Game Plays on Dylan's Unpredictability

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Judith Israel

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Feb 20, 2002, 7:02:19 PM2/20/02
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Game Plays on Dylan's Unpredictability

By DAVID BAUDER
.c The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) - He may not know it, but when Bob Dylan signals his band to
start a song onstage Friday night in Dallas, more than 1,000 people far from
the arena are keenly interested in his choice.

Fans of the veteran troubadour have launched an intricate Internet pool built
on their predictions of what Dylan sings in concert.

The pool reflects both the obsessive interest Dylan still draws 40 years into
his career and the way this road warrior has structured his career. He
generally plays more than 150 concerts a year.

For the fans, it's mostly fun.

"If I ever got a chance to meet him, I'd say 'thanks,''' said one player,
Becky Dalton, of Westminster, Calif. "I'm almost 49, and he makes me feel 16
when I go to see him. He'd probably look at us and say, 'get a life.'''

Dylan is into the second decade of what is jokingly called his "Never-Ending
Tour.'' He's typically on the road for a month or two at a time, rests for a
few weeks, then starts anew.

There are 1,054 people from 50 countries competing in the Internet pool for
his current set of dates, which ends Sunday in Austin. He returns on April 5
in Stockholm for a five-week European swing.

The pool was started a year ago by 24-year-old Canadian graduate student and
computer expert Arthur Louie, and has quickly grown.

Participants pick a set of songs, which are given point values: low for the
songs Dylan plays most frequently, high for the songs he plays rarely.

It's a game that could be created around very few artists. For one thing, not
many perform as much as Dylan. For another, most acts are so tightly
choreographed their set lists change very little, if at all, from city to
city.

The Grateful Dead, while still active, could have probably done it. Phish,
now on hiatus, had a similar game going, Louie said.

Dylan usually plays around 20 songs a night. During a 35-date concert swing
last fall, he played 92 different songs, Louie said. The pool has
exhaustively catalogued his current tour: "Blowin' in the Wind,'' "Honest
With Me'' and "Summer Days'' were played on each of the first 14 dates.

Twelve different songs, including ``Visions of Johanna'' and "Simple Twist of
Fate,'' were performed only once.

Dylanologists study his set lists posted every morning after concerts for
tendencies. They've noticed he's begun most concerts lately with an acoustic
cover tune, and has been performing a lot of songs from his Grammy-nominated
album, "Love and Theft.''

That might be expected - artists usually try to promote their latest albums
on tour - but it hasn't always been the case with Dylan.

His unpredictability is legendary. Larry Shapiro, 46, an environmental
attorney from New York City, says he's moved up to 149th place in the current
competition mostly because he's given up trying to stay a step ahead of the
maestro.

"It's a frightening thought to think that anybody can think like Bob,'' he
said.

Winners of the game can actually win prizes, though Dylan might not
appreciate them. The grand prize for the current competition is a CD box set
of bootlegged Dylan concerts.

Does Dylan himself know about the game? That's cause for speculation on the
Dylan pool; his spokesman, Elliott Mintz, thinks not. Mintz wrote down the
Web address when told about the game to check it out himself.

"To my knowledge, he doesn't spend any time online,'' Mintz said. "He's not a
big computer guy.''

On the Net: http://pool.dylantree.com
http://www.bobdylan.com

Why ask me my name

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Feb 21, 2002, 5:21:06 AM2/21/02
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What i love about pretty boy Mintz is the way Dylan has him so totally
in his pocket. Why does surly Dylan need some spokesman - who also
'speaks' for other stars who pay him to do so? Because Mintz is
Dylan's disinformation agent to throw people off scents. Mintz
obfuscates at Dylan's behest - and he does his job well.
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