Bob in Pat Garret & Billy the Kid

I just saw Pat Garret & Billy the Kid for the first time last night. The best thing about it was Bob Dylan-he wrote the music (Knockin On Heaven’s Door) and skulked around every scene like a true bandit. Nice.  Kris Kristofferson looked like a rock star, but was Billy the Kid a rock star???



  1. Hopefully, you were able to see Sam Peckinpah’s orginal idea, before the studio’s hatchet job. Peckinpah had the choice of depicting the real Billy the Kid or the legend, he chose the legend. He and the producers decided that thier story called for a rock star portrayal of Billy and a side-kick or two. It was decided to cast a few actual rock stars from the period, enter Kristofferson, Dylan and Rita Coolidge. Bob Dylan’s soundtrack fit perfectly and over the years as more people have been able to see the actual film Peckinpah had in mind, “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid”, is now considered one of the top ten Western movies of all time. I believe, it was also Chill Wills last role.

  2. Speaking of the American West, Bob Dylan rolled into town and played the Arizona State Fair last weekend. Tickets were $20 and the atmosphere was carnival colored and mostly upbeat. The Indians were making fry bread, adding some honey and sprinkling on a generous helping of powdered sugar. The Navajos were selling silver and turquoise jewelry and some of the other tribes brought along their unique costumes and crafts. There were pick-up trucks and livestock trailers and cowboy hats and bolo ties. Excited families, together, who had travelled from the surrounding reservations and outlying farms and ranches to gather around picnic tables and take in the festive scene. Lemonade, beer, dare-devil rides and a giant ferris-wheel, with sparkling lights.

    When I walked into the concert hall, Senor Dylan, was dressed in black and wearing his now trademark flat-brim guacho style black hat, he was rockin’ a version of “Beyond Here Lies Nothing”, standing behind his electric piano, stage left, half facing the audience and half facing the band and for the most part his attention was on the band. To me, Dylan seemed like a dignified rock and roll version of the Duke Ellington type bandleader, he was using his body language to cue the band into the subtle nuances of the evening’s song selections.

    The highlight of the show, for me, and the song I had come to hear, was “Working Man’s Blues #2”. For this song Dylan stood center stage with microphone in hand, delivering the weight and meaning of the lyrics, in an almost Sinatra like way. As he sang, he conjured the song to a recession weary and heartbreaking plateau, where he gently let it drift as he played a stunning, virtuoso harmonica interlude. The crowd applauded, and Bob settled back into the final verse, “In you my friend, I find no blame, wanna look in my eyes, please do. No one can ever claim, I took up arms against you….”, then he directed the song back to its final chorus, “Meet me at the bottom don’t lag behind…..Sing a little bit of these working man’s blues”.

    The show’s song set was Bob Dylan short and the encores pretty predictable…..”There must be some way outa here…….The wind began to howl”. Bob gathered the band around him and together they took a collective bow, the house lights came up and I returned to the carnival outside and all the once upon a time memories.

  3. Thanks for this wonderful account of the show in Arizona, I feel like I’d been there.

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