The Dylan nobody knows. With Baez, God, Blowing and a pirate.

Aaron Galbraith and Tony Attwood

Here we take a look at Dylan and Baez’ performance at Peace Sunday, June 6, 1982

Whilst not the last time they appeared on stage together… Joan Baez joined Bob for two songs in Germany in 1984… Hamburg 5/31/84 and Munich 6/2/84. They sang “Blowin’ In The Wind” at both shows plus “I Shall Be Released” at Hamburg.

They also both performed separately at Live Aid in 1985 and were both onstage for The We Are The World finale… but I think Bob scuttled off pretty quickly.

Then they were also both on the same bill at Fleadh Mor festival in 1993 (Waterford, Ireland) but did not perform together.

But going back to Peace Sunday…the set list is

  • Blowin In The Wind
  • With God On Our Side
  • A Pirate Looks At Forty

The question would be…why would Dylan/Baez choose that last song in what is a very short set…  It’s a Jimmy Buffett song from 1974… Apparently its part of his “Big 8”..ie the list of songs he has performed at almost every concert. But it’s a very strange choice, right?

There is something wonderful about the way Bob and Joan will perform in front of these vast crowds, and the two of them have not particularly practised the song together.  The instruction is clearly – “I’ll start and you join in when you can”.

The lyrics below are those published elsewhere for this song, but I (Tony) am not convinced they are 100% what Bob and Joan sing.  There’s also a moment where Bob goes off track with the lyrics too (so it’s not all me).

Mother, mother ocean, I have heard you call
Wanted to sail upon your waters
Since I was three feet tall
You’ve seen it all, you’ve seen it allWatch the men who rode you
Switch from sails to steam
And in your belly you hold the treasure
That few have ever seen, most of them dreams
Most of them dreamsYes, I am a pirate two hundred years too late
The cannons don’t thunder there’s nothin’ to plunder
I’m an over forty victim of fate
Arriving too late, arriving too lateI’ve done a bit of smugglin’
I’ve run my share of grass
I made enough money to buy Miami
But I pissed it away so fast
Never meant to last, never meant to lastI have been drunk now for over two weeks
I passed out and I rallied and I sprung a few leaks
But I’ve got to stop wishin’
Got to go fishin’, I’m down to rock bottom again
Just a few friends, just a few friends

I go for younger women, lived with several awhile
And though I ran away, they’ll come back one day
And still could manage a smile
It just takes awhile, just takes awhile

Mother, mother ocean, after all these years I’ve found
My occupational hazard being my occupation’s just not around
I feel like I’ve drowned
Gonna head uptown

A footnote from Tony: This is one of those songs which once you have performed it, there just seems to be an incredible urge to sing it again.  It’s impossible to describe what it is in songs like these, but something within the music and lyrics carries the performer (amateur or professional) back to another world.  You sing, you play, you are there.  I suspect this is why Bob and Joan performed it.  They felt that special something with this song.

Some songs are intellectual – the message is in the lyrics, you understand them in your head.  I’d argue “God on our side” is one such.  But some songs like A Pirate are just pure emotion (at least when one performs them).  Lines like “I feel like I’ve drowned” after the two lines that have come before, puts one inside the pirate’s mind.  One is there, one feels what he feels at where his life has left him, and how the past has gone.

I hear it, I feel it.

Untold Dylan: who we are what we do

Untold Dylan is written by people who want to write for Untold Dylan.  It is simply a forum for those interested in the work of the most famous, influential and recognised popular musician and poet of our era, to read about, listen to and express their thoughts on, his lyrics and music.

We welcome articles, contributions and ideas from all our readers.  Sadly no one gets paid, but if you are published here, your work will be read by a fairly large number of people across the world, ranging from fans to academics who study English literature.  If you have an idea, or a finished piece send it as a word file to Tony@schools.co.uk with a note saying that it is for publication.

We also have a very lively discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook with approaching 5000 active members. Just type the phrase “Untold Dylan” in, on your Facebook page or follow this link 

You’ll find some notes about our latest posts arranged by themes and subjects on the home page of this site.  You can also see details of our main sections on this site at the top of this page under the picture.  Not every index is complete but I do my best.

But what is complete is our index to all the 603 Dylan compositions and co-compositions that we have found on the A to Z page.  I’m proud of that; no one else has that many songs with that much information.  Elsewhere the songs are indexed by theme and by the date of composition. See for example Bob Dylan year by year.

And please do note our friends at  The Bob Dylan Project, which lists every Dylan song in alphabetical order, and has links to licensed recordings and performances by Dylan and by other artists, plus links back to our reviews (which we do appreciate).

If in reading the site and listening to some of the music you get even one tenth as much pleasure as I get in publishing the material, you’ll be having a good time.

Tony Attwood,  Publisher / editor, Untold Dylan.

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3 Responses to The Dylan nobody knows. With Baez, God, Blowing and a pirate.

  1. Morten Jonsson says:

    “The question would be…why would Dylan/Baez choose that last song.”

    Well, there’s the fact they had both turned forty the year before.

  2. werner hofmann says:

    thanx again for your special service

  3. Ron S says:

    The selection of “A Pirate Looks At 40” was Dylan’s idea, according to an interview Baez did in the April 14, 1983 issue of Rolling Stone:

    Rolling Stone: You and Dylan reunited on stage at a Peace Week concert in Los Angeles last June. What state of mind did he seem to be in?

    Baez: I really have no idea. But I love singing with him. He isn’t in tune, the phrasing is nuts, and he always wants to do a song I’ve never heard before. This time he read it off his arm, and he couldn’t see. I begged him to do something we knew, but he wanted to do this Jimmy Buffett tune, “A Pirate Looks at Forty.” He scribbled it all over his wrist, and then forgot to take his jacket off. It’s always an interesting happening when Bob appears.

    https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-features/joan-baez-the-rolling-stone-interview-71113/

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