Splendour in the Grass’s first outing at its new permanent home in Byron Shire, NSW, wasn’t christened with a headliner set from Bob Dylan, as was claimed by Sydney Morning Herald (and then us, and then a dozen other music blogs). Though our cleverly placed question mark in the title of our original article distances us from any claims of false reporting, we do have added information about what Dylan didn’t play at Splendour in the Grass, because he was too busy heading up the touring Americanarama festival lineup with the likes of Wilco, My Morning Jacket, Beck, Ryan Bingham.
So, straight from Pier A Park in Huboken, New Jersey, here is what Bob Dylan didn’t play on 26 July, 2013 at Splendour in the Grass:
1. Things Have Changed
Winner of the 2000 Academy Award for Best Original Song as part of the Wonder Boys Soundtrack, this track has become a staple of Dylan’s live shows in recent years.
2. Love Sick
The opening track to 1997’s Time Out Of Mind.
3. High Water (For Charley Patton)
From Love & Theft – released September 11, 2001 – High Water featured eerie lines like “Coffins droppin’ in the street like balloons made out of lead” that led some to suggest Dylan had foretold that day’s terrorist attacks.
4. Soon After Midnight
From 2012’s Tempest, this might be the only sweet, slow country love song to casually threaten to drag a corpse through mud.
5. Early Roman Kings
Also from Tempest, this straight Muddy Waters-esque blues number has come alive in live performances in 2013.
6. Tangled Up In Blue
At Splendour in the Grass, this classic would be the first song performed that most in the audience would possibly recognise. Of course, the lyrics, melody and instrumentation are all completely different to the 1975 original, making the spot-the-hit game all the more difficult.
7. Duquesne Whistle
This chirpy, whimsical track would bring a smile to anyone’s face. Its Nash Edgerton directed music video meanwhile was criticised for being excessively violent. Maybe it was karma for the same actor appearing in a series of Microsoft Surface commercials?
8. She Belongs To Me
All the way back to 1964’s Bringing It All Back Home, at a time when Dylan was toying with a folky-electric sound that earned its own Wikipedia entry. This mid-tempo number isn’t the style that got Dylan in strife, and its 2013 non-Splendour rendition with Dylan at a grand piano might be the softest point of the whole show.
9. Beyond Here Lies Nothing
Bad, dirty blues from 2009’s Together Through Life. Another to feature an excess of violence in a Nash Edgerton clip.
10. A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
While Blowin’ in the Wind and The Times They Are A-Changin’ are the songs that most associate with Dylan the protest singer, this tour de force clocking in at seven minutes has an eerie timelessness and vivid imagery like no other.
11. Blind Willie McTell
A masterpiece left off of 1983’s widely panned Infidels, this song has been given a new life on Dylan’s Never Ending Tour with over 200 performances since its debut in 1997.
12. Simple Twist Of Fate
Slowing things down as the set comes to a close, Dylan performed this 1975 track twice in Byron Bay — 2011’s Bluesfest. If we got it at Splendour in the Grass 2013, his lead electric guitar heard in 2011 would be replaced by lead piano.
13. Summer Days
By this point the crowd of hipsters wearing Daisy-and-Myrtle-inspired garb will be asking each other when he’ll play something they know too loudly to hear the many Great Gatsby quotes and references in this 2001 rockabilly number.
14. The Weight
Joined by other acts on the tour for a raucous singalong of this classic song by The Band. In Huboken it was Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, My Morning Jacket’s Jim James and J Geil Band’s Peter Wolf. At Splendour we thankfully weren’t witness to a singalong with Mumford & Sons, Bernard Fanning and Flume joining Dylan.
14. All Along the Watchtower
Dylan plays this Hendrix-style these days. As Hendrix as you can get wearing a cowboy hat plunking on a grand paino. Which is pretty Hendrix.
15. Ballad of a Thin Man
As the set draws to a close, Dylan offers one final crowd-pleaser, the biting and not-playing-at-Splendour appropriate attack on journalism, Ballad of a Thin Man.