Uncut Editor's Diary
Even More Thoughts On The Never-Ending Tour
Thanks to everyone who wrote in to identify the clip of Dylan playing “Mr Tambourine Man” that I posted.
Seems by general agreement that it’s footage from the discarded first version of the Hard Rain ABC TV special, and filmed in Clearwater, Florida in April 1976. If anyone finds any more clips from the show, please let me know.
Meanwhile, I’ve had an interesting email from Russ in Shooters Hill about Dylan’s continual re-working of his material to keep his songs alive, who writes to say that my description of Bob never playing the same song the same way twice reminded her of The Grateful Dead and their relentless explorations of their classic songs in concert.
Dylan himself acknowledges a huge debt to the Dead in Chronicles. Bob went on tour with the Dead in 1987, to a mixed reaction from critics and fans. The Dylan & The Dead album was almost universally panned – although I love the version of “Queen Jane Approximately”, which Elvis Costello, an unlikely but passionate Dead fan, actually pointed out to me as a lost gem – but Dylan gives a lot of credit to Jerry Garcia, especially, for reviving his fading interest in music, rekindling a spluttering fire, making him realise he hadn’t lost entirely his love for the songs he’d written to him that recently had seemed like strangers to him.
Russ also mentions the Dead’s “Friend Of The Devil”, a song that originally appeared on American Beauty as a “Band-like folky breeze” that by the late Seventies they were playing as a reggae strut!
Bob for years featured this in his set – the best example being the bluegrass version on the Uptown Theatre, Kansas City live bootleg from 2002, a concert that also featured covers of Neil Young’s “Old Man” and Warren Zevon’s “Boom Boom Mancini” and “Lawyers, Guns And Money” (Bob was a big Warren fan, if you didn’t know, and took the title of Time Out Of Mind from Warren’s early classic “Accidentally Like A Martyr)”.
Here’s a YouTube link, if you’re interested, to Bob with the Dead, playing “Queen Jane” on the ill-starred ’87 tour: