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Robbie Robertson on The Band's tours with Bob Dylan: The world came around



Bob Dylan and the Band Feb. 14 1974 the Forum Inglewood-Kathleen Ballard LAT 

At several points during my recent conversation with Robbie Robertson in preparation for the profile that appears in Sunday’s Arts & Books section, the former lead guitarist and chief songwriter for the Band brought up that group’s long touring career, including its storied history backing Bob Dylan during his contentious switch from acoustic folkie to plugged-in rocker in the mid-'60s.

Bob Dylan Before the Flood cover Dylan also called on the Band to accompany him when he emerged in 1974 from an eight-year touring hiatus after his near-fatal 1966 motorcycle accident, the result being the celebrated  “Before the Flood” tour, which was documented on the double live album that reached  No. 3 in Billboard.

When I mentioned how powerful that show was from my vantage point in the audience when the six-week tour concluded at the Forum in Inglewood — I always like to tell people you can see me on the album cover: I'm the one holding up a lighted match — Robertson smiled recalling the accolades that tour generated for both Dylan and the Band.

“We were doing exactly the same thing we’d done on the earlier [Dylan-goes-electric] tour,  when people were booing us,” the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member recalled. “They absolutely hated us….So it good to find out that we were right, and that the world had come around to what we had been doing all along.”


Robbie Robertson has a sense about 'How to Become Clairvoyant'

— Randy Lewis

Top photo: Bob Dylan and The Band on Feb. 14, 1974 at the Forum in Inglewood (l-r): Robbie Robertson, Dylan, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel and Levon Helm. Credit: Kathleen Ballard / Los Angeles Times.

Center: Cover photo from Bob Dylan & the Band's 1974 live album "Before the Flood."

Comments () | Archives (4)

Reminds me of when at 69 Woodstock..the 3rd day, this tripping fellow was walking around yelling for his mother..just kept calling "Mom, Mom, Mom" until this large fellow walked up and gave him an uppercut to the chin. Nobody made a move as he laid there in a bundle...behind all the music and excitement was an underlining fear of things getting out of control. Even some musicians felt that way.

Toddmartens Overheard while getting my Coachella wristband: 'It is my goal to exhaust every possible option before punching someone.'

This was an era of creativity we haven’t seen since. The Band’s music was the polar opposite of what everyone else was playing. On my Rockaeology blog at http://bit.ly/hArGWv is the story of Robertson’s “The Weight.” Robertson’s elusive lyrics have sparked debate about the song’s meaning. Many assume there’s a religious theme; the first line of the song, after all, is “I pulled into Nazareth.” But according to Robertson, his Nazareth is not the childhood home of Jesus; it’s a small town in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania, chosen because Nazareth, PA is where C.F. Martin Guitars are manufactured.

Of course, the 1974, with its cheesy organ-drenched versions of classics and inexpressive, shouty vocals, sounds absolutely nothing like the brilliance of the '66 tour.

Which is why almost no one celebrates the '74 tour or the dispensable live album it gave birth to. Sorry.

I like the vocals in 1974 BF
You want Bob to repeat 66 just as the 66 crowd wanted him to stay a folky from 1964? - same syndrome BF.
Garth Hudson's organ playing has always been great; so BF,
I respectfully disagree with you- it had a fresh vibrancy at the time and once again Bob had moved on.
Things had changed.
I know what you mean but I see it differently- except that yes 1966 performances were stunning.


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