The Never Ending Tour Extended: She belongs to me 1988 to 1995

I don’t know what it means either: an index to the current series appearing on this website.

The Never Ending Tour Extended: This series uses recordings selected by Mike Johnson in his inestimable masterpiece The Never Ending Tour, and looks at how those performances change as time goes by.   The selection of songs from the series, and the commentary, are by Tony Attwood.

She Belongs to me

1988 part 2: The 60s revisited 

Thjs is one of those performances where it sounds to me as if Bob knew he wanted to changed the performance from that which he had recorded but doesn’t yet really know quite what to do, so he takes it a bit of a gallop, with odd words emphasised for no particular reason.   I included this version as it is just about the first recording we have of the song from the Never Ending Tour articles, rather than because I think it gives us new insights either into the song or Dylan’s feelings for it.   And as for the end, well, it just sort of… stops.

If you are kind enough to go on and read through (and more importantly listen to) the other recordings within this piece, if you have time do then come back and listen to this one.  It is something of a shock to see just how far the song travelled.

1993: Mr Guitar Man goes acoustic 

So we jump forward a mere five years (which in the context of the Tour is a blink of an eye) and the contrast is overwhelming.  Now the lady is gentle, refined, and above all enigmatic, in both the music AND those oh-so-famous lyrics.  Better still although there is the occasional use of that sudden leap of an octave at the end of vocal line, it actually seems to fit here – not least because it is used so occasionally.

This is one of those performances which makes me so pleased that Mike was able to put in the hours, days, weeks, months, years ploughing through the NET recordings to find and help preserve moments like this.  Just imagine if no one had ever thought of recording these concerts.  Just imagine if Mike had never thought of writing the definitive guide…. How much poorer we should all be.

But I must stop – this is a wonderful eight minutes, not just of the arrangement itself, but the improvisions – just listen to the guitar comment after each line in the verse starting around 4 minutes 15 seconds (“Bow down to her on Sunday”).

And then the instrumental verses that follow. This song, originally lasting 2 minutes 40 seconds, is now eight minutes long, and every second is a joy to behold.  And the way it builds up makes me just wish I could have been there for that birthday.  What a day it must have been.   Please don’t leave before the end – that coda is something else to behold.

1994  Full voice absolute vintage Dylan

Bob certainly knew he was onto a winner here as the simple arrangement stayed the same, but the speed is taking up slightly, and although Bob’s voice is restrained he does put some extra force into the singing at times.   But my feeling is that the band knew they had a wonderful simple instrumental here which if kept under control could lead to wonderful improvisations.

I get the feeling here however that the enthusiasms for the improvisions is now starting to take over a little, and Bob finds it nigh on impossible to hold the song down, as the “big drum” verse leading up to the four minute marker shows.

It just goes to show how hard it is to keep some of these improvisations completely under control when they are being performed night after night.   Bob uses a harmonica solo to try and restrain the enthusiasm for the song but I am not sure it works.   It’s still great fun, but somehow I feel the boundaries have been broken.

1995   Acoustic wonderland

So we jump forward one more time.   The leap of the voice at the end of the line has gone; the “don’t look back” sounds almost sardonic.  Dylan is now more distanced, far less involved, no longer entranced by her by looking back with a shake of the head at how anyone could be so taken in by this woman.    The Egyptian ring has just become a detail.   Now the “walking antique” line applies to everyone.

Instrumentally the band is closer to counterpoint than ever before, with instruments entwining with each other as the lady in the song extends her tentacles and draws in those foolish enough to get too close.

Yet amidst all this the band is kept under control and the end is sudden.  She’s now so much a thing of the past.  She’s not even a real memory.  She’s gone.

Other articles in this series…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *