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The David of Godzilla Scorches the Town of Dylan PLAY THIS CLIP LOUD 

Johnny Winter rules the universe. Let’s just get that clear right off the bat. A PURE channel, a human gift from the Gods Must Be Crazy. Like Christina Aguilera, Johnny’s a graduate of the School of How-Does-That-Sound-Come-Out-Of-That-Body? This is the David of Godzillas in the monster sounds of rock.  

And here he delivers a punk-blues version of one of Dylan’s punchiest songs. Just as Hendrix schooled us all along the watchtower, I can’t think of a more impassioned, energized version of this song that captures both the humor and anger, and the punk and the soul.

Johnny’s got every guitar fill swirling in a way Dylan could hear but never play. This is delivered in the spirit of Bob, but in the voice of Lucille, and the emotion of Johnny B. Rotten. This Dylan tribute concert was the greatest and longest of shows, and this gem has been overlooked in the treasure chest of gold that spilled that night.

Dig the ease with which this channel works the neck and makes the sounds. He’s a living instrument. His fingers are string-thin, his arms skinnier than his guitar neck, and sometimes you can’t tell which is playing which.

And it’s classic Johnny that he doesn’t know two of the verses at all, and just repeats the couple he knows in no particular order, and without particular reverence for the specific, um, words – and this on a song he’s been playing live since his 2nd album, Second Winter (1969). But then Bob screws the hell out of his own lyrics and doesn’t play with half this slide-happy energy.

This version of a Dylan song is to the blues what Neil Young does for Bob in grunge. And it’s yet one more lively example of how rock’s preeminent songwriter can cross genres with ease, passion and chaotic precision.

And don’t miss the very ending where a Smiling Johnny growls his yowl, “Yeah! Aw-right! Thank you,” and bows with his guitar neck. Cracks me up every time. (see, also: How-Does-That-Sound-Come-Out-Of-That-Body?, School of)

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And yes –– That’s the great Jim Keltner on drums, Steve Cropper on guitar on screen right, and a typically annoying Paul Schaffer, er, G.E. Smith on screen left.

And fyi –– The reason Johnny wears that hat and never opens his eyes is because he’s an albino, and consequently his vision is extremely sensitive to (and can be easily damaged by) bright lights. With all his filmed performances, he has to work closely with the producers to protect his sight, and it looks like he's got the brim just about right.

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