Ticket Originally posted to
rec.music.dylan, 7 Feb 1997...

Memphis TN
23 January 1974

[Evidently, this report got hung up on an NNTP server in Outer Mongolia
for 23 years... Sorry it took so long, but the operator kept accusing
me of red-boxing when I tried to call in the setlist to Bill Pagel
from the payphone in the time warp. Ding ding ding... When you hear the
tone it will be three o'clock; she said that for over an hour & I hung
up. Still... I couldn't believe after all these years...]

It was something of a shock that we got the tickets in the 1st place.
My friend Cathy organized the plot & submitted the requisite mailorder
application for four tickets (no more, no less). And we got 'em! Me &
Cathy & her then-boyfriend & Tommy & Kathy (okay, maybe she was another
Cathy but we'll "K" her to keep things straight). What a plot! Cathy
(not Kathy) conned her mom into letting her borrow a huge Dodge station
wagon (excellent car to drive during a war) -- we wouldn't fit into her
Opel Kadet anyway -- and arranged for us to crash on her cousin's living
room floor in Memphis. I checked out of my Ecology II lab for Wednesday
& Thursday. (Yes, kiddies, in those days, one *told* one's professors
when one was planning to cut class ;-)

An early morning stop at the University Package Liquor Store had us
provisioned for the six hour ride up to Memphis, me with a bottle of
Beaujolais (of course) & everyone else with whatever they needed. For
some reason, I opted for the rear-facing jumpseat in the back of that
powerwagon & off we went.

[Side note to younger rec.music.dylan readers: Do not consume alcohol
during six hour rides to concerts! Do not smoke anything. Cigarettes
cause chromosome damage. In 1974, we didn't know all that stuff might
kill us & nobody expected to live this long anyway. In 1997, people
know better. It's doom alone that counts.]

Somewhere in the Delta, Kathy crawled back into the jumpseat. "You seem
to be having a better time by yourself back here than we are up there."
(By then I was singing Dylan songs to myself, annoying the hell out of
everyone else, waving my Beauj bottle & quoting Scaduto extensively!)
I shared my wine & we scandalized the little old ladies out on I-55 
heading north. State troopers? Where are state troopers when someone
needs them anyway?

Arrived in Memphis, checked out the crashpad (dirty floor & cold) and
headed on out to MidSouth Coliseum. Tommy & I had seats on Row 35,
Section G, absolute nosebleeds on the very top row of a 13,000 seat hall,
at least two miles from stage left. Dylan & the Band were tiny little ants
from where we sat, but that didn't matter. Nobody talked during the songs,
everyone sat with their hands on their knees as if expecting the Second
Coming to commence any minute.

8:00 PM -- click. Lights down... This was a Bill Graham Production,

And in the darkness, a Danko fretless bass thumped out this tremendous
"boom-boom booom booom boom-boom" I muttered to Tommy, "This is heavier
than Jethro Tull." (I'd recently seen Tull & Z.Z. Top, the pre-pop Top,
but this was 99 times louder & bassier than those bands.)

"You say you *love* me and you're *think*ing of me but you *know* you
*could* be WRONG!" It's Bob! 13,000 "oh my gods" broke out at once. And
the Band & Bob were rolling. Right down through "Most Likely You'll Go
Your Way (And I'll Go Mine)", "Lay Lady Lay", and "Just Like Tom Thumb's

[Side note 2: In 1971, a friend gave me an "unusual" Dylan album called
"Royal Albert Hall 1966". The arrangement of JLTTB was picture perfect,
like a lift from that '66 tour... More later...]

And then the Band began that sleazy "nyah nyah-nyah-nyah" riff that everyone
knew was "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35". With my binoculars (don't leave home
for an arena concert without 'em) I could see puffs of smoke rising from the
front row. Interestingly, the same phenomenon occured at the *last* Dylan
show I saw in 1996. Coincidence? I think not! The audience chanted along on
the refrain & the cops looked uncomfortable. Some things never change.

Then, it's Richard Manuel over to the second set of drums (placed directly
behind Levon for an interesting visual effect) while Bob goes to the piano
for "Ballad of a Thin Man". Just like my RAH '66 boot!

And then Bob trotted off the stage & the Band took their first set. Now,
Memphis was a bit of a hometown gig for those boys and it certainly showed.
In '74, the Band were at the height of their powers & easily commanded as
much crowd loyalty as Bob. In short, the Band's sets were not a respite
for the crowd (or a chance to sneak to the john) but an absolute
embarrassment of riches...

A few songs later, out ambles Dylan again. This time it's "All Along the
Watchtower" with plenty of Robbie-tries-to-be-Jimi flash guitar. A big
crowd pleaser, to cop a phrase from Kinky Friedman. An electric "Ballad of
Hollis Brown" followed and then "Knockin' of Heaven's Door". Off bounces
Bob & the Hawks do another set.

And then the Band gets up and walks away. The lights dim a little & a lone
spotlight flares on the centerstage mike. And it's an acoustic set. "Come
gather round people wherever you roam..." is followed by "Don't Think Twice."
And then the crown jewel of the evening: "When she said don't waste your
words there just lies, I cried she was deaf..." I'm a 20-year old basket
case, friends...

No quarter is demanded; no quarter is given. Bob launches into "Gates of
Eden". Tommy leans over. "How does he remember all those words?" he asks.
I just grin. I'm sure I resembled a Moonie at the airport. "Just Like a
Woman" -- is this guy gonna give us a break? 

And "It's Alright, Ma". Now much has been written in the 23 years since
about how Bill Graham thunk up the neat red, white & blue lighting that
flashed when Dylan sang "Even the president of the U-nited States sometimes
must haveta stand naked!" but, well, you had to be there. Everyone was
stuck in Watergate -- which was a media event that made the O.J. trial
pale by comparison -- and here goes Dylan, like a prophet, with a light
show to boot. Well, you can't boot a light show, but you know what I'm
talkin' about. From our nosebleed seats, the lighting effect was very
clear, amazing, actually. Bob Dylan & a light show? Nah...

Another set by the Band. Then Bob's back out for "Forever Young" &
"Something There Is About You". Ever the shrewd popstar, Dylan's plugging
his new "Planet Waves" album (which, after all those years of half-baked
efforts & country schmaltz, was a major listen).

And then Richard Manuel began that full-octave-chord riff that told me
(just like the RAH boot) that "Like A Rolling Stone" was beginning. The
crowd was standing, dancing. I knew the show was almost over. That's a
long song, but it wasn't long enough, even at the end of such a long
evening. 13,000 lighters flicked on in the darkness as the poet & the
players stalked off the stage like victorious prize fighters. That age-old
chant for more. What would the encore be?

And in the darkness, a Danko fretless bass thumped out this tremendous
"boom-boom booom booom boom-boom" I muttered to Tommy, "Are they starting
over?" "You say you love me and you're thinking of me but you know you
could be WRONG!" Hey! I've heard that already! Hey! Who cares? We love
you & we're thinking of you, Bob, and we are NOT wrong!

[Final note: It's cool & hip for writers & critics to talk about how
lame that '74 tour was, how commercial, how unemotional. Even Bob's said
that. But for that Dylan-starved crowd, well... Use your own imagination.
Nowadays, you can chase Dylan night after night after night after night
until you know all the setlists by heart, but back then...back then...
back then... Oh, Mr Wizard! Take me back!]

Well, that's the way it came down, kiddies, back before your mom met your
dad & their world went to hell. Back when Bob & Sara were still an item.
Back when the argument boiled down (simply) to whether you prefered folk
Bob, rock Bob, or country Bob. When if you'd even suggested "gospel Bob"
you'da been laughed right out of the microbus.

How long ago *was* that? Well, we left the concert & went out to hit some
clubs (the High Cotton Club comes to mind). One of the little bars had an
album jacket in the window advertising their "up and coming" entertainer
of the evening -- somebody named Billy Joel. 

"Wanna go hear that guy?"
"Naw, I ain't paying two bucks to hear a piano bar guy..."

C'est la vie, say the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell.

Joe Cliburn
"Obviously, I'm not an IBM computer any more than I'm an ashtray." - Dylan

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