This is the first part in a new series of posts about Bob Dylan 1979-81: “The Gospel Years”. We will look at the albums, the tours (each leg), timeline, etc..
For obvious reasons, too many Dylan fans seems to ignore this period. That is sad, because it´s an interesting period with many great performances and 3 strong albums. You don´t have to be religious to enjoy such great art.
The next “Bootleg series” release will be about “The Gospel Years”:
- News about Bob Dylan Trouble No More – The Bootleg Series, Vol. 13 / 1979-1981 (alldylan.com)
- Bob Dylan Plotting Gospel Years Bootleg Series (rollingstone.com)
..Yes, but I know in my head That we're all so misled, And it's that ol' sign on the cross That worries me. .. You might think you're weak But I mean to say you're strong. Yes you are, if that sign on the cross, If it begins to worry you. -Bob Dylan ("Sign on the Cross" - 1967)
Bob Dylan started to embed religious hints in some of his lyrics 1967.
The last song on his 1978 album “Street Legal” – Where Are You Tonight? (Journey Through Dark Heat) – ends with:
There’s a new day at dawn and I’ve finally arrived If I’m there in the morning, baby, you’ll know I’ve survived I can’t believe it, I can’t believe I’m alive But without you it just doesn’t seem right Oh, where are you tonight?
Here is a grandiose version of “Where Are You Tonight?” from Columbia – December 9, 1978:
Thank you. We’d like to do a song from the new album called Street-Legal. This was a single. I know it sold about 100 copies. Anyway, I think it just sold 25, but I guess that we can play it anyway.
-Bob Dylan (Introducing the song)
Something happened @ Sports Arena, San Diego, California on November 17, 1978.
Tangled Up in Blue – Bible version
Here is one “Bible” version of “Tangled Up In Blue”:
Charlotte, North Carolina
10 December 1978
She lit a burner on the stove, wearin' a dress made up of stars and stripes "I thought you'd never say hello," she said "You know you look like you could be the silent type." Then she opened up the Bible And she started quotin' it to me Jeremiah chapter seventeen From verses 21 and 33. And every one of them words rang true And glowed like burnin' coal Pourin' off of every page Like it was written in my soul from me to you, Tangled up in blue.
Do Right To Me Baby (Do Unto Others)
On the last date of the 1978 tour in Miami on 16 December 1978, Dylan performed a new song that spoke of his religious conversion, Do Right To Me Baby (Do Unto Others). This song would later appear on his first “Gospel” album “Slow Train Coming” (Aug 20, 1979).
- Michael Gray: The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia
- Paul Williams: Bob Dylan: Performing Artist, Vol 2: The Middle Years 1974-1986
- Howard Sounes: Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan
- Clinton Heylin: Behind The Shades
- Gisle Selnes: Den Store Sangen (Great new Norwegian book on Dylan)
- Olof: Still On The Road (website)
- Eyolf Østrem: dylanchords (website)