Let’s pretend that the music Bob Dylan recorded circa 1970 had resulted in a series of different albums than the ones we got. In the real world, those recordings are smeared all over the place: Self-Portrait, New Morning, Dylan, Greatest Hits Vol. 2, vault releases, and bootlegs. The point of this curation is not to include everything, but to finally give persuasive form to a period that remains blurry (based on commercial releases) and that is often derided as a low point. I consider it a high point, even at its weirdest points. This is my case, via four imaginary albums.
Volume 2: To Woody
This is the sub-plot of 1970-ish Dylan studio recordings that I most wanted to pull together – the record I always wanted “Self-Portrait” to be. It’s something like the return of folk singer Dylan, but with the wider, weirder scope of traditional music opened up by The Basement Tapes. Covers and originals sit together comfortably.
At the edge of the imaginary stage, alone in the spotlight, is Dylan, with microphone, acoustic guitar, harmonica, and a nearby piano. He’s singing his heart out without raising his voice, inhabiting each song as though it’s the most important or delightful story he’s ever told. Additional musicians appear in various formations to provide reserved accompaniment for one song or another.
If this had been the 1970 comeback concert or “Self Portrait," I think it would be revered.
- Alberta #3 (ASP)
- Down in the Flood (GH2)
- In Search of Little Sadie (ASP)
- George Jackson (single, solo)
- Song to Woody (bootleg)
- Only a Hobo (ASP)
- It Hurts Me Too (SP)
- You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere (GH2)
- Copper Kettle (ASP)
- Spanish is the Loving Tongue (ASP)
- Thirsty Boots (ASP)
- I Shall Be Released (GH2)
- Days of ’49 (ASP)
- Belle Isle (ASP)
- Pretty Saro (ASP)
- House Carpenter (ASP)
- These Hands (ASP)
- Tattle O’Day (ASP)
GH2 tracks and “George Jackson” were recorded in 1971. ASP songs are sometimes SP takes without the overdubs.