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Vids from the Vault - The Weight - Dylan, Tweedy, Wolf at Americanarama

This one was a year ago, in Hoboken, hometown of Frank the man. For the final song of his set at Americanarama Dylan brought up Jeff Tweedy of "Wilco," Peter Wolf, and Jim James of "My Morning Jacket" to join him to play "The Band's" classic, The Weight. A generous gesture on Bob's part, nie way to end things, and the performance, as you can see here, is spontaneous (Wolf needs a cheat sheet) but pretty solid, fun, Dylan's band sounds great as always, but...

...and there's always this BUT with Bob and performing these days. OK, we all know he's on another wavelength and 39 (or is it 47?) thoughts are always occurring to him simultaneously, and everybody else is supposed to follow him, not the other way around, and he's Bob Dylan after all, BUT...

...it's The Weight, for good god's sake. Every folkie or neo-folkie knows it. It's mandatory. It's required that every busker in the English speaking world anywhere has to know The Weight in order to get their busker performing card. It's tradition that you swap verses and then everyone comes in on the chorus, and also on the long, protracted "AAAAAANNNNNNNNDDDDDDDDD... you put the load right on me!" That's the whole freakin' point of it, all the voices build up, AANNDD AANNDD AANNDD together! You sing it together, the tension builds to the point where it can't be sustained any more, then it breaks and you get the release of the last, key line. It's how Robbie Robertson wrote it, how The Band played it, how everyone everywhere plays it, and what so what does Bob Dylan, the most contrarian human being on the planet do? He sings over it at the beginning 'and you put the load..." killing the entire moment, deflating all the tension, botching it like some brain-addled old uncle who just can't get the family sing-along right. Charlie Sexton walks over trying to give Bob the signal, "Here, Uncle Charlie, come in here!" but no, Bob does it his own way anyway.

It's just frustratingly mind-boggling and you have to wonder what's going on his head. Does he so detest doing things the way they're usually done that he has to take every opportunity to subvert them? Doesn't he have enough time in his entire set to subvert everyone's expectations of how his songs are supposed to sound? Can't he give it a break for one second for one song?

Apparently not. Like a weird old uncle who's never going to change, that's why we love him and that's why he drives us crazy.