Tangled up in new: Bob Dylan focused on recent songs during sold-out New Orleans show
A marquee of the Saenger Theatre in New Orleans on Saturday, March 19, 2022, the night Bob Dylan played a sold-out show at the historic venue.

To be Bob Dylan, one of the most scrutinized cultural figures of the past century, cannot be easy. Countless books, articles, seminars and scholarly discussions dissecting his work and life, millions of fans searching for meaning and motive in his every move – that’s a considerable burden to carry. So he doesn’t. He tunes it out, plots a course of his own choosing and religiously sticks to it. In a June 2020 New York Times interview with historian and confidant Douglas Brinkley, Dylan expressed a philosophical opposition to musical improvisation: “Improvisation leaves you open to good or bad performances and the idea is to stay consistent. You basically play the same thing time after time in the most perfect way you can.” To that end, Dylan and his band played the same 17 songs, in the same order, on Saturday at a sold-out Saenger Theatre that they played Friday in Shreveport. He’s deployed the same set throughout the spring leg of his “Rough and Rowdy Ways” tour. Only one song has changed since the fall leg. Saturday’s show fell on the 60th anniversary of his self-titled debut album’s release. It was in New Orleans, the city where Dylan rented a house in Audubon Place while recording the 1989 album “Oh Mercy,” the city that he extolled in his 2004 memoir “Chronicles: Volume One.” None of which mattered. He stuck to his usual script, or lack thereof, at the Saenger. As is his habit, he didn’t speak between songs until he introduced his bandmates before the night’s last song. Bob Dylan, fourth from left, and members of his band at the conclusion of their […]

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