Don't Your Remember? I Was Always Your Clown...

Flowers of Indulgence's picture

Toledo, Ohio 6/29/16

    After a relaxing and fun trip to Colorado to visit with Caroline and Mr Jinx, I knew one show wasn’t going to cut it.  Sadly, I made due with 1 show a tour for the last couple years,  price and time holding me back.  After Bob’s enthusiastic reception of the Fan Club banner at the Red Rocks show though, it was clear I would have to see another.  I had my eye on a pair of front row tickets to Toledo.  How could there still be front row center seats at cost?  Then below cost…?  I still didn’t have the funds to make it happen, but my mom, she gets me, and she made it happen.  I love you, mom.  As it turned out the ticket next to me went down in price, then down again until is was no longer a question as to IF Caroline would join me, but WHEN would she join me.  Typically this is not how things have worked for us.  Mostly we are planners.  Tickets purchased well in advance, travel plans made.  It was somewhat odd planning the day before to meet up at The Toledo Zoo, where we had seen Bob before.  Last time I saw Bob at the Zoo I had made my final trip across the country, leaving my home in California to move back to Ohio.  That show brought me a sense of freedom that I had not felt in years.  This show made me feel oddly the same and made me realize I need to be out there more, headin’ for another joint.   

    I arrived in Toledo earlier in the day and made a few rounds around the botanical gardens to stretch out my back.  On this day I felt younger at heart than I had in years, honestly.  On the way there I thought about all the years of shows.  I often times describe the beginning of my show years as having started with Caroline.  Those were certainly the best and most intense years, but it started years before. “Finding” Bob was like finally finding where I needed to be and what I needed.  Things HAVEN’T changed.  It's worth saying now, Bob was happier than I've seen him in a long time at this show.  4 hours drive?  Who cares?

    I pulled into the familiar parking lot across the street from the Zoo.  Twice before having parked there to catch Bob.  There was comfort in the familiarity, knowing that the people are friendly and that the margaritas are strong.  It was a warm day, sunny and pleasant as I propped my The Bob Dylan Fan Club sign under my windshield wipers.  I parked near the entrance to the lot anticipating Caroline’s arrival fresh from the Detroit airport and ticket pick up.  The other sane people were parked in the shade but, wanting to be easy to find, I pulled my cowboy boots on and made 2 margaritas and waited for my companion to arrive in the blazing sun.  After not too long she arrived and we laughed and drank and ate a couple sandwiches I picked up on the way out of town.  It was certainly setting up to be a beautiful night.
    As we entered the Zoo amphitheater I was thinking about the 2 other times we had been there.  I felt uneasy wondering, would I be able to stand up? (knowing I would not be able to keep myself in my seat).  We saw lots of people we knew prior to the show - April, Jayne, among others and most happily for me, Joanna. We spent the best years of touring with Joanna, crisscrossing the country in all ways in our most mutually dependent way. 

    We started out with a couple margaritas-good, just like 6 years before.  I don’t know what it is about Toledo Zoo, but the people are helpful and happy and friendly.  Everyone wanted to help, chat, talk about how much they like Bob.  Always a great vibe there.  The people around us were nice and word was as long as we were in our seat area, we could stand.  YES.  I really enjoyed Mavis-much more than at Red Rocks as a matter a fact.  She was much more chatty and best of all was her take on Bob.  She said “You guys are in for a real treat.  You know, I love to hear Bob sing.  But you know what I like even more, watching him DANCE.  He’s got the Moves!”  We agreed of course and she made good on her word, coming out during Tangled to watch Bob MOVE.  She’s such a great woman.  Before long she was done and it was time for Bob.  

    Standing in the center front row with no rail in front of you is odd.  It feels naked, exposed.  Despite that we boogied from the first note to the last.  Just doing what we do!  George was smiling, pointing, waving and laughing.  Bob going over to talk, smiling and laughing with both Stu and George.  We were all having a ball.  The first 3 songs were the warm up period.  I really like the building instrumental parts in Things Have Changed.  Bob has stayed really close to original lyrically in this song but this year he has said “I got white skin, I got blood in my eyes” which solicited a cheer from the crowd around us.  I assume for the change, not the blood.  Everyone in the crowd was up and dancing at this point.  He was getting into it with a sing-songy “aint that eager to make a mistake” smiling right into “I used to care.. HUH!.. but things have changed.”

    She Belongs To Me has the feeling of an old time march.  Driven by George, Bob was peering around the crowd  as we stood there in the broad midwestern early evening singing “takes the dark out of the night time Uh HUH paint the day time black.”Beyond Here Lies Nothing is when the show really started to pick up in intensity and vigor.  Right off the bat there was a fancy piano solo.  I love the Cuban flamenco style of this song.  Bob’s singing was gentle, as if gently explaining the story of the song to us. Singing “lay your Hand upon my head” as if asking us all to understand. Night We Called It a Day is one of my top 5 from the standard’s albums. In Toledo there was lots of positive response from the crowd during the standards, maybe ever more than the older songs.  This was an indication to me that the majority of the crowd had been keeping up with Bob was up to lately, rather than expecting a greatest hits shows. That made me happy.

    I love the intensity of Pay In Blood.  Bob always really sings this one with his all.   A number of people around us stood up to this number.  Bob was dancing across the stage and posing on the stage during the instrumental parts, just like Mavis said.  I loved the feeling and intensity when he sang “the more I take, the more I give the more I die, the more I live.”  “I’m searching around in the southern zone” was downright sinister.  And I swear he said “you bit your lover in the bed”.  Ouch.  The energy of Pay in Blood continued into Melancholy Mood, but turned more lighthearted.  The intro was lovely and lingering. As he approached the mic the crowd cheered. Bob was all smiles and laughs during Melancholy Mood, ironically enough, but so was I.  He was having fun, looking around the side of the mic.  This went quickly into Dusquene Whistle.  Dusquesne Whistle is always fun.  The band had a nice jam leading in and Bob played the along with the band exchanging licks and playing along with the band.  I love I’m A Fool To Want You, but it was interesting to see that How Deep Is The Ocean in that spot as of the night before in Kettering.  It was one of the most beautifully performances of the night by Bob, I thought.  He was paying close attention to phasing and his voice was so gentle.

    Next up was Tangled.  These are my favorite Tangled lyrics since ’84.  To me, the lead character in Tangled has become more like the lead in Shelter From The Storm.  Something about lyrics “you look like somebody that I used to know she said, somebody that I used to trust.” and  “And she said it to me just so you know “memorize these lines and remember the rhymes” just sounds like something out of Shelter From The Storm to me.  Mavis held true to her words and came you to talk to the crowd and watch Bob.  The guy next to me ended up talking to her during the set break and She told him, “you think I’m somebody, but I’m not.  I’m just like you.” Lovely!

I love the intro after intermission. It’s a great mix of B.B. King and Paul Butterfield Blues Band.

    Highwater has always been one of my favorite songs.  All versions, overtime good.  What I particularly like about this version is the banjo high in the mix.  Bob was dancing and having fun with the lines.  “Throw you panties OHH-VAH board.”  and “cant you see I’m drowning too it’s DARRRK out there.”  The point was not missed that it wasn’t dark out there.  It was still light.  I felt exposed.  Ha!  In the end he held out the last “everywhereeeeeeee” really driving it home.

    Why Try and Change Me Now?  This was probably the most poignant for me of the night.  I’ve felt like I was away from Bob for a long time now.  Tonight though, I felt like my old self.  It was wonderful.  I was really taken back to a different, happy time in my life standing there looking at Bob and the band.  Everyone smiling and having more fun than I’d seen in the last couple years anyway.  “Don’t you remember?  I was always your clown.”  That line and the sentiment of the song really ring true to me.  And Bob, he’s always there, being the performer and the entertainer for us.  Night after night, it’s such a beautiful relationship.  We’re always been total goofs for each other.  Us, the audience feeding off his energy and giving it back to Bob.

    As Early Roman Kings started several people round us got up and dancing. The crowd was way into Bob’s singing and growling as he was working his way through the song.  There was lots of cheering and whooping all around us.  Bob was able to shift easily into a gentle I Could Have Told You.  It’s such a true and classic version and mesmerizing live.

    Spirit On The Water has become a crowd favorite.  It’s great to hear when the crowd responds at the appropriate lines about being over the hill.  I feel like I’m among friends and real fans.  Bob was jamming between lines quite a bit.  “I’m as PAAALLEEE as a ghost” was melodic and cute.  Bob was really having fun on the piano in the instrumental break.   “You’ve numbed my will” sounded like he was giving us a rye reminder.  Quickly Bob switched back in sinister Bob mode for Scarlett Town, getting down on the mic to evangelize his way through.  All Or Nothing At All lets Bob play both the soft crooner and the dashing mysterious older gent you meet at a fancy party. It’s a good mix.

    The guy a couple guys down from me leapt up for Long and Wasted Years.  This was definitely his favorite of the night.  I like how the band is melodic in counterpoint to Bob’s pointed  singing, almost rapping.  He seems really connected to this song. Autumn leaves was both Gentle and Painful.  The transition between this song and Long and Wasted Years is a great example of what I love about this setlist.  Bob can seamlessly transition his singing style from a hard, rocking number into some of the gentlest of the night with beautiful vibrato.  

    When they came back for the encore Bob looked happy and you could hear it in his voice during Blowin’ In the Wind. Leading the crowd in a swaying, sappy version.  Lovesick is a great closer. It gives Bob a chance to really sing it out once more.  He was really into it singing, “walking with YOU in my head” and  “you thrill me to my heart and the you rip it all apart.”  Knowing it;s the last song makes it hard not to freak out a little during that song and that instrumental break!  Give.Me.A.Break.  That’s really rock n roll right there! At the the end Bob was giving it all starting with “I wish I never met you” all the way “I’d give anything too”, “toooo” sliding down the notes in his vocal.

    Bob gave a couple nods and he was gone again.  Another show on the books. As we left, several people stopped us to say they appreciated that we were up and dancing the whole time and that it was great to see Bob happy and smiling at us.  We agreed!  On the way out we ran into Caroline’s friend from Ann Arbor and we took our time, leisurely stroll out to the car.  When we got there, the scenario played out in a way all to familiar after seeing Bob at the Zoo.  I looked at Caroline, sad, we hugged, then I got in the car and started the drive diagonally across the state.  It would the middle the night when I got home and into bed so I could get to work the next day.  I started the long drive, a car among the sea of semis.  In Ohio we have 2 seasons.  Winter and road construction. It was a lovely warm night to drive.  I was tense, wanting move and loving every minute of the last night.  I took the energy and put it into making the drive home.  I put on Time Out Of Mind, like we did many nights in the old days.