Bob Dylan: 8 essential videos from the 80’s

bob dylan 1986 draw a crowd with my guitar, that’s about the most heroic thing that I can do. To play a song to calm the king, well everybody don’t get to do that. There’s only certain things a King wants to hear. And then if he don’t like it, he might send you to the gallows. Sometimes you feel like a club fighter who gets off the bus in the middle of nowhere, no cheers, no admiration, punches his way through ten rounds or whatever, always making someone else look good, vomits up the pain in the backroom, picks up his check and gets back on the bus heading out for another nowhere. Sometimes like a troubadour out of the dark ages, singing for your supper and rambling the land or singing to the girl in the window, you know, the one with the long flowing hair
~Bob Dylan – August-September 1985, Cameron Crowe Interview (for Biograph)

I really don’t have any place to put my feet up…. well, we want to play ‘cause we want to play… Why tour? It’s just that you get accustomed to it over the years. The people themselves will tell you when to stop touring.
~Bob Dylan to Kathryn Baker – Aug 1988

It’s not stand-up comedy or a stage play. Also, it breaks my concentration to have to think of things to say or to respond to the crowd. The songs themselves do the talking. My songs do, anyway.
~Bob Dylan to Edna Gundersen – Sept 1989

Here are 8 videos you absolutely need to see. They are chosen for their historical significance and/or blistering performances.

1. When He Returns

Massey Hall
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
20 April 1980

The iron hand it ain’t no match for the iron rod
The strongest wall will crumble and fall to a mighty God
For all those who have eyes and all those who have ears
It is only He who can reduce me to tears
Don’t you cry and don’t you die and don’t you burn
For like a thief in the night, He’ll replace wrong with right
When He returns

Check out: Bob Dylan: Massey Hall, Toronto, Canada 20 April 1980 (Videos)

2. I Believe In You

The video also includes Like A Rolling Stone, Till I Get It Right (Red Lane/Larry Henley), Maggie’s Farm, Girl From The North Country, Ballad Of A Thin Man, Shot Of Love, The Times They Are A-Changin’, Let’s Begin (Jim Webb), Lenny Bruce, Slow Train, Mr. Tambourine Man, Solid Rock, Just Like A Woman, Watered-Down Love & Heart Of Mine

Palace des Sports
Avignon, France
25 July 1981

They ask me how I feel
And if my love is real
And how I know I’ll make it through
And they, they look at me and frown
They’d like to drive me from this town
They don’t want me around
’Cause I believe in you

Check out: Bob Dylan: Avignon, France 1981 (Video)

3. Jokerman

Rockefeller Center
New York City, New York
22 March 1984

Late Night with David Letterman

Standing on the waters casting your bread
While the eyes of the idol with the iron head are glowing
Distant ships sailing into the mist
You were born with a snake in both of your fists while a hurricane was blowing
Freedom just around the corner for you
But with the truth so far off, what good will it do?

Jokerman dance to the nightingale tune
Bird fly high by the light of the moon
Oh, oh, oh, Jokerman

Check out: Bob Dylan at Letterman, New York City, 22 March 1984 (videos)

4. Blowin’ In The Wind

Minestadio del F.C. Barcelona
Barcelona, Spain
28 June 1984

Finally there is “Blowin’ In The Wind,” again broadcasted on Spanish TV and one of the most exciting performances of Dylan ever filmed.
~Clinton Heylin (A Life In Stolen Moments)

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
Yes, ’n’ how many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, ’n’ how many times must the cannonballs fly
Before they’re forever banned?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind

Check out: Bob Dylan & Carlos Santana: Blowin’ In The Wind, Barcelona, 28 June 1984

5. I’ll Remember You

University Of Illinois
Champaign, Illinois
22 September 1985
Farm Aid Concert

I’ll remember you
When I’ve forgotten all the rest
You to me were true
You to me were the best
When there is no more
You cut to the core
Quicker than anyone I knew
When I’m all alone
In the great unknown
I’ll remember you

The video also includes Trust Yourself & Maggie’s Farm

Check out: Bob Dylan – Farm Aid, Champaign, Illinois 1985 (videos)

6. Soon

Brooklyn Academy Of Music
New York City, New York
11 March 1987
George Gershwin Celebration Concert

Soon [all the] nights they will be ended,
Soon, all true love will be so splen-did.
I’ve found the happiness I’ve waited for.
The only girl that I was waiting for.

Check out: Bob Dylan performing “Soon” (George & Ira Gershwin), 11 March 1987 (video)

7. Tomorrow Is A Long Time

Roma Palaeur
Rome, Italy
3 October 1987

If today was not an endless highway
If tonight was not a crooked trail
If tomorrow wasn’t such a long time
Then lonesome would mean nothing to you at all
Yes, and only if my own true love was waitin’
Yes, and if I could hear her heart a-softly poundin’
Only if she was lyin’ by me
Then I’d lie in my bed once again

Check out: Bob Dylan Tomorrow Is A Long Time, Rome, Italy 1987 (Video)

8. The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest

Alpine Valley Music Theatre
East Troy, Wisconsin
18 June 1988

Well, Frankie Lee and Judas Priest
They were the best of friends
So when Frankie Lee needed money one day
Judas quickly pulled out a roll of tens
And placed them on a footstool
Just above the plotted plain
Sayin’, “Take your pick, Frankie Boy
My loss will be your gain”

Check out: Bob Dylan: The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest, East Troy, Wisconsin, 18 June 1988 (video)

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3 thoughts on “Bob Dylan: 8 essential videos from the 80’s”

  1. The greatest bit of advise I’ve ever heard

    …don’t go mistaking Paradise
    for that home across the road

  2. Soon-what a beautiful song and he sounds great. But the highlight of these videos is Blowing-Wind. How often do you see him encouraging the audience to participate? He sounded great, looked great and was definitely into it. Heylin was right-best performance on film! Wish I’d seen some of the gospel tours-dynamite stuff. Thanks Egil!

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