Bassist Lance Morrison explains how the shocking Dylan-Heartbreakers reunion came to be
Thanks Ray! I was there - bought a lawn ticket off StubHub a week ago - and would’ve really enjoyed things even without the guest spot by Bob and the guys, but obviously their appearance set it apart from most other days at Farm Aid.
Jim Irsay had some of the guitars from his collection on display in one of the small bar/cocktail areas to the side of the main stage. Bob’s Newport ‘65 Stratocaster was hanging out next to Jerry Garcia’s Tiger. Irsay’s staff on hand to mind the instruments were really friendly, and while chatting with several of us they more or less corroborated someone else’s claim that Dylan was on the premises - while not openly admitting it, or confirming whether he’d play or not.
I figured Bob might sit in with Neil or Willie towards the end. Maybe a half-audible backing vocal on “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” or “Old Man”, something akin to that.
When Neil only played four songs, I raised an eyebrow. When the lights went down 15 minutes after that and the images of impossibly scenic farm landscapes were replaced by one solitary, black-and-white photo of a windmill, I raised the other eyebrow.
When there was no introduction whatsoever, and I noticed the dude at center stage had curly hair instead of dual braided ponytails, I knew.
Didn’t realize it was Campbell and Tench up there with him until about halfway through Maggie’s Farm; the sheer shock of it all was still coursing through me.
It was at times utterly shambolic, and yet that seems entirely fitting for the circumstances. I don’t mind Bob not playing guitar at his normal shows, but it was certainly a thrill to see him comfortably playing one for the first time in quite a while. He sang better than I’d ever heard him, and by Thin Man was definitely more locked in with the guys, which let Mike and Benmont stretch their muscles a little more. Didn’t think I had a chance in hell to ever catch Positively 4th Street live at this point, so that was just gravy.
First time seeing Lukas Nelson, Margo Price, Dave Matthews, Neil, and Willie too. It already would’ve been a notable concert experience, but I think Bob and the Dirty Knob Heartbreakers vaulted it to instant top-5 status in my live concert experience rankings.
May the Zim abide, now and always.
Dylan is aging so gracefully. He is walking into the darkness singing and playing. This may be the most important period of his work. It has been glorious hearing and watching him do this quality and pace of work.
This interview, and this kind of work, is why we’re all here. Great job, Ray, and thank you. Love the book too!
What a great gift to us all, Ray, that you were able to score this interview and get the inside scoop on how Bob’s surprise Farm Aid appearance came together.
I also loves the transcript of the “drummers’ summit from last issue.
I think you already mentioned somewhere, maybe in the Intro to the book of conversations with Dylan’s sidemen, that one of the most interesting aspects that emerges from these conversations are their observations, reactions to, and little peeks through their eyes at what Bob is really like as a person - more than comes through from just about any other discussion about Bob, or interviews with him, that I’ve ever seen.
It comes through not just from the musicians’ descriptions of their interactions with him, and comments about how Dylan behaved toward them, or otherwise seemed to them, but also from the ways they reflect on how it felt for them just to be around him, the lasting impact the experience has had on them, what it meant to be in the room with and involved with this person whom so many of them sensed, when spending time with him, is really and truly a very special human being - even when and even though he also is and can.be, with other people he interacts with -especially when playing music together - a regular guy.
It reinforces impressions I’ve long had of him, and hearing these musicians describe their feelings about being with Bob is really very touching.
I think you have a special knack, too, for drawing these kinds of conversations out in your interviews.
This is such a treat (much like the Farm Aid surprise!). Thanks, Ray.
I said this on Bluesky when jet was happening, that I learned so much from the convos with Mike and Benmont in your book but I did not think I’d ever be putting that knowledge to use in a live setting!!
Thank you ray! Terrific interview. You are the man for sure, filling in all the missing pieces. Here’s one: so bob does two Brooklyn shows and then 4 days before he does Philly and the beacon has has no shows on those dates either. Do you think something is going on here? Could bob play Brooklyn and not Manhattan?
Great scoop, Ray!
“Pledging My Time” will need a Volume 2, Ray….Great interview. You asked alll the right questions as usual. Thank you!
I just finished your book, so one of my first thoughts after hearing of the Farm Aid set was "I hope Ray gets to talk to one of the guys about it." I didn't think it would be so soon! Great work, Ray! I saw the Knobs the next night in CT, and they opened with Rainy Day Women #12 and 35, still clearly on a high from Farm Aid. They're a real fun band, and I'm glad they all got this opportunity.
Great interview Ray--thanks for sharing it with the world!
Amazing how you snagged this interview, and so soon after the event. Bravo, indeed!
Good write up on this event. I know a guy who quit the Dirty Knobs this year. Know another guy who used to be the Heartbreakers's bass player. Funny how life works.
Absolutely awesome. I had so many questions, and you give us this fantastic interview! Thanks.
Ray! How do you do it! All I can say is thank you!!!
Thanks Ray!!! Great stuff