by The Two Riders

“Suddenly the night has grown colder
The God of love preparing to depart
Alexandra hoisted on his shoulder
They slip between the sentries of the heart”

These are the opening lines from the wonderful Leonard Cohen song called Alexandra Leaving. This is a song about the end of a love affair and the feelings left by departing love. The interesting aspect of Cohen’s take on the situation is that he chooses to accept what is happening and celebrate what the love affair positively generated.

“Go to the window, drink it in” he implores as the lady makes her way onwards. “You who had the pleasure of her evening, and by that honour had your own restored” he wholeheartedly sings. There is no room for blame or excuse here:

“Do not say the moment was imagined
Do not stoop to strategies like this”

“As one long prepared for the occasion
In full command of every plan you wrecked
Do not choose a coward’s explanation
That hides behind the cause and the effect”

The one emotion that this song definitely avoids is regret. And that is my point this time around. If there is something you want to do or need to do, then do it. Plan for it, if that is necessary but do it. Regret means that you will spend a long time, perhaps the rest of your life unfulfilled in some way. You will never know how things might have been, the course that your life might have steered. Too much time spent worrying about the effect may cause you to stumble and stay put. Regret is the most insidious of feelings. A feeling of something lost, of time passed, of not coming to terms with the situation you failed to grasp. It eats away and you can never go back and start again because you have moved on. Those around you have moved on too. Don’t get to the stage in life where you regret that you should have done something that you didn’t do. Either do it or forget it. There’s no room for regret. It’s a really hard lesson to learn.

Live long and prosper.

A Fistful of Tapes

A minor feast only this month as we sweep up the bits and pieces left from the Euro tour and a few other odds and ends.

We start off with a couple of older things.

Eugene           14th June 1999 soundboard

Nice to hear this show in such superb quality. This concert presents a good mix of songs and varied performances. My Back Pages is welcome but tends to plod along somewhat but has a good harp solo at the end. This is followed by a lilting, beautiful version of Boots of Spanish Leather and then a most powerful Hard Rain which features a very strong vocal, massive chorus and an all-round spirited rendition. Love Minus Zero continues the strong vocal showing. There is an extremely jaunty Down Along The Cove followed by a dynamic Blind Willie McTell. Listen out for a relaxed Simple Twist, a funky, sleazy Can’t Wait and a superb Not Dark Yet.

Grateful Dead Hour          broadcast 25th June 2002

A CD-R of Grateful Dead Hour number 705. This radio show contains an interview with David Gans, producer of the album of Dylan covers, Postcards of the Hanging. Amongst all of the chat, we get to hear in A1 quality some of the Dylan/Dead rehearsals from May/June 1987 and pretty tasty they are too. Not all of them have surfaced before now.

In between other stuff we get:

Stealin’ (Dylan on mandolin)
Oh Boy (Dylan on harmonica)
John Brown
Folsom Prison Blues
Gotta Serve Somebody
CC Rider

And now to finish off that European jaunt:

Milan          20th April

Not the best of all concerts, this is the show where Dylan runs scared at the start because of the “intrusion” of the audience and refuses to sing along with the first track, Hummingbird. Most of the rest of the show is a bit flat, the only standouts being Visions, which is chilling, and Boots Of Spanish Leather.

Oberhausen          27th April

On this show, the self-same Hummingbird provides a very high energy start which Dylan feeds on for the first half of the show. You’re A Big Girl Now is excellent, Watching The River Flow is low-down and raunchy and 4th Street is regal. The first dull outing is Cry Awhile after which things settle into the ordinary groove.

Paris          29th April

A somewhat noisy audience on this recording but that does not spoil the pleasure of a very welcome return for an acoustic She Belongs To Me. Tweedle Dee really rocks out this time around and he really does nail SHB. A super Cold Irons Bound is another worthy inclusion.

Rotterdam          2nd May

Nice to hear an acoustic reading of I Threw It All Away which is certainly not thrown away. Very laid back and some minor lyric changes add interest. Solid Rock pushes all of the right buttons and Sugar Baby is excellent. Unfortunately, Willie McTell is virtually spoken which is a shame considering this was a vocal triumph in its studio form. By this concert, Man of Constant Sorrow is very much together.

Bournemouth          5th May

A slightly distorted recording. Desolation Row has a weird vocal, almost on a different wavelength. Mama is smooth and subtle but Sweet Marie feels raggy. Floater is sublime with superb backing from the band but SHB is dishevelled. Watch out for a great Not Dark Yet, replete with harp solo and a very good LARS.

London          12th May

Last night at the proms. A truly great If You See Her Say Hello makes for a memorable show but the rest do not live up to that standard. Mama is nice, Mobile acceptable for once in a while but Dylan sounded tired as the show progressed. Well at least he planned a decent break from concerts after this one.

Restless Farewell for now.

Mike and John