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The Springsteen – Dylan Moment at Shea Stadium, summer ’03

August 23rd, 2010 · 5 Comments · Music, New York City

The Bob Night at Springsteen . . .



I noticed that no one seems to be talking about Bruce’s Dylan rap moment.

So, first Bruce returns after the 1st round of encores, “And I’m thinking, ‘Okay, if anybody’s comin out, this is it.'”  Being a New Yorker, I’m always pullin for this, there being so many musicians in this town on any given night, and the NYC shows always being the special look-forward-to-it show, the call-out night for most touring musicians.

This being the closing night of a 14 month tour, i know everything’s rehearsed and down pat, so bruce comes up the stairs to the mic to do his standard “Thanks a lot Cleveland” rap, BUT !

he looks back over his left shoulder!

and i’m like, “YEAH!”

wouldn’t do that after a year of performances unless something was unusual!  Then Boom, he says, “Let’s do a Bob Dylan song.  . . .  Bob?”  and the man in the long black coat comes up the stairs behind him!

great moment, the place goes crazy, and all the Dylanheads are suddenly quite evident 🙂

“Highway 61”, starts out with a long instrumental, obviously chaotic, rockin, blistering, Dylan on electric guitar after past years of keyboard tours, black leather coat, curly hair blowin in the wind, giant screen camera has this great angle shooting up at him from below, Big Bob!  beltin it out!

Though his mic’s kinda f*cked the first verse or so, sounds like it’s cutting in and out a bit, but he’s takin it, doing all sorts of playful, twisted only-Bob phrasings, and springsteen’s just beaming like he’s watching his child play, or like he’s living a dream, playing guitar on stage with his greatest hero of all time, open-mouth beaming like his face’ll break, enjoying the moment as much as we are, just playin and crazy and Bob!, loose, all unrehearsed black-leather-jacket-Beatles-in-Hamburg rock ‘n’ roll,  . . .  “archetypal!” Walter screams at one point, screachin bleacher fans like Beatlemania, seering guitars like Neil Young, curlicue vocal twists like Bob Dylan, putting some big Shea bleachers out in the sun, and a whole stadium sings out, “And have it out on Highway 611111”!!    rrrrrreeeerrrrroooo

sorry, a little crazy right now just goin there  :- )

Then, like, an eternity later, Bruce follows with a real haunting “City in Ruins” – solo, I think.  But me and Walter are kinda in shock.  In fact I think we even stepped out the nearby exit to get a “holy f*ck, what just happened?!” moment.   uhhhhhh.   “Kay.  No . . . way.”   then “Kay, let’s go back in.”

And just as we do, he’s just finished “Ruins” and

THEN – he does this whole Dylan rap !!

He starts out talking about growing up in a small town in New Jersey and how it was Bob Dylan albums that made him first realize there was a bigger world out there and how it made him see and think beyond what was around him.

Then he said something about how Bob always spoke his mind no matter what, and how that was so inspirational to Bruce.

—  for you non-Dylanheads, examples maybe check out, say Masters of War, Positively 4th Street (about 2-faced ‘friends’), or Ballad of a Thin Man (about the press)

Anyway, then Bruce goes into this Whole thing about the importance of protest and speaking out and questioning the government and how That is what’s patriotic to him. (!)

— it was a pretty powerful statement.  i’ve seen a lot of major artists perform since this Iraq war started, and not one of them including Dylan, Jagger, Neil Young, the Dead etc. ever spoke directly to their audience about what’s going on, let alone encouraging them to question it!

— and it was cool that his thought-dreams mind-riff went from his love of Bob and what he meant to him, into the need to speak up, how poetry and songwriting led into the need to Question, and he actually used the word “patriotic” to describe it.

— it was so wonderfully wild and weird to be in these stands in America, this ultimate giant American coliseum with stars & stripes flapping all around the upper stadium rim . . . it was this national anthem moment — all the lights were on, everyone’s standing up kinda hat’s off at this point (cuz it’s the encores) yet there’s no action on the field (the performer’s not performing) and there’s just one person at a mic, 60,000 people saluting Bruce, but instead of singing about “bombs bursting in air” he’s talking about how Poetry and songs changed his life, made him look beyond his own borders, and what patriotism means to him.  quite powerful, and i mean, this went on for like 3 or 4 minutes.

then he ends with, “I don’t know if history makes great men, or great men make history, but Bob Dylan is one of the greats.  . . .  This is for Bob,”

and he goes into Land of Hope and Dreams . . .

which begins . . .

Grab your ticket and your suitcase
Thunder’s rolling down the tracks
Don’t know where you’re goin’
But you know you won’t be back
Well darlin’ if you’re weary
Lay your head upon my chest
We’ll take what we can carry
And we’ll leave behind the rest

I will provide for you
And stand by your side
You’ll need a good companion, darlin’
For this part of the ride

I’m wonderin if, on a spiritual level, Dylan was that companion for Bruce?

the whole thing was just this magic musical spiritual inspirational moment I be cherishin forever.

Post Bruce-site-post script:

just so you know how it ends !!  . . .

(My Cousin Vinnie: “There’s mooore?”)


After this he does Rosalita, 60,000 people punching the air and screaming out “Rosalita, jump a little lighter . . . ”  stadium lights on, people in multi-colored raincoats (none fell)  (though maybe some people tripped)  that made the whole stadium look like this massive bed of small multi-colored wildflowers, yellows and greens and reds all lit up and fresh and swaying in the breeze!

– – > Dancing in the Dark for about 15 dancing minutes, it’s getting close to midnight, extra long even for Bruce, close of tour, Willie Nile and Jon Landau(!?) come out on guitars!  Willie’s bopping all around, total jumping-jack lightning ball, and hopping over to do raucous mic-sharing harmonies with the boss.

Then Bruce calls out Gary U.S. Bonds, and Bond’s wife and daughter on harmonies, and Garland Jeffries for this crazy bluesy sloppy-but-joyous rock n roll “Quarter to Three”

Then former-Georgia Satellite, & Rising producer Brendan O’Brien comes, somebody else on tambourine, and it’s the old 15 or 20-person unrehearsed rock n roll chaos jam routine.  Walter leans in at some point, “A R&R Hall of Fame induction jam at the Waldorf!”  :- )

And Then, here we are at Shea,  Dylan’s already played,  only one band not representin’, Bruce is suitably hoarse after 14 months of filling stadiums with his voice, so in the same desperate end-of-the-road exhaustion John first recorded it in, he belts out “Twist and Shout” and suddenly The Beatles were at Shea Stadium again!  The Beatles are playing at Shea Stadium    again   . . .   Joyous pandemonium, passionate arm-flailing, a bubbling bopping sea of human flowers, lights-on, Beatlemania ecstasy, it goes on for hours it seems, everyone screaming the escalating “ah, Ah, AH, AHHHHH” part, testifyin by the deck-full to the beatleific gods of rock n roll.   . . .

Oh, ah, as if there was anything else, but he then clears the guests and ends with his soul song about his band, “Blood Brothers” which he never plays the whole tour, as a tribute to his band, and several eye-witnesses down front said Clarence Clemons was crying his eyes out.

Just thought I’d share.


= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =


For the time George Harrison went to see the Beat play The Beard and raved about it to Paul McCartney — check out The Beatles, The Beats & The Beard.

Or for more Adventures in Music — you may want to check out the (Route) 66 Best live performances ever captured on film.

Or take the New Orleans Jazz Fest ride.

Or how The Grateful Dead came to play my 30th birthday.

Or when Neil Young returned to Massey Hall in Toronto.

Or Paul Simon doing Graceland in Hyde Park in London.

Or Furthur came back and reprised the Dead at Madison Square Garden.

Or when the Dead, Janis, The Band and others took the Festival Express train trip across Canada.

Or the night I was hanging with Dr. John’s band in Toronto.

Or here’s the day I finally “got” Bob Dylan

Or the night we all lost John Lennon


by Brian Hassett

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5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Lawrence Kirsch // Aug 28, 2010 at 10:03 AM


    We luved your Bruce and Bob story at Shea — wish we were there.

    Lawrence Kirsch
    Original Stories and Photographs by Bruce Springsteen’s Legendary Fans

  • 2 Jeanne Masanz // May 24, 2021 at 9:25 AM

    This is a beautiful piece of verse, Brian.

  • 3 Gl Weatherford // May 24, 2021 at 1:51 PM

    Incredible moment in time with those two.

  • 4 Dale Topham // May 25, 2021 at 12:39 AM

    Every now and then we get lucky and hit an epic show like this!

  • 5 Heywood J Blonaparte // May 25, 2021 at 10:27 PM

    Beautiful story, and telling.

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