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Rock Island Line - Lead Belly 1948

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Lead Belly 1948

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                                        Huddie Lead Belly's Last Sessions
     Huddie Lead Belly Recorded in 1948

4,5 and 9

Nobody In The World Is Better Than Us

Midnight Special 

We're In The Same Boat

25 Cent Dude

Bottle Up and Go 
 With Music Backing
Bottle Up and Go
    Without Music Backing- Voice Only
Huddie Lead Belly Recorded in 1948

25 Cent Dude
Huddie Lead Belly Recorded in 1948


                                                  Lead Belly's Last Sessions- Dic No.1- Voice Only- No music backing..


1. Yes, I Was Standing In The Bottom


2. Yes, I'm Going Down To Louisiana


3. I Ain't Going Down To The Well No More


4. Dick Ligger's Holler


5. Miss Liza Jane


6.Dog Latin Song


7. Leaving Blues


8. Go Down, Old Hannah


9. Blue Tail


10. Nobody In This World is Better Than Us


11. We're In The Same Boat, Brother


12. Lucky, Looky Yonder


13. Jolly O' The Ransom


14. Old Ship Of Zion


15. Bring Me A Little Water, Silvy


16. Mistreatin' Mamma


17. Black Betty


18. Ain't Goin Down To The Wall


19. I'm Going Back Down in Louisianna


20. I Don't Know You, What Have I Done


21. Rock Island Line


22. Old Man, Will Your Dog Catch A Rabbit?


23. Shorty George


24. Stewbal


25. Bottle Up and Go ( No Music)


26. You Know I Got To Do It


27. Ain't It A Shame To Go Fishin' On A Sunday


28. I Ain't Gonna Drink Anymore


29. Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues


30. My Lindy Lou


31. I'm Thinking Of A Friend


32. He Never Said A Mumbling Word


33. I Don't Want No More Of Army Life


34. In The World


35. I Want To Go Home



                                                   Lead Belly's Last Sessions- Dic No.2- With music backing..


1. New Iberia


2. Dancing With Tears In My Eyes


3. John Henry


4. Salty Dog


5. National Defense Blues


6. Easy, Mr Tim


7. Relax Your Mind


8. Bottle Up and Go


9. Polly Wolly Wee


10. Pig Latin Song


11. Hawaiian Song


12. Drinkin' Lum


13. The Grey Goose


14. Silver City Bound


15. The Titanic


16. Death Letter Blues


17. Mary Don't You Weep


18. He Never Said A Mumbling Word



Lead Bell's Last Sessions- Dic No.3-With music backing..


1. Midnight Special


2. Boll Weevil Song


3. Careless Love


4. Easy Rider


5. Cry For Me


6. Ain't Going To Drink No More (De Kalb Blues)


7. Birmingham Jail


8. Old Riley


9. Julie Ann Johnson


10. It's Tight Like That


11. 4,5 & 9


12. Good Morning Babe, How Do You Do?


13. Jail House Blues


14. Well, You Know I had To Do It


15. Irene ( Ludlow Music Inc., BMI)


16. 25 Cent Dude


17. How Come You Do Me Like You Do?


18. Hello Central


19. Hesitation Blues


20. I'll Be Down On The Lat Bread Wagon



Lead Belly's Last Sessions- Dic No.4-With music backing..


1. Somebody's Diggin' My Potatoes


2. Springtime In the Rockies ( Woolsey/Saucer/CBS Catalogue Partnership, ASCAP)


3. Chinatown


4. Rock Island Line


5. Backwater Blues


6. Sweet Mary


7. Irene ( Ludlow Music Inc., BMI)


8. Easy, Mr Tom


9. In The Evening, When The Sun Goes Down


10. I'm Alone Because I Love You


11. House of the Rising Son


12. Mary Don't You Weep


13. Talk About Fannin Street


14. Fannin Street


15. Sugared The Beer


16. Didn't Old John Cross The Water


17. Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out


18. Bully Of The Town


19. Sweet Jenny Lee


20. Yellow Gal


21. He Was The Man


22. We're In The Same Boat, Brother


23. Leaving Blues


                Introduction To Huddie Lead Belly's Last Sessions


Huddie Leadbelly: Born in 1988  in Mooringsport, Lousiana, son of a negro farmer who worked 68 acres of land in the Caddo Lake district  and died on the 6th December 1949 at the Bellevue Hospital in New York City

original surname "Ledbetter" called by his parents "Huddie Ledbetter

Ledbelly was great interpreter of songs, a great teacher, and the possessor of a huge repertory of songs he had absorbed over a lifetime.


Last Belly's Last Sessions bear witness to the remarkable talent and repertory of one of the twentieth century's great musicians, recorded a year before his death in December, 1949. They are also testimony to a breakthrough in recording technology, These are probably the only commercial recordings of Lead Belly that were recorded on magnetic tape, and they have a distinctive quality lacking in many other releases. The Long playing time of the tapes preserve the legacy of Lead Belly introducing his songs, describing how many of them related to his own life, and discussing them with his friends. The New audio tape technology, gives added fidelity and dynamics to Lead Belly's voice and guitar.

Lead Belly ( 1888-1949) was a great teacher, and the possessor of a huge repertory of songs he had absorbed over a life time. these sessions were set up with the intention  of recording his entire repertoire, and none of his performances have been omitted. During the three evenings at Frederic Ramsey's home, in the company of his wife Martha and other friends, Lead Belly sings field shouts and hollers, play-party games, ballads, blues, Western songs, and autobiographical songs. Unlike commercial recordings, which generally focus on a single genre - blues, children's music, country and western, popular song - these recordings illustrate that a single musician may know many genres and many songs, only a few of which may ever appear on commercial releases.

Most commercial recordings are compiled from individual songs, recorded separately, then arranged by a producer for the best commercial effect. Lead Belly's Last Sessions instead, follow the flow of three evening recording sessions - each song in the order in the original recorded sequence. Most of the songs were not even separated by bands on the original LP's. The sequence follows Lead Belly's own thoughts and interests, as well as suggestions, usually from Frederic Ramsey and Charles Edward Smith.

These recordings are also significant as historic documents because they present music in the way it is often made - by people sitting around their homes, in bars, or elsewhere, talking about the songs, relating them to their lives, singing one after another. But the home wasn't just any home: it belonged to a jazz scholar who had one of the new tape recorders.

Frederic Ramsey refused to give his tapes of Lead Belly's sessions to any record company that would not put then out in their entirety, following the original temporal sequence. The only record company that agreed to do so was Mosses Asch's Folkways records, a label dedicated to accurately documenting the sounds of the world, directed by a man who declared he had a particular affinity to Lead Belly, and had first recorded him in 1941. Even though Lead Belly died before completing the full documentation of his repertory, and even though some of these songs were recorded elsewhere, these recordings speak for themselves, and we must be greatful that these particular people got together when they did and created them.


Reprinted from an article written b Frederic Ramsey, Jr.

High Fidelity Magazine, November - December 1953


The notes attached to the Leadbelly Last Session are in six parts. The first and second are contained in this  introduction, prepared in 1994. the third and fourth appeared wit the original LP release in 1953. the fifth was written from a more recent persective, in 1993. The sixth is a guide to learning more about Lead Belly and his music.

1. Introduction to the recordings, Anthony Seeger, 1994.


2. Technical Notes, Jeff Place and MattWalters, 1994.

3. About the Sessions, Frederic Ramsay Jr. 1953.

4. Peparing the Masters, Moses ASch, 1953.

5. Leads Belly - his Career in 1948, Sean Kileen, 1993

6. Selected Bibliography and Discography.


Frederic Ramsey prepared the notes to the original set of four 12" LP records, describing what he was trying to do. An audio magazine plater published logs of the sessions. Moses Asch added a few notes of his own on the production of the LPs from the original session tapes. SEan Killeen, founder of the Lead Belly Newsletter, placed Lead Belly's participation to the session into the context of his career in the late 1940's.


Anthony Seeger, 1994.


In the United Sates, mot so long ago, we had a giant of a man with us, a singer and adventurer whose exploits, if we did not know the actual facts of his existence, might one day have amplified into a sort of Paul Bunyan legend that could hardly have been more colourful that the truth.

Leadbelly, Huddie Ledbetter, was born on Mooringsport, Louisiana, son of a negro farmer who worked 68 acres of land in the Caddo Lake district. From the beginning young Huddie was bewitched by music. One uncle had a guitar; his friends played small accordions, or 'windjammers,' as they called them in the part-Cajun, part-Negro country. At twelve or thirteen, Huddie started riding off in the canebrakes and bottom lands to play for sukey jumps and breakdowns - Saturday night get-togethers in cabins and little, low dance halls. He was soon "good as they had on a windjammer," according to his own testimony.

It was a rough crowd, In the North, social workers would probably have intervened. But late 19th century Negro youngsters in the South were allowed to go their way and settle their problems (no one considered them problems, anyway) amongst themselves. They drank, they made love and they got into fights. it was one of these fights, a few years later, that started Huddie on the hardest part of his life, and shaped his career for year to come. In a bottomland fracas involving Huddie, a man was killed.

They hung the sentence on Huddie, and sent Huddie to prison camp, or county farm.  Huddie broke out of that, but soon got into other troubles. He was too young, too handsome, too powerful. Women couldn't let him alone, and Huddie couldn't let them alone. But through it all - from 1918, when he was released from the Angola State Prison Farm, in Louisiana - Huddie kept close to his music. He broke jail, he rambled, he married and re-married, he picked cotton, he worked in a car agency, all this was part of, but strangely incidental to, the main drive of his life - the need to learn more songs, the need to perform them, anywhere.

Huddie was released form Angola on "good time". Tere he had known work hard enough to kill other men, and the sting of the lash, administered because of his 'impudence." By that time, John A. Lomax, expert folklorist and curator of the Archives of American Folk Music of the Library of Congress, had found him. Setting off in the Lomax car the folklorist and  his discovery began an informal 'lecture' and 'recital' tour, stopping at several universities.

At Harvard, Professor Kittredge, longtime student of music and folklore, was impressed. It must have been a strange moment. All their lives, folklorists in musty retreats examine, weigh and compare ballads and songs that have to do with robber bridegrooms, pale horses, pale riders, brigands, cutthroats, and deeds of lust and violence. But here was pale Professor Kittredge, and here was Leadbelly. Looking up from his books, Kittredge must have swallowed hard. Turning to Leadbelly's impresario, he whispered "He is a demon, Lomax."

During the later years of his life, Leadbelly shed the demon. More and more, he placed music ahead pf everything; and with his wife, Martha Promise, settled down to a relatively calm life. It was Martha who made this possible. She loved Huddie; she took care of Huddie; she was there when Huddie needed help. And it is because of Martha that Huddie settled down, too, to the long task of recording the great body of folklore and song he had collected all along the way of his rambling, rough career. For the Library of Congress Leadbelly recorded close to 135 songs. Later, for commercial record companies, Huddie cut a disappointing small total of his repertoire.

I cannot recall the exact date of my first meeting with Lead Belly, but I shall never forget hearing Huddie sing for the first time. Charles Edward Smith and I had just completed work on the book Jazzmen. It was Smith who heard Leadbelly first, and suggested that we should both know more of the music that, he was convinced, had done much to deed jazz some of its most vigorous material. So he dragged me to a Greenwich Village bistro where Leadbelly was singing for coffer and cake. e sat at a table and talked with Huddie.

My Immediate impression was of the man's strength. Year later, when Martha once remarked, "He's built like King Kong," I knew what she meant. here was the individual who had been lead man on the hardest chain gang gangs of Texas and Louisiana, working under broiling July and August sun in the canebreakes, and who had survived. there were tales told of him that were almost superhuman; that he could pick 1,000 pounds of cotton a day (this wasn't true, but like some of Bunyan's feats, it was close to true; Huddie had out picked every other man on the gangs); that he had cut away from one gang with the ball and chain still in his hands, and the guard's bullets ripping the dirt out from under his feet; that a man had once got a knife in his neck and pulled it halfway 'round before Huddie's girl friend beat off the assailant that he could dance and play all night long in the compound, and then go out and do a full day's work.

The scar was still there, on his neck. Only this was a man who dressed quietly, in a dark grey or brown suit, and who sat and talked quietly, in heavy southern speech that rolled and murmured with retards and elisions; at first, it was hard to understand what he was saying.

We talked a bit, and I noticed that Leadbelly didn't go in for "conversational" speech. Always, it was something he had just sung, or was about to sing. Of the past, he was blank. He was content to forget.

We sat and drank beer, and then someone up on the little platform announced that "Leadbelly, King of the Twelve String Guitar," was about to sing some more. Leadbelly got up, walked slowly over to the platform, guitar in hand ( it never left him), and with a few slow words of introduction to the audience, thrashed into his song.

Huddie's was not a subtle voice; it lacked agility and it had grainy, hard overtones. But there was rhythm in every syllable and conviction in every word - and incredible volume; Huddie never needed a microphone to sing in a crowed hall, and everything he sand out loud and clear; clear - that is, if you understood Louisiana.

Underneath his suit, his muscles rippled visibly as Huddie strummed his guitar. Before that evening was over, we had heard Gray Goose, Rock Island Line, Ha Ha This A Way, Ol' Riley, Salty Dog, and a big fistful of Leadbelly's other classics. Furthermore, I had become convinced that if you cared about music at all, you couldn't ignore Leadbelly.

This was the beginning of a long friendship. And all along the way, I learned from Huddie - what his songs meant, why he sang them, and how he loved them

Two or three years later, I found myself preparing, for an English publication, a discography of all the songs Leadbelly had recorded. At that time, I got hold of as ,many of the recordings as I could, and listened to them. And although I was overwhelmed by the number of titles in his repertoire, at the same time I was disappointed. the earlier, Library of Congress recordings, by far most complete collection of his songs, had been taken for the most part on a portable machine, and the best that could be said of them was that they were highly unfaithful to the original. (In 1935, the phrase "high fidelity" was only a password to dingy backrooms frequented by renegade engineers and other dangerous persons.)

The commercial recording, too. Lacked a great deal in quality, and gave no idea of the vitality of Leadbelly's gargantuan voice. Then, too, something else was lacking - a characteristic immediately perceptible in his "live" performance, but dead as padded anteroom in the records. It was warm, intimate quality that came when Leadbelly sat and performed for a small group, talking as he sand, singing as he talked. It may be that then, sometime back in 1942 or 1943, I first thought of recording Leadbelly as I felt he should be recorded.

However, I still hoped that one of the big studios would come through with some crisp, clean recordings of Leadbelly, something hat would give an idea of his personality as well as his music. But Leadbelly's brushed with commercial companies were annoyingly unproductive. They simply didn't have the time or the interest to deal with artists whole music-making had to be spontaneous. Leadbelly experiences the frustration of sessions cut short just as he was warming up; of recordings made, then withheld because they weren't "commercial" enough.

By the fall of 1948, Leadbelly was also smarting from grade B reception Hollywood had accorded him. he had set off got that city during the feverish war years, sure he would conquer it and after it, the world. Instead, he had ended up as entertainer at parties given by celebrities - but no one ever took  Leadbelly seriously as a star or an artist. Leadbelly's song 4,5, and 9 reflects some of his disillusionment. An executive at one of the parties had said, laughingly, "Sure, call me up tomorrow at 45 to 8" when Leadbelly and asked for a test.  Leadbelly didn't realize that this was a Sunset Boulevard brush-off, and had to go through the additional pain of being laughed off the switchboard when he took the remark literally and put through a call at a quarter past eight.

 Leadbelly's  last "commercial" records, a mere handful of five or six sides, were made for Capital Records around 1946, and although Irene, the title he knew would someday be a hit (-a year after his death), was one of them, no one did anything to promote them for  Leadbelly. Yet  Leadbelly wanted to perform and to record. When he returned to New York, the director of WNYC, the municipal station, arranged a series of half-hour programs, and he began to feel a little better. But he had an increasing awareness hat he probably never would be a "commercial" success.

 Leadbelly'a final acceptance of this fact, and my growing convicion that more could be done with an artists of his stature than was ever likely to be done commercially, finally brought us both to undertake private recordings. Then too, time was running out;  Leadbelly was no longer young, and too often I had seen projects postposed until it was too late. Years before, when I had first thought of recording  Leadbelly, he probably would have refused, politely but firmly, to contribute so much time to a venture which he had been told would bring no financial return.

We had one thing in out favour. The long era of the big, clumsy acetate disk had just come to an abrupt close with the introduction for the first time in the United States, of tape recording. In June of 1948, Columbia Records, Inc., had launched the long playing record. The combination of tape and microgrooves pointed to a different recording procedure. No longer would each separate selection have to be cut on a disk that, at its very longest, could play only five minutes in final form. No longer would artist and recorder have to labor over exact timing for each selection. And if  Leadbelly wanted to talk between his selections, we could leave the microphone open and pick that up, too.

For  Leadbelly, when he got going, had a routine that was like that of the record collector who, with a large library to chose from, spends an evening pulling out his favourite disks in a sequence both varied and suggestive. With tape, it was possible to record in sequence, and to preserve that sequence. From the first through the ninety-fourth, then, all the selections in the four-disk Folkways album we made are presented in exactly the same order as played by  Leadbelly. The final editing was simply a matter of removing a few extraneous bits of conversation that had crept into the proceedings.

The recording sessions got underway exactly as I had hoped. One evening late in September,  Leadbelly and Martha came to dinner. Afterward, we sat and talked. I had broached the subject of recording to  Leadbelly, and showed him the tape machine.  Leadbelly began talking about the WNYC broadcasts, rehearsing them aloud as he went along.  Leadbelly's guitar was a home, as I had said we'd merely discuss the project on that first evening. But when he began to sing, I got the machine going, and set he microphone down beside him. We were on our way.

Selections I through 34 were recorded on that first evening with Martha joining in on several of the choruses. Because he hadn't brought the guitar along. Huddie sang many of the songs which he normally did without accompaniment - shouts and hollers, field calls, and blues. Among them was a long version, longer than any previous recording, of the splendid O! Hannah, the song workers in the gangs address to the sun -"Go down, O! Hannah, and don't you rise no more." Others were Yes, I Standing in the Bottom, a long chant of lonely, penitent holler, Black Betty, and I'm Goin' Back Down in Louisianna, were others of the same kind. There was a rollicking version of Blue Tail Fly, with new verses improvised as Leadbelly went along, and a spirited Rock Island Line. There were Spirituals like Never Said a Mumbling Word, and Old Ship Zion.

When he heard a playback of the firs "takes", Leadbelly was enthusiastic. "Man, you got something there, "he said. "You can just let that thing run. Now let's try some more."

It was that way all through the first evening, the second, and the third. At first. Leadbelly wanted to hear all the paybacks. Then, when he was satisfied that these were "the best ever." he just kept on going. There was hardly time, between breaths, to get new tapes on the reels. Once in a while he stopped and asked to hear a favourite he had just put on tape. Then he forgot all about playbacks, because he had to stop and listen, and that made him stop singing, Leadbelly was competing with Leadbelly, and that would never so. I don't think he ever heard any of the songs he recorded after that first evening.

There is hardly any need to put down in writing what happened after Leadbelly set forth on his songs, reminiscences and talk. For everything that took place has been kept and is to he heard on the records. Tha the material has been preserved in this way is no accident. It also serves to explain why it had to wait so long, since 1948, to be released. For when Irene became a hit, there was a flurry of interest among all the companies who had neglected Leadbelly. Several wanted to bring out part, or some of the material that Leadbelly had recorded on tape, but not one of the major companies cared to preserve the sequence which was so vital a part of the feeling of these recordings. The only person in the sequence which is so vital a part of the feelings of the recordings. The only person in the entire record industry who would go along with this idea was Mr. Moe Asch, of Folkways records. But in 1948. when the apes were made, Folkways Records had a very small list, and had to proceed with caution.

There was a second evening in October, and for that reason. Leadbelly's old friend, Charles Edward Smit, came to hear and to help. Selections 35 through 75 were recorded on that night. Leadbelly was in particularly fine form this evening, and gave us one stunning example after another of his favourite blues and ballads, throwing in a popular tune here and there for variety.

It begun to be evident, as the evening progressed, that Leadbelly was doing his very best to get down selections which he had never before recorded, and to bring forth from memory much of his past life. The thing that seemed to be running through Leadbelly's mind was a re-creation of his early wandering years - of the days when he 'banished away' from his childhood home and took tot he road as a wandering ballad singer.

Particularly revealing is his song about Blind Lemon Jefferson, who was among the first major influences on Leadbelly's long musical life. Bling Lemon was to Leadbelly what Ma Rainey was to Bessie Smith - he took the young boy, and taught him his repertoire and his way of living. A fresh glimpse of that way of life is provided by Leadbelly's remarks about their train and bus rides together, and their boisterous trips to Silver City, a wide-open frontier district outside of Dallas, texas. there is probably no-clearer account of record of the way American folk musicians have traveled and learned and of the way their song, passing freely from each man to his companion, grew and was enriched.

Notable, too, is the story Leadbelly tells about the ballad of The Titanic. According to Leadbelly, the captain of that boat had refused passage to Jack Johnson the celebrated Negro pugilist. When the boat went down, Negroes who had been shocked by the captain's callous statement (quoted as: 'I ain't haulin' no coal") tended to feel that a higher hand had passed judgement on the captain's man-made laws of segregation. And Leadbelly, fresh from the same sort of reflection in Hollywood, pus more than a little bite into his account of the disaster.

AS we had planned it, the third evening (selections 75 through 94) might have taken us a little less than halfway through the project of recording all of Leadbelly's repertoire. But we never saw Leadbelly after that night, when he had sung as his last number, the 'Leaving Blues' - "I'm leaving you, and I won't come back no more."

Not long after this, a trip to Europe was arranged for Leadbelly and he set out with high hopes, But in Europe, he was almost unable to play. After giving one concert at the Foundation des Etats -Unis which was well received by the samll grou of Parisians who attended, Leadbelly was afflicted lat latter stages of the disease which killed Lou Gehrig, chronic poliomyelitis. With atrophied muscles, it became impossible for Leadbelly t go on. Sadly, Leadbelly returned to the United tate. Not long afrer, on December 6th, 1949, Leadbelly died at Bellevue Hispital in New York City.


Leadbelly's Last Sessions


Perhaps it would be fairest to Huddie Lead-belly to say that when he made the recordings contained in this set of long playing records, Leadbelly had no idea they were to be his last. Nor were they recorded in this set of long-playing records, he had no idea they were to be his last. Nor were they recorded under "professional" circumstances; in a big studio with acoustical dampers, a dozen microphone to choose from, a battery of control consoles, and a staff of prompters and technicians. Had they been made this way, they might have been quite different.


A Short Techical Note About Recordings of Leadbelly's Last Sessions


The acoustics of the New York apartment were corrected as much as possible with drapes and the best equipment available in the early days of tape recording was used.  The first evening, a small vocal microphone was employed. The second and third evenings (with guitar) a dynamic microphone of good quality would provide the best pick-up.

It would therefore be misleading to claim that, by today's standards, these are "extended range" recordings, although we do believe that they were adequately clean and crisp , and represent an advance over all other older, acetate recordings of Leadbelly.

Everything has been done to clear the tapes of obvious defects due to faulty tape manufacture; some difficulty was experienced with tape purchased in good faith which began to peep off in spots not long after it had ben used for recording. Fortunately, a better tape became available before we had gotton too far along, and a majority of performances are well preserved.

Frederic Ramsey, Jr. is co-author and editor of Jazzman, The Jazz record Book, and Jazzways, and editor of the Folkways Jazz Series. He is a 1953 recipient of a Gugenheim Fellowship for studies in Afro-American music.




Original Production Notes by Moses Asch


At the time of these recordings, recording tape was in its experimental stage. In 1953 when the tapes were taken out of their original boxes and played, some of the tape was found to be damages and in a few cases it adhered to the next winding. We processed then as follows: Peter Bartock re-dubbed all the tape, and Ramsey edited the dubbed tape for a six sided long-playing records set. However it was fund that by eliminating most of the bands as suggested by Ramsey we could get 30 minutes of one side of a 12 inch record to make a four-records set.


Leadbelly And His Last Sessions (recorded in 1948 in New York)


In the fall of 1948 Leadbelly recorded what the musical world now know as the Last Sessions. But what did Leadbelly's world consist of. a little more than a year before his death?


In recalling his experiences with Leadbelly's Last Sessions, Fred Ramsay wrote that the three evening sessions in September, October and November with Huddie and Martha went "exactly as I hoped." Nearly 100 songs were recorded on tape and preserved for prosperity. Ramsey senses Leadbelly was still "smarting from the grade B reception he received in Hollywood." Ramsey

 also noted that time was running out for Leadbelly and commercial recording success was more and more unlikely. Ramsey correctly foresaw that Leadbelly had entered the twilight of his career.

Ramsey felt that sessions would be a chance for the new mode of long play tape to catch the spontaneity of Leadbelly's. After the 3rd session concluded, Leadbelly and Ramsey never met again. Leadbelly died within 14 months.

In 1965, Fred Ramsey spoke to Dick Weissman about the Lat Sessions. "Leadbelly was always trying to tailor his style to what he felt would make him a star, a performer with a big reputation; and I think Leadbelly was aware that meant being like a popular singer." Ramsey felt this was apparent when Leadbelly talked about meeting Gene Autry. "He hoped to make it big, to get to be a main performer, a real star, this was one of Leadbelly's main drives," according to Ramsey. "If he thought a certain kind of song would bring him notoriety, he would sing it with great relish." For example, Leadbelly hoped "Relax Your Mind" would be adopted by the National Safety Council.

Ramsey also knew Leadbelly had numerous "Tin Pan Alley" songs in his repertoire. Leadbelly had sung them in the south long before he began performing for northern audiences. Songs like "Dancing With Tears In My Eyes"' "Silver-Haired Daddy of Mine', and Bully Of The Town," or even his "Hawaiian Song" had all been popular songs, but carry Leadbelly's unique mark and original rendition. Ramsey said that Leadbelly's reputation in 1948 was built on being a "backwoods folksinger" and a great many New York people wanted him to stick with this type of music. When Leadbelly tried to cross-over and do more popular songs, he often was not well received.

In a 1991 interview, Fred Ramsey told me he believed the Last Sessions were Leadbelly's best recordings when compared to the radio recording of the early forties and the Library of Congress collection. Not solely because of the Technological advantage of a continuous, uninterrupted flow of a spontaneous Leadbelly, but because "the music was more than just music - it was a whole emotional feeling. It flowed out of him, and with each song put him more and more into the mood of it. When he heard on the playback, he really began to play and inspire himself."

Ramsey had discouraged an audience during the taping. He wanted an ideal situation, intimate instead of "big time". Charlie Smith was there for two evenings and Jim Chapelle, the photographer, the final night.

Abe Greiss recalled that Leadbelly never thought of himself as a recording artists even though he had already done a few albums. The instant replay of the tape was intriguing to him, and made him listen to himself. he found this entertaining and leadbelly "really enjoyed himself at the Session, not in a vain way, but because this new technology allowed him a new means of expression on what he'd been doing for 50 years." Leadbelly wasn't a funny man, a man to make jokes, but Leadbelly always had something to say that was worth hearing."

In mid-September of 1948, Fred Ramsey invited the Ledbetters to dinner in his apartment, to talk about recording Leadbelly, The first Sessions, resulted in Leadbelly singing a cappella with his wife Martha accompanying as she did occasionally both other nights. While Leadbelly hadn't been asked to bring is guitar, his not bringing it was somewhat purposeful and professional. On one hand the evening was to be social with a bit of preliminary business talk. On the other hand if they agreed on a business deal, he'd have his guitar soon enough in hand when the time came to start the formal recordings.

Over the course of the previous 12 months, Marjorie Fairbanks and her son Austen had taken over Leadbelly's professional management from Austin Wilder Artistic Leadbelly would be rather busy with an NYC radio sho, 10 school concerts including nearly a month in Minnestota where his return for the fall of 1949 was temtatively planned. The Fairbanks paid leadbelly's Musicins Union dues, generated publicity and promotional material, and even booked Leadbelly at an "industrial" show near Sandusky, Ohio. There were building up steam for the Paris Festival in May 1949, and they didn't want Leadbelly to give anything away.Leadbelly was very excited and responsive to their new confidence and interest in him. A summer 1949 southwest tour after Europe was booked. Leadbelly would play in Texas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Iowa before his failing health forced his return to NYC in July, 1949.

During those fall sessions at the Ramsay's, Leadbelly knew he was losing his muscular control. Despited illness, Huddie fought to maintain control over his life and music.  Encouragement came from friends and family who always hoped for signs of good luck and impending success. Abe Greiss, a neighbour and good friend of Huddie's, accompanied the Ledbetters to the October 15th 1948 session. He recalled that Leadbelly told him "they want me to sing 'Mt Girl' instead of Black Girl." Greiss told him not to do it.  " It wasn't true, it insulted Martha, and it wasn't poetic." Griess, however, encouraged Huddie to do the Last Sessions. He Hoped these recordings would inspire Huddie in his battle for artistic recognition.

Leadbelly recorded the Last Sessions in the spirit of an investment. He hoped this release would exhibit his versatility and the broad range that folk music allowed. His concerts in Minnesota- less than a month after the Last Sessions, and those in the spring of 1949 - reflect the wide variety of music he offered his audiences.

This investment did not pay off immediately. The Last Sessions were not released until 1954. Huddie's untimely death in december of 1949 prevented him from enjoying the fruits of the Last Sessions. However, these recordings have kept the legacy and the legend of Leadbelly alive.

The music which indeed became Leadbelly's Last Sessions, brought him belated but hard-earned and well-deserved artistic recognition.

In 1991, Fred Ramsey said: I am very proud of the Last Sessions because (these cuts contain) ... indisputable evidence of Leadbelly's talents."


Sean Kille. 1993



Learning About Leadbelly


Charles Wole and Rip Lornell, The Legend of Leadbelly. New York : Harper Collins, Publishers, 1992. Cloth and paper. this is the nbest place to start. Certainly researched, it has an extensive bibliography and discography.

The Leadbelly Letter.

This is a fine publication for lead Belly enthusiasts published by the Leadbelly Society, whose stated objective is to "appreciate and celebrate Leadbelly's music." Edited by Sean Kileen and published in Ithaca, New York, the Leadbelly letter contains short pieces on specific periods of led Belly's life, current bibliography and discography, and keeps people in touch with one another. Address: the Leadbelly Society: P.O. Box 6679, Ithaca, NY, 14851-6679


Selected Discography of the Legend of Huddie Leadbelly


The Legend of Leadbelly (listed songs) presents a 32 page discography, certainly the best source for scholars and fans. the following recordings are in print on CD at the time of this publication:


Folkways: Lead Belly recorded for Moses Asch between 1941 and 1948. The "sides" ( 78rpm sides appeared on the Asch, Disc, and Stinson Labels, and many of them were subsequently reissued on Moses Asch's Folkways label after its founding in 1949. Moses Asch kept all of the Lead Belly Albums in print once released and under the Smithsonian Institution's Centre For Folklife Programs' administration they remain available.


Folkways" The Original Vision (with Woody Guthrie: Smithsonian/Folkways 40001


Leadbelly Sings Folk Songs. Smithsonian/Folkways 40010


Leadbelly's Legacy, Vol.1: Take This Hammer. Folkways 2004


Leadbelly's Legacy, Vol.2: Rock Island Line: Folkways 2014


Leadbelly's Legacy, Vol.3: Early recordings, Folkways 2024


Leadbelly's Legacy, Vol.4:Easy Rider, Folkways 2034


Midnight Special, Folkways 31046


Shout On, Folkways 31046


Leadbelly Sings Folk Songs For Young People, Folkways 7533


Alabama Bound, RCA 9600


Leadbelly, Columbia 30035


King Of The 12-String Guitar. Columbia/Legacy 46776


Midnight Special, Rounder 1044


Gwine Dig A Hole And Put The Devil In, Rounder 1043


Let It Sine On me, Rounder 1046


Selected recordings on Smithsonian/Folkways


Bill Broonzy Sings Folk Songs 40023


Elizabeth Cotten, Freight Train & Other. North Carolina Folk Songs and Tunes 40009


Reverend Gary Davis, Pure Religeon and Bad Company 40035


Woody Guthrie Sings Folk Songs, 40007


Woody Guthrie, Struggle, 40025


Lighten' Hopkins 40019


Cisco Houson, the Folkways years: 194-1961. 40067


Lonnie Johnson, the Complete Folkways recordings. 40067


Brownie McGhee, The Folkways Years: 194501959. 40034


Brownie McGhee and Sony terry ing 40011


Sonny Terry, the Folkways ears: 1944-1963. 40033


Pete Seeger: American Industrial Ballards. 40058


Pete Seeger, Darling Corey and Goofing Off Suite, 40018


Joseph Spence, the Complete Folkways Recordings, 1958. 40066


Been In The Storm So Long: Spirituals, Folk Tales and Children's Games From Johns Island, South Carolina. 40031


Sing For Freedom - The Story Of The Civil Rights Movement Through It's Songs. 40032


Wade In The Water 1: African American Spirituals: The Concert Tradition 40074


Wade In The Water 2: African American Congressional Singing: 19th Century Roots 40074


Wade In The Water 3: African American Gospel: Gospel: The Pioneering Composers 40074


Wade In The Water 4: African American Community Gospel: Gospel. 40075


Video Tape


A Salute To Leadbelly: Narratated by Pete Seeger with rare footage of Leadbelly "live" singing and playing. 52 minutes. $24.95 (outside USA add postage for 8 ounces).

 Central Sun Video. Box 3135. Boston, Virginia 22091


A Vision Shared, A Trubute to Woody Githrie and Leadbelly. 73 min., color (VHS-NTSC), $28.95. CBS Music Video Enterprises 19V-49006.

Some of Leadbelly's songs performed by Taj Mahal, Willie Nelson, Little Richard, Peter Seeger and Arlo Guthrie, and Sweet Honey In The Rock.


The Following videos are available directly from the Leadbelly Society, PO Box 6679. Ithaca, NY 14851:


Leadbelly Sings to School Children. 30 min. color (VHS-NTSC) for $24.95 ( add $5.00 for Postage outside U.S.A.)


Leadbelly: A seminar With Seven Specialists. 60 Min, color. (VHS-NTSC) got $39.95 ( add $5.0 for Postage outside U.S.A.)


The Legacy of Leadbelly, 30 min., color (VHS-NTSC) for $29.95 ( add $5.00 for postage outside the U.S.A.)




Supervising Producers: Anthony Seeger and Mat Walters


Recorded by Frederic Ramsey. Jr., New York City


Disc No. One, tracks 1-35 recorded September 27, 1948


Disc No. Two, tracks 1-18 recorded October 15, 1948


Disc No. Three, tracks 1-20 recorded October 15, 1948


Disc No. Four, tracks 1-3 recorded October 15, 1948


Disc No. Four, tracks 4-23 recorded November 5, 1948


Annotation: Frederic Ramsey, Jr., Moses Asch, Sean Killem, Anthony Seeger, Jeff Place and Matt Walters


Archival assistance: Center for Folklife Programs archivist Jeff Place assisted by Steve Weiss


Editorial assistance: Mary Monseur


Mastering: Alan Joshida, A & M

Mastering, Hollywood, CA


Design: Visual Dialogue


Photo Credits:


Slipcase and booklet cover: courtesy of Tiny Robinson


Slipcase, booklet, and CD back cover, 1937, courtesy of Lead Belly Society


CD cover, original cover photo form LP release of Lead Belly's Last Sessions by James Chapelle, 1949

CD booklet inside photos: courtesy of John Reynolds and Tiny Robinson




Folkways Records was founded by Moses Asch and Marian Distler in 1947 to document music, spoken word, instruction, and sounds from around the world. In the ensuing decades, new York City - based Folkways became one of the largest independent record labels in the world, reaching a total of nearly 2,00 albums that were always kept in print.

 The Smithsonian Institution acquired Folkways from Asch estate in 1967 to ensure that the sounds and genius of the artists would be preserved for future generations. All Folkways recordings are now available in high quality audio cassettes each packed in a special box along with the original LP liner notes.


Smithsonian/Folkways Recordings was formed to continue the Folkways tradition of releasing significant recordings with high-quality documentation. It produces new titles, reissues of historic recordings from Folkways and other record labels, and uncollaboration with other companies also produces instructional videotapes, recordings to accompany published books, and a variety of other educational projects.

The Smithsonian/Folkways, Cook, and Paredon Record labels are administered by the Smithsonian Institution's Center for Folklife Programs and Cultural Studies. They are one of the means through which the center supports the work of traditional artists and expresses its commitment to cultural diversity, education, and increased understanding.

You can find Smithsonian/Folkways Recordings at your local record store. Smithsonian/Folkways, Folkways, Cook, and Paredon recordings are all available through:

Smithsonian/Folkways Mail Order 414 Hungerford Drive, Site 444 Rockville MD 20850. Phone: + (301) 44             3-2314 Fax: + (301) 443-119


For a free catalogue, write to:

The Whole Folkways Catalogue

Smithsonian/Folkways Recordings

955 L'Enfant Plaza, Suite 2600

Smithsonian Institution

Washington, DC 20560

Phone: + (202) 287-32560

Fax: + (202) 287-3699 0


Bob Dylan performing at St. Lawrence University in upstate New York, 1963
Bob Dylan and The Band touring in Chicago in 1974. Photo by Jim Summaria.

1.Bob Dylan with Allen Ginsbergon the Rolling Thunder Revue, 1975; photo: Elsa Dorfman

2.Bob Dylan in Barcelona

                                              Bob Dylan

Dylan at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
Dylan at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

Birth name Robert Allen Zimmerman
Also known as Elston Gunn[1] Blind Boy Grunt,Lucky Wilbury/Boo Wilbury, Elmer Johnson, Sergei Petrov, Jack Frost, Jack Fate, Willow Scarlet, Robert Milkwood Thomas
Born May 24, 1941 (age 67)
Duluth, Minnesota, U.S.
Genre(s) Folk rock, rock,Country music,Blues
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter, author, poet,screenwriter, disc jockey
Instrument(s) Vocals, guitar, harmonica,keyboards, piano, bass
Years active 1959–present
Label(s) Columbia, Asylum
Associated acts The Band, Traveling Wilburys,Grateful Dead, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
Website www.bobdylan.com

Bob Dylan (born Robert Allen Zimmerman on May 24, 1941) is an American singer-songwriter, author, poet andpainter, who has been a major figure in popular music for five decades. Much of Dylan's most celebrated work dates from the 1960s, when he became an informal chronicler and a reluctant figurehead of American unrest. A number of his songs, such as "Blowin' in the Wind" and "The Times They Are a-Changin'", became anthems of both the civil rights movements[2] and of those opposed to the Vietnam War.[3] Dylan's last studio album, Modern Times, was released on August 29, 2006 and entered the U.S. album chart at number one; that year it was named Album of the Year by Rolling Stone magazine.[4] Dylan's new album, Together Through Life, will be released on April 28, 2009.

Dylan's early lyrics incorporated political, social, philosophical, and literary influences, defying existing pop musicconventions and appealing widely to the counterculture. While expanding and personalizing musical styles, he has explored many traditions of American song, from folk, blues and country to gospel, rock and roll and rockabilly to English,Scottish and Irish folk music, and even jazz and swing.[5] Dylan performs with the guitar, piano and harmonica. Backed by a changing line-up of musicians, he has toured steadily since the late 1980s on what has been dubbed the "Never Ending Tour". Although his accomplishments as performer and recording artist have been central to his career, his songwriting is generally regarded as his greatest contribution.[6]

Throughout his career, Dylan has won many awards for his songwriting, performing, and recording. His records have earned Grammy, Golden Globe, and Academy Awards, and he has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 2008, a "Cultural Pathway" was named in Dylan's honor in his birthplace, Duluth.[7][8] In 2008, he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize Special Citation for his "profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power."[9]

7 Responses to “Too Dark Too See? ‘Time Out Of Mind’ and Bob Dylan’s Late Trilogy”
  1. Tony’s still running Bob’s band. And he’s still a friend. And we still meet up now again, though now mostly in New Orleans.

    Love, C. danhartland, on January 14th, 2009 at 12:10 am Said:I was hoping you’d say it was TG - made sense when you said he was on bass. Garnier’s a legend, do tell him I said so. :PAlso, I have just realised who Vaquero is. I am very slow on the uptake. Foxessa, on January 14th, 2009 at 3:48 am Said:

  2. Tony’s one of the most valuable bass players ever. But he’s even more than that. He’s got the ability to make the front guy look good. I learned about this special quality of the number one second banana the first time one of these guys backed Vaquero in his band — it wasn’t Tony, the first time. He never looked that good ever. Has nothing to do with the front person’s actual talents. It’s just this indescribable quality of this #1 second guy to make the front person shine more clearly. I wonder if it is connected to their impecable musicianship plus complete at-homeness at who they are musicially and in the line-up of the other instruments, and they know how to pull it together? I don’t know. I don’t go yelling Vaquero’s name much, but the info is easily accessible if one wants it. :) He’s hard to leave out of anything I’m thinking about since we tend to be thinking of things together. :) Love, C. Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, All In One Room « @ Number 71, on February 16th, 2009 at 9:31 pm Said:
  3. [...] post on Bob Dylan’s late trilogy necessarily implied that there are stages of Dylan’s career [...]  The Mountains of the Past « @ Number 71, on March 30th, 2009 at 8:21 pm Said:
  4. [...] Here Lies Nothin’”? The first thing to note is that, of the records of the late trilogy, it shares more in swampy spirit with Time Out of Mind than “Love and Theft” or Modern
Life and career

Origins and musical beginnings

Robert Allen Zimmerman (Hebrew name Shabtai Zisel ben Avraham)[10][11] was born in St. Mary's Hospital on May 24, 1941, in Duluth, Minnesota,[12] and raised there and in Hibbing, Minnesota, on the Mesabi Iron Range west of Lake Superior. Research by Dylan’s biographers has shown that his paternal grandparents, Zigman and Anna Zimmerman, emigrated from Odessa in the Russian Empire (now Ukraine) to the United States following the antisemitic pogroms of 1905.[13] His mother's grandparents, Benjamin and Lybba Edelstein, were Lithuanian Jews who arrived in America in 1902.[13] In his autobiography Chronicles: Volume One, Dylan writes that his paternal grandmother's maiden name was Kyrgyz and her family originated from Istanbul.[14]

Dylan’s parents, Abram Zimmerman and Beatrice "Beatty" Stone, were part of the area's small but close-knit Jewish community. Robert Zimmerman lived in Duluth until age six, when his father was stricken with polio and the family returned to his mother's home town, Hibbing, where Zimmerman spent the rest of his childhood. Robert Zimmerman spent much of his youth listening to the radio—first to blues and country stations broadcasting from Shreveport, Louisiana and, later, to early rock and roll.[15] He formed several bands in high school: The Shadow Blasters was short lived, but his next, The Golden Chords,[16] lasted longer and played covers of popular songs. Their performance of Danny and the Juniors' "Rock and Roll Is Here to Stay" at their high school talent show was so loud that the principal cut the microphone off.[17] In his 1959 school yearbook, Robert Zimmerman listed as his ambition "To join Little Richard."[18] The same year, using the name Elston Gunnn, he performed two dates with Bobby Vee, playing piano and providing handclaps.[1][19][20]

Zimmerman moved to Minneapolis in September 1959 and enrolled at the University of Minnesota. His early focus on rock and roll gave way to an interest in American folk music. In 1985 Dylan explained the attraction that folk music had exerted on him: "The thing about rock'n'roll is that for me anyway it wasn't enough ... There were great catch-phrases and driving pulse rhythms ... but the songs weren't serious or didn't reflect life in a realistic way. I knew that when I got into folk music, it was more of a serious type of thing. The songs are filled with more despair, more sadness, more triumph, more faith in the supernatural, much deeper feelings."[21] He soon began to perform at the 10 O'clock Scholar, a coffee house a few blocks from campus, and became actively involved in the local Dinkytown folk music circuit.[22][23]

During his Dinkytown days, Zimmerman began introducing himself as "Bob Dylan".[16] In a 2004 interview, Dylan explained: "You're born, you know, the wrong names, wrong parents. I mean, that happens. You call yourself what you want to call yourself. This is the land of the free."[24] In his autobiography, Chronicles: Volume One, Dylan acknowledged that he was familiar with the poetry of Dylan Thomas.[25]

1960s: Busy Being Born

Relocation to New York and record deal

Dylan dropped out of college at the end of his freshman year. In January 1961, he moved to New York City, hoping to perform there and visit his musical idol Woody Guthrie, who was seriously ill with Huntington's Disease in Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital.[26] Guthrie had been a revelation to Dylan and was the biggest influence on his early performances. Dylan would later say of Guthrie's work, "You could listen to his songs and actually learn how to live."[23] As well as visiting Guthrie in the hospital, Dylan befriended Guthrie's acolyte Ramblin' Jack Elliott. Much of Guthrie's repertoire was actually channeled through Elliott, and Dylan paid tribute to Elliott inChronicles (2004).[27]

From February 1961, Dylan played at various clubs around Greenwich Village. In September, he eventually gained public recognition when Robert Shelton wrote a positive review in The New York Times of a show at Gerde's Folk City.[28] The same month Dylan played harmonica on folk singer Carolyn Hester's eponymous third album, which brought his talents to the attention of the album's producer John Hammond.[29] Hammond signed Dylan to Columbia Records in October. The performances on his first Columbia album, Bob Dylan (1962), consisted of familiar folk, blues and gospel material combined with two original compositions. The album made little impact, selling only 5,000 copies in its first year, just enough to break even.[30] Within Columbia Records, some referred to the singer as "Hammond's Folly" and suggested dropping his contract. Hammond defended Dylan vigorously, and Johnny Cash was also a powerful ally of Dylan.[30] While working for Columbia, Dylan also recorded several songs under the pseudonym Blind Boy Grunt, for Broadside Magazine, a folk music magazine and record label.[31]

Dylan made two important career moves in August 1962. He legally changed his name to Robert Dylan, and signed a management contract with Albert Grossman. Grossman remained Dylan's manager until 1970, and was notable both for his sometimes confrontational personality, and for the fiercely protective loyalty he displayed towards his principal client.[32] Dylan would subsequently describe Grossman thus: "He was kind of like a Colonel Tom Parker figure ... you could smell him coming."[23]Tensions between Grossman and John Hammond led to Hammond being replaced as the producer of Dylan's second album by the young African American jazz producer Tom Wilson.[33]

By the time Dylan's second album, The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, was released in May 1963, he had begun to make his name as both a singer and a songwriter. Many of the songs on this album were labelled protest songs, inspired partly by Guthrie and influenced byPete Seeger's passion for topical songs.[34] "Oxford Town", for example, was a sardonic account of James Meredith's ordeal as the first black student to risk enrollment at the University of Mississippi.[35]

His most famous song of the time, "Blowin' in the Wind", partially derived its melody from the traditional slave song "No More Auction Block", while its lyrics questioned the social and political status quo.[36] The song was widely recorded and became an international hit for Peter, Paul and Mary, setting a precedent for many other artists who would have hits with Dylan's songs. "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall" was based on the tune of the folk ballad "Lord Randall". With its veiled references to nuclear apocalypse, it gained even more resonance when the Cuban missile crisis developed only a few weeks after Dylan began performing it.[37]Like "Blowin' in the Wind", "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall" marked an important new direction in modern song writing, blending a stream-of-consciousness, imagist lyrical attack with a traditional folk form.[38]

While Dylan's topical songs solidified his early reputation, Freewheelin' also included a mixture of love songs and jokey, surreal talking blues. Humor was a large part of Dylan's persona,

[40] and the range of material on the album impressed many listeners, including The Beatles. George Harrison said,

"We just played it, just wore it out. The content of the song lyrics and just the attitude—it was incredibly original and wonderful."[41]

The rough edge of Dylan's singing was unsettling to some early listeners but an attraction to others. Describing the impact that Dylan had on she and her husband, Joyce Carol Oates wrote: "When we first heard this raw, very young, and seemingly untrained voice, frankly nasal, as if sandpaper could sing, the effect was dramatic and electrifying."[42]Many of his most famous early songs first reached the public through more immediately palatable versions by other performers, such as Joan Baez, who became Dylan's advocate, as well as his lover.[16] Baez was influential in bringing Dylan to national and international prominence by recording several of his early songs and inviting him onstage during her own concerts.[43]

Others who recorded and had hits with Dylan's songs in the early and mid-1960s included The Byrds, Sonny and Cher, The Hollies, Peter, Paul and Mary, Manfred Mann, and The Turtles. Most attempted to impart a pop feel and rhythm to the songs, while Dylan and Baez performed them mostly as sparse folk pieces. The cover versions became so ubiquitous that CBS started to promote him with the tag "Nobody Sings Dylan Like Dylan."[44]

"Mixed Up Confusion", recorded during the Freewheelin' sessions with a backing band, was released as a single and then quickly withdrawn. In contrast to the mostly solo acoustic performances on the album, the single showed a willingness to experiment with a rockabilly sound. Cameron Crowe described it as "a fascinating look at a folk artist with his mind wandering towards Elvis Presley and Sun Records."[45]

Protest and Another Side

In May 1963, Dylan's political profile was raised when he walked out of The Ed Sullivan Show. During rehearsals, Dylan had been informed by CBS Television's "head of program practices" that the song he was planning to perform, "Talkin' John Birch Society Blues", was potentially libelous to the John Birch Society. Rather than comply with the censorship, Dylan refused to appear on the program.[46]

By this time, Dylan and Baez were both prominent in the civil rights movement, singing together at the March on Washington on August 28, 1963.[47] Dylan's third album, The Times They Are a-Changin', reflected a more politicized and cynical Dylan.[48] The songs often took as their subject matter contemporary, real life stories, with "Only A Pawn In Their Game" addressing the murder of civil rights worker Medgar Evers; and the Brechtian "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll" the death of black hotel barmaid Hattie Carroll, at the hands of young white socialite William Zantzinger.[49] On a more general theme, "Ballad of Hollis Brown" and "North Country Blues" address the despair engendered by the breakdown of farming and mining communities. This political material was accompanied by two personal love songs, "Boots of Spanish Leather" and "One Too Many Mornings".[50]

By the end of 1963, Dylan felt both manipulated and constrained by the folk and protest movements.[51] These tensions were publicly displayed when, accepting the "Tom Paine Award" from the National Emergency Civil Liberties Committeeshortly after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, a drunken, rambling Dylan questioned the role of the committee, insulted its members as old and balding, and claimed to see something of himself (and of every man) in Kennedy's alleged assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald.[52]

Another Side of Bob Dylan, recorded on a single June evening in 1964,[16] had a lighter mood than its predecessor. The surreal, humorous Dylan reemerged on "I Shall Be Free #10" and "Motorpsycho Nightmare". "Spanish Harlem Incident" and "To Ramona" are romantic and passionate love songs, while "Black Crow Blues" and "I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met)" suggest the rock and roll soon to dominate Dylan's music. "It Ain't Me Babe", on the surface a song about spurned love, has been described as a rejection of the role his reputation had thrust at him.[53] His newest direction was signaled by two lengthy songs: theimpressionistic "Chimes of Freedom", which sets elements of social commentary against a denser metaphorical landscape in a style later characterized by Allen Ginsberg as "chains of flashing images,"[54] and "My Back Pages", which attacks the simplistic and arch seriousness of his own earlier topical songs and seems to predict the backlash he was about to encounter from his former champions as he took a new direction.[55]

In the latter half of 1964 and 1965, Dylan’s appearance and musical style changed rapidly, as he made his move from leading contemporary songwriter of the folk scene to Folk-Rock pop-music star. His scruffy jeans and work shirts were replaced by aCarnaby Street wardrobe, sunglasses day or night, and pointy "Beatle boots". A London reporter wrote: "Hair that would set the teeth of a comb on edge. A loud shirt that would dim the neon lights of Leicester Square. He looks like an undernourished cockatoo."[56] Dylan also began to spar in increasingly surreal ways with his interviewers. Appearing on the Les Crane TV show and asked about a movie he was planning to make, he told Crane it would be a cowboy horror movie. Asked if he played the cowboy, Dylan replied, "No, I play my mother."[57]

Going electric

His March 1965 album Bringing It All Back Home was yet another stylistic leap.[58] The album featured his first recordings made with electric instruments. The first single, "Subterranean Homesick Blues", owed much to Chuck Berry's "Too Much Monkey Business" and was provided with an early music video courtesy of D. A. Pennebaker's cinéma vérité presentation of Dylan's 1965 tour of England, Dont Look Back.[59] Its free association lyrics both harked back to the manic energy of Beat poetry and were a forerunner of rap and hip-hop.[60]

By contrast, the B side of the album was interpreted by some folk fans as a conciliatory gesture: four long songs where Dylan accompanied himself on acoustic guitar and harmonica.[61] "Mr. Tambourine Man" had already been a hit for The Byrds, and would become one of his best known songs; while "It's All Over Now Baby Blue" and "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" would be acclaimed as two of Dylan's most important compositions.[61][62]

In the summer of 1965, as the headliner at the Newport Folk Festival, Dylan performed his first electric set since his high school days with a pickup group drawn mostly from the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, featuring Mike Bloomfield (guitar), Sam Lay (drums) and Jerome Arnold (bass), plus Al Kooper (organ) and Barry Goldberg(piano).[63] Dylan had appeared at Newport in 1963 and 1964, but in 1965 Dylan, met with a mix of cheering and booing, left the stage after only three songs. As one version of the legend has it, the boos were from the outraged folk fans whom Dylan had alienated by appearing, unexpectedly, with an electric guitar. An alternative account claims audience members were merely upset by poor sound quality and a surprisingly short set.[64]

Dylan's 1965 Newport performance provoked an outraged response from the folk music establishment.[65] Ewan MacColl wrote in Sing Out!, "Our traditional songs and ballads are the creations of extraordinarily talented artists working inside traditions formulated over time ... But what of Bobby Dylan? ... a youth of mediocre talent. Only a non-critical audience, nourished on the watery pap of pop music could have fallen for such tenth-rate drivel."[66] On July 29, just four days after his controversial performance at Newport, Dylan was back in the studio in New York, recording "Positively 4th Street". The lyrics teemed with images of vengeance and paranoia,[67] and it was widely interpreted as Dylan's put-down of former friends from the folk community—friends he had known in the clubs along West 4th Street.[68]

Bob Dylan in the early days

With Joan Baez during the Civil Rights March in Washington, D.C., August 28, 1963

Just in case you’ve missed it:  some feller named Bob Dylan is going to be playing down at Riverfest Amphitheatre tonight.  Maybe you heard of him?

We all know Bob’s music, but if you decipher the mumble he’s actually pretty dadgum funny.  Here’s a bunch of Bob’s jokes from his XM radio show (thanks to the folks at

DemocraticUnderground.com for the list. )

 ”I got a friend who’s learning to become a ballerina. She’s improving by leaps and bounds.”

“Getting married’s a lot like getting into a tub of hot water. After you get used to it, it ain’t so hot.” “I once had a cross-eyed teacher who couldn’t control his pupils.” “You know, I sleep at the edge of the bed. It doesn’t take long for me to drop off.” “Two dogs talking. One says to the other: `You’re crazy. You ought to go see a psychiatrist.’ The other dog says: `I’d love to, but I’m not allowed on the couch.”‘ “I was having dinner with our announcer, Pierre Mancini. The only difference between Pierre Mancini and a canoe is that sometimes a canoe will tip.” “Take our engineer, Tex Carbone. He’s so laid back it takes him two hours to watch `60 Minutes.’ I’m the complete opposite. I can make Minute Rice in 30 seconds.” “I just came back from a pleasure trip. Took my mother-in-law to the airport.” “What do you do if you miss your mother-in-law? Reload, and try again.” “All musicians get girls, but a guitarist always has his pick.” “What’s the difference between a drummer and a savings bond? Eventually, a savings bond will mature and earn money.” “They got a new `dial-a-prayer’ for atheists. You call it, and nobody answers.” “A lot of people don’t celebrate Christmas. Like my buddy Dexter Quinn. He’s an atheist. You know what his favorite Christmas movie is? `Coincidence on 34th Street.”‘ “If diamonds are a girl’s best friend, why do so many girls get mad when you want to go to the ballpark? You tell me.” “I gave a bald-headed friend of mine a comb. You know what he said to me? `I’ll never part with it.”‘ “My friend’s wife is a really bad cook. I broke a tooth on her coffee.” “I was at a restaurant. I said to the waiter, `There’s a needle in my soup.’ He said, `I’m very sorry. It’s a typographical error. It’s supposed to be a noodle.”‘ “A cat has nine lives, but a bullfrog croaks every day.” “If you think the sun is too hot, just remember, you don’t have to shovel it.” “In Sweden, they have a system of higher taxes, but welfare for everyone. They call it the Swedish model. Well, I could go for a Swedish model right about now.” “Here’s a tip on how you can save your money. Use somebody else’s.” “He opened a restaurant on the moon. It had great food, people say, but no atmosphere.” “My friend was happily married for 10 years. Too bad he was married for 30.” “Every day in the United States, 200 new jail cells are constructed. I hope we can keep up!” “A giraffe can go a long time without water. But he wants to see a menu right away.” “I was having dinner the other day when the waiter came over. I said to him, `There’s a fly in my soup.’ And he said, `That’s very possible. The cook used to be a tailor.”‘ “Married men don’t live longer. It just seems longer.”

Too Dark Too See? ‘Time Out Of Mind’ and Bob Dylan’s Late Trilogy


Over at the Colour blog last month, Matt was ruminating about Blood On The Tracks, Bob Dylan’s 1975 masterpiece of relationship breakdown and betrayal. He was thinking of it as a great winter album, and this is undoubtedly true - it is frosty and bitter, brilliantly monochrome. But Dylan out-wintered himself on 1997’s Time Out Of Mind, which appropriately enough was the first entry in his great late trilogy.

In a New York Times  interview to mark the album’s release, Dylan said that, “A lot of the songs were written after the sun went down.” Time Out Of Mind is very much an album of the dark, dealing with death but more broadly with the diminution of power, the dimming of the light. Dylan had once boasted, on 1988’s Silvio, that, “I can tell you fancy, I can tell you plain”;  in the 1963 song When The Ship Comes In, he shouts from the bow that his enemies’ days are numbered, and they are drowned in the tide (like Phaoroah’s tribe) by the sheer force of his rhetoric.

Yet Time Out Of Mind inaugurated a new Dylan, one less certain of his own powers, and indeed of the possibility of transformation in general. This lack of faith in the new is principally evidenced through the extensive use of quotation across the late trilogy, culminating in 2006’s Modern Times, in which whole tracts of old and forgotten songs are resurrected to address the new age (though controversially the CD declares “all songs written by Bob Dylan”). The middle - and pivotal - work in the trilogy, “Love and Theft”‘, puts this process front and centre in its very title (it is the only album in the canon to benefit from quotation marks).

On that album’s Mississippi, Dylan sings, ‘All my powers of expression, and thoughts so sublime, could never do you justice, in reason or rhyme.’ Indeed, at times the new Dylan falls back on cliché to express the inexpressible: Spirit on the Water, fromModern Times, is a seven minute epic of aphorism, piling old saw upon old saw until their cumulative weight adds up to something like the truth cliché once represented (”from East to West, ever since the world began”); Dylan “can’t believe these things would ever fade from your mind.” But this is hardly the figure of the 1960s, or even the 1970s, he of brash overconfidence and iconoclastic verve. This is another Dylan, looking for truth with the help of others; there’s a new humility in him.

The reasons for this - or the crises which led to it - are explored on Time Out Of Mind, and this bleak honesty is what makes it so thoroughly a winter album - it not just evokes coldness, but has let it sink into its bones. During its centrepiece, the 16-minute ramble across the peaks of Dylan’s psyche which is the song Highlands, the singer notices young couples relaxing in a park: “Well, I’d trade places with any of them / In a minute, if I could,” he confides, admitting to the disappointment, the limitations, of old age. And on Not Dark Yet, one of Dylan’s very bleakest songs, we hear that “my sense of humanity has gone down the drain.” Dylan’s alienation is total, and he is left tryin’ to get to heaven before they close the door.

Michael Gray, in his superlative and idiosyncratic ‘Bob Dylan Encyclopedia’, argues that all this darkness, this angsty confessional, isn’t really the stuff of Dylan: that, in its use of the folk idiom and country blues, “Love and Theft”, the album which followed it in 2001, is the more important, the more Dylanesque, record. This is persuasive, and certainly Time Out Of Mind marks something of a break with Dylans past and future. But in its sense of alienation, it develops a new relationship with time. Dylan is no longer at its forward edge. As Eyolf Østrem has beautifully put it,Highlands (and, I’d argue, the album as a whole) “succeeds, not by trying to stop [time] in the tracks or hold it back, but by realizing that time goes on regardless of everything, and by tapping into its flow and disregarding it, instead of fighting it.”Contra Gray, Time Out Mind (and now we see that title as a typically Dylanesque pun) paves the way for the playful orneriness of “Love and Theft”: Dylan is only able to start fully inhabiting this old man persona because, in 1997, he put his hands up and surrendered on the path to decrepitude.

This persistence of vision is evidenced by Make You Feel My Love, a minor song fromTime Out of Mind which nevertheless performs exactly the same trick as a song separated from it by more than a decade, Spirit on the Water. As I’ve suggested, that song uses the power of cliché, of the cumulative power of our stock phrases.  Consider the first two verses of Make You Feel My Love:

When the rain Is blowing in your face And the whole world Is on your case
I could offer you A warm embrace To make you feel my love, When the evening shadows
And the stars appear And there is no one there To dry your tears I could hold you
For a million yearsTo make you feel my love

The rain falls, the whole world’s against you, it’s dark outside and there are tears on your face. But it’s OK, because Bob loves you. This is surely a first stab at raiding the wordhoard: here Dylan reclaims our most basic idioms, in an admission that we can learn from the past rather than constantly overturn it - and in doing so as he explicity admits to his diminishing powers.

It is important to note, though, how Dylan’s delivery serves this purpose. A banality spoken blandly will merely bore - invention is the stuff of profundity. In times past electrifying images poured out of Dylan at a rate he called ‘vomitific’. The guilty undertaker sighed, the lonesome organ grinder cried; the silver saxophones urged refusal. The new Dylan, back in time to a self that existed before Blonde on Blonde(he was so much older then, and so much younger now), is interested more in recontextualising older images, more venerable words. It is the way he sings them which invests them with something beyond their everyday familiarity.

Christopher Ricks has called it Dylan’s “exquisite precision of voice,” and this is a good way of thinking about the ways in which Dylan chooses to sing a line: what he is looking for is the means in melody and rhythm better to communicate what he has written. This duality is the source of his late songs’ substance: his voice is shot, perhaps, but its subtelty is greater than ever. (We might compare Dylan’s vocal performance on Make You Feel My Love with that of teen soulster Adele’s on her debut album ‘19'; creamy and technically accomplished, it fails somhow to find this space in the inherited phrase which lies apart from the platitude.)

“My cruel weapons have been put on the shelf,” Dylan sings on Workingman’s Blues #2, the most important song from Modern Times. But this isn’t the whole story, we know, since Dylan’s late period is actually a veritable treasure trove of wisdom and comment: far from hanging up the burden of his pen, Dylan has merely employed it in new ways. And on “Love and Theft”, we get closer to the truth: “Summer days, summer nights are gone - I know a place where there’s still somethin’ going on.” IfTime Out of Mind was the start of Bob Dylan’s winter, he soon found a new way to keep warm.

Modern Times (2006)

Modern Times (2006)

"Love and Theft" (2001)

"Love and Theft" (2001)

Time Out Of Mind

Time Out Of Mind (1997)

Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde
In July 1965, Dylan released the single "Like a Rolling Stone", which peaked at #2 in the U.S. and at #4 in the UK charts. At over six minutes in length, the song has been widely credited with altering attitudes about what a pop single could convey. Bruce Springsteen said that on first hearing the single, "that snare shot sounded like somebody'd kicked open the door to your mind".[70] In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine listed it at number one on its list of "The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time".[69] The song also opened Dylan's next album, Highway 61 Revisited, titled after the road that led from Dylan's native Minnesota to the musical hotbed of New Orleans.[71] The songs were in the same vein as the hit single, flavored by Mike Bloomfield's blues guitar, a rhythm section, and emphasis on Al Kooper's organ riffs. "Desolation Row" offers the sole exception, as Dylan surreally references many figures of Western culture over the course of its eleven and a half minutes.[72]

In support of the record, Dylan was booked for two U.S. concerts and set about assembling a band. Mike Bloomfield was unwilling to leave the Butterfield Band, so Dylan mixed Al Kooper and Harvey Brooks from his studio crew with bar-band stalwarts Robbie Robertson and Levon Helm, best known at the time for being part of Ronnie Hawkins's backing band The Hawks.[73] On August 28 at Forest Hills Tennis Stadium, the group was heckled by an audience still annoyed by Dylan's electric sound. The band's reception on September 3 at the Hollywood Bowl was more favorable.[74]

While Dylan and the Hawks met increasingly receptive audiences on tour, their studio efforts floundered. Producer Bob Johnston persuaded Dylan to record in Nashvillein February 1966, and surrounded him with a cadre of top-notch session men. At Dylan's insistence, Robertson and Kooper came down from New York City to play on the sessions.[75] The Nashville sessions produced the double-album Blonde on Blonde (1966), featuring what Dylan later called "that thin wild mercury sound".[76] Al Kooper described the album as "taking two cultures and smashing them together with a huge explosion": the musical world of Nashville and the world of the "quintessential New York hipster" Bob Dylan.[77]On November 22, 1965, Dylan secretly married 25-year-old former model Sara Lownds.[16][78] Some of Dylan’s friends (including Ramblin' Jack Elliott) claim that, in conversation immediately after the event, Dylan denied that he was married.[78] Journalist Nora Ephron first made the news public in the New York Post in February 1966 with the headline “Hush! Bob Dylan is wed.”[79]Dylan undertook a world tour of Australia and Europe in the spring of 1966. Each show was split into two parts. Dylan performed solo during the first half, accompanying himself on acoustic guitar and harmonica. In the second half, backed by the Hawks, he played high voltage electric music. This contrast provoked many fans, who jeered and slow handclapped.[80] The tour culminated in a famously raucous confrontation between Dylan and his audience at the Manchester Free Trade Hall in England.[81] At the climax of the concert, one fan, angry with Dylan's electric sound, shouted: "Judas!" to which Dylan responded, "I don't believe you ... You're a liar!" He then turned to the band and, just within earshot of the microphone, said "Play it fucking loud."[82] They then launched into the last song of the night with gusto—"Like a Rolling Stone".

Motorcycle accident and reclusion After his European tour, Dylan returned to New York, but the pressures on him continued to increase. ABC Television had paid an advance for a TV show they could screen.[83] His publisher, Macmillan, was demanding a finished manuscript of the poem/novel Tarantula. Manager Albert Grossman had already scheduled an extensive concert tour for that summer and fall. On July 29, 1966, the brakes on Dylan's Triumph 500 motorcycle locked on a road near his home in Woodstock, New York, throwing him to the ground. Though the extent of his injuries were never fully disclosed, Dylan said that he broke several vertebrae in his neck.[84] Mystery still surrounds the circumstances of the accident[85]since no ambulance was called to the scene and Dylan was not hospitalized.[84] Commenting on the significance of the crash, Dylan expressed some bitterness at the way he had been treated: "When I had that motorcycle accident ... I woke up and caught my senses, I realized that I was just workin' for all these leeches. And I didn't want to do that. Plus, I had a family and I just wanted to see my kids."[86] Howard Sounes' Dylan biography, Down The Highway, concludes that the crash offered Dylan the much-needed chance to escape from the pressures that had built up around him.[84] In the wake of his accident, Dylan withdrew from the public and, apart from a few select appearances, did not tour again for eight years.[85]Once Dylan was well enough to resume creative work, he began editing film footage of his 1966 tour for Eat the Document, a rarely exhibited follow-up to Dont Look Back. A rough-cut was shown to ABC Television and was promptly rejected as incomprehensible to a mainstream audience.[87] In 1967 he began recording music with the Hawks at his home and in the basement of the Hawks' nearby house, called "Big Pink".[88] These songs, initially compiled as demos for other artists to record, provided hit singles for Julie Driscoll ("This Wheel's on Fire"), The Byrds ("You Ain't Goin' Nowhere", "Nothing Was Delivered"), and Manfred Mann ("Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)"). Columbia belatedly released selections from them in 1975 as The Basement Tapes. Over the years, more and more of the songs recorded by Dylan and his band in 1967 appeared on various bootleg recordings, culminating in a five-CD bootleg set titled The Genuine Basement Tapes, containing 107 songs and alternate takes.[89] In the coming months, the Hawks recorded the album Music from Big Pink using songs they first worked on in their basement in Woodstock, and renamed themselves The Band,[90] thus beginning a long and successful recording and performing career of their own.

In October and November 1967, Dylan returned to Nashville.[91] Back in the recording studio after a 19-month break, he was accompanied only by Charlie McCoy on bass,[92] Kenny Buttrey on drums,[93] and Pete Drake on steel guitar.[94] The result was John Wesley Harding, a quiet, contemplative record of shorter songs, set in a landscape that drew on both the American West and the Bible. The sparse structure and instrumentation, coupled with lyrics that took the Judeo-Christian tradition seriously, marked a departure not only from Dylan's own work but from the escalating psychedelic fervor of the 1960s musical culture.[95] It included "All Along the Watchtower", with lyrics derived from the Book of Isaiah (21:5–9). The song was later recorded by Jimi Hendrix, whose version Dylan himself would later acknowledge as definitive.[21]Woody Guthrie died on October 3, 1967, and Dylan made his first live appearance in twenty months at a Guthrie memorial concert held at Carnegie Hall on January 20, 1968.[96] Dylan's next release, Nashville Skyline (1969), was virtually a mainstream country record featuring instrumental backing by Nashville musicians, a mellow-voiced Dylan, a duet with Johnny Cash, and the hit single "Lay Lady Lay", which had been originally written for the Midnight Cowboy soundtrack, but was not submitted in time to make the final cut.[98] In May 1969, Dylan appeared on the first episode of Johnny Cash's new television show, duetting with Cash on "Girl from the North Country", "It Ain't Me Babe" and "Living the Blues". Dylan next travelled to England to top the bill at the Isle of Wight rock festival on August 31, 1969, after rejecting overtures to appear at the Woodstock Festival far closer to his home.[99]

1970s: Shelter From The Storm In the early 1970s critics charged Dylan's output was of varied and unpredictable quality. Rolling Stone magazine writer and Dylan loyalist Greil Marcus notoriously asked "What is this shit?" upon first listening to 1970's Self Portrait.[100][101] In general, Self Portrait, a double LP including few original songs, was poorly received.[16] Later that year, Dylan released New Morning, which some considered a return to form. In the same year Dylan co-wrote "I'd Have You Anytime", "Nowhere to Go" (also known as "When Everybody Comes to Town"), and "If Not For You" with George Harrison. "I'd Have You Anytime" and "If Not For You" appeared on the ex-Beatle's triple albumAll Things Must Pass. Harrison and Dylan recorded "If Not For You" together for Harrison's 1970 masterpiece All Things Must Pass with Dylan on harmonica. Future Yes drummer Alan White stated that John Lennon also played on "If Not For You" on the recording for All Things Must Pass. Dylan's surprise appearance at Harrison's 1971Concert for Bangladesh attracted much media coverage, reflecting that Dylan's live appearances had become rare.[102] Between March 16 and 19, 1971, Dylan reserved three days at Blue Rock Studios, a small studio in New York's Greenwich Village. These sessions resulted in one single, "Watching The River Flow", and a new recording of "When I Paint My Masterpiece". [50] On November 4, 1971 Dylan recorded "George Jackson" which he released a week later.[50] For many, the single was a surprising return to protest material, mourning the killing of Black Panther George Jackson in San Quentin Prisonthat summer.[103] In 1972 Dylan signed onto Sam Peckinpah's film Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, providing songs and backing music for the movie, and playing the role of "Alias", a member of Billy's gang who had some basis in history.[104] Despite the film's failure at the box office, the song "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" has proven its durability as one of Dylan's most extensively covered songs. [105][106]

Return to touring

Dylan began 1973 by signing with a new record label, David Geffen's Asylum Records, when his contract with Columbia Recordsexpired. On his next album, Planet Waves, he used The Band as backing group, while rehearsing for a major tour. The album included two versions of "Forever Young", which became one of his most popular songs.[107] Christopher Ricks has connected the chorus of this song with John Keats's "Ode on a Grecian Urn", which contains the line "For ever panting, and for ever young."[108] As one critic described it, the song projected "something hymnal and heartfelt that spoke of the father in Dylan",[109] and Dylan himself commented: "I wrote it thinking about one of my boys and not wanting to be too sentimental."[110] Biographer Howard Sounes noted that Jakob Dylan believed the song was about him.[107] Columbia Records simultaneously released Dylan, a haphazard collection of studio outtakes (almost exclusively cover songs), which was widely interpreted as a churlish response to Dylan's signing with a rival record label.[111] In January 1974 Dylan and The Bandembarked on their high-profile, coast-to-coast North American tour. A live double album of the tour, Before the Flood, was released on Asylum Records. After the tour, Dylan and his wife became publicly estranged. He filled a small red notebook with songs about relationships and ruptures, and quickly recorded a new album entitled Blood on the Tracks in September 1974.[112]Dylan delayed the album's release, however, and re-recorded half of the songs at Sound 80 Studios in Minneapolis with production assistance from his brother David Zimmerman.[113] During this time, Dylan returned to Columbia Records which eventually reissued his Asylum albums. Released in early 1975, Blood on the Tracks received mixed reviews. In the NME, Nick Kent described "the accompaniments [as] often so trashy they sound like mere practise takes."[114] In Rolling Stone, reviewer Jon Landauwrote that "the record has been made with typical shoddiness."[115] However, over the years critics have come to see it as one of Dylan's greatest achievements, perhaps the only serious rival to his mid-60s trilogy of albums. In Salon.com, Bill Wyman wrote: "Blood on the Tracks is his only flawless album and his best produced; the songs, each of them, are constructed in disciplined fashion. It is his kindest album and most dismayed, and seems in hindsight to have achieved a sublime balance between the logorrhea-plagued excesses of his mid-'60s output and the self-consciously simple compositions of his post-accident years."[116] NovelistRick Moody called it "the truest, most honest account of a love affair from tip to stern ever put down on magnetic tape."[117] After the tour, Dylan and his wife became publicly estranged. He filled a small red notebook with songs about relationships and ruptures, and quickly recorded a new album entitled Blood on the Tracks in September 1974.[112]Dylan delayed the album's release, however, and re-recorded half of the songs at Sound 80 Studios in Minneapolis with production assistance from his brother David Zimmerman.[113] During this time, Dylan returned to Columbia Records which eventually reissued his Asylum albums. Released in early 1975, Blood on the Tracks received mixed reviews. In the NME, Nick Kent described "the accompaniments [as] often so trashy they sound like mere practise takes."[114] In Rolling Stone, reviewer Jon Landauwrote that "the record has been made with typical shoddiness."[115] However, over the years critics have come to see it as one of Dylan's greatest achievements, perhaps the only serious rival to his mid-60s trilogy of albums. In Salon.com, Bill Wyman wrote: "Blood on the Tracks is his only flawless album and his best produced; the songs, each of them, are constructed in disciplined fashion. It is his kindest album and most dismayed, and seems in hindsight to have achieved a sublime balance between the logorrhea-plagued excesses of his mid-'60s output and the self-consciously simple compositions of his post-accident years."[116] NovelistRick Moody called it "the truest, most honest account of a love affair from tip to stern ever put down on magnetic tape."[117] That summer Dylan wrote his first successful "protest" song in twelve years, championing the cause of boxer  Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, who had been imprisoned for a triple murder in Paterson, New Jersey. After visiting Carter in jail, Dylan wrote "Hurricane", presenting the case for Carter's innocence. Despite its 8:32 minute length, the song was released as a single, peaking at #33 on the U.S. Billboard Chart, and performed at every 1975 date of Dylan's next tour, the Rolling Thunder Revue.[118] The tour was a varied evening of entertainment featuring many performers drawn from the resurgent Greenwich Village folk scene, including T-Bone Burnett,Ramblin' Jack Elliott, David Mansfield, Roger McGuinn, Mick Ronson, Joan Baez, and violinist Scarlet Rivera, whom Dylan discovered while she was walking down the street, her violin case hanging on her back.[119] Allen Ginsberg accompanied the troupe, staging scenes for the film Dylan was simultaneously shooting. Sam Shepard was initially hired to write the film's screenplay, but ended up accompanying the tour as informal chronicler.[120] Running through late 1975 and again through early 1976, the tour encompassed the release of the album Desire, with many of Dylan's new songs featuring an almost travelogue-like narrative style, showing the influence of his new collaborator, playwrightJacques Levy.[121][122] The spring 1976 half of the tour was documented by a TV concert special, Hard Rain, and the LP Hard Rain; no concert album from the better-received and better-known opening half of the tour was released until 2002's Live 1975.[123] The fall 1975 tour with the Revue also provided the backdrop to Dylan's nearly four-hour film Renaldo and Clara, a sprawling and improvised narrative, mixed with concert footage and reminiscences. Released in 1978, the movie received generally poor, sometimes scathing, reviews and had a very brief theatrical run.[124][125] Later in that year, Dylan allowed a two-hour edit, dominated by the concert performances, to be more widely released.[126] In November 1976 Dylan appeared at The Band's "farewell" concert, along with other guests including Joni Mitchell, Muddy Waters, Van Morrison and Neil Young. Martin Scorsese's acclaimed cinematic chronicle of this show, The Last Waltz, was released in 1978 and included about half of Dylan's set.[127] In 1976, Dylan also wrote and duetted on the song "Sign Language" for Eric Clapton's No Reason To Cry[128]. Dylan's 1978 album Street-Legal, recorded with a large, pop-rock band, complete with female backing vocalists, was lyrically one of his more complex and cohesive.[129]It suffered, however, from a poor sound mix (attributed to his studio recording practices),[130] submerging much of its instrumentation until its remastered CD release nearly a quarter century later.

Dylan performs at a 1996 concert in Stockholm

1990s: Not Dark Yet

Dylan's 1990s began with Under the Red Sky (1990), an about-face from the serious Oh Mercy. The album contained several apparently simple songs, including "Under the Red Sky" and "Wiggle Wiggle". The album was dedicated to "Gabby Goo Goo"; this was later explained as a nickname for the daughter of Dylan and Carolyn Dennis, Desiree Gabrielle Dennis-Dylan, who was four at that time.[162] Sidemen on the album included George Harrison, Slash from Guns N' Roses, David Crosby,Bruce Hornsby, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Elton John. Despite the stellar line-up, the record received bad reviews and sold poorly. Dylan did not make another studio album of new songs for seven years.[163]

In 1991, Dylan was honored by the recording industry with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.[164] The event coincided with the start of the Gulf War againstSaddam Hussein, and Dylan performed his song "Masters of War".[165] Dylan then made a short speech which startled some of the audience. [165]

The next few years saw Dylan returning to his roots with two albums covering old folk and blues numbers: Good as I Been to You (1992) and World Gone Wrong (1993), featuring interpretations and acoustic guitar work. Many critics and fans commented on the quiet beauty of the song "Lone Pilgrim",[166] penned by a 19th century teacher and sung by Dylan with a haunting reverence. An exception to this rootsy mood came in Dylan's 1991 songwriting collaboration with Michael Bolton; the resulting song "Steel Bars", was released on Bolton's album Time, Love & Tenderness. In November 1994 Dylan recorded two live shows for MTV Unplugged. He claimed his wish to perform a set of traditional songs for the show was overruled by Sony executives who insisted on a greatest hits package.[167] The album produced from it, MTV Unplugged, included "John Brown", an unreleased 1963 song detailing the ravages of both war and jingoism.

With a collection of songs reportedly written while snowed-in on his Minnesota ranch,[168] Dylan booked recording time with Daniel Lanois at Miami's Criteria Studios in January 1997. The subsequent recording sessions were, by some accounts, fraught with musical tension.[169] Late that spring, before the album's release, Dylan was hospitalized with a life-threatening heart infection,pericarditis, brought on by histoplasmosis. His scheduled European tour was cancelled, but Dylan made a speedy recovery and left the hospital saying, "I really thought I'd be seeing Elvis soon."[170] He was back on the road by midsummer, and in early fall performed before Pope John Paul II at the World Eucharistic Conference in Bologna, Italy. The Pope treated the audience of 200,000 people to a sermon based on Dylan's lyric "Blowin' in the Wind".[171]

September saw the release of the new Lanois-produced album, Time Out of Mind. With its bitter assessment of love and morbid ruminations, Dylan's first collection of original songs in seven years was highly acclaimed. Rolling Stone said "Mortality bears down hard, while shots of gallows humor ring out."[172] This collection of complex songs won him his first solo "Album of the Year" Grammy Award (he was one of numerous performers on The Concert for Bangladesh, the 1972 winner). The love song "Make You Feel My Love" became a number one country hit for Garth Brooks.[16]

In December 1997 U.S. President Bill Clinton presented Dylan with a Kennedy Center Honor in the East Room of the White House, paying this tribute: "He probably had more impact on people of my generation than any other creative artist. His voice and lyrics haven't always been easy on the ear, but throughout his career Bob Dylan has never aimed to please. He's disturbed the peace and discomforted the powerful."[173]

Born-again period

1980s: Trust Yourself

n the fall of 1980 Dylan briefly resumed touring for a series of concerts billed as "A Musical Retrospective", where he restored several of his popular 1960s songs to the repertoire. Shot of Love, recorded the next spring, featured Dylan's first secular compositions in more than two years, mixed with explicitly Christian songs. The haunting "Every Grain of Sand" reminded some critics of William Blake’s verses.[140]

In the 1980s the quality of Dylan's recorded work varied, from the well-regarded Infidels in 1983 to the panned Down in the Groove in 1988. Critics such as Michael Gray condemned Dylan's 1980s albums both for showing an extraordinary carelessness in the studio and for failing to release his best songs.[141] The Infidels recording sessions, for example, produced several notable songs that Dylan left off the album. Most well regarded of these were "Blind Willie McTell" (a tribute to the dead blues singer and an evocation of African American history[142]), "Foot of Pride" and "Lord Protect My Child".[143] These songs were later released on The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961-1991.

Between July 1984 and March 1985, Dylan recorded his next studio album, Empire Burlesque.[144] Arthur Baker, who had remixed hits for Bruce Springsteen and Cyndi Lauper, was asked to engineer and mix the album. Baker has said he felt he was hired to make Dylan's album sound "a little bit more contemporary".[144]

Dylan sang on USA for Africa's famine relief fundraising single "We Are the World". On July 13, 1985, he appeared at the climax at the Live Aid concert at JFK Stadium, Philadelphia. Backed by Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood, Dylan performed a ragged version of "Hollis Brown", his ballad of rural poverty, and then said to the worldwide audience exceeding one billion people: "I hope that some of the money ... maybe they can just take a little bit of it, maybe ... one or two million, maybe ... and use it to pay the mortgages on some of the farms and, the farmers here, owe to the banks."[145] His remarks were widely criticized as inappropriate, but they did inspire Willie Nelson to organize a series of events, Farm Aid, to benefit debt-ridden American farmers.[146]

In April 1986, Dylan made a foray into the world of rap music when he overdubbed vocals on one verse of "Street Rock", recorded by rap star Kurtis Blow. The collaboration was conceived by veteran songwriter/producer Wayne K. Garfield with support from former Dylan back-up singer Debra Byrd and was released on Blow's album Kingdom Blow.[147] In July 1986 Dylan released Knocked Out Loaded, an album containing three cover songs (by Little Junior Parker, Kris Kristofferson and the traditional gospel hymn "Precious Memories"), three collaborations with other writers (Tom Petty, Sam Shepard and Carole Bayer Sager), and two solo compositions by Dylan. The album received mainly negative reviews; Rolling Stone called it "a depressing affair",[148] and it was the first Dylan album since Freewheelin' (1963) to fail to make the Top 50.[149] Since then, some critics have called the eleven-minute epic that Dylan co-wrote with Sam Shepard, 'Brownsville Girl', a work of genius.[150] In 1986 and 1987, Dylan toured extensively with Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, sharing vocals with Petty on several songs each night. Dylan also toured with The Grateful Dead in 1987, resulting in a live album Dylan & The Dead. This album received some very negative reviews: Allmusic said, "Quite possibly the worst album by either Bob Dylan or the Grateful Dead."[151] After performing with these musical permutations, Dylan initiated what came to be called The Never Ending Tour on June 7, 1988, performing with a tight back-up band featuring guitarist G. E. Smith. Dylan would continue to tour with this small but constantly evolving band for the next 20 years.[50]

In 1987, Dylan starred in Richard Marquand's movie Hearts of Fire, in which he played Billy Parker, a washed-up-rock-star-turned-chicken farmer whose teenage lover (Fiona) leaves him for a jaded English synth-pop sensation (played by Rupert Everett).[152] Dylan also contributed two original songs to the soundtrack—"Night After Night", and "I Had a Dream About You, Baby", as well as a cover of John Hiatt's "The Usual". The film was a critical and commercial flop.[153]

Dylan was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in January 1988. Bruce Springsteen's induction speech declared: "Bob freed your mind the way Elvis freed your body. He showed us that just because music was innately physical did not mean that it was anti-intellectual."[154] Dylan then released the album Down in the Groove, which was even more unsuccessful in its sales than his previous studio album.[155] The song "Silvio", however, had some success as a single.[156] Later that spring, Dylan was a co-founder and member of the Traveling Wilburys with George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, and Tom Petty returning to the album charts with the multi-platinum selling Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1.[155] Despite Orbison's death in December 1988, the remaining four recorded a second album in May 1990, which they released with the unexpected title Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3.[157]

Dylan finished the decade on a critical high note with Oh Mercy produced by Daniel Lanois. Rolling Stone magazine called the album "both challenging and satisfying".[158][159] The track "Most of the Time", a lost love composition, was later prominently featured in the film High Fidelity, while "What Was It You Wanted?" has been interpreted both as a catechism and a wry comment on the expectations of critics and fans.[160] The religious imagery of "Ring Them Bells" struck some critics as a re-affirmation of faith.[161]

1.Dylan performing in Bologna in November 2005. 2. Dylan, the Spectrum, 2007 3. Dylan performs at a 1996 concert in Stockholm
1.Bob Dylan performs at Air Canada Centre, Toronto, November 7, 2006 2. Bob Dylan (right on keyboards) at the Roskilde Festival, 2006.
Never Ending Tour

Dylan has played roughly 100 dates a year for the entirety of the 1990s and the 2000s, a heavier schedule than most performers who started out in the 1960s.[229] The "Never Ending Tour" continues, anchored by long-time bassist Tony Garnier and filled out with talented musicians better known to their peers than to their audiences. To the dismay of some critics,[230] Dylan's performances remain unpredictable as he alters his arrangements and changes his vocal approach night after night.[231] Some fans have complained that, as Dylan's vocal range has diminished, he has resorted to a technique they have labelled "upsinging". One critic described the technique as Dylan's "dismantling melodies by delivering phrases in a monotone and ending them an octave higher".[232] Bob Dylan's European tour of spring 2009 opened in Stockholm on March 22 and is scheduled to end in Dublin on May 6.[233]

2000s: Things Have Changed

In 2000, Dylan's song "Things Have Changed", penned for the film Wonder Boys, won a Golden Globe and an Academy Award. The Oscar (by some reports a facsimile) tours with him, presiding over shows perched atop an amplifier.[175]

"Love and Theft" was released on September 11, 2001. Recorded with his touring band, Dylan produced the album himself under the pseudonym Jack Frost.[176] The album was critically well-received and earned nominations for several Grammy awards.[177] Critics noted that Dylan was widening his musical palette to include rockabilly, Western swing, jazz, and even lounge ballads.[178]

In 2003 Dylan revisited the evangelical songs from his "born again" period and participated in the CD project Gotta Serve Somebody: The Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan. That year also saw the release of the film Masked & Anonymous, a collaboration with TV producer Larry Charles that had Dylan appearing in a cast of well-knowns, including Jeff Bridges,Penelope Cruz and John Goodman. The film polarised critics: many dismissed it as an “incoherent mess”[179][180]; a few treated it as a serious work of art.[181][182]

In October 2004, Dylan published the first part of his autobiography, Chronicles: Volume One. The book confounded expectations.[183] Dylan devoted three chapters to his first year in New York City in 1961–1962, virtually ignoring the mid-'60s when his fame was at its height. He also devoted chapters to the albums New Morning (1970) and Oh Mercy (1989). The book reached number two on The New York Times' Hardcover Non-Fiction best seller list in December 2004 and was nominated for a National Book Award.[184]

Martin Scorsese's acclaimed[185] film biography No Direction Home was broadcast in September 2005.[186] The documentary focuses on the period from Dylan's arrival in New York in 1961 to his motorcycle crash in 1966, featuring interviews with Suze Rotolo,Liam Clancy, Joan Baez, Allen Ginsberg, Pete Seeger, Mavis Staples, and Dylan himself. The film received a Peabody Award in April 2006[187] and a Columbia-duPont Award in January 2007.[188] The accompanying soundtrack featured unreleased songs from Dylan's early career.

May 3, 2006, was the premiere of Dylan's DJ career, hosting a weekly radio program, Theme Time Radio Hour, for XM Satellite Radio, with song selections revolving around a chosen theme.[189][190] Dylan played classic and obscure records from the 1930s to the present day, including contemporary artists as diverse as Blur, Prince, L.L. Cool J and The Streets. The show was praised by fans and critics as "great radio," as Dylan told stories and made eclectic references with his sardonic humor, while achieving a thematic beauty with his musical choices.[191][192] Music author Peter Guralnick commented: "With this show, Dylan is tapping into his deep love—and I would say his belief in—a musical world without borders. I feel like the commentary often reflects the same surrealistic appreciation for the human comedy that suffuses his music."[193]

On August 29, 2006, Dylan released his 

Modern Times album. In a Rolling Stone interview, Dylan criticized the quality of modern sound recordings and claimed that his new songs "probably sounded ten times better in the studio when we recorded 'em."[194]Despite some coarsening of Dylan’s voice (a critic for The Guardian characterised his singing on the album as "a catarrhal death rattle"[195]) most reviewers praised the album, and many described it as the final installment of a successful trilogy, embracingTime Out of Mind and "Love and Theft".[196] Modern Times entered the U.S. charts at number one, making it Dylan's first album to reach that position since 1976's Desire.[197]

Nominated for three Grammy Awards, Modern Times won Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album and Bob Dylan also wonBest Solo Rock Vocal Performance for "Someday Baby". Modern Times was named Album of the Year, 2006, by Rolling Stonemagazine,[198] and by Uncut in the UK.[199] On the same day that Modern Times was released the iTunes Music Store released Bob Dylan: The Collection, a digital box set containing all of his albums (773 tracks in total), along with 42 rare and unreleased tracks.[200]

August 2007 saw the unveiling of the award-winning film I'm Not There,[201][202] written and directed by Todd Haynes, bearing the tagline "inspired by the music and many lives of Bob Dylan".[203] The movie uses six distinct characters to represent different aspects of Dylan's life, played by Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Marcus Carl Franklin, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger and Ben Whishaw.[203][204] Dylan's previously unreleased 1967 recording from which the film takes its name[205] was released for the first time on the film's original soundtrack; all other tracks are covers of Dylan songs, specially recorded for the movie by a diverse range of artists, including Eddie Vedder, Stephen Malkmus, Jeff Tweedy, Willie Nelson, Cat Power, Richie Havens, and Tom Verlaine.[206]

On October 1, 2007, 

Columbia Records released the triple CD retrospective album Dylan, anthologising his entire career under theDylan 07 logo.[207] As part of this campaign, Mark Ronson produced a re-mix of Dylan's 1966 tune "Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I'll Go Mine)", which was released as a maxi-single. This was the first time Dylan had sanctioned a re-mix of one of his classic recordings.[208]

The sophistication of the Dylan 07 marketing campaign was a reminder that Dylan’s commercial profile had risen considerably since the 1990s. This first became evidenced in 2004, when Dylan appeared in a TV advertisement for Victoria’s Secret lingerie[209]. Three years later, in October 2007, he participated in a multi-media campaign for the 2008 Cadillac Escalade.[210][211] Then, in 2009, he gave the highest profile endorsement of his career, appearing with rapper Will.i.am in a Pepsi ad that debuted during the telecast ofSuper Bowl XLIII.[212] The ad, broadcast to a record audience of 98 million viewers, opened with Dylan singing the first verse of "Forever Young" followed by Will.i.am doing a hip hop version of the song's third and final verse.[213][214]

Over a decade after Random House had published Drawn Blank (1994), a book of Dylan's drawings and paintings, an exhibit of Dylan's art, The Drawn Blank Series, opened in October 2007 at the Kunstsammlungen in Chemnitz, Germany.[215] This first public exhibition of Dylan's paintings showcased 170 watercolours and gouaches.[215] A catalog of the exhibition was also published.[216]

In an interview with The Times[217] in July, 2008, Dylan ended with what may have been an endorsement of presidential candidate Barack Obama:

Well, you know right now America is in a state of upheaval. Poverty is demoralizing. You can't expect people to have the virtue of purity when they are poor. But we've got this guy out there now who is redefining the nature of politics from the ground up: Barack Obama. He's redefining what a politician is, so we'll have to see how things play out. Am I hopeful? Yes, I'm hopeful that things might change. Some things are going to have to.[218]

In October 2008, Columbia released Volume 8 of Dylan's Bootleg Series, Tell Tale Signs: Rare And Unreleased 1989-2006 as both a two-CD set and a three-CD version with a 150-page hardcover book. The set contains live performances and outtakes from selected studio albums from Oh Mercy to Modern Times, as well as soundtrack contributions and collaborations with David Bromberg and Ralph Stanley.[219] The pricing of the album—the two-CD set went on sale for $18.99 and the three-CD version for $129.99—led to complaints about "rip-off packaging" from some fans and commentators.[220][221] The release was widely acclaimed by critics.[222] The plethora of alternative takes and unreleased material suggested to Uncut's reviewer: "Tell Tale Signs is awash with evidence of (Dylan's) staggering mercuriality, his evident determination even in the studio to repeat himself as little as possible."[223]

During 2008, Dylan was reported to be curating a project to set some of Hank Williams' "lost" lyrics to music. Dylan is said to be overseeing contributions from Jack White, Willie Nelson, Lucinda Williams, and Norah Jones.[224][225] An attorney for the Hank Williams estate stated that the project began when music publisher Acuff Rose entrusted to Dylan some of the so-called "Shoebox Songs", notebooks and drafts of songs that had been in the possession of Hank Williams' widow.[224]

Bob Dylan has recorded a new album, Together Through Life, which will be released on 28 April.[226][227] In a conversation with music journalist Bill Flanagan, published on Dylan's official website, Flanagan suggested a similarity of the new record to the sound of Chess Records and Sun Records, which Dylan acknowledged as an effect of "the way the instruments were played". He said that the genesis of the record was when French film director Olivier Dahan asked him to supply a song for his newroad movie, My Own Love Song, and "then the record sort of took its own direction". Dylan also acknowledged the contributions of backing musicians Mike Campbell, the guitarist with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and David Hidalgo, the multi-instrumentalist with Los Lobos.[228]

Personal life Family

Dylan married Sara Lownds on November 22, 1965; their first child, Jesse Byron Dylan, was born on January 6, 1966. Bob and Sara Dylan had four children: Jesse Byron, Anna Lea, Samuel Isaac Abraham, and Jakob Luke (born December 9, 1969). Dylan also adopted Sara's daughter from a prior marriage, Maria Lownds (later Dylan), (born October 21, 1961 now married to musician Peter Himmelman). In the 1990s his son Jakob Dylan became well known as the lead singer of the band The Wallflowers. Jesse Dylan is a film director and a successful businessman. Bob and Sara Dylan were divorced on June 29, 1977.[234] In June of 1986, Dylan married his longtime backup singer Carolyn Dennis (often professionally known as Carol Dennis).[235] Their daughter, Desiree Gabrielle Dennis-Dylan, was born on January 31, 1986. The couple divorced in October 1992. Their marriage and child remained a closely guarded secret until the publication of Howard Sounes' Dylan biography, Down the Highway: The Life Of Bob Dylan in 2001.[236]

Bob Dylan discography

This is a discography for American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. It lists thirty-three studio albums, fifty-eight singles, thirteen live albums, and fourteen compilation albums. The list also includes three home videos, a bibliography, and a filmography.

Dylan has won many awards for his songwriting and performances. See List of Bob Dylan awards.

Studio albums
Album Year Chart Positions[1][2] Certifications
US 200 UK Albums U.S.[3] CAN[4] UK[5]
Bob Dylan 1962 13
The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan 1963 22 1 Platinum
The Times They Are a-Changin' 1964 20 15 Gold
Another Side of Bob Dylan 1964 43 8 Gold
Bringing It All Back Home 1965 6 1 Platinum
Highway 61 Revisited 1965 3 4 Platinum Gold
Blonde on Blonde 1966 9 3 2× Platinum
John Wesley Harding 1967 2 1 Platinum
Nashville Skyline 1969 3 1 Platinum Gold
Self Portrait 1970 4 1 Gold
New Morning 1970 7 1 Gold
Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid 1973 16 29 Gold
Dylan 1973 17 10 Gold
Planet Waves 1974 1 7 Gold Silver
Blood on the Tracks 1975 1 4 2× Platinum Platinum Gold
The Basement Tapes 1975 7 8 Gold Gold
Desire 1976 1 3 2× Platinum Platinum Gold
Street Legal 1978 11 2 Gold Platinum Platinum
Slow Train Coming 1979 3 2 Platinum 2× Platinum Silver
Saved 1980 24 3 Silver
Shot of Love 1981 33 6 Silver
Infidels 1983 20 9 Gold Gold Silver
Empire Burlesque 1985 33 11 Gold
Knocked Out Loaded 1986 54 35
Down in the Groove 1988 61 32
Oh Mercy 1989 30 6 Gold Gold
Under the Red Sky 1990 38 13 Silver
Good as I Been to You 1992 51 18
World Gone Wrong 1993 70 35
Time Out of Mind 1997 10 10 Platinum Gold Gold
"Love and Theft" 2001 5 3 Gold
Modern Times 2006 1 3 Platinum Platinum
Together Through Life 2009

Compilation albums

Album Year Chart Positions[1][2] Certifications
US UK U.S.[3] CAN[4] UK[5]
Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits 1967 10 6 5× Platinum 2× Platinum
Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits Vol. II 1971 14 12 5× Platinum 2× Platinum
Masterpieces 1978
Biograph 1985 33 Platinum
Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits Volume 3 1994 126 Gold
The Best of Bob Dylan, Vol. 1 (UK) 1997 6
The Best of Bob Dylan, Vol. 2 (UK) 2000
The Essential Bob Dylan 2000 67 9 Platinum Platinum
The Best of Bob Dylan (US) 2005 Gold
Bob Dylan: The Collection 2007
Dylan (single disc version) 2007 3 10 Gold
Dylan (deluxe version) 2007 93

]Religious beliefsGrowing up in Hibbing, Dylan and his parents were part of the area's small but close-knit Jewish community, and in May 1954 Dylan had his Bar Mitzvah.[237] However, for a period during the late 1970s and early 80s, Bob Dylan publicly became a born-again Christian. From January to April 1979, Dylan participated in Bible study classes at the Vineyard School of Discipleship in Reseda, Southern California. Pastor Kenn Gulliksen has recalled: "Larry Myers and Paul Emond went over to Bob’s house and ministered to him. He responded by saying, 'Yes he did in fact want Christ in his life.' And he prayed that day and received the Lord."[238][239] Since his trilogy of Christian albums, Dylan's faith has become a subject of scrutiny. In 1997 he told David Gates of Newsweek: Here's the thing with me and the religious thing. This is the flat-out truth: I find the religiosity and philosophy in the music. I don't find it anywhere else. Songs like "Let Me Rest on a Peaceful Mountain" or "I Saw the Light"—that's my religion. I don't adhere to rabbis, preachers, evangelists, all of that. I've learned more from the songs than I've learned from any of this kind of entity. The songs are my lexicon. I believe the songs.[6] In an interview published in The New York Times on September 28, 1997, journalist Jon Pareles reported that "Dylan says he now subscribes to no organized religion."[240] Dylan has been described, in the last 20 years, as a supporter of the Chabad Lubavitch movement[241] and has publicly and privately participated in Jewish religious events, including the bar mitzvahs of his sons. Subsequently, Jewish news services have reported that Dylan has "shown up" a few times at various High Holiday services at various Chabad synagogues.[242] For example, he attended Congregation Beth Tefillah, in Atlanta, Georgia on September 22, 2007 (Yom Kippur), where he was called to the Torah for the sixth aliyah.[243] Dylan has continued to perform songs from his gospel albums in concert, occasionally covering traditional religious songs. He has also made passing references to his religious faith—such as in a 2004 interview with 60 Minutes, when he told Ed Bradley that "the only person you have to think twice about lying to is either yourself or to God." He also explained his constant touring schedule as part of a bargain he made a long time ago with the "chief commander—in this earth and in the world we can't see."[24]

Bob Dylan has been described as one of the most influential figures of the 20th century, musically and culturally. Dylan was included in the Time 100: The Most Important People of the Century where he was called "master poet, caustic social critic and intrepid, guiding spirit of the counterculture generation".[244] In 2004, he was ranked number two in Rolling Stone magazine's list of "Greatest Artists of All Time".[245] Dylan biographer Howard Sounes placed him in even more exalted company when he said, "There are giant figures in art who are sublimely good—Mozart, Picasso, Frank Lloyd Wright, Shakespeare, Dickens. Dylan ranks alongside these artists."[246]

Initially modelling his style on the songs of Woody Guthrie,[247] and lessons learnt from the blues of Robert Johnson,[248] Dylan added increasingly sophisticated lyrical techniques to the folk music of the early 60s, infusing it "with the intellectualism of classic literature and poetry".[249] Paul Simon suggested that Dylan's early compositions virtually took over the folk genre: "[Dylan's] early songs were very rich ... with strong melodies. "Blowin' in the Wind" has a really strong melody. He so enlarged himself through the folk background that he incorporated it for a while. He defined the genre for a while."[250]

When Dylan made his move from acoustic music to a rock backing, the mix became more complex. For many critics, Dylan's greatest achievement was the cultural synthesis exemplified by his mid-'60s trilogy of albums—Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde. In Mike Marqusee's words: "Between late 1964 and the summer of 1966, Dylan created a body of work that remains unique. Drawing on folk, blues, country, R&B, rock'n'roll, gospel, British beat, symbolist,modernist and Beat poetry, surrealism and Dada, advertising jargon and social commentary, Fellini and Mad magazine, he forged a coherent and original artistic voice and vision. The beauty of these albums retains the power to shock and console."[251]

One legacy of Dylan’s verbal sophistication was the increasing attention paid by literary critics to his lyrics. Professor Christopher Ricks published a 500 page analysis of Dylan’s work, placing him in the context of Eliot, Keats and Tennyson,[252] and claiming that Dylan was a poet worthy of the same close and painstaking analysis.[253]The poet laureate of Great Britain, Andrew Motion, argued that Bob Dylan’s lyrics should be studied in schools.[254] Dylan has been nominated several times for theNobel Prize in Literature.[255][256][257]

Dylan’s voice was, in some ways, as startling as his lyrics. New York Times critic Robert Shelton described Dylan's early vocal style as "a rusty voice suggestingGuthrie's old performances, etched in gravel like Dave Van Ronk's."[258] When the young Bobby Womack told Sam Cooke he didn’t understand Dylan’s vocal style, Cooke explained that: “from now on, it's not going to be about how pretty the voice is. It's going to be about believing that the voice is telling the truth.”[259] Rolling Stonemagazine ranked Dylan at number seven in their 2008 listing of “The 100 Greatest Singers of All Time”.[260] Bono commented that “Dylan has tried out so many personas in his singing because it is the way he inhabits his subject matter.”[259]

Dylan's influence has been felt in several musical genres. As Edna Gundersen stated in USA Today: "Dylan's musical DNA has informed nearly every simple twist of pop since 1962." [261]. Many musicians have testified to Dylan's influence, such as Joe Strummer, who praised Dylan as having "laid down the template for lyric, tune, seriousness, spirituality, depth of rock music."[262] Other musicians to have acknowledged Dylan's importance include John Lennon,[263] Paul McCartney,[264] Neil Young,[265][266] Bruce Springsteen,[267] David Bowie,[268] Bryan Ferry,[269] Syd Barrett,[270] Nick Cave,[271][272] Patti Smith,[273] Joni Mitchell,[274] Cat Stevens[275] andTom Waits.[276]

There have been dissenters. Because Dylan was widely credited with imbuing pop culture with a new seriousness, the critic Nik Cohn objected: "I can't take the vision of Dylan as seer, as teenage messiah, as everything else he's been worshipped as. The way I see him, he's a minor talent with a major gift for self-hype."[277] Similarly, Australian critic Jack Marx credited Dylan with changing the persona of the rock star: "What cannot be disputed is that Dylan invented the arrogant, faux-cerebral posturing that has been the dominant style in rock since, with everyone from Mick Jagger to Eminem educating themselves from the Dylan handbook."[278]

If Dylan’s legacy in the 1960s was seen as bringing intellectual ambition to popular music, as Dylan advances into his sixties, he is today described as a figure who has greatly expanded the folk culture from which he initially emerged. As J. Hoberman wrote in The Village Voice, "Elvis might never have been born, but someone else would surely have brought the world rock 'n' roll. No such logic accounts for Bob Dylan. No iron law of history demanded that a would-be Elvis from Hibbing, Minnesota, would swerve through the Greenwich Village folk revival to become the world's first and greatest rock 'n' roll beatnik bard and then—having achieved fame and adoration beyond reckoning—vanish into a folk tradition of his own making." [279]

Year Single Chart Positions
1962 "Mixed-Up Confusion" / "Corrina, Corrina" - - - Non-album Single / Biograph
1963 "Blowin' in the Wind" - - - The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan
1965 "The Times They Are a-Changin'" - - 9 The Times They Are a-Changin'
"Maggie's Farm" - - 22 Bringing It All Back Home
"Subterranean Homesick Blues" 39 - 9
"Like a Rolling Stone" 2 - 4 Highway 61 Revisited
"Positively 4th Street" 7 - 8 Non-album Single / Biograph / Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits
"Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?" 58 - 17 Non-album Single / Biograph
1966 "One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later)" 119 - 33 Blonde on Blonde
"Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" 2 - 7
"I Want You" 20 - 16
"Just Like a Woman" 33 - -
1967 "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat" 81 - -
1969 "I Threw It All Away" 85 - 30 Nashville Skyline
"Lay Lady Lay" 7 - 5
"Tonight I'll Be Staying Here with You" 50 - -
1970 "Wigwam" 41 - - Self Portrait
1971 "Watching the River Flow" 41 - 24 Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits Vol. II / Non-album Single
"If Not for You" - - - New Morning
"George Jackson" 33 - - Non-album Single
1973 "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" 12 - 14 Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid
1973 "A Fool Such as I" 55 - - Dylan
1974 "On a Night Like This" 44 - - Planet Waves
"Something There Is About You" 107 - -
"Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I'll Go Mine)" (with The Band) 66 - - Before the Flood
"All Along the Watchtower" - - -
1975 "Tangled Up in Blue" 31 - - Blood on the Tracks
"Hurricane" 33 - 43 Desire
1976 "Mozambique" 54 - -
1977 "Rita May" 110 - - Non-album Single
1978 "Is Your Love in Vain?" - - 56 Street Legal
"Baby Stop Crying" - - 13
"Changing of the Guards" - - -
1979 "Gotta Serve Somebody" 24 - - Slow Train Coming
"Precious Angel"/"Trouble in Mind" - - -
1980 "Man Gave Names to All the Animals" - - -
"Solid Rock" - - - Saved
"Saved" - - -
1981 "Shot of Love" - 38 - Shot of Love
"Heart of Mine" - - -
1983 "Union Sundown" - - 90 Infidels
1984 "Jokerman" - - -
"Sweetheart Like You" 55 - -
1985 "Tight Connection to My Heart (Has Anybody Seen My Love?)" 103 19 - Empire Burlesque
"When the Night Comes Falling from the Sky" - - -
1986 "Band of the Hand" - 28 - Non-album Single
1986 "Got My Mind Made Up" - 23 - Knocked Out Loaded
1988 "Silvio" - 5 - Down in the Groove
1989 "Everything Is Broken" - 8 98 Oh Mercy
"Slow Train" (with The Grateful Dead) - 8 - Dylan & The Dead
1990 "Unbelievable" - 21 93 Under the Red Sky
1993 "My Back Pages" - 26 - The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration
1995 "Dignity" - - 33 MTV Unplugged
1998 "Not Dark Yet" - - - Time out of Mind
"Love Sick" - - 64 Time out of Mind
2000 "Things Have Changed" - - 58 Wonder Boys
2006 "Someday Baby" 98[8] - - Modern Times
2007 "Most Likely You'll Go Your Way (And I'll Go Mine)" (Mark Ronson Re-Version) - - 51 Dylan promotion / Non-album Single
2008 "Dreamin' of You" - - - The Bootleg Series Volume 8: Tell Tale Signs
2009 Beyond Here Lies Nothin' - - - Together Through Life


Live albums

Album Year Chart Positions[1][2] Certifications
US 200 UK Albums U.S.[3] CAN[4] UK[5]
Before the Flood 1974 3 8 Platinum Silver
Hard Rain 1976 17 3 Gold Gold
Bob Dylan at Budokan 1979 13 4 Gold Gold Gold
Real Live 1984 115 54
Dylan & The Dead 1989 37 38 Gold
The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration 1993 40
MTV Unplugged 1995 23 10 Gold
Live 1961-2000: Thirty-Nine Years of Great Concert Performances (Japan) 2001
Live at the Gaslight 1962 2005
Live at Carnegie Hall 1963 2005

[edit]The Bootleg Series

Album Year Chart Positions[1][2] Certifications
US UK U.S.[3] CAN[4]
The Bootleg Series Volumes 1–3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961–1991 1991 49 32 Gold
The Bootleg Series Vol. 4: Bob Dylan Live 1966, The "Royal Albert Hall" Concert 1998 31 19 Gold
The Bootleg Series Vol. 5: Bob Dylan Live 1975, The Rolling Thunder Revue 2002 56 69 Gold
The Bootleg Series Vol. 6: Bob Dylan Live 1964, Concert at Philharmonic Hall 2004 28 33
The Bootleg Series Vol. 7: No Direction Home: The Soundtrack 2005 16 21 Gold
The Bootleg Series Vol. 8: Tell Tale Signs (two-disc version) 2008 6 9
The Bootleg Series Vol. 8: Tell Tale Signs (deluxe version) 2008

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