Dylan released and unreleased: the Galas

By Aaron Galbraith and Tony Attwood

Aaron: For this episode, I thought we could take a look at some performances Bob made at a series of televised galas down the years.

First from the Gershwin Gala in 1987 is Bob’s performance of Soon.

Tony:  This is a 1927 song from the Gershwins – music by George Gershwin, lyrics by Ira and it was used in the musical Strike up the Band.  As this song takes us away from our normal territory I thought I might drop in a recording which is closer to showing how it was used in the musical.

I’m actually not sure Bob adds anything to the song – but then I was brought up in a family that knew all about (and played) Gershwin.   This is how I suspect many people will think of Gershwin

Sorry Aaron, I’ve taken this piece away from where you intended.  I’ll try and get us back on track…

Aaron: From 2012 comes this version of Blind Willie McTell in honor of Martin Scorsese- introduced by Olivia Harrison, you can have great fun playing “spot the A listers” in the audience!

Tony:   Oh my goodness.  I have never seen this before. This is incredible – from the rearrangement of the time (the extra bar at the end of each verse) to the hand movements, from the swing in the beat to the smile on Bob’s face, and on to the false ending.  This is so not Bob it is utterly wonderful.  And then beyond this the utter bemusement on the faces of the audience.   I’ve just had to play it a second time, rather than continuing with the article.

Aaron: Last up for this time is a one-off performance Bob gave at the White House of The Times They Are A Changin’

Tony: OK this is the reverse, this time he takes out the bar at end of the verse.  I remember the President saying that other performers make use of the occasion of the Presidential concerts by spending the day in the White House looking around, rehearsing etc, whereas Bob just turned up, performed and then left.   And, as I recall, President Obama said “And that’s how you want Bob Dylan to be.”   Or something like that.

Here Bob performs the song as a waltz – whoever would have thought it?   Love it.

But really I just have to go back to Blind Willie – that is such a sensational performance and amazing arrangement.  Aaron I’m very much indebted to you for this.

(I perhaps should add, if you have not read any Aaron / Tony pieces before, Aaron is in the USA and I’m in the UK.  Aaron sends me the videos and his script and I try and write a commentary on hearing the music, straight off without sneaking onto the internet to look stuff up.  If I’ve got the bit about the White House performance wrong, sorry about that.  Please put me right.)

Dylan released and unreleased


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