But of course the great years for those of us of a certain age were 1965 and 1966. For all the talk recently of Lou Reed ’transforming’ rock music in the early 70s, the 1966 shows by Bob Dylan and the Band were seminal moments in the lives of our generation; genuine turning-points in the history of rock music.
I remember in particular the De Montford Hall in Leicester, when an organised walk-out by the Stalinist folkies meant that there were probably only a couple of hundred of us left at the end. And although I was in Manchester, I have no recollection of the infamous Judas! shout. Probably still in the bar.
So the best show, for me, was the second night at the Royal Albert Hall. (And I actually mean the Royal Albert Hall show, not the famously misattributed Manchester Free Trade Hall gig of a few days previously.)
This year, Bob returns to the Royal Albert Hall for the first time since then. Jill has come out of retirement (she announced her intention of maintaining the memory of Dylan at Carcassonne in 2009 as her final show) to be present at this event. I know Bob will be pleased. I am.
We are fortunate to have front row tickets on November 27th. And I will also be as close to the front as possible a couple of weeks earlier at LAMP in Leamington when Michael Gray will give his celebrated lecture, Bob Dylan and the Poetry of the Blues, on Thursday the 14th.
It's something of a coup for the guys at LAMP that a writer of the stature and reputation of Michael Gray is appearing at this venue, in this town. He is the Diderot of Dylan, the encyclopœdist of all things Bob, author of Song and Dance Man, and a highly acclaimed biography of Blind Willie McTell.
Even in a university town such as this, we seldom attract such luminaries. It will be a privilege to welcome him and listen to his talk which is, as he says, “illustrated with loud music and rare video footage”.
I have been lucky enough to hear him on a previous occasion. He speaks as well as he writes. (And he writes exceptionally well.) His talk takes us through the ways in which Bob draws upon those mythical pre-War bluesmen, not merely or not solely as hommage, but as a source of what is important - musically, politically, socially.
From the point of view of a musicologist, this is fascinating stuff and, as we used to say, extremely well related to the text. From the point of view of a sociologist, it identifies the musical threads that reflect the changes in the way we live and act. From the point of view of people like me, your average Dylan fan, it provides an academic framework for our admiration and, alright then, our obsession.
Importantly, however, Michael is not a nerd. Knowledgeable and erudite, yes, but no nerd. In fact, the nerds in the Dylan world dislike him intensely because he will have no truck with that particular form of worship. Rather, he draws the bigger picture, which he illuminates with surprising connections and rewarding insights.
He's very good. And the couple of hours (with a break) makes for a fascinating, enjoyable and highly entertaining evening from which you will emerge wiser, better informed and with a smile on your face.
Michael Gray delivers Bob Dylan and the Poetry of the Blues at LAMP Leamington at 8pm on Thursday 14th. Tickets are a miserly £10. Worth booking your place on 01926 886699.
Today from the everysmith vault: It could have been any Bob show from 1966, but I have clicked on Paris - notable for the fact that the French audience were booing even throughout the acoustic set!