Column

Best I've Ever Seen

Talking with artists about concerts they'll never forget

Gary Stoller is an award-winning editor, author, and journalist. He's written for USA TODAY and loves Bob Dylan and Blue Rodeo.

Best I've Ever Seen

Talking with artists about concerts they'll never forget

Gary Stoller is an award-winning editor, author, and journalist. He's written for USA TODAY and loves Bob Dylan and Blue Rodeo.

Reliving the Tour that Had People Giving Away their Dylan Tickets

Artist Bob Dylan

Thanks for this against-the-grain take on Dylan. I've never been close to being a Christian, and didn't particularly like Dylan's music of this period, but I cut him some slack. If you get Dylan at all, as the artist he above all is, and thus appreciate his greatness, you really have no choice but to listen with an open mind and a receptive heart to everything he does. 

I saw something a few weeks ago I never thought I’d see – a great Bob Dylan show.   I think I finally realized that Bob is as much of a “performance artist” as an artist and my wife and I had a great time.   We played Name that Tune to see who could figure out the song first.   He was also as funny as any comedian I’ve seen in the last few years especially when he brought the microphone stand from behind him and leaned when he “crooned” the songs Sinatra and Tony Bennett made famous.   

He had 4 mics set up front of the stage that were never used yet when he got up from behind his piano he went back by the drummer and bassist to sing.   Even Mavis Staples, the opener, made fun of him doing that.   

The drummer and the whole band (including the amazing Charlie Sexton and Tony Garnier) were all focused on Bob (FACING Bob!) and I realized that we weren’t there to see Dylan.   The band and the crowd where there to service Dylan and act as his props.   The self professed “song and dance” man was doing his shtick.   Dylan is a genius and I’m ok with that.    An “a**hole” genius as Ian Tyson called him in one of Gary’s earlier columns.    

It comes down to if you love the way Dylan rearranges his own songs, you’ll love the set.   The band is hot and his phrasing is as good as Sinatra.   After seeing Bob over half a dozen times, I finally saw one where everything clicked for me.

Chatty Bob during the Christian era?   He was probably laughing at everyone who he upset back then as well.     Christian, standards, a Christmas album?!?   Who will Mr. Zimmerman try to piss off next?   I'll be listening.