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Sunday, 17 August 2008

Mystery early Dylan performance (contains mp3s)

Last October BBC radio broadcast "Dream Dylan Live", a show featuring 10 live performances from across the years cobbled together into a "virtual live show."

In truth, this would have been few people's "dream" concert in the sense of the ideal live Bob Dylan show. On the other hand, the show accurately conveyed the impression of "a series of dreams"— random and unconnected performances each making a strong, vivid impression, but offering no coherent raison d'ĂȘtre.

Only two tracks were unknown to collectors. I may have been the first, on a Dylan internet forum at least, to suggest that Blowin' in the Wind and Only A Pawn in Their Game from this programme could have been from Dylan's Carnegie Hall concert of 23th October, 1963.

This suggestion was pure conjecture, no more than educated guess on my part, based purely on the fact that the 1963 Town Hall and Carnegie Hall concerts are known to have been recorded by Columbia; a live album culled from the two shows was prepared for release in 1964, and then aborted, for reasons that remain unclear.

Both 'Blowin' in the Wind' and 'Only A Pawn in Their Game' were performed at the Carnegie Hall concert. In 2005, Sony-Columbia released two songs from the Carnegie show on Bootleg Series 7: No Direction Home, and a further six songs on a bonus disc available to purchasers of the Bootleg Series CDs and the Bob Dylan Scrapbook. So it seemed natural to deduce that the two songs donated to the BBC for 'Dream Dylan Live' were among those considered but rejected for release in 2005. (Why not just release the whole concert already? It's a far better performance than the 1964 Halloween Concert released as Bootleg Series Vol.6.)

To my consternation, my conjecture was immediately circulated as fact. Apparently the rest of the Dylan community were thinking on the same lines as I. Nevertheless, in the world of Dylan collccting, things have rarely been as they have seemed. A few months ago, the bootleg label Hollow Horn finally ended Columbia's 45-year striptease with regard to this show (unveiling a track or two every so many years) and released this historic show in its entirety, and in stunning quality. This followed the final release of the even more historically important Town Hall concert a few months earlier.

I've been much too busy to compare the performances of Blowin' and Pawn on the Hollow Horn release with the Dream Dylan Live performances until now. In fact, I just assumed that my initial guess was right.

Well guess what—I was only 50% on target! The DDL Blowin' in the Wind is indeed the Carnegie Hall one. There are at least two fairly conclusive fingerprints that establish this identification. In the first place, Bob sings "How many times can a man turn his back" rather than the more usual "turn his head." And he adds a word in another line: "How many times must a man look up/Before he can really see the sky..."

However, "Only A Pawn in Their Game" is NOT the same performance! This is pretty obvious, because in the Dream Dylan Live performance, after the lines "The deputy sheriffs, the soldiers, the governors get paid/And the marshals and cops get the same" Bob forgets the lyrics and sings a garbled version of the rest of the verse!

So we have a bit of a mystery. This is quite clearly a 1963/4 performance, but does not correspond to any known performance. It's not the Greenwood, Mississippi version (the live debut), the Lincoln Memorial version, or the version that was performed live on WNET 30 July, 1963. Nor is it the version from Philadelphia, 28th Sept, 1964. My best guess is that it could be from one of the Newport Folk Festival concerts/workshops. But it's definitely not the 26th July evening performance, which was released last year on The Other Side of the Mirror. So the question remains: what other show from this period was recorded by Bob's record company? I am thinking Royal Festival Hall, London 17th May, 1964, two tracks from which emerged on the "Fantasy Acetate" a few years ago. But for goodness sake, don't quote me on it this time! (It still sounds more like a '63 performance to me, and I'm sticking with my guess of an unchronicled Newport performance...)

Here are mp3s of the two songs discussed above.

Blowin' in the Wind - from 'Dream Dylan Live'

Blowin' in the Wind - from Carnegie Hall (raw files from which Hollow Horn bootleg was compiled)

If I am right, the above two tracks are the same (except that the second has Dylan's highly amusing anecdote as an introduction).

Only A Pawn in Their Game - from 'Dream Dylan Live'

Only A Pawn in Their Game - (raw files from which Hollow Horn bootleg was compiled)

It should be obvious that the above two versions of the same song are different performances. Goodness knows why Bob's people decided to give the BBC a flawed performance when they had the faultless Carnegie Hall one....

Note: mp3s on this blog have each been downloaded over 200 times; no one has yet said thank-you. In lieu of thanks, I would be grateful if a few of you could click on the Google ads on this page. I earn a few cents per click, which enables me to stay on line! Thank you in advance!

I shall be posting mp3s of the other unofficially released Carnegie Hall tracks in due course.


Burns said...

This is good work R_C since it has been a 'sticky patch' for collectors for a long time.
You have obviously hit pay dirt with Blowin in the Wind.

Pawn in the game is indeed the more tricky of the two but if I were you I would definitely rule out any Newport recording.the crowd sounds,slight echoes and the 'spread' of audience calls,whistles applause' all make it for me ,a definite indoor Hall performance and to me this would indicate that it almost certainly is Festival Hall 1964.

Bob T. Guevara said...

Great research work. Thanks for posting and sharing the mp3's.
All the best, Bob T.

mike s said...

thanks! great work! -mike

Pete Shanks said...

Thanks -- but unfortunately the Blowin' Carnegie (raw file) link seems not to be working.

I've been collecting and collating (just for myself) those Carnegie tapes for ages ... a nice zip of the lot would be even more fabulous!

Thanks again

Anonymous said...

Great work, as usual! Thanks for the sharing the mp3s!


nick manho said...

couple of thoughts on the pawn in the game:

you can't hear any clicks on the mp3 so if it is from the festival hall 64 it isn't from the same acetate source as the other two tracks we have.

the applause at the end is obviously from a hall of some sort but it's a lot louder and longer than the other two tracks and there seems to be some shouting or even whistling at the very end. hardly what you'd expect from the festival hall 64 audience.

Burns said...

Not convinced Nic.but I would have to say that I am still convinced that its 64.maybe not Festival Hall...reason being is that those clicks? I don't think Dylan was wearing Cufflinks just then.

nick manho said...

"what other show from this period was recorded by Bob's record company?"

maybe he threw in a version in 65 while pennebaker was recording him?

raggedclown said...

No version of 'Pawn' has been documented after Philadelphia 1 Sept 1964. Besides, that doesn't sound like Bob's 1965 voice to me. Bob seems to have lost interest in this song rather rapidly as memory of Medgar Evers's death grew distant. I still favour a 1963 date.

nick manho said...

have you got an mp3 of the philadelphia sept 1 1964 performance?