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Bob Dylan 980202, Springfield, Massachusetts - Symphony Hall
Replacement for the show that was cancelled on January 26.

 Subject: a springfield review
From: Peter Stone Brown (
Date: Tue, 03 Feb 1998 12:15:34 -0500

Bob Dylan at Springfield Symphony Hall 2/2/98

by Seth Rogovoy

(SPRINGFIELD, Mass., Feb. 3, 1998) -- Every night that Bob Dylan takes
the stage to perform is a magical, almost mystical occasion. The routine
profusion of Dylan's appearances masks their singularity. None of
Dylan's peers -- if he ever even had any -- has proved able to maintain
his level of steady popularity and creative impact. The few contenders
to the title have been left in the dust -- Elvis Presley checked out
early, the Beatles split, and then John Lennon was struck down before
his time. The Rolling Stones have devolved into bloated caricatures,
and in any case they are mere pikers next to Dylan, who began his
professional recording career in 1961.

But as Dylan showed in his fabulous show at Springfield Symphony Hall
on Monday night, he not busy being born is busy dying. Dylan's continued
appeal and relevance 37 years after the launch of his career aren't
based on marketing, pyrotechnics or even nostalgia.

Rather, it is his steady, workmanlike devotion to the task, his
unassuming nature, and his dogged determination to start over again
night after night, week after week, year after year, to uncover
unexplored nuances and reach new heights of transcendence in his
prophetic style of folk-based rock music, that makes him utterly unique.

It is a sad commentary on how things have developed, but no one else
of Dylan's own generation or even of his youngest acolytes comes out
each night with a backup band and just plays the songs. Then again, it
is understandable, because no one else has the luxury of drawing upon
the incredible repertoire that Dylan has amassed over the years. Dylan's
songs need no elaboration, no fireworks or distractions, to grab an
audience and take it along on a journey through dark heat.

This is precisely what Dylan does and what he did on Monday night,
beginning with a hard-driving, almost rockabilly version of "Absolutely
Sweet Marie," performed with a freshness and playful vitality that
belied its age. (It will be 32 this year.)

But any sense of giddiness was to be short-lived, as the real scene-
setter of the evening was the next song, "Senor," a dark, eerie
narrative evocative of its subtitle, "Tales of Yankee Power." With its
references to death and desperation in lines like, "Can you tell me
where we're heading, Lincoln County Road or Armageddon?" Dylan
established a duality that would frame much of what was to come.

Each night Dylan plays different songs, and by constantly shaking up
their order and juxtapositions, he not only challenges himself and his
band but he suggests new relationships between compositions which were
written and recorded decades apart. Thus, he followed "Senor" with
"Can't Wait," one of his newest songs, from his Grammy-nominated album,
1997's "Time Out of Mind." It was a more direct but equally ominous twin
to "Senor," and like several of the songs he played from the new album,
it was more fluid and snakelike than on record. And when the choice is
between Lincoln County Road or Armageddon, a line like "Oh honey....I
don't know how much longer I can wait" takes on new resonance.

Dylan continued in this death-haunted vein with "Shooting Star," a
ballad about a lost love, and "Silvio," on which the singer has to take
leave of a friend to "find out something only dead men know." His
acoustic set included a mournful cover of "Cocaine Blues," and once
again, as he did the last time the U.S. was on the brink of battle with
Iraq, Dylan trotted out his old standard, "Masters of War," an eloquent
indictment of the military-industrial complex.

Dylan's current backup band is rightly considered by aficionados as
one of his all-time best. The relatively faceless group has been
together for almost a year, and in that time a sound has emerged that,
while retaining its own rootsy signature, is also versatile enough to
evoke the thin, wild mercury sound of Dylan's mid-'60s period, the
haunted strains of '70s Dylan and the reverberant, post-apocalyptic
sonics of his more recent work.

It's easy to see without looking too far that not much is really
sacred in rock 'n' roll these days. That Dylan is able to do what he
does -- to get up on stage with a rock band and pour forth his poems and
prophecies in a sort of contemporary replay of the revelation at Mt.
Sinai -- in spite of the odds against such a thing in our time out of
mind where commerce is the measure of all things, is nothing short of a

[This review originally appeared in the Berkshire Eagle on Feb. 4, 1998.
Copyright Seth Rogovoy 1998. All rights reserved.]

"I was just too stubborn to ever be governed 
by enforced insanity."  --Bob Dylan
Peter Stone Brown 

Subject: Springfield Setlist From: Ragman10 ( Date: 3 Feb 1998 06:57:00 GMT Sweet Marie Senor Can't Wait Shooting Star Silvioooooooooooo Cocaine Masters Tangled Million Miles Blind Willie McTell Highway Till I Fell Ain't Me, Babe Lovesick Rainy Day Review: Bob wore a white cowboy hat. His black pants were too tight. Peggy-O, Queen Jane, and Tomorrow Is A Long Time were on the cue sheet. Masters sounds exactly like it always did. Bob tried the JJ/Memphis joke with Kemper and, since he didn't know where he's from, said that "he's older than me." Tony was bracing for the "monkey wrench" line. Still no Wiggle, Wiggle. The drunk guy next to me kept screaming for Not Dark Yet. He thought It Ain't Me, Babe was a "nice surprise." I was happy that he was happy. Bob blew his nose after 'Till I Fell In Love With You. Maybe San Fran. in March.
Subject: Springfield 2/2 and My First Stage Rush From: Seth Rogovoy ( Date: Tue, 3 Feb 1998 12:02:32 -0500 Before last night, I never rushed the stage at a Bob Dylan concert, or any concert so far as I can remember. But something about the space at Springfield Symphony Hall, the crowd, the feeling inthe room when I got there at around 7:30, suggested, tonight's the night. I was well-informed about the custom, having seen the rush many times, and having been briefed on all the ins and outs of the rush by one of its all-time greatest stars. I speak, of course, of Sadiejane herself. Sadiejane gave me an update before last night's show on how the rush has been going recently. Whereas to my understanding it had usually occurred at the END of the acoustic set, I was given to understand that it had been creeping forward to DURING the last song of the acoustic set -- usually TUIB. With that information in my mind, I planted myself in my pretty good 12th row seat, near the aisle for a quick getaway. The show was great, but I won't bother you with the details of yet another Bob Dylan concert ;-). About halfway through, I think I made the decision, and I turned to my friends and said, "I'm going!" They said, "Where?" I said, "There!" and pointed to the stage. They just looked at me, not quite udnerstanding what I was talking about. You see, if you knew me, you'd know that I am a very unlikely candidate for a stage rush, for a number of reasons, not the least of which is, well, no, I'm not going to go into that Just trust me on this, or take it from those who know me -- I don't do things like rush the stage. In any case, there was one guy between me and the aisle. I didn't knowhim, he seemed ike a nice enough guy. I told him --this is at some point during the acoustic set -- "In a couple of minutes I'm gonna be getting up to go tot the stage." He, too, was clearly unsure what I was talkinga bout. this minor detail becomes important later on in my story, for the three of you who have bothered reading this far. TUIB began, and it was a pretty rowdy rendition. I had a good feeling about what I was doing. the place just seemed real safe. it didn't seem like it woudl be such a big deal to rush the stage here, and the crowd idn't seem like it would be such a bad group of people to be with up front. I mean, this wasn't Altamont or anything. The only thing was, I realized that even from the 12th row, if I were to get a good position up front, I would definintely need to be in the vanguard of the rush, or else i'd wind up at the back of the crowd somewhere. So I was tensed and ready to jump at the first sign of the rush. So bob is singing, blah bla h blah, about some burner on the stove someone forgot to turn off or something, and some book of Latinate poetry, and I'm looking around, and no one is moving, hardly anyone is even standing up,and i'm getting real antsy. Bob's getting even rowdier, some line about mathematicians and Zimmerman's wives, and I'm thinking, huh, this is getting really near the end of thesong, the rush has got to happen, and I'm starting to realize, much to my dismay, I"M GOING TO HAVE TO START THE RUSH!!!! Now asmuch as you now know I am NOT the kind of person to rush the stage, I am DEFNIITELY not the kind of person to START the rush. But I knew it was up to me, to coin a phrase. So i tell my aisle partner, this is it, I grab my friend B and say to her, "it's time to go, are you coming?" She's kinda hesitant, but I'm going. I stand up in the aisle, Bob's singing about a point of view, and i'm the only one standing up int he whole place! Up in front I see Sadiejane and Maureen's heads bobbing wildly back in forth, but they're still in their seats. Slowly, tentatively, i inch my way down the aislde, feeling like a real dork standing up there while everyone else is sitting down. Will security think I'm an assassin and tackle me and wrestle me to the ground? I look over at the beefy guys and they don't seem to be too bothered by me. then it happnes, i feel a tap on my shoulder. "Busted," i think. I turn around, and it's just some guy sitting on the aisle behind me who wants me to move because I'm blocking his view (stand up, dorkhead!). anyway, i think quickly and just move forward a bit, kind of duck down a little. the next thing that happens, i have no memory of. All I know is something told me "GO!" I don't know if I saw other people get up or what. I don't remember how I got where I wound up. All I know is, onemoment I was the only one satnding in the aisle . The next moment, I looked up, and there was BobDylan not 10 feet away, and I was STANDNG DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF HIM AT THE LIP OF THE STAGE!!!!! My first stage rush, and there I was, I got the absolute best position in the house! well it was pretty amazing to be this close to Bob. I felt kinda foolish looking at him through my binoculars, what with being only 10 feet away, but the way i figure, you can never be too close to Bob. But i only did that once --i was really conscious of not wanting to distract him. After a few moments, I spotted Sadiejane and Maureen a couple of people down to my right, also at thelip of the stage. I reached over and tapped Sadiejane ont heshoulder. you shoulda seen the look on her face when she saw me! boy was she surprised! I think she was kinda proud, what with her sort of being my stage rush mentor, my beingher protege. Many a late night we have sat by the fire (she, the cat, my wife and an unnamed and ultimately successful suitor, you randy boys, go away!) going over the fine points of the rush. Her tutelage was not wasted on this pupil. So there was Bob, 10 feet away, but you don't really want to hear about what that was like. You wanna know what happened to the guy next to me and my friend B. So Iturn around, and there, right behind me, is the guy whosat next to me, beaming. "Thank you so much!" he says. How wonderful! He was right behind me the whole time. He had no idea what was going on, i think this was his first Dylan show, he knew nothing aboutthe rush. but hefollowed me, and was grateful that he did, for here he was, rightup front, watching sweat pour from Bob's brow. It took awhile before I finally spotted B. Was I happy to see that she made it too, all the way up to the lip of the stage, albeit somehwat further over to the right hand side when you are facing the stage. She was also kind of boxed in with a bunch of people, but she was at thefront, i could see her and she could see me when we leaned onto the stage. She was pretty happy, boys, cause she just thinks Bob isthe sexiest dang thing in the world. Let me tell you a bit about B. First of all, she's only a friend. My wife didn't join us this evening because, frankly, she's one of them there Dylan-hating wives, but that's the subject of another thread. B. and I and B's husband came to the show together, but her husband, M., my good buddy, stayed back at the seats. Now, getting back to B. Boys, B stands out in a crowd for mmany many reasons, none ofwhich I am going to delineate. Suffice it to say that, on the streets of New York City, it is not an unusual occurence for total strnagers to walk up to B and take her picture. Both she and her husband, M., have a movie-star kind of quality about them. Well, so we're watching Bob, and I'm noticing that he's really hamming it up for the group over on the right hand side of the stage, utnil I notice thathe's not hamming it up for the group on the right hnad side of the stage. He's hamming it up for MY FRIEND B on the right hand side of the stage! In fact, he's totally flirting with her! needless to say, she's giving it right back to him. At one point, I catch her eye, and she catches mine, as if to say, are you seeing this? Indeed i lether know ii am seeing it, and I'm way happy for her, though not surprised in the least that Bob would single her out., doing his best Chuck Berry for her,whatever. The crowning moment is the very end of the show. I'm hoping that, as i've seen him do, bob will walk downfront at the end and slap peoples hands. "Raise yours high in the air" i say to myself. I'm gonna touch Bob Dylan! I think. wow. well boys, he starts toward thefront, but then veers over to the right. Could it be, Ithink? I look over at B., and she's in a whole mob of people, everyone with their arms outstreched so all you can see is just a bunch of arms not even attached to bodies. I can sort of see it from Bob's angle, and I see that all he sees is a bunch of arms. Indeed, Bob goes over and looks at all the arms, and sort of tries to see who they are attached to. And damned if he doesn't reach around and find the one single arm that is darker than all the rest -- indeed, B's arm -- and grasps the hand, holds it, lets go, and departs. B looks over at me, I look over at B, and she pretty much collapses right there and then on the stage. Damn that Bob Dylan has good taste! Well boys, I had to ride home with B, so you can imagine what the conversation was like the whole way (an hour drive). How many variations of "I touched Bob Dylan" do you think there are? I've heard 'em all. and i'm happy for her. **************************************** Seth Rogovoy music news, interviews, reviews, et al. *****************************************
Subject: Re: Springfield 2/2 and My First Stage Rush From: Sadiejane ( Date: Tue, 03 Feb 1998 16:40:18 -0800 I'm snipping most of this fabulously entertaining post - so if you haven't read it yet you must go and do so! Seth has also posted a very fine review of the show - not much for me to add other than that MOV (which I was dreading after seeing it on so many setlists from the past week) started with just Bob and Larry playing the first verse alone. The band joined them on the second verse and it was a taut and very intense version. Finely done. Also at one point (all I know is it was after the stage rush) Bob played this funny solo on his guitar, about one note per measure. It was as though he were taking the melody and stretching it out into some sort of minimilist counterpoint to Larry Campbell and Bucky's more full lead. Bob sounded great, played great, looked great. It was a fucking great blah blah blah show. Seth Rogovoy wrote: > I was well-informed about the custom, having seen the rush many times, and > having been briefed on all the ins and outs of the rush by one of its > all-time greatest stars. I speak, of course, of Sadiejane herself. > If I'm that good it is only because I have had lessons from the masters themselves, who will go unnamed, except to say that one is from Leicester and the other from St. Louis ;+} > Sadiejane gave me an update before last night's show on how the rush has > been going recently. Whereas to my understanding it had usually occurred One thing that I'll add is that before the show started, Dylan's security man, Baron came down to the front of the house and spoke once to those seated in the front at stage right, once to us in the front center and once to those in the front at stage left. The upshot of his little speech, thrice spoken was, "I want you all to have a really good time and dance whenever you want and do whatever you want (except take pictures) but please do not come into the aisles or down to the front until after the conclusion of the acoustic portion of the show." This is all he said. There was a rush attempted at the start of the show which was supressed by house staff. We did see Baron speak to staff members during Masters of War so we knew that we'd be allowed down after TUIB. Now, some of you old timers may remember that way back in August the post-acoustic set rush was shut down by Dylan's security and moved to the beginning of the encore section. It took us rushing-veterans some time to adjust - primarily because nobody said anything to us and so for a while we were really never sure when it was ok to move and when it wasn't. Most of us really don't want to cause a problem with security. And it really made a difference being told right up front what the deal was for the evening. Cooperation is my middle name :+} > I stand up in the aisle, Bob's singing about a point of view, and i'm the > only one standing up int he whole place! Up in front I see Sadiejane and > Maureen's heads bobbing wildly back in forth, but they're still in their From the start of TUIB many people on the sides of the house and in the balconies were dancing and on their feet. My section in the center were all politely seated and I wasn't going to stand and interfere with the view of those behind me so I did what any self-respecting Bob Dylan loving fool does: dance seated. Until the last verse that is. I knew we were at the end of the song and during the last instrumental I kept a keen eye on the front of the stage and the aisles and sequed my seated dance to a standing dance. Maureen, at my side, asked me if it was time to go... I really wasn't sure....there is really no anticipating this sort of thing. I turned to the seated audience members around me and (still dancing) gave them the "EVERYONE GET UP" gesture, wildly flapping my arms. Suddenly everyone seemed to be on their feet, dancing, clapping. Bob was going to town on the guitar solo and the band was really pumped up. Suddenly I felt a pull at my left side. Maureen had kept an eye on the aisle and she got us both out just in time to secure spaces in the front, right next to the girls from the front row with the roses (more about them coming). > Well, so we're watching Bob, and I'm noticing that he's really hamming it > up for the group over on the right hand side of the stage, utnil I notice > thathe's not hamming it up for the group on the right hnad side of the I want to add that almost all the fans at the right side of the stage were women. Bob was clearly scanning the crowd for people to make eye contact with and settled a few times on different people. At one point he was clearly initiating some contact with someone on my right (must have been B) and at one point he and I engaged in a funny "nono yesyes" head dance (this is where during an It ain't me babe solo he starts nodding "no", I start nodding "yes", then he perversely switches to "yes" and I switch to "no", and back and forth like this a few times until Bob cracks a grin and I lose my composure completely). He also made forays to the house left side as well. But more important than this house right and house left and center EC with Bob - at many opportunities he raised his head, and awknowledged the dancing fools in the balconies right and left (the cheap seats) where there were young kids boogying the night away all night long. I saw him making a concerted effort to let those kids know that he appreciated their enthusiasm :+} > well boys, he starts toward thefront, butthen veers over to the right. > Could it be, Ithink? I look over at B., and she's in a whole mob ofpeople, > everyone with their arms outstreched so all you can see is just a bunch of > arms not even attached to bodies. I can sort of see it from Bob's angle, > and Isee that all he ssees is a bunch of arms. Indeed, Bob goes over > andlooks at all the arms, and sort oftries to see who they are attached > to. And damned if he doesn't reach around and find the one single arm that > is darker thanall the rest -- indeed, B's arm -- and grasps the hand, > holds it, lets go, and departs. > This was a bit different from my perspective (in this section of people on the right). My neighbors were two women, one of whom had brought a really magnificent bouquet of roses. They kept the flowers on the stage the whole time, and seemed a bit unsure of what to do with them. After HWY61 ended and Bob walked offstage I suggested to them that they wait until the last encore (RDW, I explained) and then raise the flowers as high as they could. At the end of the show, just as bob was making his bows I gave them a good nudge and as they lifted the flowers, Maureen and I and a number of other fine people on the other side of them all started calling to Bob and pointing to the flowers. Bob hesitated, and then sauntered down, took the flowers (graciously), grasped a few hands (including Seth's friend, B?) and then left the stage, flowers and all. Nice way to end this leg of the tour :+} xx sadie Delia ain't dead, she's heading for another joint....
Subject: Review: 2/2 Springfield. INCREDIBLE SHOW! From: Date: Wed, 04 Feb 1998 09:11:34 -0600 Organization: Deja News Posting Service WHAT A SHOW! Maybe I was just in a good mood, or " maybe it's the weather or something like that", but the Springfield show was one of the best shows I have ever seen in my life. And it was noticably better than any of the shows I have seen in the last year.. Dylan blew the roof off! I didn't get out of Boston until 6:40, and I was really worried that we would be late. We drove kinda quick, and got there right at 8:00. Dylan ended up not coming out at 8:30-- he seems to not be so punctual these days... Anyway, they started the set with a nice Absolutely Sweet Marie. I was struck with how short this song is- which is really the right way to do it... just get things rolling.. Things turned intense real quick with Senor. First, I was struck by the lights. There were noticably more than at New London, and they were really used well the whole night. Still pretty subtle- VERY well done. Anyhow, Senor was simply hypnotic. The solo sounded as melodic as the dead-- indeed the whole tune souned a lot like the dead would do it.. Singing was real strong. It was great! Next Dylan went into a great "Can't wait". Unlike the other post-TOOM shows that I have seen, I didn't hear any applause when he would start the new songs. but it was a clear, sharp, angry version... very nice. He tends to pick one like and really push it. On this one it was Skies are gray I'm looking for anything that will bring a happy glow Next was Shooting star.. I was really excited about this setlist- totally different feel than New London's TOOM marathon.. Even though he has the standards, I keep seeing Bob because he is really playing so many different tunes these days- and playing them exceptionally well, too! The solo of Shooting star was so pretty. Again, the solo had a noticable dead influence. The band was more together than I have ever seen. I was on cloud 9! Silvio was next.. I know there has been much discusion about dancing at Dylan shows lately, and tonight's show really proved to me how Bob himself feels about this. Pretty much everyone was sitting down at this point, except for one group of fans on the side balcony. During Silvio, Dylan looked out into the crowd and spotted the dancing fans. He smiled wide, and then walked over to that side of the stage, looking at them and dancing a little jig. It was really cool. I mean why shouldn't one be dancing to Silvio -a rock song- at a rock concert. To paraphrase Frankie Lee: "the moral of this post, of this post so long Is simply that one should never be Where one does not belong." If you don't want to dance to Silvio, thats fine.. But please don't be angry with people who do. Allright, off the soapbox.... This once-tired tune has evloved into a highlight for me. The jam is really cool, much better than it used to be. Also, I connect with the lyrics better than I used to. I read somewhere about the following verse: One of these days and it won't be long Going down in the valley and sing my song I will sing it loud and sing it strong Let the echo decide if I was right or wrong I think I sort of get it now.. I still am not crazy about the lyrics, but the song gives a sense that Dylan is keenly aware of his legacy... I take it as wondering how his body of work will be percieved after he is gone.. A damn fine question, if I do say so my damn self. Next was one of the weaker moments of the show for me. It was Cocaine Blues, one of my favorite live tunes. But to work, this song needs for the lyrics to be clear, and they sure weren't on this version. I didn't even hear my favorite line "cocaine is for horses, its not for men; doctor say it'll kill ya but he won't say when" The refrain was good, but a weaker version nonetheless.. It was followed up by Masters of war. Nice to hear; really emotional delivery. Stronger guitar riff in the mix-, very eerie, TOOM style sound. very strong. He did the whole thing in this raspy falsetto, which doesn't work on very many songs... it does on this one! Next was Tangled Up In Blue- this was when Bob's INCREDIBLE onstage energy finally charged the crowd up enough to get up and dance.. During the third verse, people flooded the aisles and danced.. it was great- everyone was into it. This was followed by Million Miles. OH BOY! Dylan threw in the coolest vocal trick of the night. When he said the line: People asked about you, I didn't tell them everything I knew he fit in, perfectly: "And you know I don't know too much" It was a typical self depreciating Dylan comment... Done briliantly! When I heard the chords to the next tune., I was jumping up and down. One of my all time favorites: Blind Willie McTell. The version was similar to the one on, but it was more tight and intense. (Of course I wasn't listening to a RealAudio version of it, so that may have contributed!) I couldn't wait to hear him say: Well, God is in heaven And we all want what's his But power and greed and corruptible seed Seem to be all that there is And he belted it... Best voice of the night! I was ecstatic. I think this was when he introduced the band: I can't remember exactly what he said, but it was like: I'm not even gonna tell ya how young this guy is.... David Kemper! .. Then he mumbled something else, and kinda laughed... The closer was Highway 61 Revisited... it rocked pretty hard... Like the last time, It reminded me of Jonny Winter's version... This crowd knew that they were seeing something pretty special, and they were applauding widly- First encore was 'Til I Fell In Love With You which was just a flat out blues jam.. I can't seem to get enough of this new stuff- it is pretty strong material, and the band plays it so well! Second Encore was It Ain't Me, Babe (acoustic) ,which was good.. nice guitar work- can't remember details about this one, though Third was Love Sick... I was saying to my friend on the way home that I have never understood this as an encore- I felt it should be earlier in the show.. But he thought that the anger and the intensity should put it right where it is...I kind of agree after that show. It had a lot more energy than the previous versions I have seen. The perrenial closer Rainy Day Women #12 & 35, was , like everything, stronger than usual tonight... The band was relaxed and Dylan smiled easily during this one... After the song, Dylan actually came up to the crowd and shook a few hands! He is good again. He knows it, and he should be proud.. He even accepted a bouquet of roses from an audience member..He bowed quickly again as he left the stage.. I could see both Bucky and Tony litteraly run up and pat him on the back.. It was simply A GREAT SHOW!!! Dennis Cleary At the end of each review I write, I make a plea for a tape of that show.. It doesn't ever work, but I might as well keep up the tradition... I would LOVE a tape of this show!!!! PLEASE email me if you have one!!!!!
Subject: REVIEW: 2/2/98, Splfd. MA From: ( Date: Tue, 03 Feb 1998 19:27:39 -0800 Springfield, MA, 2/2/98 Symphony Hall In any century, there are perhaps a half-dozen artists who can legitimately be termed geniuses for what they accomplished within their craft, for the influence and impact they had on their society, for the legacies they left. In our time, one certainly would include the likes of Picasso, Hemingway, Faulkner; perhaps Balanchine and Diaghalev. Hitchcock, of course. And, without doubt, Dylan. As this horrible century comes to a welcome end, one cannot help but wonder what has been learned. The same social turmoil exists as when Dos Passos looked through his camera eye so long ago and shuddered to see an America rushing into the spiritual death of mercantile capitalism, with its overt racism and unabashed exploitation of the working man and woman, the pillage of its environment, and forever lying politicians mouthing hollow promises and confetti-feted generals raining metallic death from Godās heavens. Everything has changed, but nothing has changed, really. A century after Plessy v. Ferguson, weāre still circling that monument counterclockwise like Faulknerās Compson family. We still have not learned, as Hemingway told us, that love itself is a religious feeling. Indeed, as Dylan himself sung in one of his most vivid images of stasis, itās as if weāre still stuck inside a painting thatās hanging in the Louvre. Our nose starts to itch, but we just canāt move. Presidents and popes have now bestowed the imprimateur of, for lack of a better word, officialdom, to what many of us have witnessed night after night, year after year: that Dylan is one of our greatest poets, an artist reminiscent of medieval troubadours and nineteenth-century Romantics who has articulated so perfectly in song the human condition in much the same way "prison genre" writers Dreiser and Mailer, Styron and Wright and others did two generations ago; an artist wholly within the tradition of Hemingway and Eliot and others, who celebrates the intensity of love and human feeling yet, at the same time, wonders about mankind and god in this absurd universe; an artist who prizes truth, compassion and lifeās emotional beauty, but who mourns the spiritual and moral emptiness of what he finds to be, finally, a world gone wrong. As he stood out there on stage last night in Springfield, Massachusetts, Bob Dylan, I am sure, thought about this. I am sure he thinks about this now in every one of the concert halls of his own twilight. He must wonder what the legacy of his work will be with a generation too young to have ever taken cover under schoolhouse desks at a sirenās wail; too fat to ever conceive of what it might be like for a child to be so hungry it doesnāt know how to smile. I think that may be, in part, what continues to drive Dylan after all these years -- that his audience needs to be reminded of the "other-ness" out there it does not, perhaps cannot, connect with, an "other-ness" of hunger, despair and death wholly apart from the world of rank and privilege. For his audience is incomplete in its own humanity without a sense of that "other-ness." Clad in his white Bill Monroe hat, red string tie and pants too short, Dylan on stage is at once the so-called poet of his generation, the black blues singer he so admires from another era and the Ī50s rock Īnā roller, shimmying around, mugging knowingly at his audience. Backed by piercing guitar lines from Larry Campbell, Dylan in "Million Miles" and the great "Blind Willie McTell" shows why he is, without doubt, the greatest white blues singer of all time. You can feel the depth and intensity of his despair as he stretches that note in "million miiiiiilllllles from you." With the recently resurrected "Masters of War," Dylan sings the song as if he means it, leaning into the microphone, the song building like a march, his voice just above a loud whisper, higher to the pitch of The Former Mayorās eerie mandolin and the shooting minor chords Dylan and Larry Campbell exchange on guitar. The audience, on its feet only moments before, dancing and clapping raucously to "Tangled Up in Blue," is now quiet while Dylan reminds it in rhyme of what people like Dr. King and Bobby Kennedy died for. And the audience knew well what it was all about. With Clinton and his stooges again threatening to bomb Iraqi children back into the Stone Age, several well-placed bursts of applause rang out in the hushed hall. Indeed, all the songs received masterly renditions, with Campbell, the most interesting musician in this quartet, contributing always creative guitar-playing that complements but never overshadows Dylan. In "Senor," for example, his use of upstrokes amid the reverb enhanced the songās intensity. His descending bass lines in "Shooting Star" accented the tenderness of the lyrics and the songās ascending melody. The highly experienced David Kemper, too, seems to always find new ways to support Dylanās nightly reinventions. In "It Aināt Me, Babe," for instance, his almost syncopated rhythm and Dylanās turning of his voice higher at the end of each line gave the song a completely different feel. But listening to Dylan perform some of the "Time Out of Mind" songs, you canāt help but wonder why the promise of "Oh! Mercyās" spiritual growth, and its depth of human feeling and compassion has now reverted to what Camus called the "dis-ease" that has plagued the human condition in the second half of this century. The emboldened voice in "Oh! Mercy" that proclaimed, "I aināt afraid of confusion, no matter how thick," is now tepid. It moves on tiptoe through streets that are dead, a Prufrockian wanderer, "driftinā from scene to scene," unsure of itself and its place in a shifting world. Ever-present in "Oh! Mercy," God is conspicuously absent on "Time Out of Mind." Instead, weāre given a world almost medieval in its fascination with the unknown, the magical, a world where forces (voices?) in the night are trying to be heard. At the outset of "Cold Irons Bound," weāre told, ominously, "Iām beginning to hear voices." Itās not dark yet, Dylan sings, but itās getting there. On the album, of course, by the time you arrive in the Highlands, there is not only darkness, but a spiritual blackness that is horrifying. Dylanās narrator is lost somewhere in this vacuous landscape so eerily reminiscent of Eliotās "Waste Land," unable to connect with anyone or anything. Heās either twenty miles out of town in cold irons, or heās a million miles away, emotionally. Dylanās language itself telegraphs the malaise of which he sings. Whereas artists such as Sarah McLachlan are building a mystery, Dylanās archetypal twentieth-century wanderer "feel[s] like a prisoner in a world of mystery," wishing, against hope and time, that someone will come and push back the clock for him. But it will not be. And, in the end, defeated by forces he does not, cannot understand, the narrator can only make a weak accommodation with the world. "Iām already there in my mind," he sings of his failed quest, "and thatās good enough for now." Wonderful as "Time Out of Mind" is, its vision is, finally, a diconcerting decline from the deep humanism of "Oh! Mercy." It makes you wonder what happened to Dylan in the intervening years; if, to him, the future is, as his artistic forebear, Eliot, wrote in "The Dry Salvages," no more than a faded song, a royal rose or a lavender spray of wistful regret for those who are not yet here to regret, pressed between the yellowed leaves of a book that has never been opened. Artists are always the antennae of a society. In 1979, Dylan ushered in the Ī80s with the Christian albums, warning us to wake up, beware of counterfeit philosophers. "Karl Marx," he said, "has got you by the throat, and Henry Kissingerās got you tied up in knots." And it was so true. A decade later, Dylan told of a political world, where men commit crimes and the crime donāt have a face (read the Keating Five, Oliver North, the lies of Bill Clinton). Now, at the close of this century, we have "Time Out of Mind." Letās hope the future is brighter than what it portends. The writer will have a tape of this concert available shortly for possible trades.

February Setlists Tour