The importance of identifying Bob Dylan as a performing artist, as distinct from the popular perception that he’s a songwriter and recording artist, is immediately clear when one has a chance to hear his fall 1979 concerts. “What Can I Do for You?,” “Solid Rock,” “Saving Grace,” “Covenant Woman” and “In the Garden” as performed at these shows are some of the finest works in Dylan’s oeuvre..
~Paul Williams (Bob Dylan: Performing Artist, Vol 2: The Middle Years 1974-1986)
I love Dylan’s Gospel tours from 1979 & 1980. And the concerts @ Fox Warfield Theatre November 1979 might be the best of them.
Fox Warfield Theatre
San Francisco, California
2 November 1979
Bob Dylan (vocal & guitar), Fred Tackett (guitar)
Spooner Oldham (keyboards)
Tim Drummond (bass)
Terry Young (keyboards)
Jim Keltner (drums)
Regina Mcrary , Helena Springs , Mona Lisa Young (background vocals)
It’s in my system. I don’t really have enough time to talk about it. If someone really wants to know, I can explain it to them, but there are other people who can do it just as well. I don’t feel compelled to do it. I was doing a bit of that last year on the stage. I was saying stuff I figured people needed to know. I thought I was giving people an idea of what was behind the songs. I don’t think it’s necessary any more. When I walk around some of the towns we go to, however, I’m totally convinced people need Jesus. Look at the junkies and the winos and the troubled people. It’s all a sickness which can be healed in an instant. The powers that be won’t let that happen. The powers that be say it has to be healed politically.
~Bob Dylan (to Robert Hilburn – Nov 1980)
Musically, this is probably Dylan’s finest record, a rare coming together of inspiration, desire and talent that completely fuse strength, vision and art.
~Jann S. Wenner (rollingstone.com – Sept. 1979)
Slow Train Coming was a collection of songs Dylan had originally intended to donate to backing singer Carolyn Dennis.
~Clinton Heylin (The Recording Sessions)
Abraham, Martin and John is a 1968 song written by Dick Holler and first recorded by Dion. It is a tribute to the memory of four assassinated Americans, all icons of social change, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy. It was written in response to the assassination of King and that of Robert Kennedy in April and June 1968, respectively.
It has been covered by many artists, among them are Patti Labelle, Whitney Houston, Marvin Gaye and Bob Dylan.
Sometimes I feel so low-down and disgusted
Can’t help but wonder what’s happenin’ to my companions
Are they lost or are they found
Have they counted the cost it’ll take to bring down
All their earthly principles they’re gonna have to abandon?
There’s a slow, slow train comin’ up around the bend
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”: