We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Those photos of Florence, Alabama moved me to post this, a Dylan cover of the Grateful Dead's Alabama Getaway from 1997. I heard Dylan do this great song in New Haven around that time. Same band. He had so much incense or smoke or whatever he uses that you could barely see the band through it. And he did shake hands or slap hands with everybody up front, too. I do remember that he opened with a rousing Crash on the Levee that night, and did an acoustic set too including Girl from the North Country.
My theory is that he always likes to keep his band off balance and challenged. I do not think that they rehearse. Dylan was playing some interesting electric at this time.
ha. I saw him twice and thought the same thing. I've never bought one of his live albums because of it. Wait... I have the double set live with The Band. Parts of it are dissonant when my ear is tuned for the studio perfection, but it's good enough.
I like your theory - I think Bob has made a career out of keeping people off balance - especially critics and bandmates.
Uncut Magazine apparently ran a series of interviews with various musicians, producers and crew who worked with him from 1989-2006 that I glommed onto through our friend Right Wing Bob, linked here.
Granted, it has to do with studio sessions, but here is an excerpt from Malcolm Burn, engineer on Oh, Mercy, that you might appreciate:
So, other than that, we were just trying to get ready in the normal way, and then, a week before we were due to start recording, we received a cassette from Bob. And I thought, Oh, great, we’re going hear some songs. We got this cassette, and it had this little note from Bob: “Listen to this, this’ll give you a good idea of what’s going on.” And so Dan and I and Mark Howard, the other engineer, we sat down to listen to this cassette, and we put it in the machine – and this Al Jolson music started playing.
And we were like, “What the Fuck? Al Jolson?” So, we fast-forwarded it, and it was just a whole tape of Al Jolson. And we looked back at the note, and it said. “Listen to this. You can learn a lot.” So Dan and I sort of looked at each other and – you know, Al Jolson’s great –but we sort of thought it was a bit odd.
But, y’know, anyway, when Bob arrived and we started making the record, I’d sort of forgotten about this. And then, one evening in the middle of recording, we were taking a little break, and somehow, something came up about favourite singers, and who were great influences, especially when it comes to phrasing. Bob had said a number of times that phrasing was sort of everything. You can have really great lyrics, but if you don’t deliver them properly, they’re not gonna mean a thing. And it’s quite true. And in this conversation, Bob said, “My two favourite singers are Frank Sinatra and Al Jolson.” And I thought, wow, now I get it. And it’s interesting, because when you have that in your head and you go back and listen to Al Jolson, you can sort of make the correlation with Bob Dylan, that concatenation, that kind of rapid-fire thing. That was kind of an interesting learning experience. Al Jolson. Bob Dylan. We had a couple of nice conversations.