20 Years Ago: Dylan Plays Clinton’s Inauguration
While often the focus of critics who ruminate about his lyrics, exaggerate his love interests, or question his political affiliation, Bob Dylan continuously keeps friends and foes guessing. However, in a rare move on Jan. 16, 1993 at President-Elect Bill Clinton’s 1993 Inaugural Concert, Dylan outwardly and musically expressed his feelings at a political gathering.
Standing stoically in front of the Lincoln memorial and armed only with an acoustic guitar, Dylan preformed a truncated but striding version of ‘Chimes of Freedom’ for the massive crowd. With the backing musicians placed in a pit behind him, Dylan stood center stage like a hippie sheriff, and sped his way through an updated version of some of his finest lyrics. The expression on President Clinton’s face is evidence enough of the positive bipartisan effect the songwriter’s performance had on the assembled politicians.
Interestingly enough, Dylan had stood in exactly the same place thirty years prior for the Washington Civil Rights march. There he performed a three song set consisting of ‘With God On Our Side,’ ‘Only a Pawn In Their Game,’ and ‘Keep Your Eyes On The Prize,’ according to Dylan’s website. While the 1993 performance may not be as poignant, its statement is just as powerful and definitive.