March 22: Bob Dylan at Letterman, NYC 1984 (videos)

bob dylan at letterman 1984

With this band, one thinks, Dylan could have set the world on fire again.
~Paul Williams (Bob Dylan: Performing Artist, Vol 2: The Middle Years 1974-1986)

Bob Dylan’s performance @ Letterman in 1984 is legendary…  at least among fans & commentators.

Rockefeller Center
New York City, New York
22 March 1984

Late Night with David Letterman

  1. Don’t Start Me To Talkin’ (Sonny Boy Williamson)
  2. License To Kill
  3. Jokerman

“Don’t Start Me Talking” is a witty comment on the fact that Dylan had agreed to sing on the show, but was refusing to be interviewed. This is followed by “License To Kill” & “Jokerman,” both songs transformed, all freshness and immediacy and fire.
~Paul Williams (Bob Dylan: Performing Artist, Vol 2: The Middle Years 1974-1986)

  • Bob Dylan (vocal & guitar)
  • Justin Poskin (guitar)
  • Tony Marsico (bass)
  • Chalo Quintana (drums).

2, 3 Bob Dylan harmonica.


  • Live debuts of Jokerman and License To Kill
  • Broadcast by NBC-TV, 23 March 1984

Bob Dylan Letterman 1984

…..When it came to the performance itself, Letterman waved MGraythe cover of Dylan’s new album Infidels in front of the camera, giving it a patronising but enthusiastic introductory spiel—and at the last minute Dylan sprang on them a gloriously grungy version of a 1955 SONNY BOY WILLIAMSON II song ‘Don’t Start Me to Talkin’’. Dylan revelled in the punk sound of the band—and was dressed accordingly, not in Latino mode but in the hip thin dark suit and super thin tie of UK punks like the members of, say, the Jam or ELVIS COSTELLO a` la 1980. Then came ‘License to Kill’ (not as good as at the TV-studio rehearsal, as it happened) and then a furiously fast, wondrous version of ‘Jokerman’, in the middle of which Dylan spent quite some time searching for a particular harmonica.
No-one else in the world would treat coast-to-coast high-ratings TV that way, and as a sampler of the album it was splendidly misleading.
~Michael Gray (The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia)


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One thought on “March 22: Bob Dylan at Letterman, NYC 1984 (videos)”

  1. I attended a few of Letterman’s shows, and I wish I would have been there on this day. Being that the studio was so small, It would have been so cool to be that close. Bob was spectacular.

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