Saturday, October 13, 2007

It's Alright

Last night I got the chance to hear, in my very own hometown, one of the creators of the soundtrack of my life: Bob Dylan. I've see him live a couple of times in the past -- once in Boston in the late eighties when, I think, he played with the Indigo Girls in a ginormous outdoor venue akin to Pine Knob, and once in at a music festival in midtown Atlanta in the mid-1990s when he was pretty messed up and couldn't finish the set. Last night was waaaaaaay better than either of those.

It ain't no use to sit and wonder why, babe
It don't matter, anyhow
An' it ain't no use to sit and wonder why, babe
If you don't know by now
When your rooster crows at the break of dawn
Look out your window and I'll be gone
You're the reason I'm trav'lin' on
Don't think twice, it's alright

I've been off the big shows for the last many years -- feeling like I wasn't getting as much out of them as I was paying in time and money to go. That this was Bob Dylan, that Elvis Costello was opening for him, and that I could bike to it, however, prompted me to get a ticket. While I knew many, many people there, I actually wasn't sitting with any of them. I liked that -- I went into zone-y music headspace immediately and had a lovely time not commuicating with anyone.

It ain't no use in turnin' on your light, babe
That light I never knowed
An' it ain't no use in turnin' on your light, babe
I'm on the dark side of the road
Still I wish there was somethin' you would do or say
To try and make me change my mind and stay
We never did too much talkin' anyway
So don't think twice, it's alright

Dylan was very much the Dylan of his latest album, Modern Times, all gravel-voiced and dapper in his suit and hat, but he started with olde tunes and then punctuated the new music with the old throughout.

It ain't no use in callin' out my name, gal
Like you never did before
It ain't no use in callin' out my name, gal
I can't hear you any more
I'm a-thinkin' and a-wond'rin' all the way down the road
I once loved a woman, a child I'm told
I give her my heart but she wanted my soul
But don't think twice, it's alright

He charmed me with the choice of his second song, a long-time favorite, Don't Think Twice It's Alright. The first time I heard -- or at least noticed -- this song was around a campfire at the welcome camp of a Rainbow gathering in Quebec. Like so many Dylan tunes, it was probably a couple of years later -- long after I had learned the song (I played a bit o' guitar back then) --that I ever heard Dylan's version. Something about the bittersweet tone of the lyrics and the pithy wording of attempts to reclaim personal power at the end of each verse have always drawn me in -- whoever was singing it.

I'm walkin' down that long, lonesome road, babe
Where I'm bound, I can't tell
But goodbye's too good a word, gal
So I'll just say fare thee well
I ain't sayin' you treated me unkind
You could have done better but I don't mind
You just kinda wasted my precious time
But don't think twice, it's all right

Last night he changed the phrasing -- rushing the lines ahead of the music -- and the band put a funny little up tempo end on it. I liked it all. Not so much for that particular rendition but more because it felt like he respected the music of his past -- music that is also a part of my past, too. I could hear the other folks around me twitch with excitement over Memphis Blues, Watchtower, and Masters of War, but for me, it was this song that settled me in and made me think, "I'm glad I'm here."


Andre said...

I'm glad you had a good time. I enjoyed it too, but many didn't.

Zoe the Wonder Dog said...

really? Well, then, another advantage of sitting alone and skipping the after-party. I didn't have to listen to anyone bitch about it!

Tierra the earth mama said...

I enjoyed it mostly, but I have to admit- I had moments where I was less than enthused!