Well, I usually… I usually try to put in songs which are different in their own context, either structurally or melodically or uh lyrically, that uh, don’t… so it’s not all the same type of material, I try to fill in a larger picture. I don’t know what the total effect of it is. Umm… How do I go about selecting the material? Well, there’s material that I WANT to play, there’s material that I feel I HAVE to play, and, uh, I try to get the material that I feel I have to play into the frame of mind where I want to play the material that I have to play. The rest of it is just stuff I want to play.
~Bob Dylan (Melbourne – 21 Feb 1986)
True Confession Tour:
February 5, 1986
August 6, 1986
15 in Oceania
4 in Asia
41 in North America
60 in Total
The tour started with two concerts in New Zealand and thirteen concerts in Australia before four concerts in Japan. Both Dylan and Petty took a break after this tour before returning to the road in June to perform a forty-one date tour of the United States and Canada. During the tour the pair performed two concerts at the RFK Stadium in Washington, DC, three concerts at the legendary Madison Square Garden in New York City and two concerts at The Spectrum in Philadelphia. The tour came to a close on August 6 in Paso Robles, California. The pair would tour together the following year on the Temples in Flames Tour.
Rehearsals (w/Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers) took place in December 1985.
Before they flew over to New Zealand.. Dylan gave a couple of interviews.. Here is one:
George Negus interview for “60 Minutes”, Malibu, California:
Oh no, no, I can’t do that, because my songs speak for that. I usually say everything I have to say through the songs. I mean it would be pointless for me to go out and say how I feel about this and how I feel about that. I could never articulate this well.
~Bob Dylan (to George Negus – Jan 1986)
“Bob’s bad stuff is better than other musicians’ best”
Down in the Groove is singer-songwriter Bob Dylan‘s 25th studio album, released by Columbia Records 30 May 1988. Egil here at Johannasvisions rate it as maybe Dylan’s lowest point. Me? I’m not so sure anymore…
It got pretty terrible reviews upon it’s release. Many reviewers compared it to his previous album, Knocked Out Loaded, and not in a favourable way.
“A highly collaborative effort, it was Dylan’s second consecutive album to receive almost unanimous negative reviews. Released during a period when his recording career was experiencing a slump, sales were disappointing, reaching only #61 in the US and #32 in the UK.”
How is it in hindsight? Was it unfairly slated? I think it’s better than reported and as usual Dylan’s standards were expected to be higher than anybody else’s. We cannot expect a masterpiece every time. Can we?
The album was delayed for more than six months and the track listing changed at least three times. The tracks that made the final album come from many different recording sessions spread out over a long time (six years?).
I’ve always thought of it as a strangely confusing album, but it gets less confusing with each listen session. It has some very good cover songs. Let’s Stick together opens the record in an energetic way, I would love to hear it live!
The comes the song I think is not very good at all, the cover When did you leave heaven. Very eighties drum sound, strange production, it just sounds a bit off, I don’t think the song suits Dylan, and it ends kind of funny.
Sally Sue Brown, the third track is another rockn’roll/soul standard that gets a good run through. I prefer Arthur Alexanders classic, but it is not bad at all.
The last three songs on the album are also cover songs (Ninety Miles an Hour (Down a dead end street), Shenandoah and Rank Strangers To Me, and they are all quite good actually.
I like Rank Strangers To Me best (the closing track). Dylan sings beautifully.
Let’s also include a fine live version from Wembley 1997:
” I think it was the first time I ever heard Dylan at all… And for the rest of our three weeks in Paris, we didn’t stop playing it.” – John Lennon
Dylan had already moved on to other songs when his first masterpiece was released. Contrary to his first album, this album mostly has songs penned by the man himself. With songs like Blowin’ in the Wind, Girl From The North Country, Masters Of War, and Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right that are still a big part of Dylan’s concerts half a century later, Freewheelin’ is an album whose music will live long after anyone who is reading this post is gone.
April 24–25, July 9, October 26, November 1 and 15, December 6, 1962, and April 24, 1963 at Columbia Records Studio A, 799 Seventh Avenue, New York City
John Hammond, Tom Wilson
The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan is the second studio album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released in May 1963 by Columbia Records. Whereas his debut album Bob Dylan had contained only two original songs, Freewheelin’ initiated the process of writing contemporary words to traditional melodies. Eleven of the thirteen songs on the album are original compositions by Dylan. The album kicks off with “Blowin’ in the Wind”, which would become one of the anthems of the 1960s, and an international hit for folk trio Peter, Paul & Mary soon after the release of Freewheelin’. The album featured several other songs which came to be regarded as amongst Dylan’s best compositions and classics of the 1960s folk scene: “Girl from the North Country”, “Masters of War”, “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” and “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right”.
A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall:
Dylan’s lyrics embraced stories ripped from the headlines about civil rights and he articulated anxieties about the fear of nuclear warfare. Balancing this political material were love songs, sometimes bitter and accusatory, and material that features surreal humor. Freewheelin’ showcased Dylan’s songwriting talent for the first time, propelling him to national and international fame. The success of the album and Dylan’s subsequent recognition led to his being named as “Spokesman of a Generation”, a label Dylan came to resent.
The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan reached number 22 in the US (eventually going platinum), and later became a number one hit in the UK in 1964. In 2003, the album was ranked number 97 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. In 2002, Freewheelin’ was one of the first 50 recordings chosen by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry.
Girl from the North Country:
Even if you were among the handful of people who bought Bob Dylan’s 1962 self-titled debut, you couldn’t have predicted The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, the 1963 folkie touchstone where Dylan transformed American songwriting and blew the minds of everyone from his coffeehouse compatriots to the Beatles.
“Still, Live Aid and Farm Aid are fantastic things, but then musicians have always done things like that. When people want a benefit, you don’t see them calling dancers or architects or lawyers or even politicians – the power of music is that it has always drawn people together”
~Bob Dylan (to Mikal Gilmore – Sept 1985)
To kick-off this series of posts about the “True Confessions Tour”, I need to start the year before.. in 1985.
Dylan (together with Keith Richards & Ronnie Wood) did one of his worst live performances ever at the “Live Aid” concert @ the JFK stadium in Philadelphia on 13 July 1985. All three were drunk & they couldn’t hear themselves because the stage monitors had been switched off.
The Ballad of Hollis Brown – Live Aid 1985:
We were sabotaged, in some kind of way. There was no way we could really perform there. It’s difficult to play if you can’t hear.
~Bob Dylan (to Bob Brown – about the performance)