I fell behind on 2003 Dylan for the most frustrating reason – I finally discovered something that I wanted to write about that I couldn’t find a copy of!
Dylan’s touring in 2003 included several shows where he opened for The Grateful Dead and a couple where he opened for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. He played a bit with each, but that’s material that I’ve already covered in weeks past. What was new this year was Dylan joining Bruce Springsteen on stage at one of his shows. Specifically, the final show of Springsteen’s The Rising tour, at Shea Stadium in New York on October 4, 2003. Springsteen and Dylan sang “Highway 61”.
Given the fact that each man has an extensive bootlegging culture around him, and given the fact that the show was in New York, you’d figure that the audio and video would be all over the place. Indeed, there is an incredibly poor quality video of the prior evening’s show on YouTube. So if you can get that whole thing, it should be easy to get this one song. Right? Right?
Yeah, not so fast. Everywhere I’ve turned all week – and I spent about an hour on this yesterday, and about the same again today – I get this:
l can find accounts written by people who were there, but for the life of me I can’t find the video.
That’s okay – I’ve had to write about things where I didn’t have the video previously, but this case is unusual in that I also can’t find the audio. There are Springsteen bootlegs out there (here’s a video of the concert, for instance), but I’m not interested in paying that to hear one song. I tried dipping into the online world of Springsteen bootleggers, but I had no luck in that regard, finding only the commercial bootleg dealers.
It might seem logical that this song would be widely anthologized across Dylan and Springsteen fandoms, but my sense right now is that it isn’t at all. It seems that there was a problem with Dylan’s mic on the first verse that negatively impacted the song, and that might account for the lack of interest in sharing it – not many anthologizers are going to bother to include a partial recording or a poor performance, even if it does have a touch of history about it.
So, this has been one of my few straight failures. Generally I’ve been able to come by almost everything that I’ve wanted (I couldn’t find some of Dylan’s earliest ads), but this time I’ve come up blank. If you’re a Springsteen enthusiast with a deep bootleg collection, let me know. I’ve become fixated on this one.