'Paradise Lost' Tour Rarities
1995-12-13, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA
On this ten-date tour with Patti, Dylan played 61 unique songs.
A few he played every night - “Watchtower” in slot three, “Silvio” in slot six, “Rainy Day Women” to close. But 33 songs, over half of 'em, he performed only once. I have no complaints about the recent Rough and Rowdy Ways tour, but I do miss the days when each night could look so different than the last.
I wanted to write a post exploring all these one-offs… but that was before I realized there were 33 of them! And they're not all that rare; he may have played "Just Like A Woman" just once on Paradise Lost, but he played it 38 other times in 1995.
So I narrowed down my definition or “rare,” to songs he played only once on this tour and less than ten times total the entire year. There were 11 songs like that. A more manageable number to examine.
I'll get to those in a minute, but first, three honorable mentions, songs that technically only fit one of those rules but are notable anyway.
I'm a Blood on the Tracks superfan, and three songs were on semi-rare rotation - only once on this tour, and just barely over ten times total that year. They're all songs he could play every night and I'd be happy: "You're a Big Girl Now," "If You See Her, Say Hello," and "Shelter from the Storm." (He also played "Tangled Up in Blue" a ton and "Simple Twist of Fate" twice. '95 was a good year for Blood-heads.)
"Desolation Row" has a lot of verses. Even when Bob plays it, as he did twice this tour, he usually skips a few. One of the almost-always skipped is the penultimate verse about "Nero's Neptune." But he sang it at today's show in Bethlehem! How’s that for minutia, not a rare song, but a rare verse. When he played it the second time, at the final show in Philadelphia, Nero was Gone Again (that's a Patti Smith joke for those who’ve been paying attention).
Speaking of Bethlehem, there were five one-night-only songs at that show, the most of any of the ten shows. None were rare enough in ‘95 to make the main list below, so we'll give one of those thanks-for-participating trophies to aforementioned "Big Girl," "Lay Lady Lay," "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight," "Ballad of a Thin Man," and "The Times They Are A-Changin'."
Okay, now here are the rarest songs of the tour - only once on Paradise Lost, less than ten times total - in order of when he performed them. Where there are YouTube versions, I'll embed 'em, but otherwise you'll have to listen from the downloads.
“This is one of my famous love songs,” Dylan says to introduce "Never Gonna Be The Same Again." Then he adds, almost under his breath: “Actually it's not too famous.” Love a good self-deprecating Bob joke. Regular readers know how I feel about the oft-maligned Empire Burlesque (can we get #BetterThanInfidels trending?), and this is a killer performance on the first night in Danbury, with Bob and JJ Jackson's crackling electric guitars sweetened by Bucky Baxter's steel. Only the ninth performance ever, too; he only played it once in '86 before reviving it earlier in ‘95.
Ah shit, I was just talking smack about Infidels and now here's "I and I." How long has it been standing there? Do you think it heard? Anyway, the song was fairly common during the first half of the '90s, but this is one of its final performances. The band sounds fairly chaotic - they'd only played it once since June, and it shows - but Dylan's vocal delivery sells the hell out of it. Got me thinking Springtime in New York should have included a bonus disc of Never Ending Tour versions of songs from that era.
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