How Do You Know?

Last night I watched the Reese Witherspoon/Paul Rudd movie How Do You Know? on Netflix. While the question they face is about love, I found myself relating to Reese’s character, who is let go from the USA women’s softball team and has to figure out what direction her life will go next.

In November 2019 I saw Bob Dylan in concert for the 70th time. It was the 3rd show I’d seen on his fall tour, beginning with Akron, then Philadelphia, and culminating with night 2 of his 10-show run at the Beacon Theatre in New York. Akron was very good, Philadelphia was great, but New York was off the charts! (I heard later that each show at the Beacon was better than the night before.) For me, though, it was finally enough. 

After the Akron show, November 9, 2019.

When I gave a PechaKucha presentation in 2017, I began it with a slide of Dylan’s face and I told the crowd, “I’ve seen Bob Dylan 64 times and it’s not enough.” I would typically try to see him twice a year, depending on the tour schedule and my ability to travel. Many years found Dylan traversing the same path in the fall – west to east from October through the end of November, reliably hitting cities in Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, all places that I could drive to from Cleveland. I learned over the years that back-to-back shows were not worth the energy, especially after the set lists became static, and it was better to aim for either different tours during the year or at least a week in between shows.

Had I not gone to the Beacon show last fall, I think I would still feel like I needed to see him perform (it’s difficult to guess this in hindsight, and even more so with no tours scheduled due to the pandemic). I can’t describe what made that Beacon show so good, but whatever the magic, it left me feeling dazed well into the next day. I remember being very aware that I had experienced a show better than any other in recent memory; part of me wanted to stay in the city for the next show, but Thanksgiving plans made that too difficult to pull off, and anyway, what if it wasn’t as good of a show? I suppose I won’t really know until the next tour is announced. Until then, I can rest easy knowing that for now I’ve seen enough.

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