Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Bob Dylan: No Direction Home

Bob Dylan, Song to Woody

Bob Dylan, A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall (live)

Bob Dylan, Mr. Tambourine Man (Alternate Version; 1st Complete Take)

It seems fitting to start off this week dedicated to Bob Dylan with a look at his most recent release, the soundtrack to the documentary, No Direction Home. It's also Volume 7 of the Bootleg Series, an amazing project that has put out some of the man's most epic concerts and material that has never been heard. This particular release comes from the Dylan vaults, which Martin Scorcese had access to in putting together his movie.

Since the movie continues tonight, I am just going to make this short and sweet. It seems to make sense to give a few highlights from the first disc of Volume 7, as both a sample of the greatness of this release and as a nice source of motivation to watch Night 2 on PBS at 9 PM. These songs are a pretty good sample of what the discs offer, as you get 1) unreleased tunes, 2) classics and underrated songs played live and 3) outtakes from classic recording sessions.

I chose the first one as an example of category 1, a beautiful song sung to Woody Guthrie, perhaps Dylan's earliest and most lasting influence. "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" is a live version, and throws the gauntlet down. This is serious shit, eight and a half minutes of the apocalypse, a foreboding, lyrical cry from the darkness. A stunning song, a Dylan classic and a great live version here. The third is an outtake from the Bringing It Back Home album, an alternate take of "Mr. Tambourine Man". I prefer the album version, which does not have the backing vocal and features only Dylan's voice.

Tomorrow, I will give my thoughts on the documentary (and the thoughts of many others) and some mp3 highlights of Disc 2. Later, I will mix it up, giving my thoughts on Dylan, why his music has had such a profound impact on me, look at some of the great writers who have written about the man, his own recent memoir, his Jewishness, his underrated mid-70s output and his live performances. Of course, it will all be accompanied by music, as I think that is the most fitting tribute to the man. He is probably the most-written about artist this side of James Joyce, so it might be time to the man's art and words speak for themselves, free of interpretation.

No comments: