By Tony Attwood
This new series uses the recordings from beyond the Never Ending Tour, as prepared by Mr Tambourine. You can hear the full set of recordings on this video with an index and links to all the songs here. “Most likely” starts at around 5 minutes – I am hoping that just clicking on the start button will take you there, but if not use the time bar at the foot of the video. (Sorry, I know a bit about music, but nothing about IT, but clicking on the Watch on You Tube button bottom left seems to bring the right result at my end.)
So looking at “Most Likely
The one real innovation comes with
The judge, he holds a grudge He’s gonna call on you But he’s badly built And he walks on stilts Watch out he don’t fall on you You say you’re sorry For tellin’ stories That you know I believe are true
If this is a commentary on something, I am not sure what – apart maybe from the notion that those who want to tell you what to do can suffocate you, even when you act in a way that tries to suck up to them.
The song has been performed 490 times since January 1974 – here it is from 2009 Rolling the Rock.
The key has changed but the tempo is the same. And yet the question arises, has the music taken us any further forward? I am not sure – for this to me sounds very much like the simple evolution of the song which begins with everyone thinking, “How did we do that before?”
What is particularly interesting is the lack of any lead instrumentation in the non-vocal part: very much a part of Dylan’s approach in earlier times. And so overall this sounds to me as if the break between the end of the Never Ending Tour in 2019, and the return with the Rough and Rowdy Ways tour in 2021, never really happened. The NET has ended; off we go again.
The one big innovation from the original recording is the declaimed section of “The judge he holds a grudge” which really added a deep sense of sorrow and regret to the 2009 performance. And the removal of that makes this much lighter.
So again I come back to the question what is Bob telling us? (If anything – after all one can say, “it’s just a song”. Well, if there is a message (and I do like messages) it is pretty much that he is continuing to do his own thing. You can do what you like, and he’ll do what he likes, and he’s not taking any notice of the critics, commentators, columnists, and most certainly not of people like me (not that he knows I’m here, but you know what I mean).
Be yourself he said then, and that’s what he’s still saying now. Those lines
The judge, he holds a grudge He’s gonna call on you But he’s badly built And he walks on stilts Watch out he don’t fall on you
are the constant warning from Bob in his songs.
Don’t let them get you.
Oh yes and whatever you were expecting on this tour – it’s what Bob wants to offer, not what the critics are demanding, and maybe what you want. Or maybe not.