Feb 27: Bob Dylan performs a blistering version of “Gotta Serve Somebody” @ Grammy Award Ceremony in 1980 (video)

bob dylan shrine 1980

..he performs the song dressed in full evening attire, to a very appreciative audience. It is a great performance, ironically far surpassing his vocal on the actual record. He even plays some demon harmonica. With typical perversity, he also changes the words, and the entire performance clocks in at over six minutes. Not surprisingly, Dylan wins his first Grammy Award, thanking in his acceptance speech “The Lord, Jerry Wexler, and Barry Beckett … who believed.” The award ceremony takes place at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles and receives the usual extensive television coverage.
~Clinton Heylin (Bob Dylan: A Life in Stolen Moments Day by Day 1941-1995)

Shrine Auditorium
Los Angeles, California
27 February 1980
22nd Annual Grammy Award Ceremony

  • Bob Dylan (vocal & guitar)
  • Fred Tackett (guitar)
  • Spooner Oldham (keyboards)
  • Terry Young (keyboards)
  • Tim Drummond (bass)
  • Jim Keltner (drums)
  • Clydie King, Regina Havis, Mona Lisa Young (background vocals)

You may be an ambassador to England or France,
You may like to gamble, you might like to dance,
You may be the heavyweight champion of the world,
You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls

But you have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you have to serve somebody.

You might be a rock ‘n’ roll addict prancing on the stage,
You might have drugs in your pocket, women in a cage,
You may be a business man or some high degree thief,
They may call you Doctor or they may call you Chief

You may be a construction worker working on a home,
You may be living in a mansion or you may be live in a dome,
You might own guns and you might even own tanks,
You might be somebody’s landlord, may be even own banks

You may be a preacher with your spiritual pride,
You may be working as a dishwasher, you may be in your prime,
You may be workin’ in a barbershop, you may know how to cut hair,
You may be somebody’s mistress, may be somebody’s heir

You may like to drink whiskey, might like to blow smoke,
You may have money-power or you may be broke,
You may think you’re living, you may think you’re dead,
Maybe sleeping on the floor, or sleeping in a feather bed

Dylan won a Grammy award (his first) for “Gotta Serve Somebody,” which was judged “Best Vocal Performance of 1979.” He and his band attended the televised award ceremony (February 27, 1980) and delivered a very hot, seven-minute version of the song, complete with new lyrics and even some harmonica playing. Dylan wore formal dinner wear (white tie) and thanked the Lord and his record producers.
~Paul Williams (Bob Dylan: Performing Artist, Vol 2: The Middle Years 1974-1986)

Bob Dylan arrives at the Grammy Awards 1980

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3 thoughts on “Feb 27: Bob Dylan performs a blistering version of “Gotta Serve Somebody” @ Grammy Award Ceremony in 1980 (video)”

  1. Dylan had some outstanding live versions of this song between 79 and 81. The album version is nice and tight, but it is quite tame compared to what it would become over the next couple of years.

  2. This is kind of strange, he seems to get lost a couple of times. When he changes the words is it planned? here he seems to be doing it on the fly. I prefer the record and the SNL version.

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