Friday, March 12, 2010

While the Band Played Dixie

More Dylan. Here's a link to the Band doing "When I Paint My Masterpiece," a great song by Bob Dylan, written in the early '70s. Dylan did it in "Renaldo and Clara," with a mask on. The Grateful Dead did it. I was surfing around the world of Dead videos and found them doing it, then there were a bunch of comments saying the Band's version was the best. Probably the comments were about an early one, when the Band was big. I know I went out to San Francisco in the fall of '69 with about three records, one of them the Band, and listened to those songs, "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," "Up on Cripple Creek," over and over, up on the 6th floor at Guerrero and 25th, a big white washed apartment building, me and Dave Cheek living in an apartment with no furniture, a mattress for each of us picked up off the street, a dufflebag, and for some reason Dave had his phonograph and this handful of records.

I was always of a mind that the Band, the Dead, Dylan himself, were connected to roots in just the perfect way, not reviving anything, but mixing the real stuff with now, so to speak. Because if you're not here, you're nowhere, ain't that right?

So here's the link:

Look at Rick Danko--he's gotten chunky, but still loving music, loving singing. Levon is just like my friends in the Craver, Hicks, Watson, Newberry Band--particularly reminds me of Watson, his voice cutting through. The age on these guys--it's pretty much my age too--I swear it makes this even better than when they were young stars, or when Scorsese filmed them in the "Last Waltz." And why did they think they were going to quit, anyway? Look at the Stones in Scorsese's "Shine a Light." They're having more fun than ever. My favorite part in "Light" is probably Keith helping Charlie off the drum riser. Or maybe Mick's delivery of "I only slept with her once" in "Some Girls." You have to be grown up to play like these guys are now.

I had a chance to go catch the Stones at Altamont that fall in San Francisco. They were going to play a free concert in Golden Gate Park, but they couldn't get permitted and all, so they got this old race track out across the bay, past Oakland somewhere. I didn't have any wheels and didn't go. I took pictures out my window of the sun shining on windows, of the amazing San Francisco light. I lay down on the rug in that empty apartment and listened to the night they drove old Dixie down, while the night came on. I thought about the life I'd left in NC, and at that moment I didn't have any idea what might be coming next. I'd gotten a very high draft number. I knew I wasn't going to Vietnam.

Update. Then there's this:

On stage is where one part of a person lives, sometimes only on stage, sometimes it's more integrated, and now and very then, nothing changes when a performer walks through the 4th wall into the parallel universe. Just depends on all sorts of stuff that no one is even aware of when they discover one day that performing is fun, and that they're good at it. So those geezers are kinda remarking on themselves when they talk about what a long hard ride it's been, and how they can't stand to look at the Kings of the Jungle. You can either appreciate the joy of the moment, or you can look through that into the other stuff, which being life, will surely be there, good and ill. And actually, you can even do both things--as a member of the audience I mean.

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