Bob Dylan & The Band “Before The Waves 1974” Artist Review
In 1974, I was 14 years old and attending junior high at the Madrona school in Edmonds, Washington. I was in the 9th grade. But, ironically, I was the only kid in my junior high who idolized Bob Dylan. 14 years old is a little young for such intellectual material and idolatry.
This was also the year that Nixon resigned from the Watergate scandal so us young folks really needed our heroes bad. at least that was how I felt. Vietnam would be over in one more year after this time period in 1975.
In 1973, Bob Dylan & The Band would begin practice for “Planet Waves” and an eventual 1974 tour together. At 14, I was kind of adventurous to be going to a Bob Dylan concert with a friend. It was mail order only through Bill Graham the veteran promoter. I bought two tickets so I could invite a school friend to go with me to The Seattle Coliseum. The tickets were $9.50 each. Big money in those days.
“Planet Waves” was one of my favorite albums of the time and I drove my family crazy playing it over & over again hanging on every word Bob sang. I didn’t know it yet, but I was headed for a concert that would certainly change my life!
Then, the night had come…my friend and I were going to see Bob Dylan & The Band live at the night time show. (There was another in the afternoon on the same day). We had our bag of weed with us which was easy to get at school. Throughout the show, we smoked ourselves into a stupor smoking at least 10 joints while Bob mesmerized us with his magic. His solo set was what really put me over the edge. I could not believe he had not toured since 1966! All I really knew was he was also in my favorite movie of the time: “Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid” (1973) playing a small part called “Alias.” Since I was originally from New Mexico…I knew the Billy The Kid story very well and was impressed with Sam Peckinpah’s capturing of Lincoln County, NM all the way down in Durango, Mexico. It was Sam’s idea to use Dylan’s music for the soundtrack, a choice that would bring the world: “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.” Bob’s performance of this song was a high point at the concert with the fabulous Band backing him. It’s cut #4 on the double live album: “Before The Flood” which came out right after the tour. I bought that on vinyl too when it came out. Technology may not have come along way in 1974 but the times were very good to us kids. (Nixon couldn’t say the same I’m afraid).
One thing I will always remember about this show is every time Dylan blew on his harmonica the crowed which was mostly festival seating would roar with enthusiastic approval! Bob Dylan was certainly back and was playing all his favorites live to boot. Ironically, he did not play much of “Planet Waves” live at all. These were the old war horses he was playing with and without The Band. Richard Manual’s version of Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released” was a high point. Robbie Robertson & Levon Helm were great as well as the rest of The Band which were in top form.
One song that they did play off of “Planet Waves”, was, “Forever Young” a song Dylan almost left off of the album I read, at the last minute he changed his mind. (The song was written for his children).
So, 40 years later and after a thirty some odd year career in the music business, I still remember the concert vividly that changed my life. It would take me 5 more years before I took up the guitar and songwriting but the seed was planted at this concert in 1974 at the gentle age of 14. Thank you Bob Dylan & The Band…I will always remember you no matter what age.