Monday, September 26, 2005

My Back Pages

Tonight's Scorsese documentary about Bob Dylan's early career through to 1966 is an absolute must watch. The two most memorable experiences of my teenage years took place within a couple of months of each other in the summer of 1966. In May I hitch-hiked to Liverpool with a ticket in my pocket for Bob Dylan’s concert at the Odeon Liverpool. It was Cup Final day, Everton were in the Final and they beat Sheffield Wednesday 3-2. These were the days before wall-to-wall footie on tv, and I never missed a cup final. It was also in the days before all-day pub opening, so I watched the match with a dozen others, obviously desperate scousers who hadn't got a telly, through the showroom window of Currys.

Dylan was stunning. In the first half he played a familiar acoustic set, and then after the interval he came on with the band and they blasted through a rock set of songs, many of which Dylan had revamped from the acoustic versions he had released on record. Where upon lots of the ‘folkies’ in the audience who had cheered to the rooftops in the first half, went ballistic. They were booing and throwing their programmes, and dozens, if not hundreds walked out screaming in protest at the stage. They wanted THEIR Bob Dylan back. I was in a state of shock. Firstly by the sheer volume of the band… and then by the vitriol of these louts ruining the concert. I must confess to also preferring the acoustic side of Dylan. Visions of Johanna in that first set was absolutely spellbinding and you could have heard a pin drop in the Odeon… as opposed to the second half, when you could barely hear yourself think. But having said that, the electric versions of One Too Many Mornings and the stunning Like a Rolling Stone were quite breathtaking.

There was a commotion outside as I left the Odeon, and I headed on down to the crowd to see what was going on. It was the stage door, and a baying mob had gathered waiting for The Man to appear. He did… to a chorus of booing and shouting, dressed in a green corduroy suit (I always wanted a green corduroy suit after that). He looked like a rabbit in the headlights as he jumped into the waiting limo and away in a flash.

I set off to try and find the East Lancs Road to thumb my way back home… with the sound of ‘Rolling Stone’ still pounding through my head. It had been a weird experience watching the audience idolise someone, and then turn on him and spit venom at him in the space of an hour.

A couple of months later I set out to hitch-hike to Wembley… with two tickets for the World Cup final in my pocket. What a summer that was.