Well, a year sure did go by quickly! Here I am with my girlfriend, Nicole, at what has become an important and fun annual event – the local Bob Dylan concert!
This year, Dylan’s summer 2009 tour has stopped at Rock Cats Stadium in New Britain as part of his ballpark series with Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp.
Somewhat surprisingly, Nelson is opening and is playing as I type — songs like “On the Road Again” and “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys.” Why so soon for the veteran country western singer? Earliest bed time of the bunch? Somehow, I doubt it! Anyway, I’m not a big fan, but his band is very solid and he sounds fantastic!
Okay, it’s back to the music for me, but I’ll be back with up to the minute Dylan set list updates as they come. I may need Nicole’s help to decipher the arrangements of the older songs, but I think she’s up to the task.
Mellencamp’s out now, and thanks to the graciousness of a somewhat tipsy fellow fan, we have much better seats (see above). The outdoor ballpark concerts really are nice, but you’re at the mercy of Mother Nature; thankfully, she was kind today.
Mellencamp opened with a song that we both know – “Ain’t That America.” I find his lyrical content a bit campy for my style, but I plan to reserve judgement until the concert is over. So far, so rockin’!
Upcoming: The Dylan Set List
BOB DYLAN SET LIST – 7/15/2009:
1.) “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35”
2.) “Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again”
3.) “The Levee’s Gonna Break”
4.) “Tryin’ to Get to Heaven” – LAPTOP SESSION – CLICK HERE! 5.) “High Water (For Charley Patton)” – LAPTOP SESSION – CLICK HERE!
6.) “I Feel a Change Comin’ On”
7.) “Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum”
8.) “When the Deal Goes Down”
9.) “Highway 61 Revisited”
10.) “Ballad of a Thin Man”
11.) “Thunder on the Mountain”
Willie Nelson sounded as good as he ever has, and John Mellencamp brought a tremendous amount of energy to the stage with his talented band (he described them as being built for playing in garages and bars, but they handled a ballpark quite nicely).
But then Bob Dylan broke the roof in and set fire to the place as a parting gift.
(Well, there wasn’t a roof to begin with, but let’s not quabble over details…)
After more than three hours of opening acts and transitions between sets, Dylan came out just after 9pm on Wednesday, July 15th, 2009 at the Rock Cats’ baseball stadium in New Britain, CT. At the precise moment the lights came up, I also took in my first breath of a suspicious smelling smoke…
Anyway, Dylan kicked off the first two songs on electric guitar, soloing along with his band members. (There’s a great photo in a recent online Rolling Stone article that looks just like what I saw tonight.) He added new lines to “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” — “Everybody must get stoned,” for the layperson — and rollicked through “Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again” — a true Fusco-Moore favorite — as if it were a new song on his most recent album.
There’s always something special about seeing Dylan play guitar, but he wasn’t the only one in the band whose skills on the axe were highlighted. Both of the other guitarists in his Never-Ending Tour band were allowed to bring more of their guitar work into the mix than in past concerts — take the infectious new guitar riff in “Tryin’ To Get To Heaven” or the simple but catchy licks in “Jolene.” More than once throughout the evening, an acoustic guitar could be heard high in the mix, which has become a rarity in recent years.
By the time Dylan retreated to his keyboard, the momentum had already been established and only continued to build. He romped through “The Levee’s Gonna Break” and soon after beat out a typically heavy version of “High Water (For Charley Patton).” Although his set included mid-tempo (“I Feel a Change Comin’ On”) and slower (“When the Deal Goes Down”) songs, Dylan’s predilections certainly lay in the in-your-face, bass-pounding-through-your-chest, guitar-and-harmonica-solos-wailing variety.
That's as close a picture I could get with the police in full force around the ballpark...
Last year was a great show. But what impressed me this year was just how clear Dylan’s vocals were tonight. Now, I’m not suggesting a possible vocal cord surgery has occurred to restore him to his Nashville Skyline crooning, but he annunciated each word and clearly showed more respect for the tunes and melodies of his songs than he has in the past decade or more.
For years, I have been defending the gruffness of Dylan’s voice as simply one more of the many voices he has taken on over the years. However, I have never been able to justify his oftentimes uniform low-to-high singing of each line of every song.
Tonight, with only a couple exceptions, he truly broke that mold all over the place.
Although the show was heavily weighted toward his newer material — 8 of the 14 songs were from his most recent four albums — the crowd seemed to enjoy the concert as much as I did, and although it was difficult to see from the outfield where we were standing, it looked as if most people stayed until almost the very end. (Why anyone leaves before the encore, I’ll never know. Dylan by now famously leaves “Like A Rolling Stone” and “All Along The Watchtower” for the additional set.)
I can’t believe it’s over. It was an excellent concert, made all the better for having someone to go with this year. Now, I have only to set the timer and wait in anticipation for next year’s Dylan tour schedule.
Until then, I’ll have to be content to continue listening to Together Through Life and revisit Modern Times, Love & Theft, Time Out of Mind, or, as I did on the long ride home through traffic, the Bootleg Series recording of the 1966 Royal Albert Hall electric set with Dylan and the Band (my favorite concert recording of all time)!
Hello and welcome to my first traditional “video and a post” Laptop Session in weeks! For the past few posts, I’ve opted to write reviews, but now its back to Beatles cover songs for me! This was actually a lot of fun, but I don’t get to write as directly and personally as I do in a post like this one. Thus, I’m back with a guitar, recording my first cover song music video since “God’s Gonna Cut You Down.” Let’s just say it’s good to be “back”!
You’ve probably already noticed that the Laptop Sessions main page has suddenly been filled with “chords & lyrics” posts. Let me start by explaining these four new additions to the blog.
First, the Beatles chords (for “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away”) are obviously meant to accompany this post. If you enjoy it, then by all means, jump in and start playing it yourself. Actually, you might want to read the rest of my post before you break out your axe…
So, why the added chords and lyrics?
Well, I’ve been itching to record a cover version of a track from the new Pearl Jam album Backspacer ever since I started listening to it last Sunday. Specifically, there are two largely acoustic tracks that are very easily translatable into acoustic music videos — namely, “Just Breathe” and “The End.” The first single, “The Fixer,” is more of a full-band, harder rock affair, but its structure is fairly simple and it is truly a great deal of fun to sing. I’m still deciding which song to record for my session (anyone care to hazard a guess before next week?).
Now, normally I would wait until next Monday to post the chords, but I’ve been learning/practicing all three and going out of my mind attempting to comprehend how anyone could post the chords and lyrics without having even the slightest idea as to what the correct words are. This, in fact, is one of the most profoundly aggravating aspects of the decline of CD’s, at least in my mind — people who download digitally do not necessarily get a booklet, and even if they do, do not necessarily take the time to read the liner notes and lyrics. Has music really become that abundant and easily accessible that we couldn’t care less what the singer is actually saying, or what the album as a whole is actually about? This is the feeling I get when I surf the web for chords and lyrics.
This is also why I enjoy spending time in CD stores like Newbury Comics or — as I visited today — Exile on Main Street. It’s a good feeling to see albums that you had forgotten about, never actually seen in person, or perhaps never even heard of before. I left today with my hands covered in a thin layer of dust, having purchased an album that had collected a considerable amount of that aforementioned dust — the Charlie Sexton Sextet’s Under the Wishing Tree. (Sexton played with Dylan for a few years, left the band a while back, and just recently rejoined — he was perhaps my favorite guitarist that I’ve seen in Dylan’s band, so I had to check it out. More to come after I’ve listened more closely to the album…)
After all this posting, I suppose I should actually take a few moments to address the video you’re about to watch…
Following Jeff’s excellent rendition of “Yesterday” last Thumpin’ Thursday, I decided I couldn’t let the Beatles marathon slip away on my watch. I had been planning to record a Pearl Jam song (as I mentioned earlier), so I opted instead to record a Beatles song that had been sung by Eddie Vedder in a cover version a few years back. “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away” is the third track from the Beatles’ excellent 1965 album Help! — Nicole’s favorite Beatles album. Thankfully, I was able to borrow her copy of the 2009 remastered version of Help! and ensure that I was more than prepared to record this great song.
The video that follows is a perfect example of what seems like a short, simple song but is in actuality a little gem. To me, this song exemplifies how the Beatles really aren’t overrated — even with a simple verse-verse-chorus-repeat-fade song, Lennon and McCartney had to throw in some interesting chords and variations. It’s not simply G or C that you’re hearing — instead, my underworked and not-so-dexterous pinky finger was called into play to make the song sound entirely accurate. Even as I type, my hand is still recovering from the workout! Overall, I’m very pleased with how the recording came out, even if my lips ended up a bit dry and thus led to a few flubs during my “vocal flute” solo at the outro. I hope you can forgive the slight inaccuracies and enjoy this great Lennon/McCartney classic!
Oh, as a quick “P.S.,” I should mention that my review of the 2009 remaster of Let It Be really will be coming eventually. My internet was a bit screwy last week and I lost all my progress, so I put it aside temporarily.
It’s been a great Yom Kippur (see my Twitter posts above), and although it’s back to school for me tomorrow, I still have another surprise up my sleeve for later this week. That is, if my internet connection can hold steady…