Steve Sherry's The Vagabonds of '74

Dylan At Madison Square Garden

Early '74 Montclair, New Jersey, Alf a most unusual friend
Cedar Grove, New Jersey my little town....Miss Munches House, Newberry's, Cedar Grove Pool
Hitchhiking To Albuquerque 1972, The Commune and Krishnamurti, University of New Mexico
Seeing Badfinger At Carnegie Hall, The Dugout, McSorely's Ale House
Seeing Bob Dylan, "The Poet Lad" At Madison Square Garden
South End Pizzeria, Van Gogh and Plans for California
Jersey Shore Recollections, Summer of '71. St. Louis, The Gateway of the West, The Road to Colorado
Rocky Mountain Panorama, Problems with the Pinto, Ritchfield Utah???
California! Lennon's Lost Weekend, Venice Beach, Malibu
Pacific Coast Highway, Panoramic Visions and the Magic Carpet Ride To Santa Barbara
San Francisco, The Shelter, The Warf and the Hole in the Wall Hotel
Sacramento, Jumping A Train? Wierd But True, The Shock of My Life
Oblivion, Reno, Good Samaritans and The Ghosts of Woody Guthrie, James Dean and Tom Joad
A Night In The Can in Kansas
University of Kansas at Lawrence and The Doobie Brothers
True Meditation Foundation of Human Understanding, "How Your Mind Can Keep You Well"
Vagabonds of '74 Part 2: Old Friend Ollie, Meeting Veronica, The Suburban in Montclair
BOSTON, The Leap of Faith and A Night in a Shelter
Sleeping in a Newspaper Truck, Cambridge Hippies and No Turning Back
Squatter's Rights: 269 BROADWAY, Furnishing Our Hippie Pad
269 BROADWAY becomes Miss Dale's Farm
California Hippies Arrive. Free Food from The Docks, Strange Encounters
Kenmore Square Blood Bank
Leonard Cohen, Patron Saint, Ali Defeats Foreman and the Great Squash Fight of '74
Vivid Visitors from New Jersey,
The Invasion of Boston University, Taking Over The Dorm
Jonathan Swifts, Harvard Square and The Sugar Shortage
Beacon Hill Gulf Gas Station and Reflections Atop The Longfellow Bridge
Christmas 1974 in Montclair, Returning to Cambridge, "13th Floor Panarama"
Bandages, Canes, Barroom Brawls and Spontaneous Conversation
Meeting Leonard Cohen
The Beginning Of The End and Saying Goodbye
Vagabonds of 74 Epilogue
Essex Catholic Memories: Crosby, Stills & Nash, Marty Liquori, Mark Murro, City Stadium, St. Benedicts, Dylan, Positively 4th St.
The Essex Catholic Wrestling Team 1971: 8 District Champs, Ting A Lings, Hitting the Town....
Essex Catholic Teachers and Students, Br. Harrington, Mr. Lamb, Mr. Taglieri, Mr. Zarro, Simon and Garfunkel
Random Events at Essex Catholic 1967-1971: Stuff Happens! Bomb Scare, JUG!, Abbey Road
Essex Catholic Senior Year 1971: World Trade Center Rising, The Staircase from "A Hard Days Night?" Meditation, MySpace: "Jersey Shore," Crosby, Stills and Nash Epilogue
The Jersey Shore: May, 2011 Brielle....Sea Girt....Introspection On The Sand.....
Essex Catholic Memories 2012

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The "Poet Lad" Bob Dylan

In early  1974 I heard the news.

It was Unexpected and grabbed me by the lapels like an 8 hundred pound gorilla....
Bob Dylan was returning to the Concert Stage  and would be doing 3 shows
at Madison Square Garden.

There was no way, come hell or high water, I was going to miss it.

The Bohemian Vagabond, the Voice from the Fiery Furnace would be appearing in the flesh.....

The man who blazed the path of Sacred Sorrows that I, myself, was treading at that very moment was reemerging from self imposed exile......
His songs were Monuments to the stuff that Life is made of,
Freeze Framed and Preserved in Amber......
Prayers scratched upon the Walls of my Heart........
Industrial Strength Poetry flowing like Molten Lava through the windows of my soul.....

It was so apparent to me that he'd broken through
some kind of Artistic/Intellectual barrier and that he was in a class by himself.......

Up until I was 15, with the exception of "Like A Rolling Stone"
and "Rainy Day Woman"  I'd never heard his stuff on the radio......

I found those songs interesting but I was listening with immature ears.
In High School I was getting more into Poetry
and one day a teacher brought lyric sheets from Popular Songs into class,
"Mr. Tamborine Man" being one.

Seeing the words written down appealed to me
and I immediately saw the Vividness of Dylan's imagery.
Then one day, that Summer
my brother lent me a copy of "Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits." 
I went right to "Tamborine Man" and "Rolling Stone" soaking them up like a sponge.

Now, I was listening with New Ears and it was reveling and exciting
but still,  I was  Totally Unprepared  for what was about to happen next....... 
When the needle slipped into the groove of "Positively 4th Street" 
and I heard the first few bars of that song......
I was..... Completely.......Totally.......and Utterly......Blown Away.......!!!!!!!!!

My 15 year old ears could not believe that anyone could write a song like that, 
so Original, so Overpowering, so Precise and Searing,
so Unlike Anything I'd ever, ever encountered before.........!!!!!

STUNNED, I followed it all the way through Continuously Amazed
and went back and played it again and again
probably a Hundred Times that weekend.

Someone had spoken Exactly how he thought and felt !!!! 
Someone had broken through !!!!
Someone had hurled a brick through the Window of Pretension.......

I saw then that "real" thoughts and feelings could be tapped into and expressed.
The incredible skill it took to write that song out of whole cloth
was Unfathomable to me.

This was back in the 60's
when that territory had not yet been explored by anyone........ 

Today, what you are hearing are spinoffs of songs
written by artists that copied that genre.
Copies of copies of sanitized fluff that falls far short of what Dylan pulled off.

My Esteem for him was off the Radar Screen
and things were never the same after that......
Artistically and Intellectually, I was a changed person......
I had to hear more.
From then on, whenever one of his tunes was playing on the radio
I dropped what I was doing and listened intently,
devouring the words as they came through the Ether,
corroborating something deep inside my weary soul......

He Testified to what the world had stolen from me
and he expressed, on a Phsycho-Spiritual level,
the Symbolism and Turbulence of my own thought process.
It was the reason I first picked up a guitar with serious intentions.

Now, years later, I would finally get to see him.
I made plans to get tickets, discussing it with Alf and my brother that very afternoon.

I was at the "Ticketron" office in the Willowbrook Mall the day they went on sale
and bought tickets for 2 of the 3 shows, one of which was Opening Night. 

On the day of the Concert, Alf and I hopped the bus
and went to New York hours before the show.
There was Electricity in the air that day, let me tell you.
Next to seeing The Beatles which was impossible,
seeing Dylan was a dream come true.

This was one concert where we didn't have to Jockey for Position
to find better seats.
We could see the stage just fine and settled in
as the Crowd plied itself with smoke and drink......holding its breath.....

Finally, Dylan and The Band entered to a huge ovation,
opening with "Most Likely You'll Go Your Way and I'll Go Mine."

 This was a different Dylan, more mature,
delivering his songs in a high powered fashion.
The audience knew every tune
and after the first few words another ovation would go up.
Then, he strode over to the piano and began playing
"Ballad of a Thin Man," very haunting, Surrealistic stuff.

The guy next to me muttered "This is unbelievable!"  I just smiled.

There was a short intermission then The Band came out to do their set. 
A warm feeling of camaraderie came over us as they reeled off their anthems.
"The Shape I'm In," "When You Awake," "Up on Cripple Creek,"
and of course, "The Weight," all were part of their repertoire
and every tune sounded as good as their records.

When their set ended Dylan reemerged to do "Don't Think Twice,"
"Gates Of Eden," "It's Alright Ma," and "Just Like A Woman."

He was then joined by The Band  for the finale
which included "Like A Rolling Stone" which brought the house down.

If you ever get the chance to listen to "Before The Flood" on vinyl,  
the live album recorded at those concerts,
you'll hear after many songs a piercing whistle
over and above the audience's roar.
That's me.
I sat there with my fingers in my mouth
blowing for all my 20 year old lungs were worth
and I could whistle really loud.

 I whistled until I was dizzy,  just about blew out everyone's ear drums around me.
I had to express myself that way.....It was a milestone in my life.........

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