Monday, July 16, 2007

Love and War at Dylan Concert

The setting for the Bob Dylan concert last weekend in Cleveland was very urban and unusual -- it was a tent-like outdoor venue, set along the Cuyahoga River, with night views of the skyline, various bridges with passing trains and a variety of boats gliding behind the stage. The opening act was fantastic -- Jimmie Vaughan doing Texas Roadhouse blues. It was contagious and confirmed our desire to go to Austin to hear more music.
Dylan himself played many of his old songs, some of which we knew, some we didn't -- but the crowd surely did. The crowd was a distraction from the event, in our section, at least. People were standing up in front of the boxes, some of which were disabled seating. When asked to sit down so others could see, angry words flew, tickets were waved, obscene gestures were made, and people just became ugly. Mellow-looking middle aged people were screaming at ushers to eject the offending people. It was not the mood Dylan would have wanted and it took away from the sheer magic of the event.
As the final song of the encore began ("Blowin' In The Wind"), the wife of a wheelchair-bound man who had obviously had a stroke and could no longer talk or stand, braced herself on a bar and pulled her husband up to see Dylan sing the song, over the heads of the standing crowd. I wept, as I told my husband that these people had obviously been together a long time and this song must have been part of their memories. Towards the end of the song, Dylan changed to playing it on the harmonica. She managed to hoist him up again, and hugged him, gently kissing his neck while he got to see Dylan play that song on his harmonica. It was a moment never to forget. I whispered to my husband that you never know how much you love somone until it is tested by an ultimate challenge.
As we walked out into the light rain after the concert, we were lucky enough to see Dylan's bus caravan drive away from the back of the arena. Fans, including us, clapped and waved, hoping for one last sight of Dylan. I cannot help but thinking, as he drove through the rainy night, that he was headed to another city, another concert, and, yet another set of memories revisited.