Sunday, February 13, 2011

Dylan on a Sunday

Today was a pretty great day for someone who writes a regular blog called Dylan on a Sunday. He performed on the Grammy awards. It wasn't the greatest performance. He croaked out a quick version of Maggie's Farm. What made it a great night was that he performed with two newer groups that I really like--Mumford and Sons and the Avett Brothers. An inspired grouping. But back to this in a minute.

I feared I wouldn't be home in time to see them perform because I spent the early evening watching the Portland Trailblazers play the Detroit Pistons live in Auburn Hills. I'm a huge Blazer fan, have been since their expansion year, 1970. Who else knows that their original starting five were Rick Adleman, Geoff Petrie, Gary McGregor, Jim "Crazy Legs" Barnett, and Leroy Ellis? So, I'd go to see the Blazers any chance I get.

But it was even better to watch them tonight, because the Pistons honored my friend, Garth Pleasant. Garth is retiring after 38 years of coaching at Rochester College. They gave Garth courtside seats right next to the Blazers bench and I sat with him for warm-ups and the entire first quarter. There's nothing like it. The game is so powerful when you see it from that level. And it was so great to be that close to the players on the bench as the play developed--to see their reactions, the way they root for each other and laugh at each other. I was within feet of Lamarcus Aldridge, Brandon Roy, Nate McMillan, and Buck Williams. I know its ridiculous, but I was on cloud nine.

Rudy Fernandez, the Blazers back-up guard, nearly jumped out of his skin when the Pistons introduced their starters. The Pistons use these massive flame throwers at either end of the court to announce each player. Its loud and produces amazingly intense heat. Rudy was not prepared for the first blast and his teammates had great fun at his expense. I like that I was part of that. I was struck by other things I would never have necessarily known. This team loves Joel Pryzbilla, the back-up center who is just coming back from a serious leg injury. And Andre Miller, their aging, slowish point guard gets massive respect from his teammates.

And the tribute to Garth was great. They gave him a framed Pistons jersey with his name on it. They interviewed him in front of the crowd. And they had him shoot free throws for charity. I groaned a bit when he bricked the first one and banked the second one in. But from there on, he was money. Nothing but net. Lots of money for charity. Way to go Garth.

The Blazers won. So, I would have been happy with my choice even if it meant that I would miss Dylan and company. I walked into the house and turned on the television just in time for the first note of Mumford and Sons. Perfect. And they just killed it. They performed with such power and passion. They made the Avett Brothers look tame, which is no small feat. Both bands performed well. So, Dylan was just the cherry on top.

They had reported on Paste's website beforehand what songs Mumord and Avett were doing, but they didn't know what Dylan would do. Given the folk-ish flavor of his playing partners, I thought it would be something from his early stuff, and I swear I thought about Maggie's Farm being the perfect choice. Full of attitude, energy, protest. I've decided for myself, I'm not gonna work on Maggie's farm anymore. So, when he started croaking out the words, I just smiled.

He looked and sounded old next to his playing mates. His shirt was tucked in like an old man's with his pants kind of hiked up around his waist.  His voice was a croak. He wasn't playing a guitar or his keyboard, so he looked a little awkward just standing there "singing." But the whole thing was worth it just to see how much Mumford and Sons and the Avett Brothers were into it. They played with Bob Dylan. It would be a little like what it was like for me being in the Blazers' huddle tonight, only a thousand times better.

The days that all the tumblers fall together are rare. Many days things like awe and wonder and thankfulness are practices. We have to remember to keep them alive through disciplines. But some days they wait for us, stalk us, pry us open. Today is one of those days for me, and I think it is likely also one for Mumford and Sons and the Avett Brothers. And it is linked to those other days that have been like that for me. Thick with sensory memory. Perfect.

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