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October 13: Dylan at West Point

October 13, 2013
bob-306x414-1355526995Bob Dylan performed to a sold-out audience of 4,300 at West Point’s Eisenhower Hall on this date in 1990. In a hall packed with future Army commanders as well as aging hippies and their kids (West Point is a short drive from Woodstock and the “liberated zone” of the Mid-Hudson Valley), he performed “Masters of War” (although, according to Rolling Stone’s Allan Light, he “seemed to swallow the lines ‘I hope that you die/And your death’ll come soon’ in the face of real-life aspiring masters of war”). When Dylan closed with “Blowing in the Wind,” numerous cadets were singing along. Dyian wrote about West Point in his autobiographical Chronicles: “Before I knew I was going to be a singer and my mind was in full swing, I had even wanted to go to West Point . . . I asked my father how to get into West Point and he seemed shocked, said that my name didn’t begin with a ‘De’ or a ‘Von’ and that you needed connections and proper credentials to get in there. His advice was that we should concentrate on how to acquire them. My uncle was even less forthcoming. He said to me, ‘“You don’t want to have to work for the government. A soldier is a housewife, a guinea pig. Go to work in the mines.’ ” “Whatever incongruity there was in Bob Dylan’s singing at West Point seemed totally lost on him. He was exceptionally comfortable on this stage, smiling and dancing and singing even his angriest songs with no hint of irony or contempt. One could easily assign great significance to some of his selections in this setting — “Gotta Serve Somebody,” indeed — but it would be ultimately fruitless. Dylan has become so willfully perverse, so completely unreadable, that even playing “Masters of War” may have been a coincidence (although the fact that he opened his next show, at New York City’s Beacon Theater, with a quick, instrumental version of “The Marines’ Hymn” might indicate that he knew exactly what he was doing).” —Rolling Stone JEWDAYO ROCKS! Paul Simon was born in New Jersey on this date in 1941. To see him performing his beautiful “Graceland,” look below.