First, let's look back at some of the previous Dylan concerts we've attended. I must have seen seven or eight. I'd count them precisely, but then I'd remember how long I've been doing this, and I'd have to sit down.
Once we drove down from L.A. to see him in San Diego. We arrived to discover there were no seats. The audience stood on a field of dirt. I actually enjoyed it, but my shorter wife Connie couldn't see a thing. It was all flat ground.
At another concert the sound system guys were amateurs (It was in a basketball stadium, also in San Diego) and we couldn't hear much from the balcony. I mean we heard something, but it could have been Guy Lombardo down there.
At another concert in L.A. he sat at keyboards all night with his back to at least half the audience. Our half. But we found seats elsewhere (after being caught a couple times) and it turned out okay.
About a year ago when Dylan played L.A. he was at the Orpheum, another one of those venues that offers no seats, just standing room. We skipped it. This time he was outdoors in Costa Mesa with seats. He showed his back to half the audience again, but we were in the lucky half. As always he changed arrangements and even melodies on old songs. Keeps it fresh, we're told. Not that he tells us much. Word sort of seeps out, and his purposes are open to many interpretations. Just when you've got his intentions figured out he mentions to some well-placed interviewer that the previous translation was totally off. Then a year or two later, in his raspy, smoker's voice he'll say that the denial was also incorrect. Keeps us on our toes.
Anyway, in Costa Mesa, after things got moving, we heard the opening notes to "Hard Rain" and most of us, I think, felt quite lucky. Along with "It's Alright Ma," it was his great anthem of the sixties, a heartfelt, brilliant blend of lyrics and music that summed up what was happening back then far better than the iconic "Like a Rolling Stone," which is a tune about a snotty bitch fallen on hard times.
But in Costa Mesa he turned "Hard Rain" into a gimmicky nonsense song for children. I don't think Britney Spears could make it any worse. Dylan barely talks at his concerts, of course. We expect it. It's part of his schtick. He communicates with the music. Trouble is, I didn't enjoy what he was communicating. I prefer to hear Dylan from a Dylan who actually cares about what he's doing. Change is not always progress.
Dylan used to go years and years without touring. But these days he tours much of the time, taking recess at his Malibu redoubt and then heading back to his never-ending trip around the world. His neighbors in Malibu hate him. He causes all sorts of trouble I won't go into, but much of it involves a stinking septic tank, and they can't get past his bodyguards and other flunkies to contact him or anyone who will even listen. And they don't have to ponder the situation for its true meaning.
Causes Ivan Goldman Supports
American Heart Association
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Beit T'Shuvah Recovery Program