have all been there. In my late teens and early twenties I was an artist who couldn’t decide between painting and writing. I did both, never studied, rambled and gambled, wrote and painted, and finally – more or less – gave up.

There was a child on the way. I found a job and had a fantastic career, but my art became a hobby. For years I felt embarrassed by this defeat. Unlike Tony, I was not so lucky to have a career “via the arts”.

All through my life I found out, again and again, that creativity never leaves you. “It’s a part of me now, it’s been cherished and saved.” In my spare time the dazzling heights still continue to seduce me, while I timorously try to avoid the pitfalls. During the last five or six years I wrote and published three novels and recently a collection of short stories with my own pen drawings to sum up an artistic period of 40 years. I am world famous in the tiny circles of my tiny network.

The Questions
The question of why anyone would create artistic works (money, fame, drive, religion, fun) is academic. It’s probably all four and a few more, and over the years one impetus may replace another. But the root, for most, I believe, is: look at me! I made this, what do you think? Isn’t it amazing? Who would have thought I could do this, or still can do this? While all the time you were thinking “I was past my prime…”

For an intensely private and socially awkward person like Dylan this must be difficult.

But Dylan is already recognized as the greatest, the most influential, with numerous prizes, including an Oscar and the Nobel prize for Literature. We, the hoi polloi, have no idea what it’s like. If only we could “for just that one moment stand inside his shoes”, perhaps we would have a clue as to why Dylan does what he does. So what else is there for him to win? How can he gain our recognition or prove he is still worthy of it?

By challenging himself. On stage. For months in a row four of five nights a week, anywhere in the world.

The question: Can he still fill the venues, will they still want to hear him sing? The answer is yes. (Although in Canada last month one or two shows were cancelled due to disappointing ticket sales).

So that challenge is met, the crowds still gather to see him perform.

Another question: Why did he put down his guitar and moved to a silly keyboard? Was this a creative challenge? He hasn’t picked up the guitar for years, only to strap it around his shoulder last October in Las Vegas when he heard he was awarded the Nobel prize for Literature and played so appropriately A Simple Twist of Fate. (And then again when performing To Ramona in New York last June. Why? We don’t know).

In the meantime he got rid of the keyboard and brought on the baby grand, which looks a lot better.

Another question: What about the set list? He hardly changes it anymore. Night after night the same songs in the same sequence. We know Dylan usually chooses his songs carefully. (I saw him in Jerusalem in 1987 and he played John Brown… the boy who went off to war… In Israel, where every boy (and girl) has to go off to war. It hit us like a bullet).

So he sat down and composed a balanced set list that he will play night after night. Every night it’s a challenge; to get the most out of the songs, to do it better than the night before. Or as well as the night before. That’s one hell of a creative challenge.

Another question: Why doesn’t he play the harp anymore? The crowd loves the harp, the minute he brings the instrument to his lips and the first notes cut through flesh and bone, the audience goes wild. Maybe he thinks that’s too easy, a cheap thrill. We’ll they still appreciate my work without the harp? Another creative challenge.

So in conclusion, I believe they are all creative challenges. Maybe he doesn’t write anymore (we don’t know that!). Maybe the need to write about love and emotions or the need to change the world, has evaporated. Maybe he feels he has said it all and nothing he can say will change one iota in the big schemes of things. We don’t know.

The Tempest was Shakespeare’s last play. Not because he died or became feeble. He just stopped, left London and went back to his wife in Stratford upon Avon. Maybe Dylan’s Tempest is his last. We don’t know.

What we do know is that creativity is always there, it never leaves you. “It’s indescribable, it can drive you to drink”.


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