Old man doesn’t know what to expect from Bob Dylan concert, blames Bob Dylan.

I am angry at a man I have never met.  His name is Stephen Wooten.  I’m about to say mean things about him.  So first, let me say a few nice things.  Stevie-bear, that’s a hell of a mustache.  I bet you are a great systems analyst/engineer and a better family man.  The writing in your piece for the Argus Leader is grammatically-correct and largely typo-free.

The charity ends there, for Wooten has written a stereotypically crappy review of a Bob Dylan concert.  This is the type of thing I lose sleep over.  I have already kicked my dog and thrown my trash on a neighbour’s lawn today as an indirect result of Wooten-based rage.

Here is a paragraph-by-paragraph breakdown of why Wootsy is now #1 on my shit-list.

After many weeks of anticipation, I attended the Bob Dylan concert at the Arena on Saturday night. I have been a Dylan fan for many, many years, from his folk days to his early electric, from his protest songs to his country songs and love ballads to his rowdy rock and roll. So I waited for the big night — waited for what should have been a great concert.

Not so angry yet.  He’s establishing that he’s a long-time fan, that’s fine.  He’s establishing his anticipation, great.  Motherfucking should have been a great concert, what the hell do you know Wooten?  Alright, breathe Mike.

Also, it’s funny how he capitalizes the word Arena.  Like it was the name of God.

The concert I attended was not the one I waited for. First of all, the sound system at the Arena is so bad that Dylan often was halfway through a song before I could tell what song he was performing. There was no spotlight on Dylan or the band, so you could not see them well. It might have been different for the first few rows on the floor, but back in row 13, you could not see well at all. It must have been even worse for the people sitting in the seats off the floor. Our chairs on the floor were padded, but they were so close together they made airline seats seem spacious.

My theory:  even with perfect sound you wouldn’t have recognized the songs until the choruses.  There are many rubes like you, and they all express this same complaint with the same degree of earnest outrage.  Guess what, the arrangements have changed a little bit since ’66.  If you listened to anything, anything other than your Greatest Hits CD (you just know this guy still listens to CDs, probably in either a boombox or one of those giant multi-disc changers from the 90s) you’d know that.  Man oh man, the Wootens of the world.

Couldn’t see from 13 rows back?  May I suggest corrective lenses, or stronger ones?

To his credit, Dylan did start on time and didn’t screw around. He played almost two hours straight through. And he does rock. But there was no interaction at all with the audience. And because the sound was so poor, you could not understand what he was singing, so the relationship wasn’t through his poetry either.

My dog was just kicked for a second time.  He is in the corner right now licking at his ribs.  In this paragraph we find Wootsy’s only reference to the music, which he seems to have enjoyed, claiming it “rocked.”

Then comes the line that has my other dog currently cowering in fear beneath the bed. If you Google,  “Bob Dylan talk to audience” you will find an estimated fifty million reviews by small-town hack newspaper reporters issuing this lament as informed criticism.  What do you want him to say, “Big shout out to my friends at the fucking Argus Leader, that news organization is really making an impact in the world.  The answer my friends, can more often than not be found in the Argus Leader.”  Or, “Hey the Outback Steakhouse you have here in Argus[1] is way better than the Outback Steakhouse in Garretson[2].”  Bob doesn’t really say much during shows you fools.  When he does it is subtle and hilarious.  Also, Stephen Wooten, Bob Dylan does not want to have a relationship with you. No matter how many discs can be played in your CD player at once, got that?

I have been to many concerts at the Washington Pavilion. This was my first and last concert at the Arena. I longed for the Washington Pavilion.

Sir, no one cares about your regional venue concerns.  But please do not use them in an article that is headlined Bob Dylan Concert Dissapoints Fan or in any way as to convey Bob Dylan = disappointment.

And again with that capitalized Arena.   I notice in the comments it’s always the Arena so maybe these people have some weird, reverential Arena-worship thing happening.

By the end of the night, I was sorry: Sorry that I had spent money on a disappointing concert, sorry that I had missed the master poet and artist Dylan, and sorry that he had missed the opportunity to connect with me. I should have stayed home.

Oh no, Stephen Wooten is experiencing regret.  Worse, Bob Dylan, get this, missed the opportunity to connect with Stephen Wooten.  That should have been the Argus Leader’s headline, 26-point superheader: “Dylan does not connect with fellow great man Wooten.”

Should have stayed home?  Do everyone a favour and always stay home.  And Argus Leader, do everyone a favour also and disband the Argus Leader Opinion Advisory Panel immediately so that nothing like this will ever appear again.


[1] I don’t know if Argus is a place or what and I really don’t care.

[2] Home to Steve “Stache-Man” Wooten.

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48 thoughts on “Old man doesn’t know what to expect from Bob Dylan concert, blames Bob Dylan.

  1. Mike,SOME of this man’s griping about the concert is a little tedious and mis-informed(Bob talking with the audience,etc.),but overall—I AGREE WIT HIM !!! The reason this man couldn’t hear Bob or understand a song until about halfway through it was probably NOT “The Arena’s” fault—the fault lies with BOB’S VOICE THESE DAYS,PERIOD !!!!!!! IT IS AWFUL—the growling,mumbling,whining,barking—THIS IS NOT SINGING !!!!!!!!! Stop defending him or his “voice”!!!!!!!! If Bob cared about his musical legacy or his musicality onstage these days,he would get those smoky,strained,stained,damaged vocal cords cleaned-out !!! Roger Daltry just did,and I hear that his voice sounds fantastic again,so it CAN be done !!! Bob is stubborn,much to his detriment on this particular subject.Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen can do POWERFUL solo acoustic shows with just some guitars,keyboards,harmonicas and their CLEAR,STILL-POWERFUL voices—Bob could NEVER pull this off any longer !!! The Watchman

    • Have to agree to disagree here. I would support Bob having his chords cleaned. Also, I notice the beginning of tours are always light-years better than the end. I like his grizzled sound on Early Roman Kings (see above) however.

    • Bob Dylan’s Music Facebook has a lot of videos of his recent tour. Watch and listen. There’s beauty in his “growling, mumbling, wining, barking”. Maybe not for you, but lots and lots of others have different thoughts about Dylan’s singing nowadays.

      • I completely agree. Thank you for saying so. How come folks are surprised to find out that Dylan doesn’t sound 22 anymore? He sounds awesome.

    • I do however agree with your point,which was well made…I’ve always thought it was on purpose but he seems to be pushing his luck.Only us diehards can recognize and at the same time excuse him for his choice of voices to use…I guess he’s chosen the usual route…
      Take it or leave it!
      Our national treasure seems to continue down whichever road he chooses…Time is of the essence….Paul.

    • I as a Dylan fan/major collector for 40 years plus totally agree with Watchman’s comments. Also it’s a seriously sad individual who has to take it out of his dog just because someone says what most of my friends say about Bob Dylan. Get a life man

  2. @The Watchman. For god sake, enough with the “can’t sing” business. People don’t conscript Dylan to hear a reincarnated Enrico Cariso sing the Verdi songbook. If you want to hear histrionic scale-singing, tune into American Idol and listen to some overwrought Hallelujah cover that will put you on a ledge.

    Re: Roger Daltry, The Who hasn’t put out viable music in decades whereas Dylan’s best work HAS been current.

    And what should he say to the crowd? Should he regale them between songs about a recent experience dining on a Cobb salad or tell a joke about a priest and a rabbi?

  3. From Paul in Southern California…
    First of all…you should’nt talk about our elders so bad…
    Have you read Albert Brooks book and how he predicts a “conflict” between the old men and the young…I’m 57 and the only verbal bullet these young ones have is FUCK YOU OLD MAN!
    He went,he paid,left unsatisfied…as Bob has said many times….it’s gonna happen fast and you might catch all of it or you might miss it all…At least he went and is still trying to keep up with…the times?
    Hopefully he’ll get a good bottle,a spliff,and Tempest on 9/11…may we all shine on!

  4. Mike, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for expressing my thoughts and feelings exactly as I fumed my way through Mr Wooten’s “My ignorant expectations are Bob Dylan’s responsibility, dammit!” article last night. I don’t have a dog, but my cat has a few bruises after that. How many ears must one man have before he stops expecting Dylan’s live musical arrangements to be instantly recognisable and identical to the album versions? Yes and how many times must a man look up and wait hopefully for Dylan to connect superficially with the audience through mere words in addition to his deep and authentic musical communication from beginning to end? The answer, my friend, is …. for the Wootens of this world, apparently never.

  5. Mike – if that’s your name – you are a bit of a dick. THis guy didn’t enjoy the Dylan show. So what? What’s it gor to do with you? Why do you insult him? Dylan aint God! I reckon many ordinary people who go to see Dylan today would have a similar view. His voice is broken – mawful. Get used to it.

  6. I think your article is appropriately indignant – I laughed all the way through. Bob Dylan is freakin’ bob dylan. And he just keeps on givin’ – bless him.

  7. There is no sense in being “angry” at someone for not liking a dylan concert, Mike (a 130-time NET-attendee speaking here). The reaction of the “old man” (actually you should be ashamed yourself of this kind of below the belt insult) is rather clumsy, but it reflects a representative reaction these days of one of “the people in the back of the venue” Bob claims to play for. Paradoxically, the man is basically insulted for being too friendly for Bob by blaming the venue instead of the artist. Bob’s live voice is so bad by now he rarely expresses anything at all on stage (I said rarely, not: never). I do not even want to discuss whether it is called “singing” or not. Dylan’s talent as a performer, the reason why we want to be there when he is playing, is (or was) to that he boldly went where no man had ever been before in terms of expression in his live interpretations of his songs. Is that still the case now? Please let us not deny the light of the sun.
    Halfway through the nineties it were those “people in the back” that contributed to the mouth-to-mouth publicity for the renaissance of Bob Dylan as a guy not to miss when he was performing in your neighborhood, NOT the die-hards who saw 15 shows a year. It were the “people in the back” who sincerely could judge for themselves that all the clichés about Bob’s live act were wrong, if they took the trouble of checking for themselves. The reality now is that Dylan’s powers as a creative artist are undiminished, however as a live performer these days he is a catastrophe. Ironically, his own live performances today are much worse than they ever were during his darkest days (say for example 1991). If the overall reaction is not as bad today as it was back then, it is possibly because the band is tighter now (as a band leader Bob is better now than he was then), but more importantly I think Bob has reached the stage of eternal fame by now, everything is forgiven, he gets away with it, he is benefitting from the credit he has built up (again) as a creative artist ever since the release of Time out of Mind (and as far as I’m concerned: rightly so). However, there is no sense in insulting someone who did not like a live concert, who refusing to defend the indefendable. The “people in the back” are right in assuming that you should not go to a university class first to put the decline of Dylan’s stage voice in perspective. I’m pretty confident Dylan would agree with me on that. This “old man’s” reaction to Dylan’s concert was clumsy but respectful. Your reaction to that was not respectful, I would say it was rather sectarian. Have you seen dignity (rumor goes it has never been photographed)? Yours sincerely, Blistering Sun.

  8. thanks mike for articulating everything i was thinking when i read this wooten guy yesterday. clearly he was looking for a nostalgia act. dylan dont do that! i bet it was a great show.

  9. Yeah, let’s all fling abuse at the guy who dared speak the truth about a sub-par Dylan concert. Better a painful truth than a pretty lie any day, I’d say. And don’t forget : there can be no great disappointment where there is not first great expectation and hope.
    Love,
    Another old Dylan devotee

  10. Mike, I appreciate you taking the time to write a follow up to this pin brained “concert review”
    by this so called fan of Dylan….
    He is a very simple guy that has no understanding at all about Dylan, his music, or any part of a Dylan concert experience. He ranted on so long about the place where he played, and his thirteenth row seat that I wanted to puke.
    Shows you can have all the degrees in the world, and be a pure fool. This mans “review” is getting a lot of attention, and almost all very negative. I hope he never wastes anymore of our time with his stupid remarks about Bob Dylan. Save us your review of the new album, stay home next time and shut up.

  11. Complaining about a bad sound system is always fair game. Another “fair” complaint is the idiot next to you in concerts who is carrying on a conversation. But to complain that Dylan didn’t acknowledge the crowd is simply pitiful and pathetic. If you need Dylan to scream, “Hello Des Moines,” trust me on this, you are not a Dylan fan.

  12. from my perspective he’s spot on except i figured it out in 1996. have only looked back to the majestic bob of the 60s since then. the old man who is modern bob is long past his day and should pack it in. he is an embarrassment. peace love and war!

  13. The Wootens of this world deserve what the author gave him — no doubt. But, alas, I have to acknowledge that I stopped seeing the Bard around 2000. Not because he doesn’t talk to the audience or because his arrangements vary, but because the set lists don’t vary enough and his voice is really in dire straits. I fear he is damaging his vocal chords beyond all repair and frankly, it causes me concern, as silly as that may sound coming from a “fan.” Beyond that, in concert, he just seems to be going through the motions. I’ll always look forward to another studio release and hope for the best, though in light of “Together Through Life” I’m not expecting much three years down the road. But good piece though. Wooten is a musical imbecile who shouldn’t share his idiocy with the world as he did.

  14. I got a big kick out of this, Mike. I drove some poor music critic to apoplexy by referring to his “small-town newspaper” in my response to his similar to Steve’s review of a Dylan concert. Thanks a lot.

  15. Sorry, Mike but you are the one that needs the reality check. Didn’t you read the article? Stephen Wooten is a Dylan fan who recognized that Bob rocked but that he could not HEAR the performance. That is why there was no connection, and the lighting IS low key, so I can understand the complaint about lighting if one is sitting away from the stage.

    I own all of Bob’s official releases, have hundreds of bootlegs and have seen Bob Dylan 35 times since 1978, and have enjoyed most shows, good or not so good, UNTIL THE LAST SHOW at the Tsongas Arena in Lowell, MA (capacity 7800) in November of 2010. Bob apparently put on a good show, but the sound was so LOUD and poorly mixed that even I could not understand 3/4 of what he was singing. It had NOTHING TO DO WITH BOB’S VOICE. I don’t know what the arrangement is for sound equipment, if it is supplied by the arena or if it is supplied by the artist, but I would expect, at the very least, that Bob has his own people on the mixing board. I felt that there was absolutely no attempt at that show to present anything even close to acceptable sound.

    Since that experience, I have passed up 3 chances to see Bob in the area, and as difficult as it is for me to say, may well be done with live shows. So go ahead and post some insulting, snarky comment about how there will be more room for you (and those “who get it”) at the next show. Bob can put on any type of show that he wants, but I feel that he does have some responsibility to present a show that can be judged on it’s merits and entertainment value and not leave the crowd wondering what went on because they could not HEAR it.

  16. Just as Wooten shouldn’t put so much emphasis on Dylan and him “connecting,” the writer of this post didn’t have any legitimate standing to “defend” Dylan. Bottom line– Dylan could probably care less about both of these turkeys.

  17. I agree with Steven Wooten. I saw Dylan at the Asbury Park Convention Hall last summer, and in my opinion, he sucked out loud!!! The guy’s voice is shot, and he re-arranged the old hit tunes so that they are barely recognizable. If it hadn’t been for Leon Russell’s great opening set, I would have walked out !!!!

  18. It always amazes me the lengths in which both sides go to get their point across. They all seem to forget that it’s Bob Dylan….he’s only been famous for about 50 years….his reputation definately preceeds him…so why all the hubub? True fans of Dylan don’t care about ANY thing except that it’s Bob Dylan. They love everything the man touches, says, doesn’t say, croaks, burps, mumbles…when I listen or see Bob perform, even if it’s horrible, it never crosses my mind because I’m not doing it to hear the pristine voice of Blonde On Blonde, I’m doing it because I love him and everything about him. If you don’t like his voice, so what? If you don’t like what he stands for, so what? If you don’t like that he can be a self-absorbed hermit, who cares? You must either enjoy it or leave it be….either way quit telling me about it because I don’t care….I only care about Bob.

  19. Most of these comments seem divided into two camps: A) Hilarious/Take that Wooten, and B) Dylan was once great but now sucks, Mike Sauve is a jerk. Let me just say I have nothing against long-time Dylan fans who now feel he should retire or that he’s damaging his legacy. I happen to strongly agree, but I still respect this opinion. Certainly if you’ve been to 150 NET shows you have the right to that opinion. What angers me more is when someone sees Bob Dylan for the first time, or the first time in decades, and decrees that he’s no longer worth listening to. There is a wealth of YouTube videos and bootlegs these people could explore in order to put 2012 Bob Dylan in context before deciding to attend a concert, so they really have no one to blame but themselves. To this end, Stephen Wooten was the ideal straw-man. I would note that he’s not a journalist but more like a Citizen-contributor to this newspaper, but God knows I have seen many paid, so-called “music writers” make the “Never talked to the audience” complaint, or mention something about his hat, or generally say something really ignorant. I don’t know much about Frank Zappa, so if asked to review, for example, a Frank Zappa box-set, I would either decline, or engage in enough hours of research so that I could at least pass for credible, which these small-town hacks simply cannot be bothered to do.

  20. Why are people concerned they don’t recognize his songs? I own over 100 Dylan artifacts and frankly find it quite interesting when I don’t recognize his songs. I either like a sound or I don’t. It’s NOT about what I recognize or about whether or not I was properly greeted. LOL. If you need to be greeted or you need to hear every word, may I suggest Justin Bieber?

    • @bill I really like what you wrote. I’d never articulated it that well, but it encapsulates an excellent idea: I either like a sound or I don’t. It’s not about what I recognize.

      Thanks for articulating this so well. I realize that some do want the sound they already know, but others among us happily evaluate the sounds as they come at us.

  21. OK, i gotta say this. i’ve seen Bob over 140 times from 1975 through to last year. From San Fran to New Orleans to Venice (Padova) to Glasgow and more than enough times in Toronto, since June 24,2005 he has s*cked terribly. some actually point to spring 2003 where he really lost his voice but I liked where Freddie was taking us in ’04 so I didn’t hit my wall for a bit. with all that concert experience behind me and a few thousand listens to a few thousand shows, so i knew every word that was coming altered arrangement or not, I decided to see the Modern Times tour without listening to the record once. couldn’t understand but a few words of the new songs. he is BOB DYLAN but you’ll enjoy yourself more if you go see John Prine, or Leonard Cohen, or John Fogerty…those guys still bring it.

  22. “…an indirect result of Wooten-based rage.” Nice. Your dog will run under the porch at the mere mention of Wooten, or possibly the sight of a man with a soup strainer moustache like that.

  23. Bob Dylan is a living legend, and one that many of us respect, admire, look forward to, and enjoy. I ‘discovered’ him with Blonde on Blonde played on my parents’ suburban stereo when it was released in 1966, and I’ve never looked back. He is not just a performer, or a musician, he is a poet and an artist. He is the real deal, and he is a genius at what he creates. Who cares that his voice has faded at 71, for God’s sake! He has written books full of poetic dreams and he has gratefully shared them with us, and will share them with our future, should we have one.

    Please people, try to dig down and remember your humanity. If you listen at all, you will hear Bob sing about it; you will hear him try to bring it forward. If you are going deaf from your iPods, iPhones, and all of the me, myself, and I, don’t blame Bob. He is here for the ride, just like the rest of us. The thing is as an artist, he knows the enjoyment is in the creation, and the participation. If you don’t like the party, stay home and create one of your own. The rest of us who know and love Bob, will ride high with him like the wind, as high as we can every time, and we won’t be complaining.

    Thanks Mike for taking out yet another complainer. I felt the same way. Before you can complain, you actually have to do something. I wonder what that would be for Mr. Wooten? Or for Mr. Jones…..

  24. This “old man” has seen Bob more times than I can count, since ’65. I agree that saying Bob “missed an opportunity to connect with me” is a lame thing to say, the fact is that Bob’s voice can be very disturbing at times. But it seems to me that Mike’s article is more about showing how “hip to Bob” he is than anything else. That “old man” is considerably younger than Dylan, who doesn’t need Mike to defend him. Everyone’s experience is different at those shows, depending on what you bring to it. Being angry because someone “doesn’t get it’ is misplaced and a waste of time.

  25. What an arrogant piece! What gives you the right to insult Stephnen Wooten because he didn’t enjoy the concert? Who are you anyway? Your diatribe is loaded with assumptions and I’ll bet you never met the guy. Wow, you think it’s cool to insult his moustshe? His age? What a punk!

    I’ve seen Dylan about 30 times going back to 1975 and I can attest that the magical moments that kept me coming back have become all the more rare over the past several years, really since about 2002. There’s virtually no range left in the voice, though he uses phrasing to get the most he can out of it. If you add in a bad sound mix, and I’ve heard plenty of them, it can ruin the concert, even if the band is on. Son, you ought to learn some manners and aploogize to Mr Wooten. If I was your dad, I’d kick your ass!

  26. PS….Mike, Stephen Wooten may have missed the nuances of Bob’s performance, but his article was honest, unlike yours. Yours is pretentious and arrogant and you come off sounding like a phony. I tire much more of the pseudo-dylanologists like you than I do of the average guy who just finds Bob hard to relate to.

  27. I’m not a long time Dylan fan. I’m a 32 year old guy who has heard a few Dylan songs over the years, had the opportunity to see him live, and went to the show with an open mind and an expectation of seeing a legend go to work. I ended up seeing a lazy old man doing an impression of William Shatner singing Bob Dylan songs. You can keep it.

  28. Hello. Bob Dylan is horrible live, I have never seen as bad a show as his tour this year. A huge waste of money and time. Hey, I wanted to like it, I heard it would be bad but nothing could prepare me for it. I actually feel sorry for him, in a way, because he seems blind to how bad he actually is. I agree with that moustachioed guy on many of his points.

  29. NY Times’ Jon Parales on Dylan’s latest album (but it’s just as true for any recent album or concert: “Sure, his voice is a wreck. But nothing any prettier could encompass the bitterness, sorrow, lust, nastiness, longing, vengeance and backhanded humor that course through the songs. The music imagines some phantom roadhouse where blues, honky-tonk, doo-wop, an old-timey ballad or an Irish waltz might materialize; the verses roll on and on, with a little doggerel but a lot that cuts to the bone. Envisioning death and destruction, the songs stay ornery to the end.”

  30. Pingback: Like A Rolling Stone: an Interactive Music Video

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