Since June 4th, I've enjoyed reading other people's reviews of Bob Dylan's current tour, with Mavis Staples. The tour was announced back in March to much happy anticipation from people who've enjoyed hearing the two performers for 50 years, and newcomers in the mood for a double shot of legend. Dylan groups on Facebook and elsewhere have posted photographs from the shows as the musicians wend their way down the West Coast, and Mavis herself put up a delightful video clip before their first show at the Greek Theater in Berkeley:
"Hello, it's us, the band, the family band, and we're in -- [she pauses to be reminded, and giggles] Berkeley, yeah, Berkeley, California. And we're about to enter backstage, the Greek Th, Grrrreeeeek Theater [in English accent], and oh, we're gonna have a good time, y'all, yeah, we're gonna have a -- Greek Theater [in Southern accent, giggling] And we're opening tonight for Mr. Dylan, y'know, and, Bobby, y'know.... [breaks into "Me and Bobby McGee"]."
On the second night of the two-night Dylan/Staples stand at the Greek, a couple I've never met attended the show. Writer Joyce Maynard and lawyer Jim Barringer married in the summer of 2013. In November 2014, Barringer was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Maynard has written with precision, passion and positive energy about their life together since, and about Barringer's love of music -- he's a bass player.
Levon Helm was fond of saying that, when something was wrong and you were hurting, the best thing to do was listen to music. He's quoted as having said "rub a little music on it" and "pour some music on it" -- either way, you'll feel better.
I'll be writing about the Dylan tour when it swings east, and he visits the one-time hostile fields of Forest Hills, Queens, once again. For today, though, I would like to share Joyce Maynard's public essay about the night her husband Jim Barringer took her to hear Bob Dylan. It is a concert review you will always, always remember.
And I am so sorry to update this article on the 16th of June, 2016. Joyce has just announced the news of Jim's passing.