The Future of This Newsletter
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Tomorrow, Flagging Down the Double E's returns for year two! There's a big change you should know about though: The newsletter will become a paid subscription. $5/month or $60/year. You can subscribe here:
Now, I realize that something free becoming something not-free is always a bit of a bummer. So let me explain why the change was necessary.
When I started this last January, I didn’t imagine it would be the only way I’d be experiencing live-Dylan in 2020, but it proved a highlight of an otherwise bleak year (not the highlight - I did have my first kid, after all - but in the running for a distant second place). It did, however, take a lot of time. Time that could otherwise have been spent pursuing projects that earned money. I knew that if I wanted to do this another year - and I certainly did - I'd need to start charging. "Hard to tell if anything is going to sell" of course, but this will help justify the time spent on this strange little project. So the options weren’t really paid versus free. They were paid versus no-more-newsletters-at-all.
To be clear, the newsletters won't all be paid. But most of them will. I'm envisioning three subscribers-only installments for every one that is free. So if you can't swing it now, you'll still get one or two newsletters a month. But if you can, you'll get more.
Okay, my passing-the-hat spiel is over. Let’s get to the more exciting sides of this! Because this change won't just help me keep the newsletter going. It will help me keep adding new ideas to it. In addition to the usual posts jumping across eras, I'd love to do more special series following individual tours like I did for Rolling Thunder (there is a second Rolling Thunder tour anniversary coming up in a few months, after all…). Or maybe following the famed Europe 1966 run? The first gospel leg? That time on the Never Ending Tour where Bob was testing a different guitarist every night? Paid subscribers will get at least one newsletter a week minimum, but many weeks there will be more, always with the roughly three-to-one ratio, paid vs. free.
I'm also planning to experiment with some bonus formats, which will be entirely for paid subscribers. For instance, I’ve thought a fun mini-newsletter could be a “This Date in Dylan” visual series, where you get photos and videos of what Bob was up to, onstage or otherwise, across, say, every February 12th we know about (1963, 1966, 1974, 1988, etc). And I'm considering a series where we get show recommendations from famous superfans. Substack even allows you to create discussion threads for paid subscribers. I plan to try out a variety of new ideas, in addition to the usual format which will remain our bottle-of-bread-and-butter.
Not convinced yet? Okay, here’s one more bonus: Anyone who subscribes for a full year ($60) can assign me a show! Pick a Dylan show, any Dylan show - one you attended, one you love, one you hate, whatever - and I'll write a newsletter on it when the anniversary rolls around. After you've subscribed, just email firstname.lastname@example.org (or just reply to this email) with your selection. I'll do it unless it's impossible for some reason - for instance, if no recording exists - and then you can pick something else.
Okay, that's all the housekeeping for now. Thank you in advance for everyone who's able to subscribe! Here’s that button again:
Year two begins tomorrow with the first entry of a five-part series looking back at every time Bob Dylan has performed on the Grammy Awards…
PS. I’m assuming most people reading this are familiar with the format of the newsletter, but if you’re not - for instance, if you just came aboard during the Rolling Thunder run - click around the year-one archives to see the range of articles. Sometimes I’m gushing, à la Rolling Thunder, sometimes I’m making fun of a terrible Springsteen guest appearance in minute detail (my most-read newsletter to date). Just so you know what you’re getting yourself into.
PPS. Substack offers gift subscriptions. If anyone is feeling extra generous and wants to gift a subscription to a fellow fan who can't afford one themselves, email me. And, on the flip side, if money's tight for you right now, let me know if you would like to be the recipient of such a gift. If there's enough interest from both ends, I'll match up gift givers and recipients - one Dylan fan helping another.
I love this newsletter Ray - a real service to those of us who love live Dylan. Even though I have many many shows from stores and traders over the years you always coming up with new ones. That 1964 acoustic show you posted a month or two ago was stunning from both a performance and sonic point of view.
A couple of requests - my first live show after a long absence (the very first was Cobo Hall in Detroit 1978, followed by Dylan with the Dead 1986 Giants stadium) was Madison Square Garden fall 2002 - he played a number of Warren Zevon covers, plus Brown Sugar, plus as far as I know the first public performance of Ye Heavy and a Bottle of Bread.
I would also love a complete 79 or 80 gospel slow with the gospel singers set. I have some of that but not nearly enough! I love the official bootleg series but they always manage to leave something crucial like that out!
And I also find that US leg of 81 fascinating. Check out the Rolling Stone from Merriville, Illinois!