Bob Dylan – Farm Aid 1985 – True Confession Tour part1 (Videos)

bob dylan tome petty farm aid 1985

“Still, Live Aid and Farm Aid are fantastic things, but then musicians have always done things like that. When people want a benefit, you don’t see them calling dancers or architects or lawyers or even politicians – the power of music is that it has always drawn people together”
~Bob Dylan (to Mikal Gilmore – Sept 1985)

To kick-off this series of posts about the “True Confessions Tour”, I need to start the year before.. in 1985.

Dylan (together with Keith Richards & Ronnie Wood) did one of his worst live performances ever at the “Live Aid” concert @ the JFK stadium in Philadelphia on 13 July 1985. All three were drunk & they couldn’t hear themselves because the stage monitors had been switched off.

The Ballad of Hollis Brown – Live Aid 1985:

We were sabotaged, in some kind of way. There was no way we could really perform there. It’s difficult to play if you can’t hear.
~Bob Dylan (to Bob Brown – about the performance)

But what people remember the most from Dylan & Live Aid was what he said between song 2 & 3:

“I hope that some of the money … maybe they can just take a little bit of it, maybe … one or two million, maybe … and use it to pay the mortgages on some of the farms and, the farmers here, owe to the banks”
~Bob Dylan (before”When The Ship Comes In” “Live Aid” in 1985)

When The Ship Comes In – with quotation:

Might not have been the most tactical thing our Man has offered.. but as Clive Wilshin observed in The Telegraph:

“How typical of Dylan that he should be so uncomfortable while other stars were cooing smug, glib clichès about world peace.”

Anyway, this gave Willie Nelson the idea to start the “Farm Aid” project:

Farm Aid started as a benefit concert on September 22, 1985, in Champaign, Illinois, held to raise money for family farmers in the United States. The concert was organized by Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Neil Young, spurred on by Bob Dylan’s comments at Live Aid earlier in that year that he hoped some of the money would help American farmers in danger of losing their farms through mortgage debt.

Years active 1985 – 1987, 1989 – 1990
1992 – Present
Founded by Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Neil Young

.. and Dylan could hardly refuse to play. But he had learned his lesson & chose to perform with a band: Tom petty & The Heartbreakers.

bob dylan and tom petty and the heartbreakers

The prepared well – rehearsing for approx a week – and delivered a fantastic 6 song set.

…but it’s the two ballads that make this set exceptional.
~Paul Williams (BD performing artist 1974-86)

Memorial Stadium
University Of Illinois
Champaign, Illinois
22 September 1985
Farm Aid Concert

  1. Clean Cut Kid
  2. Shake
  3. I’ll Remember You
    When you hear this particular version [of I’ll Remember You], the song can never be the same again… Sometimes the performer creates the song more than the writer does.
    ~Paul Williams (BD performing artist 1974-86) 
  4. Trust Yourself
  5. That Lucky Old Sun (Haven Gillespie/Beasley Smith)
    The other triumph … not captured on video, is “That Lucky Old Sun”. That Voice! The song is a prayer sung by a farm laborer or farmer or any working man, requesting freedom in form of immediate release from this earthly prison. Dylan sings it with great love & empathy..
    ~Paul Williams (BD performing artist 1974-86)

  6. Maggie’s Farm

 Bob Dylan & Tom Petty Farm Aid 1985


  • Bob Dylan (vocal & guitar)
  • Tom Petty (guitar)
  • Mike Campbell (guitar)
  • Benmont Tench (keyboards)
  • Howie Epstein (bass)
  • Stan Lynch (drums)
  • Debra Byrd, Queen Esther Marrow, Madelyn Quebec, Elisecia Wright (backing vocals).

4-6 Willie Nelson (acoustic guitar).

3, 4 Madelyn Quebec (shared vocal).

 Dylan clearly had a lot of fun performing at Farm Aid, and wanted more… thus we got “True Confession Tour” presented by Bob Dylan w/ Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers.

Bob Dylan Tom Petty Willie Nelson Farm Aid 1985

Part 2 of this series will deal with the “Down Under” leg of the tour.

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