The opening of the Vegas House of Blues, 1999.
Two couplets anchor this show.
The opening "Gotta Serve Somebody" into "Million Miles"
and "Friend of the Devil" into "Can't Wait"
This was back when Dylan opened every show with Serve Somebody. Started electric, followed by a set of acoustic, then back to electric for the encore. Bono, he comes out for "Knockin on Heavens Door" and it's not the lyrics of his added verse but the guitars playing behind him that make the song standout. This band knew how to play off each other.
Bucky Baxter slides out an incredible peddle steel solo in "Friend of the Devil" and Dylan knows exactly how to draw out "babe." He drags right through every note - cigar smoke and foggy glass. That song was written for him to sing. Like a duet with Jerry, Dylan and the pedal steel carry this song into the second electric set. "Can't Wait," a slow tumble between Larry and Bob that Bucky sways back into the track with his pedal.
For me, it always comes back to "Million Miles" and Tony's bass line. It's a highlight off of Time Out of Mind - an incredibly deep blues riff that carries the whole record. The blues they hone in on during the opening two numbers threads the entire set together.
Some want Dylan to be "political" again. To voice something that they think needs to be voiced about the world. An artist does not voice what people want. Want a protest song? Go back and listen to "Gotta Serve Somebody" from August 6th in Singapore. He's been playing it again, with different stanzas. Want a message? Go listen to it and what he sings about Vegas nearly ten years after this show in Sin City. That's the message, that we're too afraid to ask for, we need to hear.
I stumbled upon the name "Raftman's Path" walking the river trail that traverses through the little town I live in. It was named during the days when lumber was a huge commodity in this area. The Susquehanna River was an industrial thoroughfare - bearing down loads of lumber from the northern reaches of Pennsylvania towards the Chesapeake. Marietta was a stopping point, a place for the lumber either to go to the mills lining its banks or shoot further downstream through pig iron smoke. Raftmen would guide the lumber down to the mouth of the Susquehanna into the Chesapeake - an estuary of salt, water, lumber, ore, eel and shad. When their job was done, they would walk the raftman's path back through the Susquehanna Riverlands of Lancaster County towards their homes. The path is now wooded and meanders through some of the only "wild" places left in the county.