An excerpt from Chapter 16 of Tangled Up in Tunes
A thousand die-hard Dylanheads had a sing-along with Bob during the second tune, “You Ain’t Going Nowhere.” If you didn’t dig Dylan, you were on your way home or headed for the exit. The rest of us were in for an enchanted evening. Dylan slid into a playful “Just Like a Woman.” The precipitation intensified as he yelled, “Nobody feels any pain tonight as I stand inside the rain.” On August, 27, 2006, the Lord said, “Let it rain on that tiny ballpark in New Hampshire.” And so it rained—a relentless downpour, similar to the ending of Grapes of Wrath.
Dylan loves the slop. He could have written the night off as a lost cause and shortened the show, saving his best tunes for another gig with a bigger crowd. However, Dylan felt a kinship with these New Englanders. Dylan performed as if he wanted to put on a poncho and serenade us from the pitcher’s mound. It was a soggy fantasy camp.
Another plane took off from Manchester airport and sailed through the clouds, fifty feet above the stage. Dylan howled, “Where have you been, my blue-eyed son? Where have you been, my darling young one?” Phil, Rich and I moved closer to the stage. There may have been 1,000 fans left to hear “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.” Standing in the pelting rain, we were invigorated. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes “Hard Rain” is just hard rain.
“Highway 61 Revisited” left burn marks. “Tangled Up in Blue” was better than any version I’d heard since 1998. Almost every night we get “Like a Rolling Stone,” but Bob was more deliberate with it on this night. Denny Freeman kicked out a great solo. The band was in no hurry to leave. They may never play in front of such loyalists again.
If you were Bob Dylan, how would you say goodnight? Dylan started off with his usual routine, taking bows with his ten-gallon hat in hand and his Cowboy Band stoically lined-up behind him. Suddenly, Dylan reached into his hat and grabbed a fistful of a mystery dust and soft-tossed it at the crowd, as if he was performing a baptism. Johnny Appleseed strikes again!
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