Why does Dylan like “Hallelujah, I’m Ready To Go”?

By Tony Attwood and Aaron Galbraith
And here it is at the next gig the following night – there are some subtle changes.  The rhythm by the second night is much tighter.

https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2fsgr9

Being a traditional song the lyrics do vary according to who is performing the piece, and indeed when.  These lyrics are the ones that are often performed…
Hallelujah, I'm ready
I can hear the voices singing soft and low
Hallelujah, I'm ready, hallelujah I'm ready to go.

In the darkness of night, not a star was in sight
on the highway that leads down below
But Jesus came in and saved us all from sin
Hallelujah, I'm ready to go.

Hallelujah, I'm ready
I can hear the voices singing soft and low
Hallelujah, I'm ready, hallelujah I'm ready to go.

Sinners don't wait until it's too late
He's a wonderful saviour you know
Well, I fell on my knees when he answered my plea's
Hallelujah, I'm ready to go.

Hallelujah, I'm ready
I can hear the voices singing soft and low
Hallelujah, I'm ready, hallelujah I'm ready to go.

Hallelujah, I'm ready
I can hear the voices singing soft and low
Hallelujah, I'm ready, hallelujah I'm ready to go.

Hallelujah, I'm ready to go.
Hallelujah, I'm ready to go.
Hallelujah, I'm ready to go...

And here is a version from the Stanley Brothers

If you want to hear a totally alternative approach a completely different version appears here

So what attracts Bob to the song – and what attracts him to the song as an opener?

Certainly there is a constant desire by Bob Dylan to change his concerts and to do something different, and opening with a song like this, which as we may note, came long after his year of writing just faith songs, is certainly different.

It also helps the audience settle down, while at the same time giving an uptempo buzz to the whole evening from the kick off.  There is also, very obviously the double meaning of “I’m ready to go” – in this case saying “Let’s get the show on the road.”

And it has the impact of being unexpected, and I guess it would certainly have taken the audience in Vancouver, Canada, by surprise when the routine that had been established earlier in the tour was broken.  In the previous show two days before Bob opened with Friend of the Devil (the Grateful Dead song), so my thinking is that having had a day’s break between that event and the Canadian show he remembered this song, maybe played it at the sound check, liked it, and then said “Let’s do it”.   It then evolved over time.

By the very last performance there were further subtle differences (28 April 2002, Belgium).  Do listen to this all the way through – the differences really are there, and suggest maybe they have now had enough of this song.  It was becoming too familiar.

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