For Your Bob Dylan's 70th Listening Pleasure
Only I never got 'round to browsing it till this weekend, when I came up cold while looking for something known as Cracked Bells in a Busted Barn. That's a keepsake from his November 7, 1995, stop at the Dallas Music Complex, which, given the abandoned-warehouse vibe of that vanished place and the breadth of the set list, remains a fond memory -- a live-Dylan top-tenner out of, oh, two dozen, give or take. Sure enough it's there; so too everything from late '80s Starplex shows to the '90 Fair Park Music Hall appearance to all three nights from his House of Blues stopover in 2008. Nine Dallas shows in total. And two from Grand Prairie, including that amazing '09 show at QuikTrip Park with Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp opening.
But the roster of Fort Worth souvenirs -- four in total, from '74 to Willie's Fourth in '05 -- provides one of the most essential recordings of all time: Dylan and the Rolling Thunder Revue '76 stopover at the Tarrant County Convention Center Arena just eight days before Bob's 35th birthday. Meriting special mention in Clinton Heylin's book on boots, this recording is the whole Haftorah -- not only Dylan's set (from "Mr. Tambourine Man" to "Gotta Travel On"), but also contributions from T Bone Burnett, Mick Ronson, Joan Baez and Kinky Friedman, who gets in An Unholy Trinity that includes "Asshole from El Paso." Wrap it all up in this searchable database, which tells you what he played when and where and which album it comes from, and you've got yourself the best 70th birthday present ever.