It was 32 years ago today...

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Girlofthenorcalcountry's picture
It was 32 years ago today...

Happy Dylanniversary to me!


Today is the anniversary of one of the biggest days in my life: the first time that I saw Bob live in concert!  I still have the ticket, concert poster, tshirt (sort of), and an extremely yellowed newspaper article from the next day.  Not to mention a transformed soul.  The date was 7/18/81; the place was Mannheim, Germany.  I was there with my family as we were every summer, to visit my Oma and other relatives on my dad's side.  Walking around a couple days after we got there my brother and I spied the concert posters hanging up around the city, and convinced my mom and dad to buy us a couple of tickets.  And just like that, we were going to see Bob Dylan. 


Neither of us were very familiar with him at this early stage of our musical fandom, me having just recently evolved in musical taste from the Bee Gees and Neil Diamond, my bro in the process of moving on from a hardcore obsession with Kiss (no offense intended to any of those fine artists).  We owned some kind of greatest hits cassette and one other (Times They Are A-Changin'?), and we knew almost instinctively there was something here to be mined and learned, and we were appropriately psyched!


On the day of the show somehow we also knew we needed to be in the front row, or as close as possible.  So mom and dad dropped us off around noon at the Eisstadion, and we hung out there all day.  Little did I know at the time what a harbinger this was of tendencies to come later in my life, haha!  Gates opened, we ran in and I remember racing toward an amazingly free-of-people stage front and grabbing that rail, turning around and seeing Robert running toward me, and we were elatedly in the front row! 


I remember vividly the anticipation I felt while we waited there front and center and the crowd filled in around us. I also remember I had to pee really bad but knew I couldn't leave.  There was a really obnoxious drunk American guy behind us who ended up passing out before the show started and had to be hauled off --  I remember vowing that I would never, ever do that at a concert.  


We'd heard vaguely that Bob had become a Christian and weren't sure what to expect. I think I hoped a little that he'd play some songs that I knew, but I don't think I really cared about that too much.  What we got was a show that spanned the Gospel stuff from the last couple albums, the older stuff, and a bunch of brand new songs off of Shot of Love, which hadn't even been released yet!   


Here's what was played:



I Believe In You

Like A Rolling Stone

Till I Get It Right (Regina Harris sings)

Man Gave Names To All The Animals

Maggie's Farm

Girl Of The North Country

Ballad Of A Thin Man

We Just Disagree (Dave Mason)

Shot Of Love (Bob introduces it: "We just did a new album called Shot of Love, this is the main title song called Shot of Love."  It explodes!)

Forever Young

Walk Around Heaven All Day (Carolyn Dennis sings)

The Times They Are A-Changin' (solo acoustic)

Let's Begin (Clydie King sings)

Lenny Bruce

Slow Train Coming

Mr. Tambourine Man

What Can I Do For You?

Solid Rock

Just Like a Woman

Watered-Down Love

When You Gonna Wake Up?

Heart of Mine

In The Garden

Blowin' In The Wind

It's All Over Now, Baby Blue (solo acoustic)

Knockin' On Heaven's Door


I remember it all through amazed ears and eyes and a soul that was expanded in the course of those couple of hours.  It would be many years and many shows later before I got the bootleg and could  relive it all with more accuracy, but I swear I've carried moments of that night with me the whole time, in vivid detail.  The songs I remember most are the ones that I knew at the time -- Mr. Tambourine Man (I swear I remember just how Bob stood and looked for some reason when he sang the line "Take me disappearing through the smoke rings of my mind"), It's All Over Now Baby Blue, Just Like A Woman.  I remember Bob's leather jacket and his hair like a halo lit up blue.  The 'religious' songs were fiery and intense.  Blowin' in the Wind was all gospeled out.  I was blown away by every second. And I remember the euphoria I felt after it was all over.  I really did know that in some big way I would never be the same again.  I'm sure I couldn't even put it into words at the time, but I was enraptured by Bob's spirit and power; I had never been close to something like that.  I couldn't sleep that night, just knowing and thinking about all there was to discover. I didn't know if I'd be lucky enough to see him perform again (ha!) but I did know that he had a TON of records, including one coming out in a month, that I would surely be spending my weekly allowance on for some time to come!   


And here it is now, one long moment or a million years later.  Bob's still goin', I'm still goin'.  Now I've seen a couple hundred shows and have gotten to hear Bob say that he loves seeing me out there!  I am so thankful to that night that started me down my path, thankful to mom and dad for the ticket and not thinking we were too crazy to get in line so early in the day, thankful to my bro for sharing this and many other Bob and other shows with me.  And of course, thankful to Bob for all he puts out into the universe to be absorbed and integrated into the lives of lucky people like us! 


* Here's Bob saying goodbye at this show:


"We're gonna say goodnight now, I hope we played something that you uh...came to hear."  Then he says about his guitar players: "Both these guys are gonna give lessons right after the show...right out there... " And he goes on, "If you're ever stateside we're usually playing someplace somewhere all the time so, you come out and see us in one of those states...there's 48 or 50 states...I guess there's 50 of them right now...or it 50 or 60?"  He has some more funny banter with the audience who mostly probably don't know what he's saying but are extremely enthusiastic.  Then they go into that Blowin' In The Wind, done with full gospel belting out of back up singers and Bob kinda singing in between them, which was probably the first time I was struck by the transforming workover Bob can give to one of his songs!

jonizornes's picture
Thank you for sharing! I wish
Thank you for sharing! I wish I had gotten front row seats!

Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free

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