New York, New York
 
25th through the 30th  at the beautiful Beacon Theatre on Broadway

We arrive in New York for what are to be the final dates of the tour.  The Strangers get a room in New Jersey and
Haggard get room in the Beacon Hotel.  I find a nice place just a block and half from the theater and settle in for
the week and what it may bring.
 


Bob and Merle At  The  Beacon on Broadway...

 

"Dylan and his phenomenal band, a sound so rich and tight it basically rendered even Dylan's storied lyrics irrelevant"...For there was an effervescent

vibe in the air that told you that most of the people here had come to celebrate each other. ..And that they had made it across four crazy decades with

him, through eight Presidents, through three or four wars, through disco, punk, yuppies, heavy metal and the advent of rap, and through 9/11 and into

the terror age.  They had even survived Dylan's odd but entertaining autobiography, which was another example of Dylan being Dylan by claiming he

wasn't the Dylan anyone else wanted Dylan to be....Good for him."

(Dan Aquilante New York Daily News)

Come gather round people 
Where ever you roam
And admit the waters 
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You will be drenched to the bone.
If you time to you
Is worth savin' 
Then you better start swimming
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a -changin'
Senor Dylan

 

Bob Dylan made his way to New York in 1961, and in no time was making an impression on the folk community in Greenwich Village.
He was moving through

Maggie's Farm (Bob on piano, Donnie on pedal steel)
To Ramona (acoustic)
(Bob on piano & center stage harp, Stu on acoustic guitar, Donnie on mandolin, Tony on standup bass)
Cry A While (Bob on piano & harp, Donnie on banjo)
Bye And Bye (Bob on piano, Donnie on violin, Tony on standup bass)
Ballad Of Hollis Brown (acoustic)
(Bob on piano, Donnie on banjo, Denny on acoustic guitar, Tony on standup bass)
If You See Her, Say Hello (Bob on piano & harp, Donnie on violin)
Lenny Bruce (Bob on piano, Donnie on pedal steel)
Honest With Me (Bob on piano, Donnie on pedal steel)
The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll (acoustic)
(Bob on piano, Donnie on mandolin, Stu on acoustic guitar, Tony on standup bass)
High Water (For Charley Patton) (Bob on piano, Donnie on banjo)
I Shall Be Released (Bob on piano & harp, Donnie on pedal steel)
Highway 61 Revisited (Bob on piano, Donnie on pedal steel)
Po' Boy (Bob on piano, Donnie on violin, Stu on acoustic guitar, Tony on standup bass)
 All Along The Watchtower (Bob on piano, Donnie on pedal steel encore)


During the 39 show tour I kept watching the 4 incense buckets that someone
would line across the back of the stage and light a bunch of incense in each
bucket.  Then at night after the show is being broken down you would see
the buckets make their way one by one to the big 18-wheeler trucks.
Feel the spiritual burn

Incense has smoldered on magicians' altars for thousands of years. 
It was  burned in antiquity to mask the odors of sacrificial animals, 
to carry prayers  to the Gods...today it is burned during magic to
promote ritual consciousness, the state of mind necessary to rouse 
and direct personal energy.

Some magicians say it helps create the appropriate mental state 
necessary for the practice of magic or their art.  Incense can help 
set a mood.


  

photo credit Michelle DiFrank
"Haggard doesn't necessarily focus on his hits or even his own songs. 
At this point in time he seems more interested in playing what he wants 
to play and having fun though plenty of his classics song were included
usually right up front to get things going.  Tonight however, he received
standing ovations on quite a few songs including "Mule Skinner Blues."

"...it had a certain stubborn magnifigance - like a groaning, rasping objection to the homogenized blandness he perceives in today's pop music. 

His reaction of the modern may be curmudgeonly but it brings out the best in him too.  "(Ludovic Hunter-Tilney) "...through clad in hats and

matching grey suits they look like time travelers from the 1950s recording of The Grand Ole Opry.  "    (Hunter-Tilney)

Well, I'm walking' down the highway

With my suitcase in my hand.

Lord, I really miss my baby,

She's in some far-off land.

 

Well, your streets are getting empty,

Lord, your highway's getting filled.

And your street are getting empty.

And your highway's gettin' filled.

Well, the way I love that woman,

I swear it's bound to get me killed.

MerleHaggard.com

 

"The interesting thing was even after two months on the road he didn't seem quite sure which songs would work.  For the two shows I saw

he ignored his 2003 quite good album "Haggard Like Never Before," which included Woody Guthrie's "Philadelphia Lawyer" and a quite interesting swing song co-written with his keyboard player, called "Lonesome Day" which includes the lyrics, "Who's gonna  sing the

songs of freedom when freedom goes away and "When the big boys with the microphones get stuck and back away and they're afraid

to say the things they know they ought to say."

Peter Stone Brown, musician

 

Two Pioneer Troubadours meet...I had done a previous interview with Les Paul, in that he is a Pioneer Troubadour in a project we are producing with the Eric Clapton camp.  Merle is also part of the project with the song "Troubadour" that he penned some years back.  I had shown Merle some footage I had
also done of Les Paul for a documentary I am producing on Jimmie Rodgers.  Merle told me that it would be such a great honor for him to meet Les Paul.  So on the road to New York I began calling Mr. Paul to set up the meeting.  Merle said he would love to go down and meet Les and hear him perform
at the Iridium Jazz Club (1650 Broadway), where Les plays every Monday night.\

 

Right after Merle got off stage opening for Bob Dylan at the Beacon Theater on Broadway, we had a limo there to pick up Merle Haggard, his wife Theresa and Frank Mull to head down to the club for the 10 p.m. sell out show.  It was a very historic meeting and night to say the least.  Merle and Les played "Trouble in Mind" and "Pennys From Heaven."  The audience went wild.  One could see the mutual admiration that Les Paul and Merle Haggard shared for each other.  In my 40 years in the biz, to be the man that introduced these two icons will stick with me forever...

 

 


 
The next night Les Paul came to the Bob Dylan and Merle Haggard show. Les and Merle hung out on his bus some before the show then we took Les to his seat to watch Merle's show.  After the show he came backstage to Merle's band room and they talk and talked.  One could see the great friendship that was begun here...and the historic moment.

Les Paul invited Merle to record a cut with him for his duet CD that was
being produced.  Working with Frank Mull and Bob Cutarella, who is
producing the CD and some phone calls to make the dream come true,
I was proud to be part of the energy that brought these two icons together.

 

Honorary Pioneer Les Paul comments on Troubadours...

 
DYLAN-HAGGARD TOUR?  DON'T THINK TWICE, IT'S ALL RIGHT

Still, Haggard agrees that he and Dylan could be seen as an odd couple.  "At first glance, it looks complex,"
Haggard agrees.  "But we aren't the same America we were 35 years ago."  We've become, he says, "a country
that's afraid.  And we've got a government using that fear to make us give up the freedoms the country was founded
on."   Merle goes on to say, "I see a lot more government now in places it's never been and doesn't belong.  We're
fighting a war to bring freedom to others when we don't have our own freedoms in a first-class manner anymore...
We're afraid to stand up or even have fun, "he adds.  "Our national question is, "how much Valium do you take?
How can anyone in their right mind say we're going in the right direction today."       
New York Daily News

Haggard and the Strangers 

Oh, who did you meet, my blue-eyed son?

Who did you meet, my darling young one?

I met a young child beside a dead pony,

I met a young woman whose body was burning,

I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow,

I met one man was wounded in love,

I met another man who was wounded with hatred,

 

And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard,

IT'S A HARD RAIN A-GONNA FALL.

 

BOBDYLAN.COM

 

I think that the Dylan Haggard show will make a mark in music history, and we will see a wave of change in music of these two men and the energy that flowed from their combined affect/effect on the many thousands of people that experienced the show.  Add all the many many articles that came out all over the country, and the synergy of Dylan going out now with Willie Nelson and his new venture in sound...and the waves left from these ole outlaws ridin' the trails together is going to send music off on a new track...as these three outlaws have done in the past...

 

By Buffalo Standley

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Photographs the property of Benford E. Standley, if interested
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