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Bob Dylan and the Young'ns

Subject: 8/15 Young'ns and thier antics Very Long -1 of 3
From: David Meekings (
Date: 18 Aug 1997 03:38:56 GMT

The Young'ns and Their Peculiar Behavior 

Walking from the parking lot to the amphitheater at the Garden State Arts
Center I struck up a conversation with an old timer.  This was to be his
81st show  and he was a cheerful wealth of information.  He gave me the
lowdown on the best boots from '61 to today and he told me about the
current tour.  Not bad, he said, and I beat the traffic.  No need to hear
RDW for the umpteenth time.  Just play Blind Willie McTell and my night is

I concurred and went to buy my ticket.   Although I only have 7 shows since
'92 under my belt, RDW as the closer was always a letdown.  Sure it might
have gotten the high-schoolers in the crowd, the ones I once overheard
saying Dylan was covering Jimi when he did AATW, up and dancing. But I was
always left thinking, Of all of his great songs I could hear live just
once, why waste a slot with RDW every show?  And I was prepared to leave
early like my old-timer buddy.

I had lawn seating and was looking for a place to sit when I first noticed
the crowd.  Jeez, I thought, there sure are some young fans here.  In fact,
I felt old,  Real old. Out of place old.  Being 26, that doesn't happen
often.  It's the youngest Dylan crowd I've ever seen, I thought,  must be
here for Ani.  Which wasn't a bad thing because I could probably bum a
better ticket stub from one of them when they left early.  I found a spot
of grass right next to an aisle for that very reason.

Ani came and went with a very impressive set but the young'ns didn't leave
with her.  In fact they seemed to get more excited.  Maybe they ARE here
for Bob, I thought and began to study them more closely.  They were all
young, between 16 and 22, maybe.  Some seemed to be there because it was a
convenient place to sit on a blanket a share a joint.  Some seemed to like
showing off their generation's version of hippie-chic fashion, and by their
talking, some seemed to be really into Bob.

Sure, young'ns didn't make up the entire crowd.  There were a fair share of
the typical Bob audience in view. Serious Fans.  A few aging college
teachers,   Ex-hippies, parents dragging their kids and maybe a couple like
me.  A twenty something who got into Bob when our friends only thought he
was a guy on the Wonder Years soundtrack.  I figured we were all compelled
to attend by a combination of the same motivations.  1) Loyalty - a singer
this great and who influenced our lives so much deserves an audience.  2)
History - How often do you get to see one of the twentieth century's most
influential personalities doing what made him influential in the flesh?
Bring the kids. 3) Song collection - Every show attended is a chance to get
another song on the "I saw it live" list. 4) interpretation - can the guy
still play?  Who knows what the young'ns are here for, I thought as
everyone waited for Bob.

As Bob came out and started with Absolutely Sweet Marie the young'ns seemed
too happy to be there for the serious and somber reasons I was.  And a
rolling Lay Lady Lay only made it worse.  How can you critique when you're so
busy dancing?  And they danced.  All through Just Like a Woman and Silvio I
had roaming bands of young'ns  dancing into and out of view.  I had to
admit, being so far from the stage, it was fun to watch.  Sure, they might
not have been showing Bob or the serious fans the respect they each
deserved, but they weren't killing anyone.  And they knew the songs inside
and out.


Subject: Young'ns and their antics Long - 2 of 3 From: David Meekings ( Date: 18 Aug 1997 03:41:46 GMT Then when Bob played Cocaine Blues and many of the young'ns seemed to know the song my ears perked up. If they knew this song, they must have seen him recently, much more recently than a serious fan like myself. Maybe there was more to these young fans than I wanted to admit. Blind Willie McTell changed all that. The song was supposed to make my night, everyone's night. But during Bob's greatest "hidden song" many of the young'ns were leaving. I was watching in disbelief as they filed up the aisle. Go back you fools, I felt like yelling, don't you know you're missing history? But they kept coming. Kids, I thought, when will they learn? But during LSPBH, I saw something I've never seen at a show before. The young'ns I saw leaving were returning, and it looked like they picked up some friends wherever they had gone. The migration coninued through the encore break. This is strange I thought as the young'ns clogged the aisles trying to get somewhere I didn't know about. These young fans are more than just a bunch of kids dragged here by their parents or English teacher. There was a routine here, a plan. These kids aren't isolated fans, I thought, they're beginning to seem like a genuine underground counter culture musical movement. And as the Young'ns filed in, the Seriuos'ns filed out. Hippies, Parents, couples out on a date, all of them. I watched them walk by with their lawn chairs and coolers. On and on the marched, fighting through the young'ns with the nervous glances and hurried gate of tourists trying to get off some island before the volcano blows. And around me the crowd shuffled and hummed and began dancing and clapping in nervous anticipation. And Bob came out with LARS and the young'ns went nuts. Everyone on their feet, screaming "How does it feel" right at Bob. What glorious gall, I thought, as I jumped to my feet. What serious'n would ever think to sing along with Bob. THE BOB. "Like a rolling stone," I sang. I couldn't analyze the musical aptitude of the band but this sure was fun. Besides, most of the serous'ns seemed to have split by then. And then Bob broke into My back pages and the young'ns knew it as soon as I did and went nuts. And Bob pulled out his harp and the young'ns fell silent in awe and then cheered like crazy when he finished. And then the strangest and most moving event of the night occurred. A lone young lady found a way on the stage and danced for a few sublime seconds with Bob and the band. The young'ns went nuts, but from where I was standing no one else tried to get on stage, or got very far. Maybe one dancing fan a night is enough for all of them, I thought. And then the lights went out and I couldn't wait for what was coming next. The lights came on and Bob started playing and I wasn't disappointed. RDW finally became what it had always been: A celebration. The entire audience was illuminated for all to see and everyone seemed young and everyone was dancing. They were dancing on seats. They were dancing in aisles. A stranded middle aged professional was dancing with his young daughter on his lawn chairs. I was dancing with everyone. And Bob was in the center of this gigantic party. I think he only sang one verse but it didn't matter. It was about the music and the dancing and the energy these kids were getting from the almost geriatric poet laureate of Rock-n-Roll. It was the most fun I've ever had at a Dylan show. Continued
Subject: Young'ns and their antics Long - 3 of 3 From: David Meekings ( Date: 18 Aug 1997 03:43:21 GMT As I walked back to my car in a seemingly sea of young'ns, I began to wonder who these kids were and why they were here. And I began to believe these are important questions for all Dylan fans. The only thing I knew for sure was that they were young, around college age, and react to Dylan's music in ways different from fans my age or older. I came of age in the late eighties, when the 60's had a major media comeback, so I had Dylan's cultural importance beaten into my subconscious. But younger fans, from the concert reaction anyway, didn't seem obligated to hold him in the same stuffy reverence fans my age and older do. Fans 24 and under seemed to connect with Dylan and his music in a way I didn't (and still don't) understand. I had a lot of questions about these young'ns. What other music do they listen to? What music of Dylan's first turned them on. How many shows do they see? Do they trade tapes? Do they take part in this newsgroup? And most importantly, why Bob? Out of all the touring musicians in the world, why do they feel compelled to see one of their own dance with Dylan? Bob is old. Bob hasn't written new music in over half a decade. Bob was topping the charts when their parents were too young to like Bob. Why? I asked myself. And I'm still asking. The torch is being passed, I thought as I got to my car, and I don't get it, and that makes me excited. And sitting home right now, I'm still excited. Excited enough to write this unbelievably longwinded post. But I think the topic deserves this consideration. It deserves this because these young'ns have changed a Dylan concert, changed the way Dylan interacts with his fans and changed the way Dylan approaches his career. If the audience was filled with fans my age and older, fans that treat him like a living historical artifact and keep returning as much to see if he's lost it as to see what he still has left, do you think Dylan would be so eager to hit the road after his illness. I don't. And the only reason that I've heard for Dylan's new album is his desire to give all the new fans he sees at his shows a chance to hear some new material. It's these young fans, with their energy and enthusiasm, that are keeping Bob going. And somehow, impossibly so, Dylan's music is being introduced to the post gen-x generation. It's funny, at my first Dylan show at Cincinnati in '92, Bob ended the show with a very non-RDW It Ain't me Babe. But half a through, a young lady, perhaps a shade younger than me, began her happy, lazy hippie dance to the base of the stage. Another followed, then another until about 15 kids were spinning at Bob's feet. Please, I scoffed to myself as I sat in my chair, this is Dylan, not the Dead. Bob's music should be absorbed and revered and treated with the utmost respect. He's not playing this music for you to DANCE to, I thought to myself as I watched them bop around the opera house. And I wondered why Bob seemed to be looking directly at them when he took his bows and thanked the audience. I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now. The End (sorry for the length)