Bob Dylan in Atlanta: 'Great to Be in Joe-Jah!'

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(In Washington, Dylan wasn't in a mood to talk to any reporters, after reading a Washington Post article by Tom Zito, who had interviewed Dylan in Boston, early on the morning of January 15th. Zito asked Dylan about the Bangladesh concert and why Dylan didn't do any political benefits. "There were millions of people starving in Bangladesh," Dylan replied. "George McGovern wasn't starving. He just wanted to be President." He continued: "Actually, maybe the problem is that I don't like the Democratic-Republican system. I like monarchies, kings and queens."

(After the interview, Zito said, Dylan approached him in the hotel hallway: "Gee, do you think you could scratch that stuff about McGovern? It wasn't right for me to say it." Zito proceeded to include the McGovern quote and reported Dylan asking him to cut the material.

Photos: Bob Dylan Captured at Home and on the Scene

("That wasn't the agreement we made before the interview," Zito said, "that he'd have approval of what I wrote." Questioned further, Zito said there was no "agreement" of any sort made before the talk, but that "I felt I had to use it. I felt it was one of the few questions where he said something more than one sentence, something that came from inside him.")

In Atlanta, as pro-Arab demonstrators silently handed out literature to latecomers outside the concert hall, a relaxed Bob Dylan and his road manager played Ping-Pong backstage before facing 17,000 fans in the Omni, a new multi-use sports facility.

Dylan opened and encored both Atlanta concerts with a driving version of "Most Likely You'll Go Your Way (I'll Go Mine)," which could be the theme song of the tour. Following his second number, "Lay Lady Lay," Dylan said, "It's great to be back in Joe-jah," and finished the opening segment with "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues," "Leopard-Skin Pillbox Hat," "It Ain't Me Babe" and (with Dylan on piano) "Subterranean Homesick Blues."

He closed the concerts with "Forever Young" and "Like a Rolling Stone." As the house lights went up during "Like a Rolling Stone," the crowd, which had been kept under extremely tight control all evening, began flowing toward the stage. With each "How does it feel?" the powerful spots, normally used to light sporting events, were turned on, creating new waves of energy. A fight suddenly broke out next to the governor's seat and police hauled away an excited young man.

Almost unnoticed in the frenzy of thousands standing and shouting from their seats, a young man pushed his bearded friend in a wheelchair toward the stage, highlighting the quasi-revivalist spirit of the evening, as Dylan encored with a reprise of "Most Likely You'll Go Your Way (I'll Go Mine)."

The following night, Dylan substituted "Rainy Day Women (Nos. 12 & 35)" for "Leopard-Skin Pillbox Hat," bringing gasps and cheers for his harp solos. And, in his solo spot, he played "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" for the first time on the tour instead of "Just Like A Woman."

On the encore, the lines, "Time will tell who has fell, and who's been left behind," echoed with new meaning, for the Atlanta stop had raised new questions about the politics of the tour and the Dylan mystique.

This story is from the February 28th, 1974 issue of Rolling Stone.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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