Remembering Bob Dylan’s Infamous ‘Judas’ Show
“Like a Rolling Stone”
Now this is theater: the crowd’s last chance to make a statement on the night, and Dylan’s, too. For all of its poetry, the studio version of “Like a Rolling Stone” was, musically, very much an R&B groove, albeit with rubato organ phrases that bordered on the celestial. The music here is much more in that celestial mode, like it’s ether-borne, rather than anything originating from mind, guitar, bass, drum, organ, voice. The final showdown begins when someone in the audience, from out of the tension of the attendant silence, shouts, “Judas!” In the annals of heckling, that’s a pretty good one. Dylan responds with “I don’t believe you” – a nice little reference, too, to the earlier song. There is venom in his voice. “You’re a liar.” Another pause, before Dylan turns to his band and orders them to “Play fucking loud!” And goodness do they, right on command. Dylan puts his entire body into the “How does it feel?” line, like he is jumping straight down someone’s soul and punching the crap out of it. Then it is all over. Dylan says, “Thank you,” and “God Save the Queen” plays on the PA. Time to be rolling on.
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