Things Have Changed - Live - Innsbruck - April 19, 2019
It Ain't Me, Babe - Live - Irvine - October 11, 2019
Highway 61 - Live - Palo Alto - October 14, 2019
When I Paint My Masterpiece - Live - Irvine - October 11, 2019
Can't Wait - Live - Santa Barbara - October 12, 2019
Boots Of Spanish Leather - Live - Braunschweig - July 6, 2019
Honest With Me - Live - Palo Alto - October 14, 2019
Scarlet Town - Live - Innsbruck - April 19, 2019
Early Roman Kings - Live - Irvine - October 11, 2019
Lenny Bruce - Live - St Louis - October 22, 2019
Pay In Blood - Live - New York City - December 3, 2019
Girl From The North Country - Live - Santa Barbara - October 12, 2019
Not Dark Yet - Live - Irvine - October 11, 2019
Soon After Midnight - Live - Gijon - April 28, 2019
Gotta Serve Somebody - Live - Irvine - October 11, 2019
Train To Cry - Live - Innsbruck - April 19, 2019
Can’t Wait - Live - Stuttgart - July 10, 2019
Dignity - Live - Gijon - April 28, 2019
Long & Wasted Years - Live - Irvine - October 11, 2019
Love Sick - Live - Braunschweig - July 6, 2019
Scarlet Town - Live - Locarno - April 22, 2019
Tryin’ To Get To Heaven - Live - Milwaukee - November 26, 2019
Will The Circle Be Unbroken - Live - Kilkenny - July 14, 2019
2019 will go down in history as one of Bob Dylan’s best touring years. The proof is in the music - give a listen to “Not Dark Yet” here and just try to resist a chill. It’s almost a challenge just to write about it.
The year started out as a continuation of 2018’s shows, with “Cry A While,” “Like a Rolling Stone,” and “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” as standards every night. Over the course of the year, though, it evolved into something different. Tony Garnier’s bass got louder. Matt Chamberlain replaced George Receli on drums (after nearly 18 years on the road!). Bob Britt joined in the autumn to augment Charlie Sexton’s blazing guitar riffs. Along the way we were treated to a handful of noteworthy performances, including the first “Boots of Spanish Leather” since 2013 and the first “Dignity” since 2012, a funked-up arrangement of “Can’t Wait” in the summertime, an uptempo “Scarlet Town” in Locarno, and a duet with Neil Young on “Will The Circle Be Unbroken.” A re-written “Lenny Bruce” finally wound up back in Bob Dylan’s repertoire thanks to the singer encountering a band playing it in Amsterdam, according to Mixing Up The Medicine (2023).
Even so, the best renditions tended to be compositions that Dylan and his band knew well. “Things Have Changed” had been the opening song since 2013 and it remains a hoot and a half six years later. “It Ain’t Me, Babe” has more depth here than at any point since the early ‘90s. “Highway 61” sounds like it’s integrated elements of “Duquesne Whistle” without losing its unique swagger. “Honest With Me” features the same arrangement as the previous year, but the vocals have become more dynamic and sharp. “Early Roman Kings” is sung here with the passion of a song that’d been written the day before. “Pay In Blood” gets its definitive rendition thanks to a blistering vocal performance and some of the best playing that Charlie Sexton’s ever done. “Girl From The North Country” could make you weep. Dylan sings “Not Dark Yet” like a man possessed.
I hope you enjoy this record as much as I enjoyed compiling it. This is one of the gems in the Thousand Highways Collection, so don’t you dare miss it! Until next time, keep yourself healthy and listen to some good tunes.
Note: I stuck with original recordings by Soomlos, Spot, FOBSTL, zuma66, and Romeo for the most part, but found that Bennyboy's remaster of New York was a significant improvement on its source; I hope nobody will begrudge me using that one instead of the original! As ever, I'm grateful for all the hard work these folks do.