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(Credit: Charlie Llewellin / Bob Dylan)


Watch Bob Dylan perform 'Hava Nagila' with Harry Dean Stanton

What’s better than witnessing a live performance by Bob Dylan? The answer to this question would be a live performance by both Bob Dylan and Harry Dean Stanton. Unbelievable as it may seem, the two legends did join forces for a song together back in 1989.

Stanton, who was Dylan’s senior both in terms of age and career, was a 63-year-old living legend by then. He proved that age is just a number by working with new vigour on each project. He was on a roll from the mid-1980s onwards when he first made a breakthrough in his acting career in 1984 with the lead role in Wim Wenders’ film Paris, Texas.

Dylan, the counterculture hero on the other hand, was becoming irreplaceable by the day. Though there was rarely a dull moment in his career in the early 1980s, the later half was marked by a handful of failures such as the album Down in the Groove which was released in 1988 and sold very few copies. Just a year later, another commercial flop landed with the 1987 film Hearts of Fire in which he starred. But Dylan bounced back quickly as expected. In January 1988, he was inducted to Rock’ n’ Roll Hall of Fame with Bruce Springsteen’s introduction declaring: “Bob freed your mind the way Elvis freed your body. He showed us that just because music was innately physical did not mean that it was anti-intellectual.”

On 24th September 1989, Bob Dylan accompanied his son-in-law Peter Himmelman and Harry Dean Stanton in this unorthodox rendition of ‘Hava Nagila’ for a telethon in Los Angeles California. It was the 25th Anniversary of Chabad, a Lubavitch organisation. While Himmelman and Stanton sang the song while strumming their guitar, Dylan brought out his mouth organ adding a merrier tone to the song.

‘Hava Nagila’ was an Israeli folk song in the Hebrew language which was sung traditionally at Jewish celebrations such as weddings and mitzvah celebrations. It was composed in 1918 to celebrate the Balfour Declaration and the British victory over the Turks in 1917, and it was first performed in a mixed choir concert in Jerusalem. The phrase “Hava Nagila” loosely translates into “Let’s Rejoice.”

Without further ado, let’s watch the spirited performance of Dylan, Stanton and Himmelman.