The Never Ending Tour Extended: Goodbye Jimmy Reed

 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 primarily uses recordings selected by Mike Johnson in his inestimable masterpiece The Never Ending Tour, and looks at how those performances of individual songs change as time goes by.   The selection of songs from the series, and the commentary below, are by Tony Attwood.   A list of all the songs covered in the series is given at the end.

Goodbye Jimmy Reed had a short but intensive lifespan as a concert song, being played between 2 November 2021 and 6 April 2024: a total of 202 times.  Clearly for a while it was one Bob wanted to keep in the repetoire.

2001:  Down Electric Avenue

We get a whole verse introduction before Bob comes in with a half sung half recited version.   Instrumentally the performance keeps very close to the album version, including that signature descending sequence between each verse.

Bob sings this in an almost desperate way at times, emphasising the paranoia of being stuck in Mobile.  It makes me wonder if it really is such an awful place!

The instrumental break just keeps rolling along without anything very new to distinguish it.  There is a lot of repetition from a guitar playing one note over and over which I suspect is put in Bob – it is something he often does.

There is however also a good harmonica solo at the end, which helps quite a bit.  Even though it too uses the repeat repeat technique.

2005: God knows you gotta weep

If you are a trifle impatient I should point out the recording of the song doesn’t start until the 30 second mark, but it is worth waiting for as from the off we have a more relaxed accompaniment over that unmistakable arrangement.

To me, Bob sounds more engaged this time, even though he hasn’t done much with the song except make the lyrics come out a bit faster – along with those famous leaps in the vocal line of a 5th upwards.

Thus overall, it seems much more of a gentle stroll around an old favourite than before.  And that feeling is emphasised after the 6-minute 10-second mark when we get a fun, relaxed, and basically just enjoyable instrumental verse.  This in turn is followed by another variation with the same lead guitar going a little further but still keeping it all calm and relaxed.

Those two instrumental verses do really ensure the relaxed feel of the song is totally embedded in the performance.  After that there is yet another instrumental verse which really does take us on a step further.   Listen to the last instrumental version of the “Oh mama” section as we approach the end.  It is not spectacular, but it’s fun.

2008: Drowning in the honky-tonk Lagoon

There are subtle differences again – and to me that’s fair enough because the structure of the song with its unusual chord changes, and “Oh mama” section means that there is not too much one can do with the song.

Except…. then in comes Bob with a declamation performance we have not been expecting.  He really delivers something different here.   Whether this was worth waiting for, I am not sure, but it certainly is interesting.  As indeed are the further variations that we get as the song meanders through its eight-minute performance.

To be critical I would wonder if really there is enough here to make it worthy of eight minutes, but we do get a different harmonica solo at the end in which Dylan plays the same sequence over and over no matter what the band is doing.  It makes for a very curious clash of implied chords.

2010: Stay Dylan Stay

And was there to be a sudden and unexpected re-writing of the song as its lifetime comes to and end?  Well, no but the crowd appreciate it anyway.  The percussionist seems to want to have more of a say than normal, but Bob fights back with the harmonica solo we are now expecting with this song.

It is a song that has had some variations added to it along the way, but in essence it has remained unchanged, probably because of that signature arrangement to the chorus line of “Oh mam…”

Other articles in this series…


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