In 1971, searching the record store bins, I came across a Bob Dylan bootleg album that claimed to be recorded live at the Royal Albert Hall in London in 1966.
I put that album on and my mind was blown.
What I heard was the moment when rock ‘n’ roll stares down all the lies, and speaks truth.
Bob Dylan stood on the stage in the Free Trade Hall in Manchester on May 17, 1966. He’d just played what already was the greatest live rock ‘n’ roll. A devastating set, the songs turned into huge bonfires, Robbie Robertson’s out-of-control guitar riffs shooting out of the flames.
But that moment.
A fan shouts out “Judas,” calling Dylan out for betraying all his folk music fans.
What that must have felt like if you were Bob Dylan, standing on that stage, putting everything on the line.
Dylan had already put up with abuse in the U.S., Australia and Europe. But this!
Imagine. Some idiot has the audacity to call Bob Dylan ‘Judas’!
But of course this was so much more. This was a scene that has been played out again and again through history. The old guard, the conservatives, the right wing Tea Party blind men who face a past that never existed and insist that we turn around and retreat back into it.
There’s laughter in the hall. But this is no laughing matter.
“I don’t believe you” Dylan says.
And the majestic sound that kicks off a song like no other, “Like A Rolling Stone,” begins and over it Dylan insists:
“You’re a liar!”
And then he sings his greatest song, delivering the best version of his career, a song that rips away the bullshit we put up with day after day. That insists we walk forward into the unknown no matter the danger.
The music, the words, the voice.
Dylan won’t settle for the world as it is. All the phonies.
Listen below and hear the song as it sounded that night.
[In August of this year I’ll be publishing my rock ‘n’ roll/ coming-of-age novel, “True Love Scars,” which features a narrator who is obsessed with Bob Dylan. To read the first chapter, head here.]
– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –-