December 2: Bob Dylan performs “Changing Of the Guards” in Nashville – 1978 (Video)

bob dylan nashville 1978

Sixteen years
Sixteen banners united over the field
Where the good shepherd grieves
Desperate men, desperate women divided
Spreading their wings ’neath the falling leaves

Fortune calls
I stepped forth from the shadows, to the marketplace
Merchants and thieves, hungry for power, my last deal gone down
She’s smelling sweet like the meadows where she was born
On midsummer’s eve, near the tower

This is a gem!

Municipal Auditorium
Nashville, Tennessee
2 December 1978

  • Bob Dylan (vocal & guitar)
  • Billy Cross (lead guitar)
  • Alan Pasqua (keyboards)
  • Steven Soles (rhythm guitar, backup vocals)
  • David Mansfield (violin & mandolin)
  • Steve Douglas (horns)
  • Jerry Scheff (bass)
  • Bobbye Hall (percussion)
  • Ian Wallace (drums)
  • Helena Springs, Jo Ann Harris, Carolyn Dennis (background vocals)

Audio starts after 11s.

The cold-blooded moon
The captain waits above the celebration
Sending his thoughts to a beloved maid
Whose ebony face is beyond communication
The captain is down but still believing that his love will be repaid

They shaved her head
She was torn between Jupiter and Apollo
A messenger arrived with a black nightingale
I seen her on the stairs and I couldn’t help but follow
Follow her down past the fountain where they lifted her veil

I stumbled to my feet
I rode past destruction in the ditches
With the stitches still mending ’neath a heart-shaped tattoo
Renegade priests and treacherous young witches
Were handing out the flowers that I’d given to you

The palace of mirrors
Where dog soldiers are reflected
The endless road and the wailing of chimes
The empty rooms where her memory is protected
Where the angels’ voices whisper to the souls of previous times

She wakes him up
Forty-eight hours later, the sun is breaking
Near broken chains, mountain laurel and rolling rocks
She’s begging to know what measures he now will be taking
He’s pulling her down and she’s clutching on to his long golden locks

Gentlemen, he said
I don’t need your organization, I’ve shined your shoes
I’ve moved your mountains and marked your cards
But Eden is burning, either brace yourself for elimination
Or else your hearts must have the courage for the changing of the guards

Peace will come
With tranquillity and splendor on the wheels of fire
But will bring us no reward when her false idols fall
And cruel death surrenders with its pale ghost retreating
Between the King and the Queen of Swords

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6 thoughts on “December 2: Bob Dylan performs “Changing Of the Guards” in Nashville – 1978 (Video)”

  1. I saw Bob on this tour at the Baltimore Civic Center, I had just gotten home from the service in Japan. Had crappy seats , third tier opposite end from the stage. I had listened to Street Legal about a thousand times while on Midnight watches.
    Still love SL!

  2. My first Dylan concert was in Sydney Australia, April 1978. I was a big fan before and bigger after the show. Despite all the critics of the 78 concerts I love them. These shows reek of creative development for me. I adore the saxophone and the backing singers. The 1978 saxophone versions of tangled are for me a high point for the song. The description of this as a gem is accurate yet underrating of this performance of COTG. An often neglected classic which Bob has nor really done enough with in concert. This however is live music at its best!

  3. I saw Dylan for the very first time on the next night (December 3) in Birmingham, Alabama. At that point in my life, I admit that I was just a casual fan. I left at the end of the show, but couldn’t really make much sense of it. All these years later, I can appreciate the shows for what they were and I better understand perhaps what Bob was doing. Glad to have been there–thanks for taking me back to another time and place.

  4. From the calm of the early shows in Japan, through the majesty of the European shows in the middle of the year, to the increasingly desperate shows in USA at the end of the year, the 1978 is a real tour-de-force ! Love it !

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