Tuesday, March 22, 2005


Hey Soul Mates and Sports Fans,
Non-musical note (ha).
I, for one, will not be disappointed if Barry Bonds doesn't break Babe Ruth's homerun mark, let alone Hank Aaron's record. I've seen Barry play a dozen times. Watched him crush a few homers at Chavez Ravine against my beloved Dodgers. Not sour grapes in terms of the rivalry. Just that Hammerin' Hank really had to maintain and focus to break Ruth's record; amidst death threats, no less. Bonds just hasn't earned the level of respect that Henry Aaron commands to this day. Poor Barry's caught up in his own legend, the steroid scandal and the shadow of his godfather, Willie Mays. But that's not sympathy from me you hear. Any one who knows me, knows I love witnessing history in person or on TV. This is one time, I'm rooting for the record to remain unbroken. I'm a pitching purist anyway. I would rather see one last 30 win season from a pitcher.

Love, Power, Peace, Play Ball!

The Bob Dylan Show

Hey Soul Mates,
Finally. After years of listening to the CDs, seeing the parodies and hearing the tales, I got to witness the Bob Dylan Show. It was rock and roll as imagined by David Lynch: all twilight, strange moods and deep primary colors. The curtain rose to reveal Dylan & Co. in matching western outfits, complete with cowboy hats. The band in rebel gray, Bob in black. Evocative of the Byrds and the Grand Ole Opry in one pass. Patchouli wafted out over the audience, an incongruous smell with the Western theme of the tour. The gig was at the Pantages, easily the most beautiful interior of all LA's old landmarks. Behind the band was a heavy red curtain, which slowly opened to reveal a starlit backdrop.

It was a masterclass of music appreciation. Of course, Dylan huffed and whined his way through the lyrics. Never again will I feel bad about mumbling or missing a line or making it up on the spot. America's greatest poet has been reduced, reduced himself, to a hustler of words. Almost inscrutable. The first obvious line I made out last night was "Don't criticize what you can't understand." Even after all these years, haters go to Dylan shows to complain about his incomprehensible, parodic performance. Deal with it. I got a lot out of it. It helps to know the material and accept that melody is not important to his performance.

I felt fortunate and a little self-satisfied that I recognized everything Dylan played til he pulled out a cover during the encore. I went in expecting to know 5 or 6 songs and understand half of that. It was a brief set 50 minutes or so. But the band maximized the time. My favorite moment was hearing Highway 61 Revisited. That song rocked. And I actually enjoy the material from Love & Theft, Dylan's latest. The songs off that record were well done too, especially Moonlight and Honest With Me. Dylan even played his Victoria's Secret number Love Sick.

The band was a crack outfit. They rocked and rolled. It was a 6 piece with 2 guitarists (one of whom doubled on pedal steel, mandolin, etc), drummer, fiddler and bassist. Bob himself stood behind an upright piano, hunching like a vulture over his mic. Every once in a while, he would emerge and gingerly walk tip-toe to the drummer. He'd check his hair and collar, without acknowledging his audience and bounce back to the piano.

Before the show's finale Bob actually spoke "Thank you, friends. I'd like to introduce the band..." And that was all he said that wasn't in song. The Bob Dylan Show went out with All Along The Watchtower. The power of the band rivaled the Jimi Hendrix Experience's apocalyptic cover version. And with that the group lined up to accept their standing ovation and shuffled off stage.

Over the course of the last 2 months, I picked up Dylan's latest records and dusted off the older material. I had forgotten how much I liked his work when I was in college. Stuck Inside of Mobile, Gates of Eden, Frankie Lee and Judas Priest... Wow. Wow. It was very cool to hear him play material from John Wesley Harding, Nashville Skyline and Highway 61 Revisited. If I had to recommend one Dylan disc for the unwashed it would be Highway.

Here's the complete setlist courtesy BobDylan.com

Los Angeles, California
Pantages Theatre
March 21, 2005
Drifter's Escape
The Times They Are A-Changin'
Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum
Just Like A Woman
High Water (For Charley Patton)
Down Along The Cove
Highway 61 Revisited
Love Sick
Honest With Me
Girl Of The North Country
Summer Days

Sing Me Back Home (written by Merle Haggard)
All Along The Watchtower

The opening acts were newcomer Amos Lee and country legend Merle Haggard. Merle's set was a gas. Too bad we were sitting in a swank theatre. His music makes you want to get up and dance: slow or swing. Merle's set started with Big City (my personal fave). He was reunited with his old band, the Strangers. In a very cute move, when it came time to introduce the group, they shook each other's hands. Merle ended the set with two recent songs dealing with the current war and the administration. Hint, he ain't a fan. But it wasn't bombastic. Just solid writing, asking the hard questions and pointing out that the emperor's got no clothes.

Gotta run... like wild dogs.
Love, Power, Peace