There is a lot happening  in this year of 2023 on the Bob Dylan front. Two bulky tomes are promised for later this year, one on the maestro’s non-musical artistic work and another sampling the Dylan archive in Tulsa. In addition, the music from Dylan’s much-praised film performance from 2021, Shadow Kingdom, will be put on general release in various formats in June.

As if all this did not suffice, on 12 April in the second Tokyo show of his current Japanese tour, Dylan broke the mould of his Rough and Rowdy Ways (RARW) setlist, to replace the cover of ‘That Old Black Magic’ with another, very different one – none other than the Grateful Dead classic ‘Truckin’’, first released in 1970 on their album American Beauty!

Dylan has covered a number of Grateful Dead songs in the past (including ‘Friend of the Devil’, also from ‘American Beauty’ on the RARW tour), but this one is a first. It is particularly interesting as this song has a chapter devoted to it in Dylan’s recent book The Philosophy of Modern Song. Will we be regaled with more unexpected performances of material featured in that book ? If the positive reception of that volume stimulates Bob Dylan’s creativity and diversifies the concerts, that surely can only be good news for his followers!

Note added 15 April 2023:

At the next (third) Tokyo show on 14 April, Dylan premiered, believe it or not, another Grateful Dead number (and from ‘American Beauty’ to boot), the reflective ‘Brokedown Palace’.


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