Cat Power Sings Dylan

In 1966 when he performed at the Royal Albert Hall in London, Bob Dylan was the greatest songwriter of his (and my) generation. He was not, however, the greatest singer. Or even a very good singer. Nor did he seem to want to be. (He singing had much improved by the time he released Blood on the Tracks in 1974, if not before.) Cat Power (Chan Marshall) is a very good singer–a strong, throaty voice, jazz inflected with a rock base. So when Cat Power recreates Dylan’s ’66 concert, song by song, as she did at the Lobero on March 6, it is a marriage for rock history heaven.
The first half of Dylan’s set was performed acoustically and Cat followed suit, accompanied by a single guitar player and occasional harmonica. It opened with “She Belongs to Me” (‘She’s got everything she needs/ She’s an artist, she don’t look back…Bow down to her on Sunday/Salute her when her birthday comes’). By the time CP started meandering through “Visions of Johanna” my eyes were closed and I dreamed along. “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue,” “Desolation Row,” “Just Like A Woman” (‘But when we meet again, introduced as friends/Please don’t let on that you knew me when’) and finally the familiar refrain of Hey, “Mr. Tambourine Man.”  The second half, Dylan went electric, and Cat Power brought out drums, keyboard and electric guitars for the rest of the night. “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” (‘I started out on Burgundy/But soon hit the harder stuff’) and “Ballad of a Thin Man” (‘And something is happening here/But ya’ don’t know what it is/Do you, Mister Jones?’) were powerful, but nothing compared to the evening’s finale: “Like A Rolling Stone” brought the dedicated crowd to its feet, dancing and singing along. The best song of the ’60s is just as good today.

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