The Sparks Begin to Fly: Essential Dylan # 10



1980
What Can I do for you?
Saved
Much of Dylan’s gospel era was, ironically, full of venom and fury. Images of armageddon, eternal damnation, and other dogmatic claims were the norm. Still, I think it constitutes some of his best music, and of course, there were always exceptions to the reign of hellfire. Enter: What Can I do For You? This song is absolutely gorgeous, and represents a humble affirmation for being thankful for the gift of life. Here, Bob is grateful here to be found by love, after all the pain and suffering he’s endured. The song was recorded live in 1980 in Toronto, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better vocal performance from Dylan. He’s singing from his heart, telling all that he “knows all about poison/ I know about fiery darts/ I don’t care how rough the road/ is show me where it starts” (see video above at 3:35 or so). Live, the song also features a harp and harmonica solo. It’s all as heavenly and as touching as witnessing a true transformation of a soul in 4 minutes.

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