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gig grab bag: dylan goes “across the borderline”

May 17, 2015

gig grab bag logoWith Bob Dylan’s 74th birthday coming up on Sunday, and his appearance confirmed as David Letterman’s final musical guest on Tuesday night, it seems an appropriate time to feature my main man in the Gig Grab Bag. This video comes from Farm Aid 1986 where Dylan appeared via satellite with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers from their joint True Confessions tour. (Sidenote: since I was just shy of 2-years-old at the time, this tour will always remain near the top of my concert time-machine list.) I like this performance for several reasons. Partly, because it’s two of my favorite artists performing together, and also partly because it features Dylan covering someone else’s song. “Across the Borderline” was written by Ry Cooder, John Hiatt, and Jim Dickinson and appeared on Willie Nelson’s album of the same name in 1993. Dylan had debuted his version of the song at the opening date of the True Confessions tour in New Zealand in February of ‘86. With a catalog hundreds of incredible songs deep, Dylan certainly doesn’t need to add any covers to his live rotation, but I’ve found that when he does they are often some of my favorite performances. For example, in the fall of 2002 I skipped my senior-year homecoming dance to drive down and see Dylan at good ol’ Mac Court on the University of Oregon campus. This was right during the time that news broke of Warren Zevon’s terminal mesothelioma diagnosis, and Zevon was at work on his final masterpiece of an album The Wind. That night in Eugene Dylan performed a breathtaking version of Zevon’s “Mutineer” in a nod to his ailing friend and it was one of the most beautiful moments I can remember from all of my 13 Dylan concerts. I digress, but the point is I love the opportunity to hear Dylan’s interpretations of other writers’ songs and this performance is no exception. Bonuses: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers as Dylan’s backing band, a virtual jewel-tone-rainbow of perfectly 80’s fringed jackets on the back-up singers, and Dylan’s vest/pants combo creating the illusion of black leather overalls…. (seriously, does anyone else see that??) Essentially, there’s something for everyone in this video. Enjoy.

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