Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Heylin: "Dylan Delivered An Unceasing Barrage Of Biblical Glossaries"

Updated: More songs below!

From the Introduction to Clinton Heylin's "Trouble In Mind: Bob Dylan's Gospel Years - What Really Happened":
Just as from September 1965 to May 1966, the shows which ran from November 1979 to the following May saw the gospel gauntlet thrown down nightly. Dylan delivered an unceasing barrage of biblical glossaries set to the soundtrack of a heavenly choir and a band of unbelievers riding the musical tide all the way to New Jerusalem. ... He would continue beating his ecumenical drum most of the time for the next eighteen months.

For much of this period, his was very much a voice in the wilderness. Much of the media, and a large percentage of his hardcore fan base, simply switched off. ...

As for the shows themselves, journalists delighted in reporting that this 'voice of a generation' couldn't even sell out intimate theatres. ...

So, on the face of it, hardly the sort of period where a thorough revisit would send ripples of excitement through the Dylan world in 2017. And yet, when at the start of the year Dylan's long-time manager hinted to a Rolling Stone reporter that the next Bootleg Series (lucky thirteen!) would re-examine the gospel years afresh, the fan sites were abuzz with anticipation. ...

The good news – praise the Lord of Happenstance – is that the period 1979 to 1981 turns out to be among the best documented eras in Dylan's six-decade-long career as a recording/performance artist. ...

With the release of an 8-CD Deluxe Bootleg Series, the three studio albums [Slow Train Coming, Saved, Shot of Love] will no longer be the be-all and end-all of the gospel years, and we are a whole lot closer to knowing what really happened, artistically. As always with Dylan, it turns out that the more we understand, the more we can enjoy...
Box Set: November 3.
Book: November 14.

Bob Dylan - Trouble No More: The Bootleg Series - Volume 13


Slow Train, October 5, 1978 (Soundcheck)


Slow Train, October 2, 1979 (Rehearsal, with horns)


Slow Train, November 16, 1979 (San Francisco, CA)


Making A Liar Out Of Me, September 26, 1980 (Rehearsal, Unreleased (and unknown!) song)


Every Grain Of Sand, September 26, 1980 (Rehearsal)


When You Gonna Wake Up, July 9, 1981 (Oslo, Norway)


1 comment:

allan said...

Some comments from Heylin (from ISIS #194):

"The only song we didn't know about, I think, is 'Making A Liar Out Of Me'. It was on one of Arthur Rosato's rehearsal lists so I knew it existed. It's listed in "Still on the Road". But with a title like that, I naturally assumed it was a throwaway song. It's a six-and-a-half-minute masterpiece! It just flays every non-believer alive. It's a magnificent piece of work, easily the equivalent of 'Yonder Comes Sin'. So yeah, there's the rehearsal version of that song there, which I think is the only complete version of the song ever done. He dropped it from the rehearsals very quickly and it never reappeared. But there is a full set of lyrics for the song at Tulsa. There was never any question about it's existence. But anyway, that will blow a few people's minds."

"'Caribbean Wind' has always been a song I have held up. And I don't mean as a good song or a great song even but as one of the five or six most important songs he has ever written. When you hear the process, and thank god that it's all documented. Because on the box-set you hear one of the rehearsal versions like the second day he's ever played it and he's playing around with it and it's a completely different experience to what we've heard before. So we get that and we get a proper soundboard live from The Warfield. Two extraordinary versions. But also you can can hear that he's wrestling with his demons, which you don't hear in either of the 1981 visions."

"["Dead Man Dead Man" (7:22) outtake] Three extra verses, two harmonica breaks. Take one absolutely nails it. He then spends the next three days murdering the song. And he had absolutely got it the first time. But that's Bob."

You can hear "Making a Liar Out of Me" at Rolling Stone's website.
Heylin: "When I first heard it I was struck by the fact it not just a proper song, but that it was six and a half minutes long. It absolutely hits you in the solar plexus. There are some extraordinary lines in there and they just seem to pouring out. What's truly strange is that both that song and 'Yonder Comes Sin' [another unreleased gospel-era song] is they didn't even make it into the live set. They're both incredible and they were dropped within a week of rehearsal."