Despite the excitement over a few instabilities in the  show’s second half, things haven’t changed for the better since last spring’s tour. On opening night, Dylan changed out four of the highlights of the spring set (Pay in Blood, Visions of Johanna, What Good am I, Spirit on the Water, Scarlet Town) for   Duquesne Whistle, She Belongs to me, Cry Awhile, Simple Twist of Fate and Honest with Me.   I would just as soon hear Duquesne Whistle as Pay in Blood, and Simple Twist of Fate is an improvement over Spirit on the Water, but She Belongs to Me at the expense of Visions of Johanna and Honest with Me instead of What Good Am I?  Cry Awhile instead of Scarlet Town?  No thanks.    Cry Awhile and Honest with Me might sound good to a crowd of 20,000 after four hours of Bob Weir, My Morning jacket, and Wilco, especially after the waning of the dripping heat of a summer day in Florida, but Dylan has at least 300 songs that I would rather hear than those chestnuts.

On the second night, for the benefit of all those in Tampa, he played Hard Rain and Blind Willie McTell instead, as well as lengthening the show from 15 to 16 songs by including the dispensable Beyond Here Lies Nothing, one of the few duds on the spring tour. On the whole though, Tampa got a damn good set list.  As for the performance, from what I have heard from the few posted snippets, the band sounded fabulous and Bob was a little more ragged than in April.  His low-range whisper on Watchtower, though, was spooky as hell.

So enough with comparing today’s shows with those of the spring.  Let’s leave Florida and go into Atlanta with a better attitude. Dylan is still in his second prime, and there are sure to be surprises every night.  And outdoor shows, despite my reservations, have improved since Elvis Presley and Jimi Hendrix played Seattle’s Sicks Stadium.  It is possible to give a decent concert in today’s amphitheaters.  So let us set our minds to more important matters. Dylan has left Florida, the state where Michael Townley claims to have been on the day Pablo Neruda died.  After nearly three months of forensic testing, it still has not been determined whether Neruda was poisoned or died of the prostate cancer that would have eventually killed him. Either way, there is nothing any of us can do about it now.   Considering all the Latin American leftists that were terminated by CIA operatives during the Reagan years, of what consequence is the eluding of justice of one assassin more or less?

It has seemed strange to me that the United States was once so committed to stemming the growth of leftist leadership in Latin America, and then, in this century, as eight of those countries democratically elected leftist presidents, there was no move to stifle it until now, when anti-left rhetoric colors the manner in which Latin American news is reported in the states. It is also strange that only Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Nicaragua are being cited as the countries moving toward the Bolivarian ideal.  It worries me that this business with Snowden and Ecuador might cause Obama  to initiate hostilities against them and other sympathetic countries, renewing the witch hunts of the Reagan years. It worries me because America is not just the United States, but the countries of South America as well.  The two continents share parallel histories and should get to know each other better, becoming the closest of allies, not the best of enemies. And perhaps Obama should accept the $24 million gift from Ecuador to educate its leaders in human rights as a sign of initiating the process to unite the two Americas in mutual respect and friendship.

Today is the day of the fisherman, the holiday of Saint Peter.   Last night, here in the port city of Ilo, Peru, there was dancing and drinking all night in the town square. This morning, the celebrants will scrape themselves off the pavement and attend a drunkard’s mass.  You see, we don’t get acts like Bob Dylan coming through our town, so we generate our own entertainment.