I was in eleventh grade. My writing was inspired by Leonard Cohen, the various blues, heavy metal, and hard rock lyricists who kept me thinking, and one of the other masters of the songwriting form, Bob Dylan.
In the spring of 1996, Bob Dylan was on a tour taking him through some stops in Atlantic Canada. To my surprise, my friend Jono’s Dad (Peter) had bought tickets for himself and three of us to go to one of the shows. It would be in Saint John, New Brunswick. The Halifax shows were long sold out so he was inspired to buy tickets anyways. I was so grateful for Peter’s generosity. He had an amazing collection of records and guitars. Jono and I spent many weekends just playing whatever guitars were close by, and I would go through his record collection.
We took another mutual friend with us who was not familiar with Dylan’s music. He was happy to be part of the road trip. It ended up being a great time.
The concert itself was remarkable for the number of youth in the audience. It may have been a reflection of the young people wanting to flaunt their joint smoking abilities on the floor of Saint John’s Harbour Station Arena. It may have been just a natural reaction to a big name being in town. Whatever it was, it was a night to look into history. One of the biggest names in music graced the stage with an incredible band putting on an incredible shows.
Every song was performed like it was the first time people were meant to hear it. Bob lead the group with the swagger of the early big band conductors. We were seated out midway of the arena bowl with an excellent view of the stage. The crowd received him so well, he returned to the stage for a four-song encore.
When we left, there was a battle for taxis right outside the arena. We lucked out when one pulled up right in front of Peter. I was able to run in but Jono and our other friend were a few extra steps behind. A couple of people started to try and catch up thinking they could take the other two seats from us. Jono picked up our friend and physically tossed him into the middle seat. It was like a stunt right out of a movie.
As I write this, Bob’s latest record “Rough and Rowdy Ways” was recently released. It is a runaway favourite for best record of 2020. Key West (Philosopher Pirate) is a new personal favourite Dylan song of mine. Musically and lyrically it paints an escape from the present reality of COVID-19 and political craziness.
The beauty of the world can still be found in the arts. Music, movies, memories in mind and memories in frames. Remember to get lost in it for a while and meditate.