Bob Dylan – Pawn And Gamble (Thinman 094/95)

Pawn And Gamble (Thinman 094/95)

Municipal Auditorium, Nashville, TN – November 14th, 1981

Disc 1 (58:44):  Gotta Serve Somebody, I Believe In You, Like A Rolling Stone, Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll, Man Gave Names To All The Animals, Maggie’s Farm, Girl From The North Country, Ballad Of A Thin Man, Simple Twist Of Fate, Heart of Mine, All Along The Watchtower, I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight, Forever Young, Gamblin’ Man

Disc 2 (68:39):  Times They Are A-Changin’, Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall, Watered-Down Love, Shot Of Love, Just Like A Woman, Solid Rock, Masters Of War, When You Gonna Wake Up, In The Garden, Blowin’ In The Wind, It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding), It Ain’t Me Babe, Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door

Bob Dylan’s “gospel period,” characterized by an overt polemical Christian evangelical message, came to an end with three separate tours in 1981 while recording the poorly received Shot Of Love.  On the final tour he played twenty-seven shows from October 16th to November 21st, 1981 and would be his last concert tour for almost three full years.  All of the shows were recorded and are in circulation but few have been committed to silver disc release.  Pawn And Gamble documents the November 14th show in Nashville during the final week of the tour.  The sound quality is very good, clear and captures the intensity of the set nicely.  There are cuts after “Simple Twist Of Fate,” “Watered Down Love,” and “In The Garden” before the encores.  

Although the setlist shares similarities with the other gospel tours by beginning with “Gotta Serve Somebody” and ending with “In The Garden,” the weight of the setlist is on the older melodies and rearrangements of the newer ones.  He is very chatty throughout the show, saying “This is Nashville, Tennessee. This is the capital of country music? Is it? Is it the capital of country music? All right, what kind of country music? Well, here’s a song about one of my most favorite subjects: animals” before playing “Man Gave Names To All The Animals.”  Like all the shows this year it is followed by “Maggie’s Farm” sounding very much like The Ventures’ “Walk Don’t Run.” 

After a gorgeous “Girl Of The North Country” he get into a long rumination about his first trip to Nashville, saying, “Boy, I remember the first time I ever came to Nashville. I think it was about 1965. My record producer had the bright idea to go down to Nashville. About that time they hadn’t seen anybody in Nashville with long hair. Does anybody remember that? Nobody had seen anybody with long hair. And when we walked down the street you had to either run or hide. Long hair was kind of a principle. Anyway I went back to my hotel room. The Ramada Inn, and instead of going out dancing I sat down and wrote this song” before launching into “Ballad Of A Thin Man.”  

“Simple Twist Of Fate” is given a much happier musical arrangement than previous and he follows with the new, hook laden pop song “Heart Of Mine,” the first song played off of the new album.  The first disc ends with Dylan sharing vocals with Clydie King on “Gamblin’ Man.”  “Hard Rain” is introduced as a song “another song we used to sing on street corners of all places. I got my training as a singer on street corners can’t you tell.”  After the two classics he plays two more new songs, “Watered Down Love” and “Shot Of Love.”  “Solid Rock,” a staple of the set for three years is played in a softer arrangement with a slower tempo while “Masters Of War” is played in the same heavy metal style as in 1978 minus violin but with Tackett duplicating Cross’ riffs.  

Dylan speaks more about Nashville afterwards, saying, “All right, thank you. Thank you. Well, yes. I know the other Country Music Hall Of Fame down here. I know they have it here. They got a football Hall Of Fame and basketball and lots of different halls of fame. But you know they don’t have a rodeo, a roadie hall of fame and they should.  Yes, they really should. Hall Of Fame. Anyway, I want to nominate my road crew to the first Roadie Hall Of Fame. All right! Actually I want to be in the Country Music Hall Of Fame. I’m that good. Once I came to Nashville, first time I came here. I wanted to be in the Country Music Hall Of Fame. But it never did happen. When you want something real bad you usually get it or you don’t get it. When you get it either you want two or you don’t want it anymore. And when you don’t get it you just don’t care anymore.”  “When You Gonna Wake Up,” another standard of the gospel setlists is given a syncopated rhythm and the back up singers shout “WITH POWER” after Dylan’s repetitious “when you gonna wake up” by the end of the end of the song. 

The encore set consists of four songs beginning with “Blowin’ In The Wind” played in gospel style.  “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)” and “It Ain’t Me, Babe” are played old style by Dylan alone on acoustic guitar.  Before the final encore he says, “All right, we gotta catch an airplane. Ain’t got time to take a fast train. a quote from The Letter by Wayne Thompson).  Well, I surely hope I sang something on key tonight. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t.”  A nice version of “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,” with just a hit of the mid seventies reggae rhythm, closes what is a spectacular show.  Pawn And Gamble is another solid release by Thinman who have been plumbing the depths of this era which has been unfairly neglected by silver labels in the past.  The aesthetics are again very attractive and the picture discs are presented with no mastering faults whatsoever.   This is a good way for Thinman to end what has been a productive year for them. 

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