Bob Dylan – Never Ending Tour 1988 – Part 1

– “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)

The Never Ending Tour is the popular name for Bob Dylan’s endless touring schedule since June 7, 1988.

AD: Tell me about the live thing. The last tour has gone virtually straight into this one.
BD: Oh, it’s all the same tour. The Never Ending Tour…
-Adrian Deevoy Interview (October 21, 1989)

Bob Dylan has later rejected to “Never Ending Tour” tag.

Don’t be bewildered by the Never Ending Tour chatter. There was a Never Ending Tour but it ended in 1991 with the departure of guitarist G. E. Smith.
-Bob Dylan (album sleeve notes to World Gone Wrong (1993))

..but many of us like this tag, and continue to refer to his endless touring since June 7, 1988 as “The Never Ending Tour”.

Dylan had put together a new band for this tour:

“The first G. E. Smith band”:

Bob Dylan and his band at Santa Barbara County Bowl, Aug 7, 1988 – picture by James Coffey

Mid May – early June 1988

Dylan rehearses for an extensive US tour at S.I.R. Studios, NY. The tour band initially consists of Marshall Crenshaw on six-string bass, G. E. Smith on guitar, and Christopher Parker on drums. After three or four days of re- hearsals, however, it is apparent that Crenshaw’s six-string bass does not fill the sound out enough, and Dylan decides to recruit a conventional bassist. …
Kenny Aaronson is assigned the task of fleshing out Dylan’s touring band as rehearsals continue at Montana Studios, NY . After a day of playing minus Dylan, Aaronson has just five days to learn the 60 songs that comprise the basic repertoire for a major summer tour.
-Clinton Heylin (Bob Dylan: A Life in Stolen Moments Day by Day 1941-1995)


N.E.T. 1988 first leg is often labeled Interstate 88 – part 1. It started in Concord, California on June 7, 1988 & ended Santa Barbara, California ON August 7, 1988.. nice and clean.

This leg featured shows in California, Utah, Colorado, Missouri, Wisconsin, Ohio, New Jersey, New York, Massachussetts, Maine, Pennsylvania, Canada, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Tennessee, Georgia, Texas & Arizona.

No backup singers this year, no keyboards and no harmonica at all. A new year, a new sound. New friends, in the sense that old songs become new friends (to the performer) when their forms change because the players and the instrumentation and the musical environment (and the performer’s self-image) have changed.

…the 1988 shows had a basic format, a dramatic structure based on the alternation of electric (band) sets and acoustic sets. At Concord and at most of the shows for the rest of the year, Dylan and the band opened with “Subterranean,” then played five more electrified songs, followed by the band walking off stage and Dylan and Smith performing a three-song acoustic set, followed by the return of the band and three electric songs, the last of these a rousing show-closer (“Like a Rolling Stone” at Concord and most other nights in 1988). The audience would then play its part, calling for an encore, so the fourth and last set would be the encores.
– Paul Williams (Bob Dylan: Performance Artist 1986-1990 And Beyond)

Here are some music from  Interstate 88 – part 1:

Concord Pavilion
Concord, California
7 June 1988

The first N.E.T. song sets the tone…

After the years of big bands, string sections, horns and female backing singers, it must have been quite a shock to see Dylan take the stage flanked only by a three-piece band: Chris Parker on drums, G.E. Smith on lead guitar and Kenny Aaronson on bass. They looked and sounded like a band of rock and roll gangsters from the wrong side of the tracks. Neil Young was there too, though his presence was barely audible.

The opening show started with a shock as a fairly throaty Dylan sped through his first ever live performance of “Subterranean Homesick Blues”. This proved so successful an opener that it remained in the starting slot throughout 1988.
– Andrew Muir (One More Night: Bob Dylan’s Never Ending Tour)

Subterranean Homesick Blues

Here is the full show:

  1. Subterranean Homesick Blues
  2. Absolutely Sweet Marie
  3. Masters Of War
  4. You’re A Big Girl Now
  5. Gotta Serve Somebody
  6. In The Garden
  7. Man Of Constant Sorrow (trad. arr. by Bob Dylan)
  8. Lakes Of Pontchartrain (trad.)
  9. Boots Of Spanish Leather
  10. Driftin’ Too Far From Shore
  11. Gates Of Eden
  12. Like A Rolling Stone
  13. Maggie’s Farm

Cal Expo Amphitheatre
Sacramento, California
June 9, 1988

Two Soldiers (trad.)

Greek Theatre
University Of California
Berkeley, California
June 10, 1988

San Francisco Bay Blues (Jesse Fuller)

Shoreline Amphitheatre
Mountain View, California
June 11, 1988

Man Of Constant Sorrow (trad. arr. Bob Dylan)

Yes, “Gates of Eden” from June 13th is extraordinary, and “The Lakes of Pontchartrain” from June 7th and “Two Soldiers” from June 9th and various other 1988 acoustic “cover” song performances are quite wonderful.
Paul Williams (Bob Dylan: Performance Artist 1986-1990 And Beyond)

Park West
Park City
Salt Lake City, Utah
June 13, 1988

Gates of Edene

A Hard Rain’s A Gonna Fall

Riverbend Music Center
Cincinnati, Ohio
June 22, 1988

Wild Mountain Thyme (trad.)

Finger Lakes Performing Arts Center
Canandaigua, New York
June 28, 1988

Shelter From The Storm

Give My Love To Rose (Johnny Cash)

Let’s jump to the wonderful show @..

Jones Beach Theater
Jones Beach State Park
Wantagh, New York
June 30, 1988

This is a wonderful soundboard recording.. crisp clear sound, and maybe my favourite 1988 Dylan bootleg. 

This incredible sounding recording is being added to our ‘Must have’ boots section, as it is the best sounding show of the year.

You’re A Big Girl Now

Boots Of Spanish Leather

All Along The Watchtower

Here is the full show:

  1. Subterranean Homesick Blues
  2. Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues
  3. You’re A Big Girl Now
  4. Tangled Up In Blue
  5. Masters Of War
  6. I Shall Be Released
  7. Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again
  8. Lakes Of Pontchartrain (trad.)
  9. A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
  10. Eileen Aroon (Carolin O’Daly, arr. Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem)
  11. Boots Of Spanish Leather
  12. Silvio (Bob Dylan & Robert Hunter)
  13. Gates Of Eden
  14. Like A Rolling Stone
  15. The Times They Are A-Changin’
  16. All Along The Watchtower
  17. Maggie’s Farm

AND July 1 was also a GREAT show.

Jones Beach Theater
Jones Beach State Park
Wantagh, New York
July 1, 1988

Here a lovely:

Simple Twist Of Fate

Forty different songs were played at the first 4 concerts & by the 15th show, 62 different songs had been played.

In 1988 Dylan played a total of 92 different songs in 71 shows.

Great Woods Performing Arts Center
Mansfield, Massachusetts
July 2, 1988

Pretty Peggy-O (trad. arr. Bob Dylan)

Dylan could also cover modern songs to similar dramatic effect. The pick of these was Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”, unveiled in Montreal on July 8th, presumably as a tribute to the Canadian poet and songwriter. The way Dylan performed it made it sound like a brand new masterpiece of his own.
-Andrew Muir (One More Night: Bob Dylan’s Never Ending Tour)

Forum de Montréal
Montréal, Quebec, Canada
8 July 1988

Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen)

Copps Coliseum
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
July 11, 1988

Full concert video.

  1. Subterranean Homesick Blues
  2. Absolutely Sweet Marie
  3. Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again
  4. Ballad Of A Thin Man
  5. Simple Twist Of Fate
  6. All Along The Watchtower
  7. It Ain’t Me, Babe
  8. To Ramona
  9. Mr. Tambourine Man
  10. I Shall Be Released
  11. Silvio (Bob Dylan & Robert Hunter)
  12. Like A Rolling Stone
  13. A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
  14. Gotta Serve Somebody
  15. Maggie’s Farm

Starplex Amphitheatre
Dallas, Texas
July 28, 1988

My Back Pages

Every Grain of Sand

Masters of War

Barbara Allen (trad.)

I Shall Be Released


Greek Theatre
Los Angeles, California
August 4, 1988

Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen)

Santa Barbara County Bowl
Santa Barbara, California
August 7, 1988

Big River (Johnny Cash)


One thought on “Bob Dylan – Never Ending Tour 1988 – Part 1”

  1. This great – thanks -Love the 1988 shows… you can hear Bob reinventing himself again …

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