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
Freeze Framed and Preserved in Amber......
scratched upon the Walls of my Heart........
Industrial Strength Poetry flowing like Molten Lava through the windows of my soul.....
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
I found those songs interesting but I was listening with immature ears.
School I was getting more into Poetry
and one day a teacher brought lyric sheets from Popular Songs into class,
"Mr. Tamborine Man" being
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
I went right to "Tamborine Man" and "Rolling Stone" soaking them up like
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
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
STUNNED, I followed it all the way through Continuously Amazed
and went back and played it again and
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
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
corroborating something deep inside my weary soul......
He Testified to what the world had stolen
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.
the day of the Concert, Alf and I hopped the bus
and went to New York hours before the
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
This was one concert where we didn't have to Jockey for Position
to find better
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."
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
of a Thin Man," very haunting, Surrealistic stuff.
The guy next to me muttered "This is unbelievable!" I
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."
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.
I sat there with my fingers in
blowing for all my 20 year old lungs were worth
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