Sunday, July 28, 2013

Anatomy of a Pilgrimage in Hoboken

My latest  Dylan pilgrimage began in The Bronx with a trip to Woodlawn Cemetery. As I was standing beneath the shade of the  tree hovering over Duke Ellington’s grave, I stared at the resting place of Miles Davis.  Up on the hill, I saw the tombstones of two jazz legends who played with Miles in the ‘50s: Jackie Mclean, Max Roach.  On this brilliant summer afternoon, I stood there with Miles and Sir Duke while listening to In A Silent Way in its entirety.   I then jumped on the 4 Train,  and transferred to the  2 Train to meet up with my accountant and dentist at Tobacco Road in Hell’s Kitchen. After chilin’ and jokin’, we went  to see Dylan in Hoboken.
In a Hoboken parking garage, we tailgated to Tempest, prior to enjoying cocktails at an outdoor bar on Sinatra Drive. I had planned on being inside the show for Morning Jacket and Wilco, but we got caught up watching the beautiful people of Hoboken parading around on Friday night. Anyway, we could hear the bands pretty good right where we were, and we were duly impressed. At 9 PM I made my move to buy a ticket. The first person I asked about an extra ticket handed me a freebie. Ask and you shall receive.
“Love Sick” sounded hot, but the  sound system wasn’t very powerful, and lots of Yuppies were chirping and chattering. The view of Manhattan from the Pier is spectacular.  I worked my way closer to the sound system and Dylan. I bumped into some acquaintances and noticed Charlie Sexton was back on lead guitar tonight. There hasn’t been  this kind of shuffling in Dylan’s band since the G.E. Smith replacement tryouts of 1990. The Tempest songs sounded fabulous, as expected, and “Tangled Up in Blue was one of the best versions I’ve seen in a long time. Dylan had an interesting, high pitched vocal inflection on every word that rhymed with Blue---youuuuuu…shoeeeee….
Dylan’s set lists have been stagnant the last few times I’ve seen him, but, how can I not love seeing
“A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna  Fall,” Blind Willie Mc Tell,” and “Simple Twist of Fate” in succession?  Bob’s harp playing was simple and tasteful throughout. His solos on Blind Willie were absolutely hypnotic. “Summer Days” featured a sophisticated jam with twists, turns, and detours. Dylan stirred the stew, but by design, he never brought it to boil. For the first time, in about my last forty or fifty shows, there was no “Thunder on the Mountain.” I missed it, that rocker had become the instrumental highlight of Bob’s sets. 

Hearing “The Weight” was quite a thrill. The Dylan handled the first verse and I sweat he did sing great, before deferring the other verses to his on stage guests. Watchtower and Thin Man  finished off another memorable night  with Dylan, a night mostly spent shuffling on the grass by the pier with the Manhattan Skyline as the backdrop. After the show , my accountant drove us to Chinatown. At 2PM there was a line to get into Wo Hop’s. We waited anxiously until we devoured our feast.  I’ve been rolling with Dylan’s Never Ending Tour for the past twenty-five years, and he always delivers the inspiration. The train keeps a-rollin’. Here’s to the next twenty-five!


  In honor of the anniversary of Music Mountain, here’s chapter two from my latest work, The Grateful Pilgrimage: Time Travel with the Dea...