Dylan’s performance showcases epic career
The broad sweep of time was on display when Bob Dylan performed Sunday night at Jazz Aspen’s Labor Day concert. The audience, almost certainly the largest crowd for a music event in Aspen history, left out no age group: plenty of teenagers joined the 20- and 30-something jam-band fans and baby boomers who likely saw Dylan in the ?60s in pushing toward the stage. As I boarded the bus after the two-hour show, a group of 60-somethings behind me was enthusiastically critiquing the concert; the gentleman of the group was giving me tips for taking pictures of and taping Dylan’s performance.The musical highlights came from throughout Dylan’s career. The most powerful moment was the rocking take on “Summer Days,” an upbeat tune from Dylan’s 2001 album, “Love and Theft.” The set included two more songs ? “Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum” and “Lonesome Day Blues” ? from “Love and Theft.”But Dylan also reached as far back as his pre-rock ?n? roll days, pulling out the folk anthem “Blowin’ in the Wind” as part of the three-song encore. “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)” and “Masters of War” also came from the days when Dylan was categorized as a protest singer. And Dylan reached even further back, plucking a pair of tunes ? “Duncan and Brady” and the ominous “This World Can’t Stand Long” ? from the old folk tradition.Four songs were plucked from the days in the mid-?60s when Dylan was helping to change the world. “Subterranean Homesick Blues” was the rap-like song that opened 1965’s “Bringing It All Back Home,” the album where Dylan broke with his folk roots for a more surreal place. Dylan also sang “Mr. Tambourine Man,” the song which, as covered by the Byrds, introduced Dylan to the rock world. “Like a Rolling Stone,” performed as the first encore, was the opening tune to “Highway 61 Revisited” ? Dylan’s other 1965 masterpiece ? and signaled Dylan’s move into electrified rock. “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” (best known for its chorus of “Everybody must get stoned”), which closed the set, was the first track on Dylan’s stunning 1966 album, “Blonde on Blonde.”Dylan also briefly visited his country catalog (“I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight”), his work with The Band (a grooving version of “Quinn, the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)”) and his 1975 album “Blood on the Tracks” ? with a crowd-pleasing take on his hit “Tangled Up in Blue.”In his first-ever Aspen appearance, Dylan offered up, as he does most every night, an energized look back at his four-decade career. Dylan’s enthusiasm and his affection for his band ? including the two impressive guitar players, Larry Campbell and Charlie Sexton ? made for a memorable performance.As content as Dylan seemed on stage, and as happy as he was to dig into his past for songs, his words offered an often chilling look at the future. The show included “This World Can’t Stand Long,” with its ominous lyric about hatred inevitably bringing humanity down. Along with selections like “Masters of War,” “It’s Alright Ma” and “All Along the Watchtower,” which closed the show, “This World Can’t Stand Long” unveiled a dim view of the prospects for mankind.[Stewart Oksenhorn’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org]
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