When Bob Dylan
took the stage at Live Aid
it was with the biggest hype
you could get at that time, personally
delivered by Jack Nicholson.
The crowd was screaming
and Bob mumble-strummed
– lost in the 1980s –
he part introduced
Keef and Ronnie from the Rolling Stones,
some guys that decided to come along on
the night. There wasn’t enough room for any
of them to pack much enthusiasm.
But like that fucking mattered. Bob played
Blowin’ In The Wind. It’s never been a
great song but it’s always been an important
song. And that’s what happens when you’re
The great songs aren’t that important – the
important ones don’t have to be great.
That’s something only he has.
It’s a car-crash to watch this. You can almost
hear the audience turning, feel their eyes
rolling. It’s fucking glorious. The worst. The absolute
fucking worst and I bloody love it!
Imagine if that was your one shot to see
Bob Dylan? Or nearly half of The Rolling Stones?
When Bob shouts out “Keith Richards”
and all but orders a guitar solo during Blowin’ In
The Wind it’s the biggest hospital pass the
world had ever seen, and then had to hear.
There’s a false ending. And then another.
And then only Lionel Richie can save the day.
He walks on stage, a panther in a suit smarter than your
parents’ best bed-linen. And smiles through
the shit-storm of the world’s greatest
songwriter offering the laziest, worst performance.
The curtain comes back on the all-star cast
assembled to perform We Are The World, a pack
of limelight grabbers, crooning away on the tune
Lionel wrote with Michael [REDACTED].
But Bob stands his ground, front and centre. His
acoustic guitar his anchor. There’s badly timed
percussion and no one can hear themselves. There
are song sheets. And false hugs.
And then halfway through Bob just walks off.
Decides he doesn’t need to be there.
Doesn’t even do his line.
Patti LaBelle or some other ring-in can do that.
Let Kenny Loggins loose with the kiddie choir.
There was a choice Bob Dylan was making.
He started saving his own life.