When Bob Dylan released his first album on Columbia Records in 1962, the world heard a new profound and prophetic voice. This man from Duluth Minnesota would sing tunes like "Man Of Constant Sorrow" and "Pretty Peggy-O" and he would preach like an Old Testament prophet with songs like" "Masters Of War."
Bob Dylan has arguably been one of the major influences in American music in the twentieth and twenty-first century. His influence has been felt with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton , Joan Baez. His work has embraced poetry and social and political revolution. He has always been an artist who is dedicated to reinventing himself.
One only has to look at his body of work and see the many metamorphoses that have taken place from albums like " Bringing It All Back Home " to " Blonde On Blonde " To " Planet Waves " " Blood On The Tracks " to the more recent powerhouse of releases such as " Time Out Of Mind ", " Love And Theft" , "Modern Times ", " Together Through Life " and " Tempest. "
Bob Dylan has also grown as a musician through his work and collaboration with The Band, The Grateful Dead, The Traveling Wilburys with the late George Harrison, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty, as well as with Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers.
Throughout all of these incarnations it has been fascinating to observe Bob Dylan develop as an artist. His show May 7 2015 at the Majestic Theatre in San Antonio, TX was the last performance on his current Spring Tour.
It was a spectacular show that clocked in just under two and a half hours including intermission. Dylan's band features wonderfully talented musicians such as guitarist Charlie Sexton and pedal steel guitar player Donnie Herron. Dylan is always full of surprises and this show featured him singing and splitting his time between playing piano and harmonica. This was the first time that I have seen Bob Dylan not play guitar.
Dressed in a sombrero and a blue suit striped with gold, Dylan and his band launched into a program of two sets of music, twenty songs in total including encores. There were plenty of offerings from " Tempest " including "Duquesne Whistle, " " Long And Wasted Years," " Scarlet Town ", "Soon After Midnight " and " Early Roman Kings. " Dylan also added gems from " Blood On The Tracks " including "Tangled Up In Blue " and "Simple Twist Of Fate " and a beautiful version of "Blowing' In The Wind."
What is also remarkable is that Bob Dylan is committed to reworking these songs when they are performed live so that the versions are markedly different from the original recordings. Like The Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan has been a firm believer in the premise " we play it different every time. "
The energy at the show was infectious. You could tell that Bob Dylan and his band were having a terrific time playing. The whole stage setting visually reminded you of a Mexicali flea market. The band delivered most of the songs in a gutsy rhythm and blues format with some departures to jazz particularly with " Spirit On The Water." The interplay of piano and pedal steel guitar and violin, banjo and upright bass was most effective.
Dylan at one point appeared to be strutting around and posturing, sort of like Mick Jagger, obviously enjoying how the audience was receiving the music.
Bob Dylan sang
"Take down my harp,
Tune up my strings;
Going to break it wide open
Like the Early Roman Kings. "
Bob Dylan certainly did " break it wide open " at his show in San Antonio, TX.
As with all great artists, it will be intriguing to see what Bob Dylan does in his next incarnation.
I'm sure that it will be a surprise and that we won't be disappointed.