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A GIF Guide to Bob Dylan's Guitar Poses
1997-04-22, Fisher Auditorium, Indiana, PA
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The subscriber who requested this show highlighted “the best version of Tambourine Man I've ever seen from Bob over the years.” Sometimes these in-person experiences don’t translate if you weren’t in the room (I’m still raving about the Columbus 2006 “New Morning,” but no one else seems convinced). But he pointed me to this video, and, sure enough, hot damn. A superlative version of a song that can sometimes come off a bite rote in concert.
You’ll also notice: That’s a really good video! Someone in the front row of the balcony snuck in their camcorder and had a really steady shot with plenty of closeups. I wanted to see if there was more where that clip came from, and, thanks to the generosity of a user on the Watching the River Flow forum, I was able to track down a DVD rip of the full shebang. The quality of the video is every bit as good as that “Tambourine Man” clip. The performances stand up, too. I uploaded it to YouTube:
The best parts of the video are the instrumental bits. When Bob’s singing, he’s just standing there at the mic. Sounds great, but not all that much to see. But when he’s jamming on guitar – and there is a lot of that in this show – he’s moving and shaking all over the stage. While on the audio tape these might sound like, let’s be honest, kinda noodly guitar solos that go on and on (does “Shelter From the Storm” really need four guitar breaks?), they are extremely entertaining to watch on video.
You can see his little guitar-solo tricks in action. For instance, he really loves to slide a finger up a couple frets, then repeat that move quickly over and over. Watch the video for a few minutes and you’ll see what I mean. He also loves to play his guitar way the hell up on the neck, using God knows what weird fingerings to play a C or a G chord way different than how you’d learn in beginners guitar class.
Then there are what I call the Dylan guitar poses. When soloing, he busts out a variety of little stage moves that are a treat to watch. I got such a kick out of them that I made some GIFs. You too can use these moves next time you’re on stage playing the same three slidy notes over and over and calling it a guitar solo!
(If these GIFs don’t move in your email, you might need to click through to the website version)
Here’s a classic you can start out with, the theatrical mid-solo knee bend:
For advanced-level knee bending, you can add in a head shake:
Knees going out on ya? Forget the bends and just start shimmying that foot around! A little guitar-solo soft-shoe. Very classy.
Now your foot needs a break after all that soft-shoe, huh? Toss it up there on the drum riser. As an added bonus, you’ve now got your back to the audience, which is maybe how you’d always like to perform if you could.
Then again, sometimes you do want to engage the audience. Or maybe just one audience member in particular? Pause the solo for a sec to hit ‘em with a double point! Wonder what they did to earn that.
Are you excited to be playing Italy on your next tour? Try guitar-noodling while standing like the Leaning Tower of Pisa! Bonus points if you crank out a few notes of “I’m a little teapot…”
If you ever start to worry the audience is zoning out from all that guitaring, march to the front of the stage and stare ‘em down while you play.
Or forget ‘em and just get in the zone, dancing along to your own solo while staring straight down at those shoes you were sliding around earlier.
Two more classic moves not to forget: The spread-legged, locked-knee solo and what I call the “machine gun at the audience” maneuver.
Whew, show’s over! Don’t forget to take a bow. And, if you’re feeling chipper, give the people a little something extra.
There you have it, Bob Dylan’s guitar moves (and kiss-blowing move) in GIF form. While those are fun and all, they’re even better when you see them accompanied by the music, so I do recommend checking out that full video I uploaded. Start at the end with the fiery “Rainy Day Women” finale – who ever expects “Rainy Day Women” to be a show highlight? – then loop back around to the start. “Oh Babe It Ain’t No Lie” and “Maggie’s Farm” are two others not to be missed.
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