Dylan & the Grateful Dead

Friday, February 29, 2008

Revolution in The Air 2-27-08




REVOLUTION IN THE AIR
PART TWO: TALES OF A COWBOY BAND IN MEXICO CITY 

One of the goals of my three day trip to Mexico City was to avoid a nasty stomach illness. I did well, in large part due to the Manhattan Deli.I feasted on turkeys slices and lox. Prior to Dylan's second performance, I was enjoying multiple margaritas (two for one happy hour), until I noticed a disturbance outside. Across the divide of the main road that cuts through the business district of the city, I noticed a sizeable gathering of protesters waving red flags. Their leader’s face was covered with a black scarf as he stood on top of a van with a mega phone barking out orders in Spanish. And the roar of thousands of rebels filled the air in response to the Big Cheese. I only know about ten words in Spanish, so this scene was a little unsettling.

Two dozen Policia in full riot gear were about 7 yards northwest of the entrance to the Manhattan Deli. They were crouched behind a 25 foot fence/ barricade, ready for action and retaliation. Maybe I should mention that the deli is located to the left of the American Embassy which is fortified with multiple fences and barricades, but with the right trajectory, a Molotov cocktail could have pierced through the front plate glass window sending employees, business executives, and one cat that was there just to see a Cowboy Band into a mad scramble for survival. For a few minutes, I felt like I was experiencing the movie Masked & Anonymous in real time. The margaritas eased my head and eventually the rebels peacefully paraded down the road due south. I paraded up the road north to the Auditorio Nacional to see the star of Masked & Anonymous, Jack Fate aka Bob Dylan.

Dylan sang love's praises during the three opening numbers before thrilling me with “Love Sick.” “I’m sick of love,” bam bang,”I wish I never met you,” bam/ bang, “I’m sick of love,” bam bang, “I’m trying to forget you.” Other highlights included “Rolled and Tumbled,” “My Back Pages,” “Ain’t Talkin,” “Like a Rolling Stone” and “Thunder on the Mountain.” Rolling Stone and Thunder were tour de force – pure ecstasy for Mexico. The venue was half filled on the second night which was fantastic for me. I freely roamed around enjoying the show from up close and personal vantage points. Dylan delivered another inspired performance in spite of the lackluster turnout.

That opening night was Something. Full color photos graced the front pages of two Mexico City daily newspapers. In bold letters, the Reforma proclaimed: Gracias Dylan! The crowds on both nights seemed genuinely thrilled with Dylan’s outings. Between scaling a pyramid, walking on historic sites, being in the thick of an almost violent protest and seeing two more great Dylan concerts, it was a helluva 48 hour rendezvous. Oh yeah, on Wednesday, I saw rhythm guitarist Stu Kimball (black porkpie hat and cranberry blazer) getting an afternoon shoeshine in front of the Sheraton Hotel. I smiled and waved to him, and he said, “Hey, what’s up man.” I was going to strike up a conversation with him, but I figured it was best not to disturb a giant while he's getting a shoeshine. There’s a heartwarming end for this final installment of Tales of Mexico City 2008.


Tangled Up in Tunes: Ballad of a Dylanhead is available in paperback and Kindle at www.tangledupintunes.com


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Modern Times In Ancient Land


MODERN TIMES IN ACIENT LAND:
Tales From Mexico City 2008

It was a day only the Lord and Dylan could make. I had an action-packed 12 hours: climbed to the top of the Pyramid of the Sun – part of the colossal remnants from the archeological city of Teotihuacan dating back 2,000 years, stepped inside churches built in Mexico City during the early 16th Century, and saw a Cowboy Band ransack the most populated city in North America located in the gut of Mexico.
I purchased an inexpensive ticket for 275 pesos (about $25) for this performance at the Auditorio Nacional. My frugality landed me a less than desirable seat in the rafters and my second monumental climb of the day. I realized the folly of my ways and went to the hospitality desk to ask if I could upgrade my ticket. I knew this 14,000 seat venue didn’t sell out. A lovely Mexican maiden who spoke good English surrendered to my charms and handed me a third row, dead center ticket in the lower balcony for free. Dylan sounded great on guitar and vocals on a well executed “Raniny Day Women #12 + 35” and “It Ain’t Me Babe” opening.

All early reports about how tight the band has been this tour were validated with a resounding “Watching the River Flow.” That song seems to capture the pulse of the people of Mexico City. Maybe it was because my bewildered brain baked in the sun all day, but the ensuing “Masters of War” had me thinking about Mexican history. The United States has been the reigning Mater of War since its birth, but Mexico has experienced the ravages of war more than any other place in our hemisphere. Dylan led the charge perched behind his beloved keys; Austin’s Denny Freeman played some dazzling guitar solos.

Dylan was wearing a suit of black and a white top hat with a touch of grey, his Cowboy Band was in matching grey suits and black hats. Dylan popped the cork on a lethal “When the Levee Breaks.” “Some people on the road carrying everything that they own/ Some people got barely enough skin to cover their bones/ Put on your cat clothes mama put on your evening dress,” exalted the maestro. As our fearless leader provoked the third blitzing instrumental with some chunky organ riffs, he yelled, “Oh!” The Cowboy Band was led by the plucking of the Denny/Donnie combo, and the restless thumping of Garnier and Recile. Dylan ended matters by howling, “This is a day only the Lord, only the Lord can make!” Checkmate.

A reality check followed in a well received, yet anticlimactic “Spirit on the Water.” "Things Have Changed" was a powder charge throwing the evening back into spin cycle. “When the Deal Goes Down” and “High Water” were of the highest quality, and continued a symmetrical ballad/ rocker flow to the show. When Dylan sang, “The shacks are sliding down,” I thought of the all those poverty shacks piled on top of each other in the foothills surrounding Mexico City. It’s also noteworthy that the five songs just mentioned were the core of the show and they are all recent Dylan creations.

“Stuck Inside of Mobile” was bland and blunt. “Workingman’s Blues” was pure bliss, especially for those like me who enjoy rice and beans and Mexico City Blues, as Dylan sang like a bird on the horizon and Freeman whipped up another distinctive solo. “Highway 61 Revisited was extra vicious and elicited an enthusiastic standing ovation from the crowd. It reminded me of my tour guide during the day, Manuel. He’s a large native with an equally huge presence and white sombrero – a man of wisdom, though he spoke few words. Manuel was gunning our red van down from the pyramids toward Mexico City on Highway 85 at a 110 MPH clip. Highway 85 cuts through the heart of Mexico, east to west like Highway 61 slices through heartland of America, north to south.

After “Highway 61,” I heard a weird chant behind me, “Dill –awn, Dill –awn,” it took me a few moments to realize they were chanting for his Bobness. The Cowboy Band anthem, “Nettie Moore” followed. Hearing this and Workingman's Blues in the same show gave me chills. “Summer Days” was truncated. Dylan ended the set with his first "Like a Rolling Stone."  Dylan sang the often skipped verse, “You gone to the finest school alright miss lonely but you only used to get juiced in it."
“Thunder on the Mountain was a pure rush of adrenaline…best version… Mexico City was shaking. A nice harp solo introduced a fine “Blowin in the Wind” conclusion. There was a post-concert mob scene. At least 100 vendors were selling all sorts of Dylan merchandise: pens, stickers, shirts, posters, coffee mugs, shot glasses, etc. I picked up a few Never Ending Tour pens. Attention shoppers: clearance sale after tonight’s show.

Rest was hard to come by last night; I drifted in and out of strange dream sleep for a couple of hours. I felt like I had sucked the milk out of 1,000 cows, in one day. The mattress in my hotel room is like Formica. I would have rolled on to the floor, but this rug hasn’t been shampooed in half a century. It’s back to the nitty-gritty tonight, I’ll be tenth row.

More on the Mexico City journey in Chapter 20 of Tangled Up in Tunes: Ballad of a Dylanhead available in paperback and Kindle at www.tangledupintunes.com

Monday, February 4, 2008

VISIONS OF ELI


The Prodigal Son

Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found…THE BIBLE…ELI MANNING 2008…I’m beginning to believe what the scriptures tell.
Giants 17-14

Jason Tuck you can’t stop him, you can only hope to contain him.

That third and ten from Eli to Tyree is the greatest play in American sports history.

Eli Manning …Super Bowl MVP

I’d like to “Pat” myself on the back. I predicted greatness for Manning when he was at his lowest point here on VOD… http://visionsofdylan.blogspot.com/2007/01/xmas-eve-with-eli12-24-06.html

A lot of people can say they believed in Eli, only I can prove it.

NewEngland 18-1, very very sad, ladies and gentlemen, very sad. Long Live the 1972 Dolphins!
The revenge factor is amazing. The Giants lost to the Patriots, Packers, and Cowboys (twice) during the season.


The Giants were the worst team in the NFL after week 2. Coughlin should have been fired. The New York Football GIANTS went on to win 11 straight road games - a feat that will never be duplicated.