Somehow Bob Dylan knows how to continue to make himself relevant, even when he is plus 70 years old! He granted the departure of Dave Letterman his imprimatur with a performance on the penultimate show last night. Dylan largely eschews television so this concession meant a lot. Dylan last played on Letterman during the show’s first year, and they both continue to share the same irreverent attitude towards conventional society.
Dylan played a slow song from his “Shadows in the Night” album, a collection of unusual hits once performed by Frank Sinatra. It was a little slow for my tastes, but the topic and the words were spot on, “The Night We Called It a Day.”
Dylan definitely didn’t look comfortable in a TV studio, pacing around before and after the performance. His usual “dance” to the music did not seem to excite the studio audience like it does his loyal fans.
But David Letterman paid Dylan the ultimate compliment, praising him as the best songwriter ever in American history. And it was worth staying up to see the moment.
No one knows what Letterman will do for an encore, for his final show. But, as always, it’s going to be tough to top a performance by Bob Dylan.