Free Bird

Those who have a tendency to book tickets to Dylan concerts in recent years know that audience members (usually hopeful relics from another era) will shout out songs to Dylan to play. He never plays them. I remember one guy standing next to me at a concert in northern Maryland who kept shouting “Hurricane! Hurricane!” after every song and Dylan hasn’t played Hurricane since the decade he wrote the song. He certainly didn’t sing it that night either. Dylan sticks to his playlist.

Or he did until the night of June 9, 2016, at the close of his concert in Berkeley, CA. Some guy was shouting out another song (not even a Dylan song in fact) in what should have been a hopeless endeavor. In fact, the song is one often shouted out at rock concerts—sometimes ironically, sometimes even cynically, and sometimes, yes, like a battlecry.

This particular song came very close to being my official High School Senior Class Song when there was an attempted student insurrection to overthrow the mysteriously anointed selection called, A Corner of the Sky, from the musical Pippin. Though the insurrection was unsuccessful it did leave me with the impression that the song—then and now—still remains a battlecry.

Dylan heard it that night in Berkley and for the first time in years, he went off the playlist and closed the concert with the song. He’s just too funny.

And here it is. Free Bird.

 

If I leave here tomorrow
Would you still remember me
For I must be travelin’ on now
There’s too many places I got to see

If I stay here with you girl
Things just couldn’t be the same
‘Cause I’m as free as a bird now
And this bird you cannot change
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
And the bird you cannot change
And this bird you cannot change
Lord knows, I can’t change

Bye and bye baby, it’s been sweet love, yeah yeah
Though this feelin’ I can’t change
Please don’t take it so badly
‘Cause Lord knows, I’m to blame

And if I stay here with you girl
Things just couldn’t even be the same
‘Cause I’m as free as a bird now
And this bird you cannot change
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
And the bird you cannot change
And this bird you cannot change