Bob Dylan: The Gospel Years, Part 6: 1979 Gospel Tour – A Treasure





The importance of identifying Bob Dylan as a performing artist, as distinct from the popular perception that he’s a songwriter and recording artist, is immediately clear when one has a chance to hear his fall 1979 concerts. “What Can I Do for You?,” “Solid Rock,” “Saving Grace,” “Covenant Woman” and “In the Garden” as performed at these shows are some of the finest works in Dylan’s oeuvre, but you’d never know that from listening to Saved, the 1980 studio album that features these compositions.
-Paul Williams (Bob Dylan: Performing Artist, Vol 2: The Middle Years 1974-1986)

Previous posts in this series:

  1. Facts
  2. Cherry picked Highlights
  3. Full Concerts
  4. Gospel Raps


Facts

The 1979 Gospel Tour consisted of 26 concerts between Nov. 1 & Dec 9.

The Tour was unique in two respects:

  • While Dylan had always included religious themes and allusions in his songs, this tour marked the first time that he overtly embraced Christianity as a personal faith, and discussed that faith from the stage with his audience.
  • Also, Dylan restricted the concert setlists to include only his new Christian songs. None of his past material was included.

The first thing that distinguishes these early “gospel” or “born again” shows is that Dylan performed only songs he had written in the last twelve months, that is to say the songs from the Slow Train Coming album plus eight newer songs … “All old things are passed away,” Dylan told the audience at one of the San Francisco shows, in response to requests for “Lay Lady Lay” and “Like a Rolling Stone.” Even in 1965-66 fans got half a concert of acoustic Dylan before being confronted with his new persona of rock and roller. But in 1979 Dylan is uncompromising: new songs (i.e., Christian songs) only. No exceptions.
-Paul Williams (Bob Dylan: Performing Artist, Vol 2: The Middle Years 1974-1986)




In 1979 … we started out with a different show. We didn’t play any song you’d ever heard before … I thought that was interesting, you know … I had never heard of… anybody who’d recorded songs for twenty years and then one day just didn’t play any of’em again, just played nothing but new songs … I got a kick out of that.
-Bob Dylan (1981)

The tour lineup consisted of

  • Bob Dylan (guitar, piano, harmonica, vocals)
  • Spooner Oldham (keyboards, vocals)
  • Terry Young (keyboards, vocals)
  • Fred Tackett (guitar)
  • Tim Drummond (bass)
  • Jim Keltner (drums)
  • Regina Havis (vocals), Helena Springs (vocals), and Mona Lisa Young (vocals).

Cherry picked Highlights

Most of these concerts were great with many brilliant performances.

Fox Warfield Theatre
San Francisco, California
7 November 1979

This is an absolutely blistering version of Slow Train…

Slow Train:

Fox Warfield Theatre
San Francisco, California
14 November 1979

When You Gonna Wake Up:




Fox Warfield Theatre
San Francisco, California
16 November 1979

November 16, Fox Warfield Theater, San Francisco
One of Dylan’s finest shows ends a two-week engagement in San Francisco. The shows have been well received by the majority of people attending. Both Dylan’s and the band’s performances have improved every night. This last night, Dylan includes an extra song at the end of the first half, a terrific ver- sion of the Slow Train Coming outtake, “No Man Righteous (No Not One).” In the second half, the new songs take on a life of their own. The crowd seems to be enthralled by the virtuosity of the band and the versatility in Dylan’s voice. They are not even taken aback when Dylan starts preaching that, “Christ will [indeed} set up his kingdom in Jerusalem for a thousand years, where the lion will lie down with the lamb.” Dylan is in a most talkative mood throughout tonight’s show.
-Clinton Heylin (Bob Dylan: A Life in Stolen Moments Day by Day 1941-1995)

  • When He Returns
  • Covenant Woman:
  • Ain’t No Man Righteous (No Not One)
  • Solid Rock:
  • In The Garden:

Civic Auditorium
Santa Monica, California
18 November 1979

GREAT sounding bootleg made by legendary taper Mike Millard, AKA Mike the MICrophone

  • I Believe In You
  • When You Gonna Wake Up
  • Man Gave Names To All The Animals
  • Precious Angel

  • Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking
  • Do Right To Me Baby (Do Unto Others)
  • What Can I Do For You?

    All right on the keyboards tonight, give him a warm hand, Spooner Oldham. All right, on the other set of keyboards and backup vocals, Terry Young. Playing the drums tonight, Jim Keltner. On lead guitar, Fred Tackett. On bass guitar, electric bass guitar, Mr. Tim Drummond. Singing on the bottom tonight, Miss Helena Springs. Singing in the middle, Regina McCreary. And singing on top, give her a warm hand, Mona Lisa Young. All right, you know this wasn’t a concert in a normal kind of sense. This was, really, to give all the praise and glory to God — we mean to do that. Because we believe we don’t deserve any praise
  • Blessed Be The Name

Civic Auditorium
Santa Monica, California
19 November 1979

Covenant Woman:

Full Concerts

Fox Warfield Theatre
San Francisco, California
2 November 1979

Full concert

  1. Gotta Serve Somebody
  2. I Believe In You
  3. When You Gonna Wake Up
  4. When He Returns
  5. Man Gave Names To All The Animals
  6. Precious Angel
  7. Slow Train
  8. Covenant Woman
  9. Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking
  10. Do Right To Me Baby (Do Unto Others)
  11. Solid Rock
  12. Saving Grace
  13. What Can I Do For You?
  14. Saved (Bob Dylan/Tim Drummond)
  15. In The Garden
  16. Blessed Be The Name
  17. Pressing On

BOB DYLAN – FOX WARFIELD THEATRE (SAN FRANCISCO 02-11-1979) 1 PARTE


Fox Warfield Theatre
San Francisco, California
8 November 1979

Full concert

  1. Gotta Serve Somebody
  2. I Believe In You
  3. When You Gonna Wake Up
  4. When He Returns
  5. Man Gave Names To All The Animals
  6. Precious Angel
  7. Slow Train
  8. Covenant Woman
  9. Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking
  10. Do Right To Me Baby (Do Unto Others)
  11. Solid Rock
  12. Saving Grace
  13. What Can I Do For You?
  14. Saved (Bob Dylan/Tim Drummond)
  15. In The Garden
  16. Blessed Be The Name
  17. Pressing On

BOB DYLAN San Francisco, CA; November 8, 1979 disc # 1





Gospel Raps

I don´t enjoy these raps, but it´s an important part of the “Gospel package” so I will include a couple of them her.

You know we read in the newspaper every day what a horrible situation this world is in. Now God chooses to do these things in this world to confound the wise. Anyway, we know this world’s gonna be destroyed; we know that. Christ will set up His Kingdom in Jerusalem for a thousand years, where the lion will lie down with the lamb. Have you heard that before? I’m just curious to know, how many people believe that? [mixed response] All right. This is called ‘Slow Train Coming.’ It’s been coming a long time and it’s picking up speed.
-Bob Dylan (before “Slow Train” on Nov 16)

You wanna know something, we’re not worried at all, even though it is the last of the End times; because we see all these hostages being taken here and drugs being outlawed there. All these sad stories that are floating around. We’re not worried about any of that. We don’t care about the atom bomb, any of that, ’cause we know this world is going to be destroyed and Christ will set up His kingdom in Jerusalem for a thousand years, where the lion will lie down with the lamb. Y’know the lion will eat straw that day. Also, if a man doesn’t live to a hundred years old, he will be called accursed. That’s interesting, isn’t it? And we don’t mind. We know that’s coming, and if any man have not the spirit of Christ in him, he is a slave to bondage. I know you’re all into bondage, so you need something just a little bit tough to hang on to. This song’s called ‘Hanging on to a Solid Rock Made Before the Foundation of the World.’ And if you don’t have that to hang on to, you better look into it.
-Bob Dylan (before “Solid Rock” – Nov 19)

Bob Dylan – When You Gonna Wake Up Sermon/rap – Tempe 1979

“Well. What a rude bunch tonight, huh? You all know how to be real rude. You know about the spirit of the anti-Christ? Does anybody here know about that? Well, it’s clear the anti-Christ is loose right now, let me give you an example. You know, I got a place out, ah, somebody stopped by my house and gave me this, uh, tape cassette. Some of these kind of people, you know, there’s many false deceivers running around these days. There’s only one gospel. The Bible says anybody who preaches anything other than that one gospel, let him be accursed. [“Rock-n-roll!”] Anyway, you know, this fellow stopped by my house one time and wanted to, so called, “turn me on” to a . . . well I’m not gonna mention his name, he’s a certain guru. I don’t want to mention his name right now, but ah, he, he has a place out there, near LA [“Malibu!”] And ah, he stopped by and he gave me this taped cassette to show me … [“Rock-n-roll!”] … You wanna rock-n-roll you can go down and rock-n-roll. You can go see Kiss and you rock-n-roll all your way down to the pit. Anyway, let me give you an example here. I’m gonna give you a real good example, I took a look, I dropped this tape cassette off with a friend of mine. [lots of heckling and others trying to shout the hecklers down] Turn the lights on in here. I want to see these people. Turn some lights on. Give them some light. Let them in the light. [applause] So anyway, this certain guru, you wanna hear about this guru? So anyhow, [“Rock-n-roll!” “Shut up!”] All right, so this guru, he made a film of himself. He had one of these big conventions. He does have a convention I think every so often like once a month, he’ll go to a big city. [“Praise the lord with puke!” “Shut that guy up!” Applause] Now, so, I took a look at this tape, and sure enough he was having himself a big convention. He had, must have had five thousand to ten thousand people there. Eight thousand people. And what he was doing on the stage was, he was sitting on there with a lot of flowers and things. And he sure did look pretty though. He’d sit up there, you know like kind of like on a throne and you’d listen to him talk on the tape. And on the tape, he said, you know, what’s life all about is life is to have fun. He said, “I’m gonna show you now how you all can have fun.” And he had a big fire extinguisher there and he put colored water in this fire extinguisher, and he would spray it out on the people. And they all laughed and just had a good time. They took their clothes off. They were overjoyed to be sprayed by this man. [Booooo!] And a little while after that, he started talking about his philosophy. And he said that he was God — he did say that. He said that God’s inside of him and he is God. And, you know, that those people could just think of themselves as God. I want to tell you this because there’s many of these people walking around. They might not come right out and say they’re God, but they’re just waiting for the opportunity too. And there is only one God. And let me hear you say who that God is? [mixed shouts] Their God, he makes promises that he doesn’t keep. There’s only two kinds of people like the preacher says — only two kinds of people. Color don’t separate them, neither does their clothes … [Rock-n-roll!] … You still want to rock-n-roll? I’ll tell you what the two kinds of people are. Don’t matter how much money you got, there’s only two kinds of people: There are saved people and there’s lost people. [applause] Yeah. Now remember that I told you that. You may never see me again. I may not be through here again, you may not see me, sometime down the line you’ll remember you heard it here. That Jesus is Lord. And every knee shall bow to him.
-Bob Dylan (before “When You Gonna Wake Up” – Nov 26, 1979)

… I think that will do.

-Egil

3 thoughts on “Bob Dylan: The Gospel Years, Part 6: 1979 Gospel Tour – A Treasure”

  1. Ol’ Holy roller, Zimmy, I call him Ray, is shining a light on the mystery of the Gospel. Bringing scripture into modern times.
    This isn’t religion. The religious don’t get this at all.
    Using the language of the ancient mystics within our contemporary consensus is complicated literature and mighty strange radio. Not for la la landers. Human gods or mockers among us. Hopefully, some will recognize the importance of this music, in our time. No wonder he quit being Dylan.

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