Bob Dylan — who performs at NJPAC in Newark, Nov. 20-21 — has been a touring musician for the last 60 years or so. But throughout October, he did something, I believe, for the first time. He frequently mixed songs into his setlist based solely on the location of the show. He didn’t do this every night, but he did do it often enough for it to be notable.
The current leg of his Rough and Rowdy Ways World Wide Tour — named after his 2020 album — has seen the following one-, two- or three-night-only songs since it started at the beginning of October:
“Kansas City” (written by Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller), Oct. 1 at The Midland Theatre in Kansas City, Missouri.
“Johnny B. Goode” (written by St. Louis native Chuck Berry), Oct. 4 at the Stifel Theatre in St. Louis.
“Nadine” (also written by Berry), Oct. 4 at the Stifel Theatre in St. Louis. (listen below) (“Nadine” also was performed at Devos Performance Hall in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Oct. 14, and the Murat Theatre in Indianapolis, Oct. 17).
“Forty Days and Forty Nights” (written by Chicago blues scene giant Muddy Waters), Oct. 6 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago.
“Born in Chicago” (written by Chicago native Nick Gravenites), Oct. 6-7 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago.
“Killing Floor,” Oct. 7 (written by Chicago blues scene giant Howlin’ Wolf) at the Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago.
“Longest Days” (written by Indiana native John Mellencamp), Oct. 16-17 at the Murat Theatre in Indianapolis.
“South of Cincinnati” (written Kentucky native Dwight Yoakam), Oct. 20 at The Andrew J. Brady Music Center in Cincinnati, and Oct. 21 at the Akron Civic Theatre in Akron.
“Dance Me to the End of Love” (written by Montreal area native Leonard Cohen), Oct. 29 at Place des Arts-Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier in Montreal. (listen below)
(NOV. 17 UPDATE) “New York State of Mind” (written by New York native Billy Joel), Nov. 16 at The Beacon Theatre in New York. (listen below)
New Jersey is an ideal place for him to continue this tradition. After all, many songs on his Shadows in the Night, Fallen Angels and Triplicate albums (all released between 2015 and 2017) were recorded by New Jersey’s own Frank Sinatra. (Indeed, he has already been playing “That Old Black Magic,” from Fallen Angels, regularly on this leg of the tour.) Or he could always do a Bruce Springsteen song (he did cover Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark,” after all, back in 1990).
Or he could do one of his own Jersey-set songs. There are a few: “Day of the Locusts,” “Tweeter and the Monkey Man,” “Hurricane.” Though since he has never performed the first two live, and hasn’t done “Hurricane” since 1976, I wouldn’t get your hopes up in that regard.
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