I am quoting from Olof's file for **1992**:
April 5 During the performance of Desolation Row Dylan is overcome by emotion and has to stop singing. Dylan speaks briefly with Jackson and the band goes on playing while Dylan goes to the back of the stage for a while. He then comes back and finishes the song.I know this thread was explored months ago, but was my question is, is Olof correct on this one, i.e., April 92? A video of Dylan in Ames, IA on November 2, 1991 shows Dylan overcome by something on Desolation Row (looks just like the April 5 described above).
April 14 Dylan again tries Desolation Row but the same thing happens. His voice breaks during the line "He was famous long ago for playing the electric violin". Desolation row is next played in San Francisco, May 4, without interrupt.
>Date: Wed, 27 Mar 1996 10:03:50 +0000 >From: catherine yronwode
>Subject: Re: Desolation Row breakdown > >Matthew Zuckerman wrote: > >> Ian Goold wrote: > >> >Two or three years ago I remember hearing that Dylan had gotten close >> >to tears whilst singing a certain passage of Desolation Row. This >> >apparentely happened on more than one occasion. Was a reason or >> >explanation ever forthcoming? > >> No. > >Uh...may i ask the obvious question? (oh, good, thanks.) > >WHICH passage was that, eh? In the Einstein disguised as Robin Hood verse, when he came to the lines "You would not think to look at him, but he was famous long ago..." he reportedly broke down. On the tape, he certainly falters and doesn't sing the last line. The same thing is said to have happened the next night, too. The song was then dropped for a while, and when it resurfaced, it was without the Robin Hood verse. I don't have the dates of this to hand, but it was in Australia in early 1992. _________________________________ Matthew Zuckerman
John Howells wrote: * * * > He breaks down during - > "You would not to think to look at him, but he was famous long ago"Thanks. Now this is interesting, because just today i noticed a thread about the "missing verses" in some recent performances 9.e.g on MTV, i think) and it was stated (by whom i did not note, i am sorry to say) that these days he "always" deletes the Einstein verse from "Desolation Row." This struck me as odd because it is such a great verse, and i wondered if he really did not realize how much the song loses by his making that omission -- but now, suddenly, i've got a new take on the situation: If he was emotionally so affected by this verse that he could not sing it before an audience without being visibly moved -- and especially if this happned repeatedly, so that he began to fear breaking down while singing it -- well, that would explain why he no longer sings the verse and why it is "missing." It's not that it means too *little* to him -- it's that it means too *much*.
In article catherine yronwode, firstname.lastname@example.org writes: >Thanks. Now this is interesting, because just today i noticed a thread >about the "missing verses" in some recent performances 9.e.g on MTV, i >think) and it was stated (by whom i did not note, i am sorry to say) >that these days he "always" deletes the Einstein verse from "Desolation >Row."I have a bootleg from the unplugged and on an alternate version he sings that I believe.
* * *Oh, and, of course, the question remains -- who was "Einstein disguised as Robin Hood" originally inteded to be? It could be Dylan-as Dylan, the brainy Jew disguised as a social rebel who ended up by becoming inconmprehensible to his own audience ("reciting the alphabet"). In that case, his tears are akin to Lennon's perceptive line from "I'm a Loser" ("is it for her or myself that i cry?"). On the other hand, "Einstein disguised as Robin Hood" could be *another* brainy Jew disguised as a social rebel who ended up by becoming inconmprehensible to his audience and who had died and whose death pained Dylan -- i could take a wild stab at it being someone like Phil Ochs, but i won't) -- or it could be some non-Jewish guy with little glasses like Einstein's who disguised himself as a social rebel and ended up by becoming inconmprehensible to his audience -- (e.g. someone like John Lennon) -- or maybe it wwas all of them, all those singers of the 1960s, all "famous long ago."
* * *This is very interesting analysis. However, I think it's fair to say that in 1965 (when DR was written), Lennon had not become "incomprehensible" to his former audience. That started in 1968 with things like Revolution #9. I dont even think Lennon was wearing little round glasses in 1965. I think he stopped wearing contact lenses after he appeared in the film "How I Won the War" in 1966. Nor was he much of social rebel in 1965.
And Phil Ochs was very much alive in 1965.
Or are you saying that even though these ideas were not what Dylan had in mind when he wrote the song, now when he sings it he think of them? If so, never mind.
Paul Gross wrote: > > catherine yronwode (email@example.com) writes: >> or maybe it wwas all >> of them, all those singers of the 1960s, all "famous long ago." > Or are you saying that even though these ideas were not what Dylan had > in mind when he wrote the song, now when he sings it he think of them? > If so, never mind.I think this excerpt from what i wrote and from your reply encapsulates my thoughts on the subject. Sometimes something that seems so cool or even funny at one point in time can make you cry later, when you realize how greatly you and your friends have changed. It happened to me just this weekend. I saw a copy of Rick Griffin's circa 1971 "Man From Utopia" comic book, with the classic psychedelic two-page story "On the Road Again" (featuring The Magnetic Dogs) and i started to cry. I can't tell you way, exactly; it just brought back a memory of a friend who had "drifted too far from the shore"... You know what i mean...
* * *I agree that something you write might make you cry and might look abso- lutely vanilla to some other person. As for this line, rather than 'famous long ago' I will emphasize the one word 'electric' as possibly being the key. Since Dylan's dad ran an electric appliance store, was an electrician and died about this time, this could be a clue. Who knows how this line started out and how it ended? Only Dylan of course.
I could be way off base and this is just harmless conjecture on my part.
Someone recently posted that Bob no longer includes The Einstein verse in Desolation Row, but I have an example from 6/25/95 which includes this verse.
All the "Desolation Row" talk, especially the 'near tears' incidents in '92 [Ed Muskie, RIP] brings to mind one of my most precious memories (yes, another one), the show at RFK Stadium, 7/7/86. Dylan (w/Petty Heartbreakers) opening for the Grateful Dead...my second Dylan show, the first being the day before(!); 2nd/3rd Dead shows.
To make a short story long, Dylan came out with the Dead and sang "Desolation Row"--was it the first time since '66? It was one of my favorite songs already; even newbie me knew it was a major occasion for Bob to do that tune. Three songs into the Dead's first set, Dylan came out and did "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue"; then "DR". Heylin calls the performance 'desecration' in his bio...admittedly it was sloppy as all get out--remember that it was NEARLY the last ever Dead show; Garcia was comatose 3 days later--and none of these guys are known for neatness in the first place.
On "Baby Blue", Dylan came onstage with a totally out of tune guitar...but that's another story! That one WAS a disaster.
The DR was pretty tremendous, though; with Weir and Dylan trading off lyrics, Weir leading mostly...he knew the words better than Dylan at that point (it had recently entered the Dead's repertoire), but one could hear Dylan's memory click in as he sang much of the song.
Anyway, the big MOMENT happened on the same lines that he apparently had so much trouble with in '92. As Weir and Dylan sang "You would not think to look at him/But he was famous long ago" together, the Whole Freaking Stadium began to ROAR in one of those flashes where an old familiar lyric perfectly describes that VERY instant; and everyone gets it all at once. In that instant, Bob Weir lifted his guitar, held it under his chin and mimed playing a violin as Dylan belted out "For playing electric violin/On Desolation Rooooow!" Just one of those moments, y'know?
There are two photos of the moment, Weir on 'electric violin' and Dylan grinning broadly, on p. 247 of "The Grateful Dead Family Album" (the pic of Dylan w/Olatunji on the same page is another keeper!!).
My point was to give an example of Dylan clearly enjoying that 'famous long ago' line...sorry it took a while!
And just for the record...I think Dylan leaves too many verses out in current performances of DR, seriously undercutting the song...I especially miss the surreal 'Nero's Neptune' verse, it perfectly contrasts the broken doorknob reality of the final verse and is greatly missed.
Richard Shaffer writes: >To make a short story long, Dylan came out with the Dead and sang "Desolation >Row"--was it the first time since '66?Between the 1966 tour and the 7 July 1986 concert, Dylan performed "Desolation Row" twice, both solo:
4 February 1974, Missouri Arena, St. Louis, Missouri, USASix songs after having sung Desolation Row in Rome '84, Dylan says:
21 June 1984, Roma Palaeur, Rome, Italy
Thank you. You've been a wonderful audience tonight. Even quiet for Desolation Row! I wanna introduce the guys in the band to you. Whether you like it or not. On the keyboards Ian MacLagan. On the bass guitar Greg Sutton. On the drums Colin Allen. On guitar Mick Taylor.
(My source for all of above: DylanBase)
Thoughts on emotions & performance of Desolation Row. In an interview recently seen here (from the last decade) Dylan said he believed he wrote Desolation Row "in the spirit"
Einstein - master physicist whose discoveries resulted in the worst fear that can ever be hurled ... worthy of tears & I think (& Albert shed his as well.) Maybe it's wise to keep the rest of his memories in a trunk if this is what comes of knowledge ...
I hear echo of the superhuman crew in the 10,000 men, coming to "round up everyone who knows more than they do" & "one of these days might be coming for you" in oxford blue ...
Meanwhile the word "desolation"is pivotal in prophecy of Daniel, quoted & confirmed in Matthew 24 & Mark 13, warning not of vaporization in time & space but possibly eternity.