Ain’t Slept In Three Days (Thinman-077/78)
Fox Warfield Theater, San Francisco, CA – November 10th, 1980
Disc 1 (50:38): Gotta Serve Somebody, I Believe In You, Like A Rolling Stone, Till I Get It Right, Man Gave Names To All The Animals, To Ramona, Ain’t Gonna Go To Hell For Anybody, Girl From The North Country, Slow Train, Walk Around Heaven All Day
Disc 2 (53:00): Abraham Martin And John, Let’s Keep It Between Us, Covenant Woman, Solid Rock, Just Like A Woman, What Can I Do For You?, When You Gonna Wake Up?, Señor (Tales Of Yankee Power), In The Garden, Blowin’ In The Wind, City Of Gold, Love Minus Zero/No Limit
A year after Bob Dylan’s dramatic conversion to Christianity and the presentation of his all-Christian show, he relented a little bit and began to re-introduce his older material into the set. The short nineteen date tour was dubbed the “Musical Retrospective” to assure patrons that Dylan would be playing some classics. Twelve shows were scheduled for the Fox Warfield Theater in San Francisco between November 9 and November 22nd. Ain’t Slept In Three Days utilizes a very good audience recording of the second show of the residency. Title comes from “Señor (Tales Of Yankee Power)” where he changes the line “can’t stand the suspense anymore” to “ain’t slept in three days.” The tape includes the entire show including the two non-Dylan numbers. There are small cuts after “‘Till I Get It Right” cutting off the very beginning of “Man Gave Names To All The Animals,” after “To Ramona,” “Walk Around Heaven All Day,” “Abraham, Martin And John,” “Just Like A Woman,” “In The Garden,” and “Blowin’ In The Wind.”
Most of the shows began with the trio of “Gotta Serve Somebody,” “I Believe In You” and “Like A Rolling Stone.” (The exceptions are the November 17 show at the Fox Warfield which opened with “Gotta Serve Somebody,” “Simple Twist Of Fate,” “All Along The Watchtower” and “Like A Rolling Stone,” and the first two shows in Portland, Oregon when “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” replaced “Like A Rolling Stone.”) This triptych serves as a mission statement, sorting out the audience’s allegiance, followed by a confession. Before “Like A Rolling Stone” Dylan states, “Thank you! All right, thank you. That’s pretty nice! Must say hello to Greil Marcus, who’s out there somewhere tonight. Watching with his eyes.” Giving the song a new context realignes the connotation of the message and one can argue it is a meditation upon Matthew 20:16 “So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many are called but few are chosen.”
Regina Harris follows with “‘Till I Get It Right” and after “Man Gave Names To All The Animals” they play the second oldie, “To Ramona.” Afterwards Dylan says, “All right, thank you. I wanna play a new song. I don’t think we played it in San Francisco before, it’s called ‘Ain’t Gonna Go To Hell For Anybody.'” This is a song written earlier in the year and was played on stage. Footage even exists from the Toronto show in April, but was not recorded during the Saved sessions. The early versions began with the back up singers repeating the first line a couple times, but by the fall the guitar riff starts off before the first verse. It is a tremendous rock-gospel hybrid with incidentary lyrics, in more ways than one. The lyrics in this performance are much different than earlier performances with a shift from the first person singular to what sound like vignettes about rooftops, factories and young lovers in love (the lyrics go by very fast). The bridge and chorus remain the same: ” Smoke arises for ever, on a one-way ticket to burn / A place reserved for the devil / And for all those that done evil / A place of darkness and shame, you can never return….I ain’t gonna go to hell for anybody / ain’t gonna go to hell for anybody / ain’t gonna go to hell for anybody / not today, not tonight, not tomorrow, no never, no way!”
“Thank you, all right. When I was growing up I used to watch the trains. They were always going somewhere. Where they was going that’s where I wanted to go” he says before “Slow Train.” Carolyn Dennis sings “Walking Around Heaven All Day” and then Dylan switches to piano for the next three songs. “Abraham, Martin And John” is the 1968 Dick Holler tune which Dylan sings as a duet with Clydie King. He gives an energetic performance of “Let’s Keep It Between Us,” another unreleased song. “Covenant Woman” sounds more upbeat than the previous year’s performances.
“Just Like A Woman” and “What Can I Do For You?” are in an interesting juxtaposition in the setlist. One wonders what he was thinking that night. “In The Garden” closes the performance as it does for all of the gospel oriented shows during this period. The encores include a gospel arrangement of “Blowin’ In The Wind” and the first live performance of another unreleased gem “City Of Gold.” This song appears in many of the shows in this period but has yet to see official release. It does appear in Dylan’s 2003 movie Masked And Anonymous. For the final encore Dylan appears onstage alone with acoustic guitar and harp holder. “I hope I can still do this. I saw Bruce Springsteen do it a while back. It didn’t look too good at all” he jokes before delivering an excellent “Love Minus Zero/No Limit.” Like other recent Thinman releases, they utilize a thick glossy paper stock for the inserts in an overall attractive package. Given this is the only silver release of this show, it is an essential title.