Stephen Daniel Arnoff
Episode Seven: Dylan and the Dead
Jerry Garcia rightfully stands on stage for the entirety of this episode. For his chill, weird, boundless, virtuosic creativity into the dark places but still — as the they say — ever grateful. A fellow traveller with Dylan if ever there was, here's to the great, the irreplaceable, ever-loved Jerry Garcia and his band of bands, the Grateful Dead.
And then there's Lenny Bruce, both the song and the man. Dylan has spoken quite a bit about the album Shot of Love on which the song "Lenny Bruce" appears. Indeed he's often said that this album was underrated, one that he himself appreciates uniquely. Maybe it was backlash to the intensity of the so-called Born Again Christian period that kept these songs quieter than others. The parable is mostly unexplained.
Because sometimes what the world needs is John Denver introducing Bob Dylan and Stevie Wonder to present the Grammy Award for "Best Song" in 1984. Stevie smiles and jokes. Dylan keeps it slow as molasses and completely deadpan (or totally bored) behind giant black shades as the envelope is opened and Stevie says, "Hey, let me see that."
We will let Lenny Bruce speak for himself, and for Christ and Moses and the Pope as well. He covers it all and then some. And his spirit goes on and on.
One more for the road from Jerry Garcia, "Going, Going, Gone," already a haunting tune that the Band's Robbie Robertson once pointed to as a remnant of "I'm Not There (1956)," perhaps Dylan's most otherworldly song of all. It's takes a train to laugh and a lot of grateful and dead to sing it like this.