Amos, Elvis, and Bob

by Jeremy Eccles


Bob Dylan performing in 2007

October 12, 2007 marked my tenth Bob Dylan concert. I’ve seen sublime performances in Detroit, a completely incomprehensible show in Illinois, and a few where he simply didn’t care. This evening would represent all of those, but prior to that we had Amos and Elvis to open. Amos Lee is a funky, somewhat soulful songwriter from Philly. I had previously heard him open for Dylan (and Merle Haggard – now that’s another tale). He is fairly talented, but always leaves me flat. He is about as risky and intriguing as a GEICO commercial.

Elvis Costello followed Mr. Lee and performed a 45-minute solo acoustic set. The only song I recall was Nick Lowe’s “What’s So Funny About Peace, Love, and Understanding?” I found Elvis entertaining and his British wit won over what seemed to be a largely college crowd in Ypsilanti. Still, he seemed to be trying too hard and was a little pathetic in his pandering for cheap laughs and claps.

In stark contrast, Bob closed the evening with his typical and profound disregard for the audience. I am always amused by this snobbery and indifference, especially when I can catch the expression of some of the first time Dylan attendees. I remember standing next to a couple of boys/men. One had a Nickleback T-Shirt on, and the other donned High School Musical attire. Both of them proceeded to carp on Dylan and make observations about how Bob should seek to entertain us. They remarked, “He can’t keep playing a slow song, followed by a fast one, then an acoustic, and an electric number – it’s impossible to catch the vibe with such inconsistency.” I think their comments matched their T-Shirt status, and I would have sent them on a beer run, but I think they were just sprouting whiskers.

Finally, my only memory of Dylan songs were “Workingman Blues #2 (an homage to labour and Merle Haggard) and “Nettie Moore” (most likely about an old-timer reflecting on loss and love – a true Dylan classic).  The last part of Nettie’s chorus

“I loved you then, and ever shall
But there’s no one here left to tell
The world has gone black before my eyes”

is elegiac, elegant, and eloquent. Sorry, I didn’t catch the Nickleback Dude’s thoughts on this line. I’m pretty sure he made an early departure. Perhaps he went backstage to share his wisdom with The Bard.

Jeremy Eccles works in Owosso, Michigan. This is his first contribution to Michiganders Post.


2 thoughts on “Amos, Elvis, and Bob

  1. Thanks for contributing the piece, Jeremy! It sounds like Bob was still touring in support of Modern Times. “Workingman’s Blues #2” is my favorite song on that album and one of my favorite Dylan songs overall. For the life of me, I can’t remember if he played it when I saw him in San Diego. But I was happy he closed his set with “All Along the Watchtower.”

  2. Thanks Brandon for creating this forum. You, Ken, and others do great work. I just checked old set lists and Dylan did play Workingman in San Diego. I love the line about lay the weapons on the shelf, come and sit down on my knee. Watchtower is another classic and is easily the song he has played live the most. I think it speaks to what the song means to him. Of course, he would deny, then confirm, then deny this. Such a lovable contrarian.

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