“Is it rolling, Bob?”
Those were the words that ushered in To Be Alone With You on Bob Dylan’s seminal Nashville Skyline album almost four decades ago. Last night, though, nothing was rolling – at least not on I-75 North.
The idea today was to present a snapshot of Dylan in performance at National City Pavilion, the new 4,000 seat ampitheatre at Riverbend in Cincinnati. It looked to be a fun time. There was to be no opening act on this attractive, though balmy Friday evening in late summer. The show would simply be Dylan in all his confounding and fascinating splendor.
Then, about 10 minutes on the north side of Dry Ridge, the red flags went up. Traffic in all three lanes ground to a halt. Even worse, people were outside of their vehicles talking to one another. Not a favorable sign.
Perplexed as much as anyone, I got out of my car and went to the nearest news source I could find: a trucker. The word: two cars had collided roughly five miles ahead. No one had been killed, but two people had to be hospitalized. The anticipated wait time to clean up the wreckage and resume normal traffic flow? Approximately four hours.
Something curious happens in situations like this. Here I was, with 20 minutes to go before showtime – and nearly 40 minutes of driving time ahead of me – staring at the first suggestions of sunset on a hot but comfortable Friday evening while standing, quite literally, in the middle of I-75 north.
Everyone was inconvenienced. Everyone’s evening plans and journeys were now altered in ways far beyond anybody’s control. But no one was mad. No one was even that distraught. Perhaps that’s because two bold realizations had set in.
One: no amount of grumbling, whining or cursing was going to move these hundred or so vehicles any faster up the interstate.
Two: somewhere at the end of the stymied traffic was the accident site itself. And there, one thing there was for certain. Those folks were having an indescribably worse evening than any of us stranded further down I-75 were.
The wait wasn’t as severe as promised. Instead of four hours, it was only two. By the time I cleared the site and caught a glimpse of a white mini-van on its side smashed beyond recognition, it was 8:55. There was still 30 minutes or more of driving time to consider. A cell call to the Riverbend box office revealed the 8 p.m. show had started on time and was scheduled to wind up at approximately 9:40. The mission was now officially aborted.
So to His Bobness, I apologize. We’ll see you again soon, I trust. To any fellow Lexingtonians that attempted the trip and were also ensnared in the traffic backup, I feel your disappointment. As a consolation, here is the Dylan setlist of what we missed last night in Cincinnati, courtesy of www.boblinks.com:
Cat’s in the Well/The Times They Are-A-Changin’/Things Have Changed/I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight/Love Sick/Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again/High Water (For Charlie Patton)/Chimes of Freedom/Rollin’ and Tumblin’/I Believe in You/Honest With Me/Just Like a Woman/‘Til I Fell in Love With You/Nettie Moore/Thunder on the Mountain/Like a Rolling Stone/All Along the Watchtower.