By Tony Attwood
The Absolute Highlights series
- 1: John Brown 1987
- 2: Desolation Row. 1990.
- 3: She Belongs to Me
- 4: Tangled up in Blue
- 5: I and I – power without meaning
- 6: It ain’t me babe – go lightly.
- 7: Perfection in desolation
- 8: Girl from the North Country.
- 9: When He Returns
- 10: It’s alright Ma
I find it hard to pick many absolute highlights from the Never Ending Tour series that are not Dylan songs, as much of the time they sound to me like songs that have been played through just once or twice in rehearsal without too much thought about the arrangement. My guess (and it is of course no more than that) is that Bob thinks of a song he likes and starts playing it, and the guys join in. Then if it goes ok, they play it in the show.
It can be fun, and enjoyable on the occasion, but listened to in retrospect the rough edges become very prominent and one ends up wishing that there had been a little more rehearsal… an agreement as to what happens in the instrumental break, how the performance ends, where the harmonies come in and where they don’t etc.
Satisfied Mind from 1996 isn’t perfect by any means, but it does sound as if everyone knew what they were doing, and really wanted to perform this song
There’s an interesting bit of history of the song on Wiki, which tells us it was “written by Joe “Red” Hayes and Jack Rhodes. Hayes explained the origin of the song in an interview: “The song came from my mother. Everything in the song are things I heard her say over the years. I put a lot of thought into the song before I came up with the title. One day my father-in-law asked me who I thought the richest man in the world was, and I mentioned some names. He said, ‘You’re wrong; it is the man with a satisfied mind.’
I’m now of an age where both my parents have passed away, but I still have the fondest memories of them, although I know they were often horrified by what I got up to in the early days. So there’s an personal emotional appeal with the song, but beyond that there is a sublime elegance about the composition which Bob finds and maintains throughout. And I am so glad that at least in this song there had been enough rehearsal for the harmonies to work in a meaningful way.
And I must admit I am moved by the meaning of the lyrics. Very, very simple of course, but very true. If you can’t be satisfied with your life, what else is there?
I suspect Bob remembered the song particularly because of the Johnny Cash version, which is below, but I think the performance above by Bob far outshines what Johnny Cash did.