Tag Archives: Bob Dylan

My back pages…

Well I now have a job so (maybe) the rambling will stop! But first of all, a story that might well have been entitled “Bob, Patti & Me”…but I’m not that crass ….! So, here I am at Leeds University in 1978 studying economics and politics, for reasons that had as much to do with having no clear idea of what I wanted to do, as they had to belief and idealism. [As an aside, my tutor was Ralph Miliband, father of you know who…]. An extract from an article by Andy McSmith in the Independent (September 2010) probably sums up best the influence he had on my thinking. “Having completely mastered English, he wrote in a straightforward style that made him a more accessible thinker than the average left-wing intellectual. Students who met him were also impressed by his unpretentious manner and his love of teaching”.  But…ideas remain formless without words, which probably explains why a ‘Song & Dance Man‘ has also had a significant impact on how I think about things. Which takes me to the Headrow in Leeds, and the picture below…

Hard times in Leeds City Centre

Hard times in Leeds City Centre

Online ticketing…booking fees…sold out before you even knew that tickets were available? No…Bob Dylan plays at Earls Court in June 1978…tickets go on sale just a month earlier. The cutting is from Leeds Student, which says “…hundreds of students were prepared to camp out on the Headrow just to get a ticket for one of (the) five concerts at the 17,000 capacity Earl’s Court…next month. 

Tickets went on sale simultaneously at 10 am…at 14 outlets over the country, including Barker’s of Leeds. Barkers were allocated 1,980 tickets…”

How the times have changed. The police decide that people queueing outside a shop on the Headrow on a Saturday afternoon isn’t a good idea, so we are dispersed and told to return at 5pm, armed with a ‘queue ticket’. My friend Jon & I return after an afternoon of drinking beer and playing pool to resume our place in the queue. Rock ‘n roll excess huh? And the guy standing up at the back of the photo with his hands in his back pockets…yep…Johnny C!

And so to Edinburgh, 30 August 1978. Patti Smith poetry reading for the princely sum of £1.00, followed by a gig later on the same day. (Set lists here, if interested). This is what I wrote about Patti a good while ago…all you need to know really. Another Jon/Johnny odyssey…

Patti Smith Poetry Reading. 30 August 1978

Patti Smith Poetry Reading. 30 August 1978

And completing the triptych (below) a poster by Ralph Steadman for Dylan Revisited ’79, held at the Portland Hotel, Manchester, 27-29 July, 1979 organised by amongst others Brian Stibal, the editor of Talkin’ Bob Zimmerman Blues (1974-1976), which became Zimmerman Blues magazine (1977-1978).

“All characters described within are fictitious. Any similarity with any folksingers, rock-poets, angry young men, spokesmen for their generation, father-figures of the music world, legends in their own time, or neophyte movie-directors, living or dead, is unintended and entirely coincidental, of course.” -Brian Stibal, Masthead of Zimmerman Blues, Number 9, 1979.

In truth I don’t remember too much, beyond Christopher Ricks deconstructing Dylan’s lyrics and my trying to make sense of ‘Renaldo & Clara’. I’m pretty certain that John Cooper Clarke was in the audience, and I do know I stayed at Andy Kershaw’s parents house in Rochdale…

Nice poster though…

Dylan Revisited 79

Dylan Revisited 79

Normal service will be resumed shortly…


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