Hear Bob Dylan Debut ‘Crossing the Rubicon’ at First Concert of 2022

It doesn’t feel like a coincidence that Dylan picked this moment to unveil his 2020 song about a war

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Bob Dylan resumed his Rough and Rowdy Ways tour Thursday night at the Arizona Federal Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona. It was essentially the same show he brought around the States late last year, but he dropped “Early Roman Kings” and replaced it with the live debut of the Rough and Rowdy Ways tune “Crossing the Rubicon.”

The song is about Julius Caesar’s decision to take his troops across the Rubicon River in 49 BC, an event that kicked off a bloody civil war. Dylan didn’t comment on the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, but it doesn’t feel like a coincidence that he picked this time to pull out that particular song.

“Been a while since we were in Phoenix,” Dylan told the crowd near the end of the set. “Alice Cooper still live here? Stevie Nicks? How about Barry Goldwater? My man, Barry… you know Marilyn Monroe’s favorite swimming pool was at the Biltmore hotel. We all swam there today!”

The rest of the show was heavy on Rough and Rowdy Ways songs, although he did mix in a handful of classics like “Watching the River Flow,” “When I Paint My Masterpiece,” “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight,” “Gotta Serve Somebody,” and “Every Grain of Sand.” There’s very little video on YouTube, but here are brief snippets of “False Prophet” and “Gotta Serve Somebody.”

The tour resumes this evening in Tucson, Arizona, at Tucson Music Hall. It will keep Dylan on the road through the April 14 finale in Oklahoma City. It is mainly hitting markets in the south like Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina.

Dylan has now played every song from Rough and Rowdy Ways with the exception of “Murder Most Foul,” the 17-minute epic about the assassination of JFK that wraps up the album. It would be tough to transfer that one to the stage, but the tour hits several towns in Texas in the coming days. He might be tempted to attempt it at one of those.

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