Bob Dylan’s Desire with Ian Daley and Jay Rosen

Comment | The Tap and Barrel, Pontefract | Comment and Photos by Allan Wilkinson

There’s a section at the beginning of Martin Scorsese’s new film covering Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue, shot at Gerde’s Folk City, where Dylan and his entourage, including Joan Baez, Allen Ginsberg, Patti Smith and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, among others, drunkenly entertain one another until the early hours. Jay Rosen was behind the sound desk during that inaugural event, which effectively kick started the legendary tour, and tonight the New Yorker searched his memory banks for nuggets of trivia, reflecting on those heady days, where he briefly rubbed shoulders with one of the most enigmatic figures in popular music. Publisher Ian Daley (Route) introduced Dylan’s 17th studio album, possibly Dylan’s most accessible album to date, and threw some additional light on the circumstances surrounding the album’s conception, recording and release, during one of the most turbulent periods of the musician’s life. Desire is one of the CAT Club’s most requested records and is one of the longest records to have been played in full at the club, coming in at just under an hour. From the opening bars of “Hurricane” the audience knew they were in for a good ride as the needle dropped onto the record. As a prelude to the second side, club organiser Rev Reynolds regaled the audience with his own memories of the Big Apple, notably walking into Umberto’s Clam House in New York’s Little Italy, where Joey Gallo had been gunned down on the afternoon of April 7, 1972. “Holding a Super 8 Cine Camera (which resembles a gun) wasn’t the best idea” Rev explained. The twelve-verse ballad, “Joey”, which appears to romanticise Gallo’s life, and in turn led to some criticism at the time, divided the audience with one Cat Clubber paraphrasing Prince Charles, “A monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much loved Dylan canon.” The closing song on the second side however, reminded us all of one of Dylan’s most uncomplicated, unambiguous and unbelievably beautiful songs in that very same canon, “Sara”, a perfect way to close a hot and entertaining evening.