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 4: Nashville Hangover
This is the very belated final volume of my four-mix set. Unlike the other three, it doesn’t feature a new-for-1970 Dylan, so I decided not to post it, unless someone actually asked me to. Then several people did, and I apologize for taking so long to do it. For everyone else, for god’s sake, start with the other three!
There is at least as much vocal ambition and range in Dylan’s 1969-1971 singing as in any earlier year-and-a-half period. After perfecting the 1965-1966 Dylan, 1967 starts a period of dismantling that guy, including his epoch-making vocal approach. The naked playfulness of The Basement Tapes, the sustained voice from the grave of “John Wesley Harding,” the sweet crooner of “Nashville Skyline” – they’re all self-portraits that contrast with that Highway 61 pill-box hat guy and the punk rock singer of the 1966 tour’s electric set.
The first two compilations I posted (“The Morning After” and “To Woody”) capture the place I think that experimentation and disavowal circled back to – the natural sounding, but widely-ranging Dylan voice(s) of 1970-1971. It’s an iconic Dylan voice, corresponding to that curly-haired, denim-clad, spotlight-haloed guy on the cover of “Greatest Hits Volume 2.”
My third volume (“The Boxer”) and this one here (“Nashville Hangover”) capture the recordings that are, vocally-speaking, “less Dylan.” In the case of the present disc, it’s (nearly) every proper studio recording in that sweet Nashville voice that wasn’t on the puny, 27-minute “Nashville Skyline.”
Alone of the four sets, this one reaches back to 1969 “Nashville Skyline” sessions for material, but it seemed worthwhile to bundle that in with the “Self Portrait” material in the same voice.
- Lay Lady Lay (alt take, bootleg)
- Let It Be Me (SP)
- Take a Message to Mary (SP)
- A Fool Such as I (D, remastered, EQed)
- Country Pie (alt take, ASP)
- Living the Blues (SP)
- Blue Moon (SP)
- Spanish is the Loving Tongue (D, remastered, edited, re-EQed)
- I Threw It All Away (alt take, ASP)
- Take Me as I Am (Or Let Me Go) (SP)
- Wigwam (ASP)
- One More Night (alt take, bootleg)
- Ring of Fire (bootleg)
- Folsom Prison Blues (bootleg)