The lights didn't come up after Bob Dylan finished singing his song on the stage of the Ed Sullivan Theater last night. Letterman didn't have a quip. He commented on the drums, of course – "All brushes!" – but the two men simply shook hands and stood there in the dark.
Dylan performed "The Night They Called It a Day," one of the better cuts off his recent cover album Shadows in the Night. His voice was the best it's sounded in years. By a longshot. Anyone who has seen Dylan live over the past decade will be used to a long set of gargles and growls, new phrasings of old songs, and the man you paid to see standing off in the corner behind a keyboard, barely even making eye contact with the audience.
Last night was different. Dylan gave Dave a nod of respect. Dave gave him one, too, recounting a life lesson he recently offered his son, Harry, on a long drive.
"There's really only two things you need to know," Dave said. "Be nice to other people," Harry replied, "And the greatest songwriter of modern times is Bob Dylan," Dave added. "That's all you need to know in life."
Oh, yeah, Bill Murray was there too. Not a bad night.
This article was originally published on Esquire.com