Once or twice: Roll on John

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

Once or twice: A review of some of the songs that Bob has performed just once or twice on stage, selecting those of which we have a genuine recording (and “genuine” is important here since I have found a few sites that seem to suggest they are a recording of a live version, but I have my doubts.)

Previously we looked at 

For this article I started out by looking for a recording of “Black Diamond Bay” on the internet, that song being noted by the official Dylan site as being played once live.  And indeed on the internet there is a site that seems to suggest it has the live version, but following on from the note above, certainly to my ears it sounds like nothing more than simply a poor recording of the album version.

Perhaps the reason for a lack of interest by Bob is that maybe he didn’t write the lyrics – the general feeling is that they were written by Jacques Levi.  Certainly there are references on the internet to that as a fact.   But either way – it seems there is no recording of the one live performance that the official site notes.

Similarly the one live performance of Buckets of Rain by Dylan seems not to have been recorded, although I came across a version by John Mayer I hadn’t heard before, so I thought I would share that as I rather like it (and please don’t switch away now, because there are two live Dylan recordings coming up).   And it has always struck me that one of the joys of doing a bit of digging around (or “research” as us pompous writers like to call it) is the finding of the unexpected.

But moving on, I had more luck with Roll on John, which I can be certain was played live in Blackpool in 2013 – it was said Bob played the song there since it was the closest venue on the tour to Liverpool (the town and the city are about 55 miles apart).  I was there courtesy of my dear friends Pat and Jayne who very kindly got the tickets, booked the hotel and drove the car.  (I’m really hoping I paid my share).

The second performance was at the Royal Albert Hall which I wasn’t at.  John Lennon was shot in December 1980 – so the commemoration was 33 years on from his passing.

And since Wikipedia has been kind enough to quote Untold Dylan as an authoratative source on one or two occasions, I can do no better than quote Wiki on the subject of this song….

“It is likely, however, that the specific origins of “Roll On John” came from a public minibus tour that Dylan took of Lennon’s childhood home in Liverpool in 2009. A spokeswoman for the National Trust-owned home said in an interview that Dylan “could have booked a private tour but he was happy to go on the bus with everyone else”. She also noted that Dylan, who apparently went unrecognized by the other 13 tourists on the bus ‘appeared to enjoy himself’.    Dylan himself mentioned the visit and what he had learned about Lennon’s life from it in a 2012 Rolling Stone interview to promote Tempest. In the same interview, Dylan also recalled that he and his band had “started practicing” the song during soundchecks in late 2011.”

That date fits with the 2013 performances, so that probably is right.


One comment

  1. Buckets of rain performed by Dylan in1990 was recorded and can be found on the bootleg ‘ Getting harder and harder to see a new sunrise ‘

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