Hear Bob Dylan’s Live Tribute to Jerry Lee Lewis
In the video, which you can watch below, Dylan introduces the song by telling the audience, “I don’t know how many of you know, but Jerry Lee’s gone. We’re gonna play this song, one of his. Jerry Lee will live forever – we all know that.”
Lee’s death at 87 resulted in a wide range of tributes from across the rock spectrum. The singer and pianist had been ill for some time, suffering from the way he’d “abused his body so thoroughly as a young man,” his publicist said in a statement. "Somewhere in the world, in a mean little honky-tonk or big music hall or church basement rec room, someone is playing a Jerry Lee Lewis song," the statement added.
Don Robertson wrote “I Can’t Seem to Say Goodbye,” and Lewis recorded it during his tenure with Sun Records. It wasn’t released until 1970, after the Sun catalog had changed hands and was being mined for material that could take advantage of artists’ current statuses. Lewis had reinvented himself as a country musician by the time "I Can’t Seem to Say Goodbye" became a Top 10 country hit.
Dylan and Lewis crossed paths while working in the same studio in 1969. Dylan told Rolling Stone that year that he wrote “To Be Alone With You” for Lewis, though the song appeared on Dylan's own country-influenced Nashville Skyline. When Lewis returned to rock ’n’ roll in 1979, he covered Dylan’s 1976 B-side “Rita May.”
Dylan is currently touring the U.K., with six shows remaining before the run ends on Nov. 7.