We Ain’t Gonna Wait In Maggie’s Line No More

Cell block B in the low foreground, the line winds patiently around the jail and down the path to the amphitheatre.

The line to the Dylan, Edgefield concert Saturday afternoon wrapped around a hilly path lined with Oregon blackberry canes, around the old, defunct jail, its octopus arms marked with letters, A thru H. We climbed the hill and got in line above cell block A, a lovely view overlooking Edgefield, in the distance the Columbia River, and across the river the Washington hills below a few pillow-white clouds. We looked up at the Edgefield water tower, and could just see the roof of the old hotel, and on the hill above us tall thin poplars rose into the baby blue sky. The line was full of freewheelin’ older folks, everybody kicking back, reading, talking, drinking beer and wine, and waiting in line. Some of the folks passing to the end of the line looked fairly worn out.

We waited for two hours, drank a beer sitting in beach chairs up on the hill overlooking the empty jail, folks climbing wearily up the hill and past us on their way to the end of the line. Finally the line started to gather up front and folks broke camp all along the path and we walked single file down to the Edgefield amphitheatre where there were food booths and beer and drink tents and honey buckets outside the grassy theatre area that led down to the stage.

We found a good spot at the top of one of the rises, on the edge of one of the greens, for the amphitheatre is set up across a few of the holes of the pub course. It was a lovely evening, warm and quiet. The amphitheatre filled while an opening act of a couple of young blues players did their best to wail the crowd, then a long pause, and then John Mellencamp and his band came on. Mellencamp and his band had fun; he said so in his last song, an old call and response tavern rocker. It still worked he said, “because it’s fun!” And it was.

Darkness fell and the McMenamin’s artificial moon went up, so folks could find their way to and from the concession and honey bucket area. Half a day is a long time to ask a 60-somethin’ to go without a trip to the honey bucket. In Jeff Baker’s Oregonian review, he doesn’t mention the line, and he wonders why a few folks left early, before Dylan finished: “…not responding to what they were hearing or maybe just a little chilly,” Jeff says. He probably didn’t have to wait in line for the Oregonian sponsored concert. Most of those folks leaving early had been on the grounds at that point for around 7 to 8 hours. We got in line at 3, thinking we were early, but walked past a couple hundred people before we found the end of the line, up on the hill, above the old “farm” jail, above cell block A, with the lovely view of Edgefield and across to the Washington hills. Not complaining here; just getting the story straight. Those two hours we spent in line, sharing a beer and the view, talking about the jail, and about what Mellencamp and Dylan might play and say, and sharing the wait with the others in the line…those two hours might end up being as memorable as the concert.

Mellencamp had played a varied set, singing “Cherry Bomb” alone on stage holding an acoustic guitar but not playing it, singing the song to the accompaniment of the crowd clapping. Then he sang a new song with acoustic guitar, “Save Some Time to Dream.” Dylan went infamously electric at the 1965 Newport folk festival, but he’s showing no signs of reversing. Susan and I have both listened to a lot of Dylan over the years, yet we had fun guessing what Dylan song they were playing – he rarely plays the same song the same way twice. The sharp-suited band cooked up a delicious garage stew on “Highway 61 Revisited.” After each song during the Dylan set the stage went dark, like the empty space on vinyl. It went dark one last time before the band came back for “Like a Rolling Stone.” Then the band lined up shoulder to shoulder and took a bow and walked off stage single file. Dylan had said only one thing to the appreciative crowd before introducing the band: “Thank you, friends.” Thank you, Bob, and you too, John. For some of us, this could be the last time we wait in the line; meantime, like Mellencamp, we are saving some time to dream, from the song:

“Save some time to dream / Save some time for yourself / Don’t let your time slip away / Or be stolen by somebody else / Save some time for those you love / For they’ll remember what you gave / Save some time for the songs you sing / And the music that you’ve made….”

And meantime, enjoy the line, and don’t worry about getting too close to the stage. Wherever you are, you’re close enough.

Overlooking the "farm jail" hoops court, Washington hills under pillow-white clouds, while the line winds back down the path toward the river.