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It is only seventeen miles between Kingston, Rhode Island and the site of the Newport Folk Festival. I find that fact worth noting, but doubt it will have any significance for Bob Dylan, who rides a stage that admits no regard to place or time.  Had he a better sense of his own history, he might switch out Watchtower for Maggie’s Farm tonight. But he won’t.  Another thing worth noting is the minority of whiners who don’t feel he should have played two near-exact shows back to back. This from those who have been complaining about how stale his shows have become in the last decade.  I think this may turn out to be among Dylan’s finest tours, even if he doesn’t switch out one more song.  Come to think of it, the tours many of us highest regard   (1966, 1974, 1975, 1978, 1979, and 1981) had a relatively stable setlist (although, with the exception of the gospel tour, the setlists did evolve somewhat while on the road).

Now, it is commonly believed that Dylan was booed at Newport in 1965.  That isn’t true.  Watch the footage from “Festival” and tell me if you hear any booing.  I don’t.  Neither do I hear any booing on any of the several tapes I have of that concert. However, I do hear booing on the Newport sequences in Martin Scorsese’s documentary, “No Direction Home,” and either he found an alternate audio source that is unknown to me, or he faked it.  The booing that occurred at Newport happened when he and the band left the stage after three songs, not during the music itself.  It was a different story earlier in the year when he played Forest Hills.  They started booing at Murray the K’s introduction, and kept it up throughout the show.  More than the booing, they laughed.  Nearly every line in “Desolation Row” got a laugh. They heard it as a comedy song.  God bless them all.

Today, the body of poet Pablo Neruda is being exhumed to determine whether he died of prostate cancer, as is commonly accepted, or whether he was murdered for his opposition to Pinochet. Over 3,000 people were murdered by Pinochet’s regime, among them folksinger Victor Jara. Very soon we will find if Neruda was also among the Chilean dictator’s victims. As far as history providing the correct information, the results of this exhumation are of greater import than at which concert our descendants will believe Bob Dylan to have been booed.

But is this exhumation any different than what Hugo Chávez did to Simón Bolívar in 2010? And will the day come when another ardent theorist digs up the bones of Chavez to prove that he did not die from cancer, but was poisoned by an assassin? As Neruda’s bones are swept from his coffin, someone in Argentina is shooting ferrets up with steroids and selling them as toy poodles.  Next time you are on an animal shopping spree, be sure to check the hump on that Chihuahua.

Kingston gets the same show as Amherst. Which is only fair. It used to be that you had to follow Dylan from town to town if you wanted to get the complete show. If you were lucky, you lived in a town where he did a three-night stand, and you had a good chance of hearing a few of the songs you wanted to hear if you bought tickets for all three nights. But what a drag it was for those in Seattle who had tickets for the show at Wamu in October 2009,  where they heard six duds from Together Through Life and missed the added show the night before at the Moore, where he played Nettie Moore, Shooting Star, and Not Dark Yet.  If he keeps playing the same show throughout this short tour, nobody will have cause to complain of being gypped. .

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