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BOOTLEG SERIES 13-CD+DVD-, DYLAN, BOB, CD, 0889854546526

DYLAN, BOB

BOOTLEG SERIES 13-CD+DVD-

Drager: CD (Aantal 9) Levertijd: 3 a 5 werkdagen
Herkomst: NL Item-nr: 3758315 EAN: 0889854546526
€ 189,99
Disc 1
  1. Slow Train - Live Nov. 16, 1979
  2. Gotta Serve Somebody - Live Nov. 15, 1979
  3. I Believe In You - Live May 16, 1980
  4. When You Gonna Wake Up? - Live July 9, 1981
  5. When He Returns - Live Dec. 5, 1979
  6. Man Gave Names To All The Animals - Live Jan. 16, 1980
  7. Precious Angel - Live Nov. 16, 1979
  8. Covenant Woman - Live Nov. 20, 1979
  9. Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking - Live Jan. 31, 1980
  10. Do Right To Me Baby (Do Unto Others) - Live Jan. 28, 1980
  11. Solid Rock - Live Nov. 27, 1979
  12. What Can I Do For You? - Live Nov. 27, 1979
  13. Saved - Live Jan. 12, 1980
  14. In The Garden - Live Jan. 27, 1980

Disc 3
  1. Slow Train - Soundcheck
  2. Do Right To Me Baby (Do Unto Others) - Soundcheck
  3. Help Me Understand - Soundcheck
  4. Gonna Change My Way Of Thinking - Rehearsal With Horns
  5. Gotta Serve Somebody - Take 1
  6. When He Returns - Take 2
  7. Ain't No Man Righteous, No Not One - Take 6
  8. Trouble In Mind - Take 1
  9. Ye Shall Be Changed - Outtake
  10. Covenant Woman - Take 3
  11. Stand By Faith - Rehearsal
  12. I Will Love Him - Live Apr. 19, 1980
  13. Jesus Is The One - Live July 17, 1981
  14. City Of Gold - Live Nov. 22, 1980
  15. Thief On The Cross - Live Nov. 10, 1981
  16. Pressing On - Take 1

Disc 5
  1. Gotta Serve Somebody - Live In Toronto
  2. I Believe In You - Live In Toronto
  3. Covenant Woman - Live In Toronto
  4. When You Gonna Wake Up? - Live In Toronto
  5. When He Returns - Live In Toronto
  6. Ain't Gonna Go To Hell For Anybody - Live In Toronto
  7. Cover Down, Pray Through - Live In Toronto
  8. Man Gave Names To All The Animals - Live In Toronto
  9. Precious Angel - Live In Toronto

Disc 7
  1. Gotta Serve Somebody - Live In London
  2. I Believe In You - Live In London
  3. Like A Rolling Stone - Live In London
  4. Man Gave Names To All The Animals - Live In London
  5. Maggie's Farm - Live In London
  6. I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met) - Live In London
  7. Dead Man, Dead Man - Live In London
  8. Girl From The North Country - Live In London
  9. Ballad Of A Thin Man - Live In London

Disc 9
  1. Jesus Met The Woman At The Well - Live
  2. Intro - Main Title Open
  3. Are You Ready? - Live
  4. Hipocrisy Sermon
  5. Solid Rock - Live
  6. Virtue Sermon, Part 1
  7. Slow Train - Live
  8. Virtue Sermon, Part 2
  9. When He Returns - Live
  10. Precious Angel - Live
  11. Temperance Sermon
  12. Saved - Live
  13. Gluttony Sermon
  14. Do Right To Me Baby (Do Unto Others) - Live
  15. Justice Sermon, Part 1
  16. Ain't Gonna Go To Hell For Anybody - Live
  17. Justice Sermon, Part 2
  18. What Can I Do For You? - Live
  19. Prudence
  20. Pressing On - Live
  21. Abraham, Martin And John - Live
  22. Credits
  23. Shot Of Love - Live
  24. Cover Down, Pray Through - Live
  25. Jesus Met The Woman At The Well - Alternate Version
  26. Ain't Gonna Go To Hell For Anybody - Complete Version
  27. Precious Angel - Complete Version
  28. Slow Train - Complete Version
Disc 2
  1. Slow Train - Live June 29, 1981
  2. Ain't Gonna Go To Hell For Anybody - Live Apr. 24, 1980
  3. Gotta Serve Somebody - Live June 27, 1981
  4. Ain't No Man Righteous, No Not One - Live Nov. 16, 1979
  5. Saving Grace - Live Nov. 6, 1979
  6. Blessed Is The Name - Live Nov. 20, 1979
  7. Solid Rock - Live Oct. 23, 1981
  8. Are You Ready? - Live Apr. 30, 1980
  9. Pressing On - Live Nov. 6, 1979
  10. Shot Of Love - Live July 25, 1981
  11. Dead Man, Dead Man - Live June 21, 1981
  12. Watered-Down Love - Live June 12, 1981
  13. In The Summertime - Live Oct. 21, 1981
  14. The Groom's Still Waiting At The Altar - Live Nov. 13, 1980
  15. Caribbean Wind - Live Nov. 12, 1980
  16. Every Grain Of Sand - Live Nov. 21, 1981

Disc 4
  1. Slow Train - Rehearsal With Horns
  2. Gotta Serve Somebody - Rehearsal With Horns
  3. Making A Liar Out Of Me - Rehearsal
  4. Yonder Comes Sin - Rehearsal
  5. Radio Spot For January 1980, Portland, Or Show
  6. Cover Down, Pray Through - Live May 1, 1980
  7. Rise Again - Rehearsal
  8. Ain't Gonna Go To Hell For Anybody - Live Dec. 2, 1980
  9. The Groom's Still Waiting At The Altar - Take 2
  10. Caribbean Wind - Rehearsal With Pedal Steel
  11. You Changed My Life - Take 4
  12. Shot Of Love - Outtake
  13. Watered-Down Love - Outtake
  14. Dead Man, Dead Man - Outtake
  15. Every Grain Of Sand - Rehearsal

Disc 6
  1. Slow Train - Live In Toronto
  2. Do Right To Me Baby (Do Unto Others) - Live In Toronto
  3. Solid Rock - Live In Toronto
  4. Saving Grace - Live In Toronto
  5. What Can I Do For You? - Live In Toronto
  6. In The Garden - Live In Toronto
  7. Band Introductions - Live In Toronto
  8. Are You Ready? - Live In Toronto
  9. Pressing On - Live In Toronto

Disc 8
  1. Slow Train - Live In London
  2. Let's Begin - Live In London
  3. Lenny Bruce - Live In London
  4. Mr. Tambourine Man - Live In London
  5. Solid Rock - Live In London
  6. Just Like A Woman - Live In London
  7. Watered-Down Love - Live In London
  8. Forever Young - Live In London
  9. When You Gonna Wake Up? - Live In London
  10. In The Garden - Live In London
  11. Band Introductions - Live In London
  12. Blowin' In The Wind - Live In London
  13. It's All Over Now, Baby Blue - Live In London
  14. Knockin' On Heaven's Door - Live In London
RECENSIE
DELUXE 8CD/DVD BOX



Tijdens een van de laatste van de 115 concerten tellende wereldtournee van 1978 gooide iemand een kruis op het podium, Dylan pakte het op voelde dat er iets veranderde. Het vormde naar eigen zeggen het begin van een op de merkwaardigste periodes uit Dylans carrière: de gospeljaren. In werkelijkheid maakte Dylan al vanaf de jaren zestig veelvuldig gebruik van Bijbelse symbolen en veel belangrijker waren enkele born again christian-bandleden tijdens die 1978-tournee. En hoewel Dylan zeker niet meteen louter religieuze teksten ging schrijven, waren het die nummers die hij uitbracht op Slow Train Coming. Nummers die Dylan graag bij een zo groot mogelijk publiek onder de aandacht wilde brengen, wat ertoe leidde dat hij de befaamde Jerry Wexler als producer koos en een Mark Knopfler als sessiegitarist. Het album riep weliswaar vraagtekens op, maar werd zeker niet vijandig ontvangen. Veel opmerkelijker was dat hij tijdens optredens eind 1979 louter die nieuwe nummers speelde en zijn omvangrijke backcatalogus compleet negeerde. Bovendien werden meerdere nummers voorafgegaan door minuten durende preken.
Dylans productiviteit was ondertussen enorm. In drie jaar tijd schreef hij veel meer nummers dan op de daaropvolgende twee albums pasten en vele haalden niet eens de studio, maar werden louter live of in soundchecks gespeeld. En zoals de eerdere delen van Dylans Bootleg Series hebben aangetoond, haalden lang niet altijd de sterkste nummers de reguliere platen. Bijna veertig jaar na dato ziet een aantal daarvan nu het licht, van Ain’t Gonna Go To Hell For Anybody tot Ain’t No Man Righteous, No Not One, van Thief On The Cross tot City Of Gold. Een aanzienlijk deel is bij de Dylan-verzamelaars bekend, maar sommige, zoals het verbijsterende Making A Liar Out Of Me en een versie van Carribean Wind met pedalsteel zijn nieuw voor zelfs de grootste fan.
De eerste vier cd’s bieden een indrukwekkend overzicht van hetgeen vooral zijn band in die jaren in staat was, de andere vier bevatten twee (vrijwel) complete concerten uit Toronto (1980) en Londen (1981, toen Dylan ook weer ouder seculier werk in de setlist opnam). Op de dvd helaas geen compleet concert, maar de documentaire Trouble No More die gelukkig wel vele muzikale hoogtepunten toont.
Zoals het tiende deel van Dylans Bootleg Series een nieuwe blik op Dylans verguisde Self Portrait wierp, doet dit veertiende deel dat voor de gospeljaren. Met als cruciaal verschil dat dit deel thematisch is, waardoor de niet-religieuze outtakes (waaronder o.a. de sessies tussen Saved en Shot Of Love) ontbreken. Zoals gebruikelijk ziet de deluxe versie er weer fenomenaal uit en is de geluidskwaliteit vele malen beter dan de beste bootlegs van deze periode. Voor elke Dylan-volger een must.


BOB DYLAN
TROUBLE NO MORE
THE BOOTLEG SERIES VOL. 13 / 1979-1981
DELUXE EDITION

Disc 1: Live

1. Slow Train (Nov. 16, 1979)
2. Gotta Serve Somebody (Nov. 15, 1979)
3. I Believe in You (May 16, 1980)
4. When You Gonna Wake Up? (July 9, 1981)
5. When He Returns (Dec. 5, 1979)
6. Man Gave Names to All the Animals (Jan. 16, 1980)
7. Precious Angel (Nov. 16, 1979)
8. Covenant Woman (Nov. 20, 1979)
9. Gonna Change My Way of Thinking (Jan. 31, 1980)
10. Do Right to Me Baby (Do Unto Others) (Jan. 28, 1980)
11. Solid Rock (Nov. 27, 1979)
12. What Can I Do for You? (Nov. 27, 1979)
13. Saved (Jan. 12, 1980)
14. In the Garden (Jan. 27, 1980)

Disc 2: Live

1. Slow Train (June 29, 1981)
2. Ain’t Gonna Go to Hell for Anybody (Unreleased song - Apr. 24, 1980)
3. Gotta Serve Somebody (July 15, 1981)
4. Ain’t No Man Righteous, No Not One (Unreleased song - Nov. 16, 1979)
5. Saving Grace (Nov. 6, 1979)
6. Blessed Is the Name (Unreleased song - Nov. 20, 1979)
7. Solid Rock (Oct. 23, 1981)
8. Are You Ready? (Apr. 30, 1980)
9. Pressing On (Nov. 6, 1979)
10. Shot of Love (July 25, 1981)
11. Dead Man, Dead Man (June 21, 1981)
12. Watered-Down Love (June 12, 1981)
13. In the Summertime (Oct. 21, 1981)
14. The Groom’s Still Waiting at the Altar (Nov. 13, 1980)
15. Caribbean Wind (Nov. 12, 1980)
16. Every Grain of Sand (Nov. 21, 1981)




Disc 3: Rare and Unreleased

1. Slow Train (Soundcheck – Oct. 5, 1978)
2. Do Right to Me Baby (Do Unto Others) (Soundcheck – Dec. 7, 1978)
3. Help Me Understand (Unreleased song – Oct. 5, 1978)
4. Gonna Change My Way of Thinking (Rehearsal – Oct. 2, 1979)
5. Gotta Serve Somebody (Outtake – May 4, 1979)
6. When He Returns (Outtake – May 4, 1979)
7. Ain’t No Man Righteous, No Not One (Unreleased song – May 1, 1979)
8. Trouble in Mind (Outtake – April 30, 1979)
9. Ye Shall Be Changed (Outtake – May 2, 1979)
10. Covenant Woman (Outtake –February 11, 1980)
11. Stand by Faith (Unreleased song – Sept. 26, 1979)
12. I Will Love Him (Unreleased song – Apr. 19, 1980)
13. Jesus Is the One (Unreleased song – Jul. 17, 1981)
14. City of Gold (Unreleased song – Nov. 22, 1980)
15. Thief on the Cross (Unreleased song – Nov. 10, 1981)
16. Pressing On (Outtake – Feb. 13, 1980)


Disc 4: Rare and Unreleased

1. Slow Train (Rehearsal – Oct. 2, 1979)
2. Gotta Serve Somebody (Rehearsal – Oct. 9, 1979)
3. Making a Liar Out of Me (Unreleased song – Sept. 26, 1980)
4. Yonder Comes Sin (Unreleased song – Oct. 1, 1980)
5. Radio Spot January 1980, Portland, OR show
6. Cover Down, Pray Through (Unreleased song – May 1, 1980)
7. Rise Again (Unreleased song – Oct. 16, 1980)
8. Ain’t Gonna Go to Hell for Anybody (Unreleased song – Dec. 2, 1980)
9. The Groom’s Still Waiting at the Altar (Outtake – May 1, 1981)
10. Caribbean Wind (Rehearsal – Sept. 23, 1980)
11. You Changed My Life (Outtake – April 23, 1981)
12. Shot of Love (Outtake – March 25, 1981)
13. Watered-Down Love (Outtake – May 15, 1981)
14. Dead Man, Dead Man (Outtake – April 24, 1981)
15. Every Grain of Sand (Rehearsal – Sept. 26, 1980)


Disc 5 and Disc 6: “Best of” Live in Toronto 1980

Disc 7 and Disc 8: Live in London – June 27, 1981

Disc 9: Bonus DVD
Trouble No More – A Musical Film

Running time: tbd

All recordings previously unreleased
except for Disc 3 – track 9 (“Ye Shall Be Changed”), released on The Bootleg Series Volumes 1–3 (1991).



TROUBLE NO MORE – INTRODUCTION BY BEN ROLLINS

In a career marked with many twists and turns, certainly Bob Dylan’s decision to write and record gospel music remains one of his most controversial. Starting around November 1979 and concluding in May 1980, Bob Dylan would only perform songs written towards the end of 1978 through early 1980 that were on the albums Slow Train Coming and the soon-to-be-released Saved. If you went to see Bob Dylan play live during that seven-month period, you would hear none of the songs for which he had become famous. Instead, you would be attending a true revival meeting – more of a revue, actually – with a carefully arranged introductory four or five song set by Dylan’s background vocalists and a tightly paced and wonderfully played show that alternated between exquisitely crafted ballads, mid-tempo rockers, and full-out devotional rave-ups. By the time you left the theater – and most of these shows were played in theaters seating around 2000 – it would be hard to process just how riveting and exciting the show was – that’s if you had stayed. More than a few walked out and missed some of the best music ever played in Dylan’s career – or anybody else’s for that matter.

For those lucky enough to see the tour, it would be an unforgettable experience. But by November of 1980, Dylan, relenting to demands made by both promoters and fans, began including some of the hits that had made him famous. Through late 1980 and most of 1981, Dylan embarked on what was called the “musical retrospective” tour, which, along with gospel material, included songs from his back catalog as well as new songs, many of which would be released on 1981’s Shot of Love. Regardless, the music was still presented with fervor and passion made all the more powerful by one of the best bands Dylan had ever assembled – including no less than four backup singers and the traditional gospel piano-organ combination.

Dylan has been famous for working quickly in the studio – his purpose more to document the songs than to find a “perfect” studio rendition. The songs gain a different dynamic when they’re played night after night on tour. The versions evolve as Dylan continues to search for their musical essence. And that’s what this collection documents – how those songs would change and come to life on concert stages around the world. Here it’s taken one step further, following a song’s development from demo right through its evolution on stage. That’s why the set includes four versions of “Slow Train Coming” – from a work-in-progress sketch at a sound check to rehearsals with an R&B horn section right through to an insistent, rhythm-driven blast of gospel fervor in 1981.

You also can take a peek behind the curtain to hear songs in their nascent form – from “Gotta Serve Somebody” taken as a jaunty strut to the almost too intimate and personal rehearsal of “Caribbean Wind.” Some songs seem to be in a perpetual state of lyrical development. Check out the difference between “The Groom’s Still Waiting at the Altar” on Disc 4 compared to Disc 2.

The producers also set out to document the progression of Dylan’s songwriting during this brief period. The songs on Slow Train Coming and Saved are clearly devotional and specifically crafted. The songs released on Shot of Love and some of the other songs that were only played live at that time demonstrate how Dylan’s songwriting was changing. He was taking the passion, the language, and the biblical references from his gospel music and incorporating them into a complex, multi-layered type of songwriting.

That journey is documented on this collection as we go from “Slow Train Coming” to “Solid Rock” to “Watered-Down Love” and “Every Grain of Sand.” It’s a journey just as fascinating and musically rewarding as any in his career. There is no clearer illustration of this process than on the song “Ain’t Gonna Go to Hell for Anybody.” In San Francisco in 1979, the song is plain, matter-of-fact, buoyed by its internal rhyme scheme and unforgettable chorus. A little more than six months later, the song is completely changed – the rhythm on the chorus altered, the lyrics cascading over metric lines conjuring an apocalyptic vision that’s both personal and universal.

Dylan seems to write in enormously prolific bursts of creativity. Think of the amount of songs left on the studio floor for The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, The Basement Tapes, Oh Mercy and Time Out of Mind. Same is true of the gospel period. Included on this set are no less than fifteen songs that were not on officially released albums, including the hidden gem, “Making a Liar Out of Me.”

A word about the sources – what the producers tried to do here was to let the performances guide them, not the technology. That said, almost all the sources are excellent, although they vary in audio fidelity. Many of the shows were captured only on cassette mixes off of the soundboards. Kept in cold storage for the last thirty-seven years, they remain remarkably vibrant.

But there are other tape sources as well. Beginning on April 17, 1980, four successive nights were recorded on 24-track tape in Toronto’s legendary Massey Hall. Included here is a compilation of the best of the performances from that four-night stand. Additionally, much of the 1981 tour was recorded on an Otari 8-track player. The producers couldn’t resist presenting an entire show from that period, so they selected the second night into Dylan’s five-night residency at Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre in London – a show where Dylan not only is still serving up fire and brimstone on his gospel material, but also giving the same treatment to hits like “Maggie’s Farm” and “Like a Rolling Stone.”

We are indeed lucky that so many of these shows were professionally recorded. But even if the quality of these tapes is less than perfect, the passion and commitment and true belief on these tracks would still shine through.

Ben Rollins


In the Time of My Confession
By Penn Jillette

Here starts my confession: I’m a lifelong atheist and a lifelong Dylan fan, so 1979 was a bit rough for me. From the time I started buying his records with Bringing It All Back Home, I bought every Bob Dylan record the day it came out. On August 20th, 1979, I bought Slow Train Coming. I had been warned it was going to be a gospel record but I wasn’t sufficiently prepared. I was shocked. I was bummed. I got a telegram that day from a Christian friend gloating that my boy had seen the light. Yup, a real telegram.

I listened to that record but I didn’t hear a note. I listened just once, shook my head, and filed it away. My world had fallen apart. I fell back to Street Legal and played that as much as I’d played Blonde on Blonde. “Señor (Tales of Yankee Power)” on Street Legal has: “The last thing I remember before I stripped and kneeled...” and I kept coming back to that line. Out of context it came to represent that last moment before Dylan saw the light. I got an early Japanese pressing of At Budokan and that concert was the last thing I wanted to remember of Dylan before he stripped and kneeled. I loved the sound of Street Legal, Budokan, and later, Infidels. I loved the passion, the searching, the poetry, the images, the big fat band sound. I loved the backing vocals. Everything I loved about those three records was even better on the gospel records, but I didn’t find that out until 35 years later. They were still in shrink wrap.

Yeah, Saved and Shot of Love came out, were purchased, and sat unopened in my collection. I was living in San Francisco at the time. Dylan came to town...I didn’t go to the show. It was the first time I passed up a Dylan concert. I didn’t give him a chance. I wouldn’t give him a chance. He never got to preach to me. For Dylan’s gospel years, I stuck my fingers in my ears and sang “Where Are You Tonight? (Journey through Dark Heat)” over and over to myself. I couldn’t face a Christian Dylan. I wouldn’t open my ears, let alone my heart. Finally, Infidels came out and my crisis of faith was over. All was well with the world again. I loved that record. Bob and I had artistic make up sex.

Here starts my search: Over thirty-five years have passed and I’ve been asked to write my thoughts on Dylan’s gospel period from my point of view. While I was waiting to hear this Bootleg Series, I did a little homework. I took Time Out of Mind off my turntable and finally listened to Slow Train Coming, Saved, and Shot of Love carefully. Gonna change my way of thinking.

Now Dylan’s gospel records are good. I know the records haven’t changed over these years, so it’s me. I come to Dylan for passion, and profundity. I come to Dylan for truth. I come to Dylan to question what I’m feeling. I come to Dylan to understand what I’m feeling. I come to Dylan to change what I’m feeling. I come to Dylan to knock me out of the trivial. To make life seem more important than TV, movies, Facebook and Twitter. I come to Dylan to make life more important than just today, and these records deliver everything I want. At the time these recordings came out, I asked myself, “What’s wrong with Dylan?” Now listening to these recording full of heart, and truth, and passion, naked power, the question suddenly becomes “What was wrong with me?”

Not all the songs from the “gospel records” are new to me – I had to seek out “Lenny Bruce” as soon as it came out and listen to that no matter what record that was on. Some of the gospel songs snuck into my world through the radio, from Greatest Hits compilations, and just through living in our culture: “Gotta Serve Somebody,” “I Believe in You,” “Heart of Mine,” “The Groom's Still Waiting at the Altar,” “Every Grain of Sand,” and even one of my favorite songs of all time, “Caribbean Wind” is kind of from this period and shares some of the straight forward passion and biblical imagery. I love every one of these songs and catch them running though my brain and heart when I need them. I may have kept the records sealed, I may have closed my heart to evangelical Bob, but he weaseled in there. While doing my homework I was glad to hear these great songs in context. These studio albums got me warmed up for the bootlegs.

Here starts my revelation: When these recordings of live versions, outtakes, and rehearsals from the gospel period arrived, I experienced the burning bush. I was on the road to Damascus. These records changed me. I’m not Christian but I’ve changed. I’ve been listening to these records all day, every day and my life and life in general seem more important. Dylan never deals with the trivial, and these records frighten me with the awful truth of how sweet life can be. Bob has said that the purpose of art is to inspire. I am inspired. I want to be a better person and think more about things that matter. I have the spirit.

As far as the theological content of these records – I still disagree. One of the many robot-killers of modern science is that placebos still work, even when the patient knows fully well it’s a placebo. I am the fool who still says in his heart there is no God, but Dylan’s gospel music is stronger than my lack of faith. These bands have a wonderful sound and the songs are great, catchy and important. But the medium isn’t the message, the message is the message, and fortunately for me, I can hear the message on these records as not just the revealed word of Christianity. The singing on this record is some of the best of Bob’s career. He cares. It all matters. Even the sound checks and rehearsals are full of fire. I’ve changed. I no longer care that I don’t agree with the cosmology. Art isn’t supposed to be an essay or a debate. Art must be deeper and richer than theology.

I must face some of my own hypocrisy. I never sequestered Bach’s Saint Matthew’s Passion on my shelf in shrink wrap. I listen to all the Bach sacred music without the chip on my shoulder that I had for Bob. I feel the music, the inspiration and the passion directly. Bach’s faith doesn’t get in the way. The faith is a big part of what I love about it. I don’t pretend to understand what inspired Bach and it doesn’t matter to my heart. I love the music. Was that okay with me because Johann’s long dead and I don’t understand German? I don’t know. I love Ray Charles singing “Amazing Grace.” Why was that always okay with me? Why did it take so much longer for me to hear Dylan’s gospel? I’m afraid there aren’t any good reasons and there may be some bad ones.

I don’t know why Dylan bothered me more than other religious music and I don’t even know why Dylan’s gospel music bothered me more than Dylan’s other music. Looking back, I never agreed much with Dylan on the prosaic level. I don’t insist that everybody must get stoned. He’s not speaking for me, I’ve never even been stoned, but I love that song. I didn’t marry Isis on the fifth day of May, that’s not me, I’ve never even been in a tomb. I’m not even that sure the times they are a-changin’ and I could make a strong case that all those answers are not blowin’ in the wind. Yet those songs are a constant part of me. Without those Dylan songs in my heart, I would be unable to recognize myself. But, those songs weren’t ever meant to contain my personal philosophical world view. They weren’t about me, they weren’t even about Bob Dylan. They were songs. And songs are more important than me or even Dylan.

All songs are more important than their literal content. It’s hard to find any song by anyone that I agree with intellectually. I’m not sure old MacDonald had a farm and I never wanted to just hold her hand. Maybe I’m too Sexy (for my Shirt) by Right Said Fred speaks directly for me, but that’s a very short list.

I must be careful that my new tolerance doesn’t fall into disrespect. Listening to these records I mustn’t pretend that Bob could be singing about any old thing. I can’t pretend that we can replace the word “Jesus” with “Chuck Berry” and the songs would mean the same thing. They would not mean the same thing. I mustn’t patronize a Nobel Laureate with some sort of ugly work-around of “God to him is what art is to me.” All of that would be an insult to Dylan and I would never do that. So, as I listen to these gospel songs, I try to take his faith and passion seriously and honestly and feel it as best I can from his point of view. I need to let his preaching the word of god speak to me of the human condition, uplift me, inspire me, and not in any way cheapen the depth of his belief.

And not just for these gospel records. Common wisdom is that Dylan went back to being a secular song writer after this period, but that’s a lie. The truth is Bob Dylan never was and never will be a secular song writer: “God said to Abraham kill me a son” – is not “Fly Robin Fly.” “I can hear a sweet voice gently calling, must be the mother of our Lord.” “I’m sworn to uphold the laws of God.” And “Narrow Way” is more about Jesus’s “narrow gate” than an answer song to Sir Mix-a-Lot.

Every one of these records starts with a version of “Slow Train,” and for those who are familiar with the previously released versions, it’s a wonder to listen to the passion and the importance grow as the band gets hotter and hotter. I hear “Gotta Serve Somebody” lose its silliness, and it’s a mystery how that happens. Dylan takes the goofy “Man Gave Names to All the Animals” and makes it goofier by changing up the obvious rhymes. Gospel Dylan can be fun. Every version I hear of “Caribbean Wind” speaks directly to me. “I hear a voice calling ‘Daddy,’ I always think it’s for me” and “Paying attention like a rattle snake does.” Oh. My. God.

The covers he chooses for these tours include Hank Williams’ (as Luke, the Drifter) “Help Me Understand” and the weirdest cover, “Rise Again,” which sure sounds like it’s first person from the Christ’s point of view, and you don’t hear something like that every day. We get to hear Santana wailing on “The Groom’s Still Waiting at the Altar” in San Francisco 1980 (yup, that’s the concert I passed up – this fool said in his heart, I’m not going to that gospel show). I’ve always loved “Every Grain of Sand,” but the versions here are really something else. The ad included here for a Portland show is what’s called in the business “a quote ad,” but the quotes don’t start out flattering to the Bob’s gospel music. The patron wants to hear “rock and roll” and if he wanted to hear preaching he could go to church. It ends with some quotes from people who like it, but make it sound like hard work . . . it’s a mixed review at best. To my ear the people who are recorded sound like voice actors and that makes it so much weirder and so much more beautiful. Bob is making it clear that this decision is real and wasn’t made for commercial purposes. I even love the marketing of this period.

My favorite tracks on this record are the two very different versions of “Ain’t Gonna Go to Hell for Anybody.” I was listening to these records while my real friends and social media friends were bouncing from one political outrage to another and every side of every issue seemed to be competing for who could spew the most hate and demonstrate the most damage. To stop my heart from breaking, I just played over and over again:

I can persuade people as well as anybody
I got the vision, but it caused division.
I can twist the truth as well as anybody.
I know how to do it, I’ve been all the way through it.
But it don’t suit my purpose and it ain’t my goal
To gain the whole world, but give up my soul.

And I sang along with it. I screamed along with it. I cried along with it.

The epiphany: There are atheists in foxholes and there are atheists singing along with “Ain’t Gonna Go to Hell for Anybody.” I’m listening now.








Fire in My Bones
By Amanda Petrusich

Bob Dylan’s conversion to Evangelicalism, in 1979, rattled his constituents – in part because it seemed incongruous, politically, with the leftist ideology of the folk revival, but mostly because it seemed incongruous, somehow, with Dylan himself. Up until then, the guy always appeared so needless – even (or especially) when he was singing of romantic betrayal, as he did often in the years prior to his spiritual baptism, coolly recounting the vagaries of broken love on records like 1975’s Blood on the Tracks. Yet if we think of Evangelicalism, like every religion, as a kind of sense-making rubric – a stern and unambiguous system in which hopelessness and existential worry are addressed and corrected for – it makes sense that Dylan would have been drawn to it, especially at the end of the 1970s, a decade in which Americans came to embrace a particular (and odious) brand of atomized individualism, and then had to reckon with the spiritual repercussions of this new way of living. People were feeling alone, lost, punctured.

In a 1976 cover story for New York, Tom Wolfe declared the seventies the “Me Decade,” and decried the breakdown of social values. He also noted the ways in which the moral tumult of the sixties – namely, how the violence of the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights movement left many Americans shaken, if not fully embittered – led to a subsequent rise in religious interest, particularly for conservative southern denominations that emphasized a personal relationship with Jesus. “The war in Vietnam, Watergate, the FBI and CIA scandals, had left the electorate shell-shocked and disillusioned and that in their despair the citizens were groping no longer for specific remedies but for sheer faith, something, anything (even holy rolling), to believe in,” Wolfe writes. He figured this shift in the country’s spiritual temperature explained the popularity of Jimmy Carter, who was Born Again, and, per Wolfe’s characterization, a “missionary lectern-pounding Amen ten-finger C-major-chord Sister-Martha-at-the-Yamaha-keyboard loblolly piney-woods Baptist.” In her book The Evangelicals, Frances Fitzgerald argues that the emergence of the Christian right as a political force at the end of the seventies was sudden: “Just three years before there had hardly been a hint of it,” she writes.

Historians bicker about whether this groundswell in religious interest constitutes a proper Fourth Great Awakening – a period of intense religious revivalism, usually led by Evangelical Protestant ministers – but it’s undeniable that it happened. We emerged wounded from the so-called Long Sixties, and fell into a new era of righteous devoutness. Christianity is predicated on a streamlined desire, a narrowing: abandon it all, except for your love of God. That simplicity is part of its allure.

**

Dylan has talked about his spiritual conversion being preceded by a single event: in 1978, at a show in San Diego, someone tossed a small silver cross onstage. Dylan walked over, picked it up, and dropped it in his pocket. The next night, in Tucson, he wasn’t feeling especially well. “I said, ‘Well, I need something tonight.’ I didn’t know what it was. I was used to all kinds of things. I said, ‘I need something tonight that I didn’t have before.’ And I looked in my pocket and I had this cross,” he explained to a live audience in 1979. That night, Dylan had an epiphany in his hotel room. “There was a presence in the room that couldn’t have been anybody but Jesus…Jesus put his hand on me. It was a physical thing,” he told Karen Hughes, a reporter for The Dominion, a daily newspaper in New Zealand, in 1980. “I felt it. I felt it all over me. I felt my whole body tremble. The glory of the Lord knocked me down and picked me up.”

Accounts of these sorts of events – any Earthly manifestation of a God – tend to be urgent, dramatic. The Catholic monk and poet Thomas Merton, describing one of several religious epiphanies he experienced in his lifetime, described it as “being jerked clean out of the habitual, half-tied vision of things.” Six days later, at a show at the Tarrant County Convention Center in Fort Worth, Texas, Dylan was wearing the cross onstage. “I’d worn crosses before but this one was different,” said Dylan. “It seemed to have some kind of energy in it.” Dylan was thirty-seven years old. What was he looking for?

It’s possible to build a fairly sturdy case – historicizing the moment, contextualizing the impulse within that moment, parsing the metaphoric significance of both – as to why Dylan’s Christian conversion, at this precise time in his life and career, at this precise time in American history, is maybe not so mystifying. But Dylan’s description of that night is both personal and unambiguous. He saw God.

I’ve spent a decent amount of time trying to understand what it might have felt like for him. This might sound banal, but the closest I can get is by imagining the precise instant when a person falls in love – when they finally meet the man or woman they will ultimately marry, or see their newborn child for the first time. In that moment, the mind is subsumed by a wild, knee-wobbling certainty – a divine-seeming mandate to love and be loved. Is it the same? Probably not. I asked a friend – a dedicated Catholic – if he had ever had a comparable vision, or been gripped by a physical experience of Jesus. “No visions,” he said. “But there’s a metaphor for the Spirit as Father and Son looking at one another with total, categorical, unflinching love. And then they both sigh. And that sigh is the Spirit. That’s what I’d say I’ve felt. That sigh.”

**

In a sense, Dylan has always performed devotional material – work that suggests an unyielding allegiance to a certain worldview, a giving over of the self to unseen forces. He has always been searching. But these new songs – the material that would ultimately comprise Slow Train Coming, Saved, and Shot of Love, all released between 1979 and 1981 – marked his first turn toward proper gospel. The characterization is straightforward. The scholar and critic Horace Clarence Boyer identifies the four foundational characteristics of the form this way: pure gospel is intended to win souls for Christ; it operates, structurally, in small intervals that allow for “the sound of piety;” the verses and the chorus describe an action and a reaction (this typically manifests as call-and-response); and should, finally, “reach all groups and invite their performance.” Gospel is provocative and seductive by design; it should cajole listeners into not only heeding its warnings and implorations, but in taking up the fight on their own, adding another voice to the choir.

**

That year, Dylan had written a batch of songs for Carolyn Dennis, another one of his backup singers-turned-partner (he and Dennis married in 1986, later splitting up), but ultimately, he decided to perform the material himself. Slow Train Coming was recorded at Muscle Shoals Studio, and produced by Jerry Wexler, whose work with Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, and other soul luminaries had impressed Dylan. Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits was brought in to play guitar. (Months earlier, Dylan’s drummer and engineer, Arthur Rosato, had shared “Sultans of Swing,” Dire Straits’ elastic, loping first single, and Dylan had been to see the band during their residency at the Roxy, in Los Angeles). The sessions were tinged with a kind of mania. “Bob, you’re dealing with a sixty-two year old confirmed Jewish atheist,” Wexler reportedly told Dylan, after Dylan tried to evangelize to him. “I’m hopeless. Let’s just make an album.”

“Jerry was never going fall under the spell of true to life Christianity,” Dylan said. “But that’s beside the point. There are a lot of people who live the life of a Christian in their behavior and speech, but would never count themselves among the faithful. However, there are just as many souls who profess to be Christians whose actions and speech prove that they wouldn’t know Christ from a hole in the wall.”

The record’s title track, “Slow Train,” is a clear declaration of faith. It opens each of the discs included on this set, and live, Dylan fiddled with the arrangement frequently, reimagining it as bigger, or slinkier, depending on the night. It’s a foreboding song, and moves slowly, like a shadow that gradually darkens the room. The train itself feels like an easy metaphor for inevitable damnation, or at least for the coming collapse of western civilization. Dylan recounts a litany of collective sins: “Have they counted the cost it’ll take to bring down / All their earthly principles they’re gonna have to abandon?” he asked.

Live recordings from this era still feel like the best evidence of the ways in which Dylan had internalized the Evangelical directive to spread the gospel – to preach. Slow Train Coming was a far more dynamic work on tour than it was on record; the versions collected here are electrifying. This feels equally (if not more) true of the two albums – Saved, in 1980, and Shot of Love, in 1981 – that followed. They were documents to enable the tours, and the tours were opportunities for Dylan to serve the Lord by spreading His word.

Of course, people were horrified. Upon their release, critics called these records “hectoring,” “limpid,” “graceless,” “self-righteous,” and “an artistic dead end.” In a particularly scathing review of Shot of Love, Paul Nelson, writing in Rolling Stone, threw up his hands: “Truth be known, my initial reaction was just another example of the old and familiar Bob Dylan syndrome: i.e., because the man's past achievements have meant so much to so many of us, we tend to give his newest work the benefit of every doubt. No more. For me, it stops right here.”

Dylan was evangelizing almost every night. People were walking out of the shows. In Tempe, Arizona, in the fall of 1979, Dylan was seething at the crowd’s reaction, admonishing his hecklers for their Godlessness. It is hard to say whether any of these sanctified jeremiads – and they were frequent – actually furthered his message. “What a rude bunch tonight, huh? You all know how to be real rude. You know about the spirit of the Anti-Christ? Anybody here know about that? I know you do. Well, it’s clear the Anti-Christ is loose right now. He came in the door the same time y’all did…” He requested that the house lights be brought up. “How many people here are aware that we’re living in the End of Times right now? How many people are aware of that? Can anybody raise their hand? Oh, I see, nobody.”

As a songwriter, Dylan has always been interested in endings. This manifests, in obvious ways, when he sings about death, on songs like “Going Going Gone,” from 1974’s Planet Waves, or “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” from 1973’s soundtrack to Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. In an interview in 1966, with the journalist Robert Shelton, he admitted as much: “I have a death thing, I know. I have a suicidal thing, I know.” As part of his Christian education, Dylan was reading Hal Lindsey’s The Late Great Planet Earth, which was first published in 1970. Lindsey turned out to be something of a nut – a dispensationalist who, in 2008, suggested that Barack Obama was the Anti-Christ – but The Late Great Planet Earth sold more than twenty-eight million copies, and was the first Christian prophecy book to be published by a secular press (Bantam, in 1973); in 1979, it was adapted into a film narrated by Orson Welles. Lindsey believed that all the fiery, end-times passages in the Bible – particularly in the books of Daniel, Ezekiel and Revelation – could be applied, loosely, to the 1980s. He believed Russia and Iran, as Magog and Gog, would initiate the Battle of Armageddon. It might be time, Lindsey mused, for believers to be raptured, and for the Second Coming of Christ to establish his thousand-year reign on Earth.

Dylan bought it. In 1979, he thought the End was looming, imminent. On stage, he was quoting from Second Timothy: “In the last days, perilous times shall be at hand. Men shall become lovers of their own selves. Blasphemous, heavy, and high-minded,” he announced to a crowd in Arizona. (Second Timothy is actually even more brutal in its accounting of sinners: “For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, having a form of Godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”) “There’s gonna be a war called the Battle of Armageddon, which is like some war you never even dreamed about,” Dylan finished. “And Christ will set up His kingdom. You doubt that? You must be living in a dream world.”

**

If you can separate the teachings of Jesus from the trappings and mistakes of organized religion, there is nothing but beautiful lessons: love and forgive each other. Be in awe of something outside of yourself. Plucked from the context of the church, the particulars become nearly unimportant. The idea, mostly, is to be a better, less selfish steward of the world.

Eventually, Dylan would stop preaching from the stage. He began to back away, publicly, from the idea that he was ever Born Again. Just as it remains difficult to ascertain what promoted his conversion, it’s hard to say what begat his apostasy. Armageddon didn’t happen as Lindsey had foretold it, and Dylan’s attentions slowly turned to other things: questioning political authority, making sense of love and his own longing. “We are always living in the state of Armageddon, Hal Lindsey or no Hal Lindsey,” was Dylan’s only comment. In 1983, he released Infidels, a record his detractors quickly heralded as a grand return to (secular) form. “It wasn’t a return to anything, it’s just those naysayers trying to justify themselves. I’ve always told my so-called fans not to follow me or anyone else. They are just a bunch of babies if they do. I don’t like those kind of fans,” he commented later.

“You know it’s not even safe no more in the palace of the Pope,” he sings on “Don’t Fall Apart on Me Tonight,” the album’s closing track. In 1997, in an interview with Newsweek, he elaborated on the particularities of his beliefs. “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,” he told David Gates. “I don’t find it anywhere else…The songs are my lexicon. I believe in the songs.”

What’s maybe most remarkable to me now about Dylan’s gospel recordings is the humanity they inadvertently betray. Dylan was always looking for something to believe in, but for a brief while, his journey toward meaning became archetypal: he was seeking salvation for his own sins, and for the sins of the world. He found an ideology and a practice that addressed those needs. Erstwhile fans might have felt deeply confused (if not betrayed) by the particular turn his path took in 1978, but that dread – of having lost at something, and then gotten lost – is surely familiar to anyone who has been alive on Earth for a significant amount of time. Feeling remorseful about your failures, and wanting both to prostrate yourself and to be forgiven – it’s hard to think of anything more instinctive to the human heart. Listening to Dylan’s music from this era, all I can hear anymore is that plaintiveness. It’s a pure signal. A man looking for a way forward.


Trouble No More: Track by Track

I remember attending the first ever Dylan convention in Manchester, England in the summer of 1979. Gathered in one hotel ballroom were a couple of hundred Dylan fanatics from around the globe. On the final day of the convention, a rep from Columbia U.K. came by to preview for this august group a single track from Bob’s forthcoming religious opus. It was an amazing moment. One could hear a pin drop while we all focused our ears, neurons and emotions on the first public airing of “Precious Angel.” You could cut the tension with a knife. After the last note vanished into the ether, a very divided room spent the rest of the conference arguing vociferously about the very notion of Bob Dylan singing didactic lines such as “Ya either got faith or ya got unbelief, and there ain’t no neutral ground.” Many assumed that the man who had always asked questions was now unquestioningly accepting doctrine that left no room for critical thinking. One would have thought there had been a revolution. Perhaps, in fact, there had been!

I personally loved the whole scene. It reminded me of nothing so much as the furor surrounding Bob’s decision to go electric in 1965 or that greeted the middle-of-the road material on Self Portrait. Once again, Bob Dylan, the questor, was on the move forcing himself and, by extension, his audience to, despite what many thought, ask questions about their beliefs, values, existence and what life was really worth. All great art makes its audience think. All great art makes its audience question. This was, undoubtedly, great art and the slow train coming was, indeed, just around the bend.

Disc One : Live

1. Slow Train (San Francisco, CA – Nov. 16, 1979)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Fred Tackett – guitar
Spooner Oldham, Terry Young – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums
Regina McCrary, Helena Springs, Mona Lisa Young – background vocals

In a sense, the slow train had started its journey late in the previous year. On November 17, 1978 in San Diego during the last leg of a 115 concert multi-continental tour, someone had thrown a cross onto the stage. Just over a week later in Houston, Bob made an interesting change in the lyrics to “Tangled Up in Blue.” What had always been, “Then she opened up a book of poems and handed it to me/Written by an Italian poet from the 13th century” became “She opened up the Bible, and started quoting it to me/The Gospel according to Matthew, Verse 3, Chapter 33.” Bob had gotten his Bible passages mixed up and in the next show in Jackson, Mississippi he changed the citation from Matthew to Jeremiah. He would continue to sing these lines through the next couple of weeks until the tour’s end on December 16.

During the 1979 shows, he typically introduced the song “Slow Train” by saying, “This is called ‘Slow Train Coming.’ It’s been coming a long time and it’s picking up speed.” In the fall of 1981 he would often preface the song with a rap about how when he was a young boy he would watch trains going by three or four times a day, wondering where they were going, knowing that one day he was going to be following their path. In 1965, Bob Dylan sang, “He not busy being born is busy dyin’.” While that is a wonderful mantra to live one’s life by, that line for me has always summed up Bob’s approach to his own material. As is manifest throughout this collection, and especially on the four versions of “Slow Train” included here, his penchant for constant reinvention, play and re-visioning of the lyrics, melody, groove and arrangements of his songs lies at the heart of his artistic vision/sensibility/aesthetic.

“Slow Train” remained in Bob’s live set for every show through the end of 1981. He brought it back into play occasionally in 1987 with both the Grateful Dead in the United States and with Tom Petty during his European tour later that year.


2. Gotta Serve Somebody (San Francisco, CA – Nov. 15, 1979)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Fred Tackett – guitar
Spooner Oldham, Terry Young – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums
Regina McCrary, Helena Springs, Mona Lisa Young – background vocals

A #24 pop hit in the fall of 1979, “Gotta Serve Somebody” is probably the best known of all of Dylan’s gospel songs. Dylan first performed the song October 20, 1979 on Saturday Night Live and then again February 27, 1980 at the Grammy Awards. On the latter night he took home the Grammy for “Best Rock Vocal Performance Male” for 1979, shockingly, the first Grammy Dylan would receive. The lyrics of “Gotta Serve Somebody” draw a clear line between those serving the Lord and those who are not. As such, they set the agenda for Bob’s deep seated faith. He would use the song to open the Slow Train Coming album as well as every gospel show between November 1, 1979 and July 1, 1981. It was also one of the few gospel songs that stayed in his repertoire for decades as he performed it over 400 times through April 2011. Curiously enough, the word “gotta,” although in the title, is actually never sung in the actual song!

In 1985 Reverend Bert Cartwright traced most of the Biblical passages that served as the sources for Dylan’s gospel lyrics in a booklet entitled The Bible in the Lyrics of Bob Dylan. Cartwright locates the genesis of the lyric Dylan wrote for “Gotta Serve Somebody” in three gospel passages:

Joshua 24:15: “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve.”

Matthew 6:24: “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”

Matthew 12:30: “He that is not with me is against me.”

As was the case with “Do Right to Me Baby (Do Unto Others),” “Gotta Serve Somebody” is a song comprised of lists: e.g., you might be this, you might be that but you’re gonna have to serve somebody. It is striking that in a song that lays out as plain as daylight something as serious as serving God, Bob maintains a sense of humor with a line such as “You may be living in a mansion/Or you might live in a dome” referring to his recently built Malibu abode. Even more surprising is the final verse where he sings: “You may call me Bob, you may call me Zimmy/You may call me R.J, you may call me Ray.” While the reference to Zimmy is obviously a play on his given name, the reference to R.J. and Ray is a nod to comedian Bill Saluga’s television character Raymond J. Johnson. Saluga’s Johnson character was famous for his shtick “You can call me Ray, or you can call me J, or you can call me . . . but you don’t have to call me Johnson.” In the late 1970s, just prior to Dylan penning “Gotta Serve Somebody,” the “You can call me Ray” sketch re-entered the mainstream when it was included in a series of commercials for Anheuser-Busch light beer.

This live version from San Francisco November 15, 1979 is similar to the album version but is notable for Fred Tackett’s funky rhythm guitar fills, an omnipresent tambourine and solos by both Tackett and Spooner Oldham.

The song would prove the most covered of Dylan’s gospel songs, including versions by gospel great Shirley Caesar, Booker T. & the M.G.’s, Mavis Staples, Willie Nelson and Etta James, to name a few.


3. I Believe in You (Pittsburgh, PA – May 16, 1980)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Fred Tackett – guitar
Spooner Oldham, Terry Young – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums

The lyric is clearly based on Philippians 1:29: “Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.” The song is a strong statement of conviction, lovingly set to one of the three or four most beautiful melodies Dylan crafted during his entire gospel period. As is the case with virtually all the material on this box set, the live version trumps the studio recording. The version heard on the first disc of this box is from one of the later shows on the third leg of the initial gospel tour in the spring of 1980. Dylan’s vocal renders his belief palpable especially on the climactic chorus lines. Worthy of note is the way he sings the word “heart” at the end of the first chorus where he clearly breaks its single syllable into six distinct syllables, a technique he used a lot during parts of his 1974 tour with the Band. His phrasing on the third line of the next verse, “Where I will always be renewed,” is nothing short of virtuosic. It is such idiosyncratic transcendent moments in Dylan’s vocal performances that drive his most fervent fans to want to hear him night after night in concert after concert, knowing that every performance will be a singular reinvention of the possibilities of his art and the meaning potential of his songs.

“I Believe in You” is notable as one of the few gospel songs not to include the female background vocalists on either the live or studio versions.


4. When You Gonna Wake Up? (Oslo, Norway – Jul. 9, 1981)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Fred Tackett, Steve Ripley – guitar
Willie Smith – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums
Clydie King, Carolyn Dennis, Regina McCrary, Madelyn Quebec – background vocals

Revelation 3:2 reads: “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.”

The Slow Train Coming version of “When You Gonna Wake Up?” has a syncopated electric piano part that interlocks with slightly deadened drums, sounding for a few seconds like the instrumental track could have fit nicely on the Band’s second album. The live version from Oslo 1981 is significantly different. It opens with Willie Smith, who replaced keyboardists Terry Young and Spooner Oldham for the summer 1981 shows, improvising on the organ in what amounts to a meditation on the song’s core themes. After a full forty seconds, a haunting, reflective Dylan enters, singing the first couplet and the chorus with the organ following his every move as if we were having church. At the end of the first chorus the full band comes in, laying down a tightly wound groove building up to the next chorus where the performance simply explodes. While the lyrics consist of a string of two-line verses that catalogue the world’s ills followed by the plea/warning of the chorus—“When you gonna wake up/Strengthen the things that remain”—there is somehow a sense of joy to the high energy, relentlessly insistent performance. Highlights of the Oslo version include Smith’s church-infused organ solo and Tackett’s rocking guitar solo, each underscored by prominent cymbal crashes while Jim Keltner also marks every transition with razor sharp tom tom fills.


5. When He Returns (Albuquerque, NM – Dec. 5, 1979)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Spooner Oldham – piano

“When He Returns” is the crown jewel on Slow Train Coming, containing one of the greatest vocal performances of Bob Dylan’s career. It is also one of his finest compositions and was a highlight of the first two legs of the first gospel tour in the fall of 1979 and the winter of 1980.

The live version from Albuquerque December 5, 1979 (Disc 1) is substantially different from the album version as Dylan strums his guitar along with Spooner Oldham’s piano accompaniment. All three versions included on this set are breathtaking in their vulnerability. The song couldn’t be simpler—no bridge, no chorus, no solos, no rhythm section, no background singers. It is simply a prayer with Dylan summoning a vocal from the depth of his soul articulating some of his most moving lyric lines.


6. Man Gave Names to All the Animals (Portland, OR – Jan. 16, 1980)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Fred Tackett – guitar
Spooner Oldham, Terry Young – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums
Carolyn Dennis, Regina Peebles, Regina McCrary, Mona Lisa Young – background vocals

“Man Gave Names to All the Animals” is a bit of an oddity in Dylan’s canon in that, while referencing the story in Genesis 2:19-20 where Adam “gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast in the field,” it is essentially a children’s song. Set to a light reggae-infused groove with background vocalist Regina McCrary playing a clave beat on wood blocks, the song proved to be popular live. Dylan played it at every show through the end of 1981, bringing it back sporadically from 1987 thought 1991. Released as a single in Europe, it charted in France and Belgium. Dylan clearly enjoyed the song’s inherent humor, often playfully mixing up various animals’ names. In this version, from Portland, Oregon in January 1980, he sings the word “dog” instead of “pig” in verse four subverting the obvious rhyme: “It wasn’t too small, and it wasn’t too big/Ah, I think I’ll call it a . . .” The essential point of the song is contained in the final verse. Containing only three lines instead of four—“He saw an animal as smooth as glass/Slithering his way through the grass/Saw him disappear by a tree near a lake . . .” After the last line the singers hiss, underscoring the reference to the snake, presumably from the Garden of Eden.


7. Precious Angel (San Francisco, CA – Nov. 16, 1979)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Fred Tackett – guitar
Spooner Oldham, Terry Young – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums
Regina McCrary, Helena Springs, Mona Lisa Young – background vocals

Sporting an exquisite melody, the studio version of “Precious Angel” is dominated by Mark Knopfler’s trademark pinched guitar leads. Here, Tackett does his best to replicate Knopfler’s sound in his breaks. The live version has also been somewhat rearranged as it is taken at a quicker pace with the background vocalists having a greater role.

“Precious Angel” is a paean to personal revelation, largely drawing on 2 Corinthians 4:4: “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” Much of the power of the lyric draws on the seeming inevitability of the chorus lines: “You know, I just couldn’t make it by myself/I’m a little too blind to see.” To my way of thinking, though, the calm presentation and brightness of the melody is somewhat belied by the verse: “Can you imagine the darkness that will fall from on high/When men will beg God to kill them and they won’t be able to die,” which is taken from Revelations 9:6: “In those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.” How much more starkly could the rapture be personified.

“Precious Angel” was performed just over 70 times between the fall of 1979 and the fall of 1980. It has not appeared in Dylan’s sets since that time.


8. Covenant Woman (Santa Monica, CA – Nov. 20, 1979)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Fred Tackett – guitar
Spooner Oldham, Terry Young – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums

Seven of the nine songs that appeared on Dylan’s second gospel album, Saved, were premiered at the very first gospel concert on November 1, 1979 in San Francisco, four months before the album was recorded and eight months before it was released.
This live version was captured at the third of four performances at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on November 20, 1979. While the tune itself is one of Dylan’s most exquisite, he enhances it with a delicate, nearly fragile vocal performance in parts of the verse which he alternates with stronger statements especially on the chorus, both approaches deftly conveying the gratitude he feels for the subject the song is addressed to.

The inside cover of the Saved album included the following Biblical inscription from Jeremiah 31:31: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah.” This was the same Bible passage that Dylan had started referring to in “Tangled Up in Blue” in the latter part of the fall 1978 tour. It also clearly relates to the lyric of “Covenant Woman.”


9. Gonna Change My Way of Thinking (Memphis, TN – Jan. 31, 1980)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Fred Tackett – guitar
Spooner Oldham, Terry Young – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums

“Gonna Change My Way of Thinking” is the hardest rocking song on Slow Train Coming. Written as a 12-bar blues with a classic aab lyric structure and an inexorable riff, various lines and verses in the song reference Biblical passages including Matthew 24:42: “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” and Matthew 12:30: “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.” The latter two passages ring out loud and clear in the penultimate verse: “Jesus said, ‘Be ready for you know not the hour in which I come’/He said, ‘He who is not for Me is against Me,’ Just so you know where he is coming from.” The message could not be clearer in what is an incredibly didactic song!

Fred Tackett is on fire here, while Dylan employs a range of vocal gymnastics as he plays with how much nasality and rasp he uses on different lines and words. As with “I Believe in You,” it is one of the few gospel songs in which Dylan does not use his background singers, instead tackling the vocal solo.


10. Do Right to Me Baby (Do Unto Others) (Kansas City, MO ¬– Jan. 28, 1980)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Fred Tackett – guitar
Spooner Oldham, Terry Young – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums
Carolyn Dennis, Regina Peebles, Regina McCrary, Mona Lisa Young – background vocals

By the time of this live performance of “Do Right to Me Baby,” the lyrics had changed and his four gospel vocalists had assumed the responsorial role on the chorus that is played by Barry Beckett on electric piano on the album. It strikes me that Dylan perhaps conceives of these “list”-based songs as forever permeable in terms of lyrics. His approach reminds one of blues singers in the 1920s and early 1930s where a song’s identity was often the first verse which served as its emotional and thematic core and the rest of the lyrics were somewhat malleable drawn from what is often referred to as a “floating pool of verses.” For this performance, Dylan indeed keeps the core of the first verse and also retains single lines and couplets from various verses heard on the album and, surprisingly, lines and couplets heard on the December 1978 soundcheck and concert versions that did not appear on the album. A couplet from one verse is often combined with a couplet from another verse. While fascinating, none of this changes the core message of the song, articulated strongly in that openly line “Don’t want to judge nobody, don’t want to be judged.”

While perhaps a minor song within Dylan’s gospel repertoire, the live 1980 version of “Do Right to Me Baby” is more atmospheric than either the 1978 or studio versions. The interplay between Fred Tackett’s jangly guitar arpeggios and Spooner Oldham’s electric piano is delightful, the background singers’ responses on the chorus add a dramatic flourish underscoring the dialectical nature of the lyric, and Bob’s vocal subtlety plays with both timbre and dynamics. The ending, where Dylan and Tackett engage in the ancient art of weaving with their guitars, is enchanting.


11. Solid Rock (San Diego – Nov. 27, 1979)

Bob Dylan – vocal, guitar, harmonica
Fred Tackett – guitar
Spooner Oldham, Terry Young – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums
Regina McCrary, Helena Springs, Mona Lisa Young – background vocals

“Solid Rock” closed side one of Saved and was positioned in the number seven slot right after “Precious Angel” during the fall 1979 gospel shows. Just as “Blessed Is the Name” served to conjure up the frenzied state of a revival meeting during the encores, “Solid Rock” was a fire and brimstone uptempo gospel shout mid-set that told about the end times while sending audiences into a neuron-firing fervour night after night. Two very different performances are included in this collection. This one is a great version of the arrangement played throughout the first three legs of the gospel tour and, for the most part, provided the template for the studio recording. The differences between the live and the studio recording are that the live version is a little faster than its studio counterpart and it includes a breakdown before the intensity is built back up again with all the singers chanting “Won’t let go and I can’t let go” repeatedly. The syncopated riff is transformative. One of the Dylan’s cleverest hooks can be heard here in the way he breaks the key line “Made/before/the foundation/of/of the world” into five distinct utterances.


12. What Can I Do for You? (San Diego, CA – Nov. 27, 1979)

Bob Dylan – vocal, guitar, harmonica
Fred Tackett – guitar
Spooner Oldham, Terry Young – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums
Regina McCrary, Helena Springs, Mona Lisa Young – background vocals

“What Can I Do for You?” was the second-to-last song of Dylan’s main set each night from the first gospel show in the fall of 1979 through the end of the spring 1980 shows, and a regular feature of nearly every other gospel show through the summer of 1981. For my money, Dylan’s performance of the song was the most riveting, utterly sublime moment every night. With “What Can I Do for You?” Dylan penned a rarefied and exquisite melody which he set to lyrics that drew on various parts of the Bible including Job 5:7: “Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward,” Proverbs 3:7: “Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil” and Ephesians 6:16: “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”

It’s fascinating that many of the songs from this period use rather simple language and syntactic constructions when compared to Dylan’s virtuosic compositions on albums such as Highway 61 Revisited or Blood on the Tracks and, yet, these songs are just as intellectually and emotionally moving as “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)” and “Tangled Up in Blue.”

Take verse 2: “Soon as a man is born the sparks begin to fly/He gets wise in his own eyes and he’s made to believe a lie/Who would deliver him from the death he’s bound to die?/You have done it all and there’s no more left to do/What can I do for You?” The aaabb rhyme scheme is a nice deviation from what might have been expected but, ultimately, there is nothing too complicated about the language or structure. Yet the lyric feels as if there is a sense of inevitability to it as each word rolls effortlessly into each subsequent word and each line seems the logical complimentary one to the lines that both precede and follow it. Nothing feels forced, the sum is greater than the parts and the whole is immensely satisfying. One feels that the verse couldn’t (and shouldn’t) have been written any other way. There are very few songwriters who can consistently attain this level of artfulness.

The musical structure of “What Can I Do for You?” is also very interesting. Taken together, the chorus and verses add up to 15½ bars. The chorus is comprised of two three bar phrases, the first four lyric lines of the verse take up two bars each and the final “What can I do for You?” takes up one bar with a half bar turn around. It might seem like a small detail but nearly every other contemporary musician would have made this structure into an even 16 bars. The dropped two beats are anything but inconsequential. They make the question posed in the title and at the end of each verse—“What can I do for You?”—that much more poignant.

The two harmonica solos which sandwich the final verse follow the same structure. Every night these harp solos were an emotional high point, each one a balancing act as Dylan tried to wrestle from the deepest reaches of his soul the depth embodied in the song’s lyric and communicate that with that simplest and yet most complex of instruments, the diatonic Hohner harmonica. The solos were different every night and are among the most transcendent and soulful musical statements of Dylan’s career.
Finally, I would be remiss not to make mention of Regina McCrary’s vocal obbligato insertions throughout the song, especially during the final verse and harp solo. There are no words that I can summon up to convey the emotional impact resulting from the dialectic of Bob and Regina during those awe-inspiring moments.

The songs that ended up on Saved were so much richer in performance than they were on the album and, as every ethnomusicologist and astute music lover knows, meaning is found to a much greater degree in performance practice than it is in words, melody and chord progressions. This is clearly manifest in so many of the live performances captured on this box set and it is certainly true with “What Can I Do for You?”

Oddly enough, Debby Boone covered “What Can I Do for You?” on her With My Song album which happened to reach #10 on Billboard’s Inspirational LP charts at the same time that Dylan’s Saved was #14, Slow Train Coming was #36 and Dallas Holm and Praise Live, featuring a song called “Rise Again” (covered by Dylan on Disc 4), was #15.


13. Saved (Portland, OR – Jan. 12, 1980)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Fred Tackett – guitar
Spooner Oldham, Terry Young – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums
Carolyn Dennis, Regina Peebles, Regina McCrary, Mona Lisa Young – background vocals

The final barn burner amongst the post-Slow Train Coming songs that Dylan had written was “Saved.” Co-credited to bass player Tim Drummond, the song provided the title for Dylan’s second gospel album and clearly articulated a transformation from songs of warning and castigation for those not following the Christian way to songs that simply expressed Dylan’s gratitude that he, himself, had found a path to salvation. Although the difference in approach might be subtle to some, Dylan’s second batch of gospel compositions lyrically come from a different place.

Part of the regular set from the first gospel performance through Nov. 2, 1981, “Saved” draws on passages from Psalm 51 and Revelations 9. This performance comes from a show in Portland at the beginning of the second leg of the first gospel tour in January 1980. Another song modelled to some degree on Pentecostal shout recordings such as those of the great Mattie Wigley, the song’s primary hook is the descending guitar line. Dig the boogie woogie, 16th note-ridden piano solo by Terry Young in the middle, the remarkably high energy of the whole band on display beginning to the end and the cataclysmic zealous ecstasy of what were now four female gospel singers: Regina McCrary, Mona Lisa Young, Regina Peoples and Carolyn Dennis. Note the 1950s gospel quartet style ending where the tempo is dramatically slowed down, the piano plays high triplets and the gospel singers repeatedly sing the line “Saved by the blood of the lamb” in heterophony, various singers taking the liberty to freely ornament the repeating line, upping the tension every time through.


14. In the Garden (Kansas City, MO – Jan. 27, 1980)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Fred Tackett – guitar
Spooner Oldham, Terry Young – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums
Carolyn Dennis, Regina Peebles, Regina McCrary, Mona Lisa Young – background vocals

“In the Garden” (heard here in a performance from Kansas City during the second leg of the gospel tour), followed “What Can I Do for You?” every night to bring the main set to a close. It is a powerful song full of lyrical solemnity that in five verses takes the listener, band and vocalists from the moment the Romans came to arrest Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane to his resurrection three days later. In between, Nicodemus asks Jesus “why a man must be born again,” Jesus heals the blind and crippled and, in the fourth verse, avoids being crowned king. Dylan clearly was enamored with “In the Garden,” performing it on every tour through 1996 with the exception of the 1984 tour of Europe. After 1996, he put the song to rest with the exception of one-off performances in 2001 and 2002.

The five verses of “In the Garden” are each based on a question: “When they came for him in the garden did they know?,” “When he spoke in the city did they hear?” and so on. The verses are structured with the question being articulated twice, followed by a couplet addressing the situation the question refers to and then the question is reiterated twice more, together forming a six line unit. The brilliance lies in the chord progression as each of the last three lyric lines (e.g., “Did they hear when he told Peter, ‘Peter put up your sword?’/When they came for him in the garden, did they know?/When they came for him in the garden, did they know?”) has an identical chord progression that each time modulates a whole tone higher, brilliantly underscoring the idea of the question and the gravitas of the scene, song and the end of the concert. The effect at times is overwhelming. The song is slightly reminiscent both lyrically and musically of the gospel classic “Were You There?” as sung by Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers.

Spooner Oldham’s nightly organ solo before the second last verse contributes greatly to the feeling of inevitability in the song, performance and the Biblical stories articulated in the lyrics. Regina McCrary and Mona Lisa’s vocal interpolations during the statement of each refrain are deeply soulful and extremely uplifting.


Disc Two : Live

1. Slow Train (London, England – June 29, 1981)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Fred Tackett, Steve Ripley – guitar
Willie Smith – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums
Clydie King, Carolyn Dennis, Regina McCrary, Madelyn Quebec – background vocals

While the 1979 live version of “Slow Train” sticks fairly closely to the album arrangement this version from London nearly two years later is dramatically different. Slightly faster, this later version is much more aggressive both in terms of Bob’s vocal and the band’s inexorable groove. There are two guitar solos, the first one most likely from Fred Tackett, the second courtesy of newcomer Steve Ripley. The latter aims for the stratosphere, seeming to verge on going out of control. The background vocals have added a new part towards the end where they imitate the sound of a train whistle while Bob is particularly elastic in his vocal phrasing.


2. Ain’t Gonna Go to Hell for Anybody (unreleased song – Montreal, Canada – Apr. 24, 1980)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Fred Tackett – guitar
Spooner Oldham, Terry Young – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums
Clydie King, Gwen Evans, Mary Elizabeth Bridges, Regina McCrary, Mona Lisa Young – background vocal

During the April 1980 shows in Toronto that opened up the third leg of the first gospel tour, Dylan debuted three new songs, all of which were ultimately never released. While all three are magnificent, “Ain’t Gonna Go to Hell for Anybody” is the one that I always wished he had continued to perform.

“Ain’t Gonna Go to Hell” first appeared in the fourth slot in the first Toronto show April 17th. It remained there through all of the April and May shows and then appeared again during all the fall “Musical Retrospective” shows, never to be performed afterwards. On this compilation performances are included from both the spring and the fall 1980 tours. They are as different as night and day, both lyrically and in terms of arrangement.

I vividly remember that first night in Toronto as if it was yesterday. After Bob had opened up with the usual trio of “Gotta Serve Somebody,” “I Believe in You” and “When You Gonna Wake Up?” the stage lights went dark and out of the ether came Clydie King singing the title line twice. On the third reiteration, she was joined by Mary Bridges and an arpeggiated guitar, on the fifth by Regina McCrary and on the seventh Mona Lisa Young and Gwen Evans join in on the simple yet beautiful and instantly memorable melody. The song feels fresh and spirited during the spring shows, driven by Tim Drummond’s meaty bass line and the gorgeous doubled bass and guitar melodic hook on the turnaround.


3. Gotta Serve Somebody (Bad Segeberg, Germany – July 15, 1981)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Fred Tackett, Steve Ripley – guitar
Willie Smith – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums
Clydie King, Carolyn Dennis, Regina McCrary, Madelyn Quebec – background vocals

The 1981 version from London of “Gotta Serve Somebody” is by far the most intense of all the versions. Bob’s vocal takes on a force that is nearly frightening and Jim Keltner crafts a stomp down Bo Diddley-inflected groove replete with cymbal crashes on beat one of every second bar that is unbelievably intense. By this point, Bob typically had started adding and subtracting lyric lines, continuing to play with the song’s possibilities. His inventiveness never ceases to amaze. The song’s conclusion is particularly riveting as the band breaks down, Clydie King growls “but you gotta serve somebody” and the other singers add a stratospheric “ahh” to cap it off. The performance sends shivers down the back.


4. Ain’t No Man Righteous, No Not One (unreleased song – San Francisco, CA – Nov. 16, 1979)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Fred Tackett – guitar
Spooner Oldham, Terry Young – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums
Regina McCrary, Helena Springs, Mona Lisa Young – background vocals

The studio outtake, included on Disc 3, is in a higher key and sung by Dylan solo, while the live version is harmonized beginning to end by Dylan and Regina McCrary. It is taken at a more relaxed tempo and has a somewhat slinky, funky feel to the groove. During the guitar solo, Regina engages in some righteous soulful wailing before bringing the solo to a close by singing the song’s title line. For some reason, Dylan omits the penultimate verse during the live version.

While Dylan only sang “Ain’t No Man Righteous” three times in concert, on the January-February 1980 leg of the gospel tour Regina would sometimes perform the song during her solo spot. In 1981 “Ain’t No Man Righteous” was covered by reggae group Jah Malla.


5. Saving Grace (San Francisco, CA – Nov. 6, 1979)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Fred Tackett – guitar
Spooner Oldham, Terry Young – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums

For most of his career, Dylan’s melodic facility has been overlooked as many critics and fans have tended to focus more on his lyrics. The truth is that Bob has written arresting, oftentimes gorgeous melodic tunes right from the beginning of his career. That said, the three years during which he wrote gospel-oriented material seem to have been a particularly fertile period in this regard. “Saving Grace” is yet another melody of breathtaking beauty.

The song’s lyrics convey a sense of humility and gratitude as Dylan comes as close as he ever did to writing what could have been an 18th century hymn. The core of the lyric seems to come from Ephesians 2:8: “For by grace are ye saved through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.”

In addition to the wonderful image contained in the refrain (“By the saving grace that’s over me”), the lovely juxtaposition of Spooner Oldham and Terry Young’s organ and piano playing helps to make manifest the song’s hymnal quality. The organ weaves counter melodies under the vocal, at the same time laying out the harmony, while Young’s piano adds melodic and percussive asides. Also worth noting are the three wonderfully understated eight-bar guitar interludes that frame the final two verses. They are the only guitar solos in this period that are played by Dylan who, rather than turn on the fire, deploys a melodic, decorative, inimitable, idiosyncratic style.

Dylan’s singing, as usual, is superb. The song is made up of five verses, each of which has its magic moments. Two worth singling out are (1) the third line of verse four (“As I look around this world all that I am finding”) where Bob suddenly turns up the intensity with a remarkable depth and strength and (2) the first line of verse two (“By this time I’d-a thought that I would be sleeping”) which moves along a continuum from singing-to speaking as Bob phrases “I’d-a” and “thought” together in a legato manner while articulating each syllable of “that-I-would-be” in an opposing staccato fashion. These kinds of details go by so fast that they are not consciously registered by most listeners. Nonetheless, they are certainly processed at the unconscious level and have a lot to do with why Dylan is one of the most gifted singers of the past sixty years.

“Saving Grace” was a part of the set from the first shows in November 1979 through the last shows in May 1980. The song was then dropped from Dylan’s repertoire until February 2003. It was then occasionally played through April 2005, and brought out one final time on August 29, 2012 in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.


6. Blessed Is the Name (unreleased song – Santa Monica, CA – Nov. 20, 1979)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Fred Tackett – guitar
Spooner Oldham, Terry Young – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums
Regina McCrary, Helena Springs, Mona Lisa Young – background vocals

Written post-Slow Train Coming, “Blessed Is the Name” served as the first of two encores for all but one of the fall 1979 and winter 1980 shows, yet it is the only one of the regularly performed and at-the-time unreleased songs on those first two tours that was not recorded for the Saved album. It was most likely replaced with “Are You Ready?” which was premiered at the second last show in the winter of 1980, closed the Saved album and took the place of “Blessed Is the Name” as the first encore every night on the spring 1980 tour. “Blessed Is the Name” was resurrected for one final performance at the extraordinary Akron shows near the end of the April/May tour.

Its chorus and main message is taken virtually word for word from Daniel 2:20: “Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his.” The arrangement and performance that Dylan and company played on those first two tours took on the patina of a revival meeting with the title repeated incessantly by Dylan and the gospel singers. The band breaks it down save for the drums on the third and fourth iteration of the title, allowing the singers to rave on in rapturous glory, usually with the audience on their feet joining in. In the middle of the song Fred Tackett delivers one of his trademark wild, mercury-laden guitar solos. “Blessed Is the Name” provided one of several cathartic moments each and every night that it was in Dylan’s repertoire.


7. Solid Rock (Philadelphia, PA – Oct. 23, 1981)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Fred Tackett, Steve Ripley – guitar
Al Kooper – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner, Arthur Rosato – drums
Clydie King, Regina McCrary, Madelyn Quebec – background vocals

This fall 1981 version from Philadelphia has been drastically rearranged from the 1979 and 1980 versions. It is much slower, opens with a slinky call and response section between the girls and various band members and features slide guitar from new guitarist Steve Ripley. What had been a revival shout is now a slide guitar swamp blues song. For the fall 1981 shows, Dylan added a second drummer in Arthur Rosato. The double drum attack of Keltner and Rosato generates thunderous tom tom fills and significantly intensifies the fall 1981 performances. In the process “Solid Rock” acquires a very different kind of, and perhaps even more, astonishing power.

The extraordinary rhythmic energy of “Solid Rock” was featured at every gospel show through the end of 1981. The song was then revived in 2002 for just under twenty performances and has been dormant ever since.


8. Are You Ready? (Buffalo, NY – Apr. 30, 1980)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Fred Tackett – guitar
Spooner Oldham, Terry Young – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums
Clydie King, Gwen Evans, Mary Elizabeth Bridges, Regina McCrary, Mona Lisa Young – background vocals

“Are You Ready?” is yet another one of Dylan’s gospel songs that is structured around posing a series of questions, in this case the ultimate one being: “Are you ready for Armageddon?/Are you ready for the day of the Lord?”

Dylan introduced the song at the second-to-last show of the second leg of the first gospel tour February 8, 1980 in Charleston, West Virginia. I was there that night and after nearly 50 shows featuring identical sets, the appearance of a new song was extraordinarily exciting for both the band and those that had been following the tour. From February 9th the song would replace “Blessed Is the Name” as the first encore every night through the final date of the third leg of the gospel tour on May 21st in Dayton, Ohio. Dylan felt strongly enough about “Are You Ready?” that he chose to use it to close the Saved album, released in June 1980.

As was the case every night, “Are You Ready?” served as a vehicle to introduce the band before Dylan and company launched into the blues-based tune which is underpinned by a simple, and yet inexorable, 2-bar bass-driven riff that, a la “In the Garden,” seems overladen with a deep-seated sense of sombreness. Given the lyrics, perhaps that is not so inappropriate.

Luke 12:40 states: “Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not” while Matthew 7:23 proclaims: “I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

Dylan simply asks in the opening verse: “Are you ready to meet Jesus? Are you where you ought to be?/Will He know you when He sees you/Or will He say, ‘Depart from Me’?/Are you ready?”

As he did in 1965 and 1966, Dylan is challenging his audience, forcing them, if only for perhaps a few minutes or hours, to get outside of their comfort zone to confront their own realities, who or what they wish to be and how they want to construct their symbolic universe. What more can one hope for from great art?


9. Pressing On (San Francisco, CA – Nov. 6, 1979)

Bob Dylan – vocal and piano
Fred Tackett – guitar
Spooner Oldham, Terry Young – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums
Regina McCrary, Helena Springs, Mona Lisa Young – background vocals

As is the case with many of the songs during Dylan’s gospel period, “Pressing On” is structured around a good deal of repetition. Yet, it never feels like it suffers for this. This version, from the fifth ever gospel show, opens with close to two minutes that consist of nothing but a sparse piano accompaniment played by Bob while he and the background vocalists sing the lines, “Well I’m pressing on, yes I’m pressing on, Well I’m pressing on to the higher calling of my Lord” three times. Each reiteration gets a little more intense, manifested by very slight increases in dynamics and ever more divergences between Bob and the background singers. This is especially true on the climactic third line as the magnitude of the song’s message provides a statement and summary of the way forward for Dylan, band and potentially audience members after two incredibly intense hours of fiery gospel combined with reflective messages of grace, redemption and hope. This effect is magnified in between the two verses (Dylan sang three verses at the first two gospel concerts while only two thereafter) when the lines are repeated four times. At this point, Dylan gets up from the piano and moves center stage with just a microphone. For the next two iterations Bob and the gospel singers articulate these lines acapella with the girls adding the phrase “on and on and on and on” every second time after the first “pressing on.” After the second verse, the song unfolds with more repetitions of those very simple but profound (especially due to the way they are sung) lyrics. The performances of “Pressing On” grew over the course of the three legs of the first tour.

Dylan performed this song 65 times through the Dayton, Ohio concert in May 1980 that concluded the third leg of the first gospel tour and has never performed it since. That’s a shame as the performances of “Pressing On” at these shows were some of the most cathartic moments I have experienced in the close to 200 Dylan concerts that I have been fortunate enough to attend.


10. Shot of Love (Avignon, France – July 25, 1981)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Fred Tackett, Steve Ripley – guitar
Willie Smith – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums
Clydie King, Carolyn Dennis, Regina McCrary, Madelyn Quebec – background vocals

When Dylan headed into the studio in March 1981 to record the third and last of his three gospel albums, “Shot of Love” was the first composition that the band worked on. Bob was clearly enamored with the song, choosing it as both the title and opening track of his new album. As is the case with a number of songs cut in this period, Clydie King effectively shadows Bob’s vocal, doubling his parts although at a significantly lower volume. Bob relayed to Cameron Crowe for the liner notes to Biograph that, “Clydie’s one of the great singers ever. I get chills when I hear her just breathe, something about the texture of her voice so deep and so soulful, so tough and sensitive at the same time. She’s one of them singers that could sing the telephone book and it would just put a bolt through you.”

The live version from Avignon is absolutely savage. Dylan had been playing the song live since July 1st, although the Shot of Love album was not released until August, and by the Avignon show on the 25th the song had acquired a ferocity and power that is absolutely breath-taking. Especially noteworthy are Clydie King’s wailing gospel-infused vocables which she adds after every chorus, amplifying just how desperately the protagonist needs a shot of (God’s) love.

After the 1981, Dylan put the song on hold until the 1986 and 1987 tours with Tom Petty. “Shot of Love” was then played six more times in 1989.


11. Dead Man, Dead Man (Toulouse, France – June 21, 1981)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Fred Tackett, Steve Ripley – guitar
Willie Smith – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums
Carolyn Dennis, Regina McCrary, Madelyn Quebec – background vocals

Bob told an audience in Birmingham, Alabama in the fall of 1981 that “Dead Man, Dead Man” “is a song about myself . . . I just wrote the song while looking into the mirror.” In May 1980 Dylan alluded to the idea of the song by introducing “Slow Train” stating, “Lots of dead people walking around today, telling everybody they’re alive. Nations are being ruled by dead people, people with no life in them at all.”

Ephesians 5:14: “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead” is clearly one source for the song’s basic premise while the fantastic opening line, “Uttering idle words from a reprobate mind,” comes from Romans 1:28: “God gave them over to a reprobate mind.”

A live version of “Dead Man, Dead Man” from a November 1981 show in New Orleans was issued as the B-side of Oh Mercy’s “Everything is Broken” in 1989. This version is from the first European gig that summer on June 21st in Toulouse, France. It is taken at a slightly faster pace and is much more dynamic than the studio version. Notice the twin guitar harmonized breaks between the last two verses and at the conclusion of the performance.


12. Watered-Down Love (Detroit, MI – June 12, 1981)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Fred Tackett, Steve Ripley – guitar
Willie Smith – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums
Clydie King, Carolyn Dennis, Regina McCrary, Madelyn Quebec – background vocals

After recording Shot of Love, Bob embarked on a summer tour that included four warm-up shows in the U.S. before heading over to Europe for another 23 shows. This live version is from the third of the American warm-up shows at the Pine Knob Amphitheatre just outside of Detroit in Clarkston, Michigan. The live audience seems to inspire Dylan as he gives a much stronger vocal performance than he did on the album. Note the way he elongates and gradually increases his volume and power on the word “confession” on the last line of the second verse: “Won’t write it up and make you sign a false confession.” Also note that the third verse has become substantially rewritten less than a month after it was recorded and two months before the official version would be released. Dylan also skips the fourth verse that is on the outtake (found on Disc 4) and album version, adding instead the fifth verse that is on the outtake but is omitted from the officially released version.


13. In the Summertime (Boston, MA – Oct. 21, 1981)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Fred Tackett, Steve Ripley – guitar
Al Kooper – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner, Arthur Rosato – drums
Clydie King, Regina McCrary, Madelyn Quebec – background vocals

Bob told Bill Flanagan in 2009 that “In the Summertime” was an attempt to capture the feeling of an old-time 19th century piano parlour ballad. He worked on the song at least three times in April and May 1981 to come up with the version that was included on Shot of Love. The live version included here, from a fall show in Boston, is very similar to the album version with the exception that Steve Ripley plays a guitar solo between the second and the third verse whereas, on the album, Bob had played a harmonica solo at that point. Although Jim Keltner, Tim Drummond and the gospel singers were still on board, the 1981 band sounds very different from the 1979 and 1980 group due to the presence of second guitarist Steve Ripley and, on the fall tour, organist Al Kooper. Ripley had a very different approach to solos than Fred Tackett, tending to opt for single-note lines played through a distinctively overdriven amp as is clearly heard on this particular performance.


14. The Groom’s Still Waiting at the Altar (San Francisco, CA – Nov. 13, 1980)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Fred Tackett – guitar
Carlos Santana – guitar
Willie Smith – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums
Clydie King, Carolyn Dennis, Regina McCrary – background vocals

One of my favorite Dylan songs of all time, “The Groom’s Still Waiting at the Altar” is the third of the three epic compositions Bob crafted that summer. It is a fiery piece of molten fury that very nearly didn’t see the light of day. Rehearsed before the fall 1980 shows, Dylan debuted it November 13th at the Fox Warfield in San Francisco (the performance heard on this disc), played it five times during that brief run of shows, recorded it for the Shot of Love album in March, April and May 1981, decided to leave it off the album and never played the song in concert again. Although it was not included on the vinyl versions of Shot of Love, it did find a home on the cassette release and was issued as the B-side of the first single from the album, “Heart of Mine.” Receiving substantial airplay and hailed by many critics as a masterpiece, the song was added to the compact disc version of Shot of Love in 1985 and has been an integral part of the album ever since. This is the only time that Dylan has altered the track listing of an album subsequent to its release.

While all versions of “The Groom’s Still Waiting at the Altar” sound closer to electric mid-sixties Dylan than anything he had recorded in years, the live versions from the fall of 1980 with their heavy shuffle groove, are particularly reminiscent of the feel of “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35.” On a number of nights, various guests, including Mike Bloomfield, Jerry Garcia, Maria Muldaur and Roger McGuinn, sat in with Dylan at the Fox Warfield shows in November 1980. On November 13th Carlos Santana showed up and he is heard wailing away on the live version of “The Groom’s Still Waiting at the Altar” that is included here, taking two synapse-snapping solos. Dylan’s voice is at its most intense, harsh and emphatic as he is clearly reveling in the sheer rock and roll chaos of this glorious riff-based stomp.


15. Caribbean Wind (San Francisco, CA – Nov. 12, 1980)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Fred Tackett – guitar
Willie Smith – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums

After his initial gospel tours, Dylan’s creative juices were at a peak. Among the plethora of songs that he wrote between June and September were three signal compositions that rank with his very best work. Unbelievably, two of these songs came close to never being released. “Caribbean Wind” is a remarkable composition that Bob reworked a number of times. He debuted the song in San Francisco on November 12, 1980 during the fourth show on the “Musical Retrospective” tour. Dylan fans were abuzz with excitement as anyone who was there that night or who heard it subsequently on cassette tapes of the show recognized the song as a major new composition. Sadly, Bob never performed it again, but a version he worked on in the studio, ostensibly for Shot of Love, was released in 1985 on the Biograph anthology. That version, interestingly enough, with the harmonized vocals and Dylan’s approach to phrasing, sounded like it could have easily fit on his 1975 album Desire.

The live version from San Francisco on November 12th is significantly faster, features major lyric changes, and a brief organ solo from Willie Smith while Dylan adopts a very different voice, much closer to that heard on Blood on the Tracks. While in all versions it is difficult to make concrete sense of the complicated, time-shifting narrative, image after image is arresting and one ultimately hears the song the way one reads William Blake—at the end of the experience you cannot say exactly what it is about but you feel somehow profoundly affected by the sheer artfulness of the language used, the images conveyed and the musical setting. Dylan seems to agree, telling writer Cameron Crowe, “That one I couldn’t quite grasp what it was about after I finished it.”

Whatever the case, “Caribbean Wind” is truly one of the greatest songs that somehow got away from Bob.


16. Every Grain of Sand (Lakeland, FL – Nov. 21, 1981)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Fred Tackett, Steve Ripley – guitar
Al Kooper – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner, Arthur Rosato – drums
Clydie King, Regina McCrary, Madelyn Quebec – background vocals

“Every Grain of Sand” is the second of Dylan’s major compositions from the summer of 1980. Written on his farm in Minnesota, he demoed the song with just piano, guitar and Jennifer Warnes on background vocals on September 23, 1980 (this version appears on The Bootleg Series Vol. 1-3), rehearsed the song with his band on September 26, 1980 (included on Disc 4) and recorded it for Shot of Love on April 29, 1981, but, curiously, he did not attempt the song in concert until the very final show of the fall 1981 tour, on November 21st in Lakeland, Florida (included on this disc).

Given that he didn’t perform “Every Grain of Sand” in the summer of 1981 or until the very last show in the fall, it may have taken awhile for Dylan to realize just how great the song truly was. He would go on to perform it throughout the 1984 tour, skipping it during the Tom Petty tours of 1986 and 1987 while regularly bringing it out on the Never Ending Tour from 1988 through 2013. The Greek chanteuse Nana Mouskouri covered the song in 1982, Emmylou Harris recorded it in 1985 and the Blind Boys of Alabama took it on in 2013. Dylan’s version from Shot of Love appeared on the soundtrack for the 1997 film Another Day in Paradise.


Disc Three : Rare and Unreleased

1. Slow Train (sound check – Largo, MD – Oct. 5, 1978)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Billy Cross, Steven Soles – guitars
Alan Pasqua – keyboards
David Mansfield – violin
Steve Douglas – saxophone
Jerry Scheff – bass
Ian Wallace – drums
Bobbye Hall – percussion
Helena Springs, Jo Ann Harris, Carolyn Dennis – background vocals

While it is impossible to know when exactly Bob had begun to think hard on Christianity, clearly the subject matter and the Bible were on his mind during his 1978 tour. Sometime in early fall he began working on what would bloom over the next few years into a glorious body of gospel music. If “Slow Train” wasn’t the first song he started to write in this vein, it is certainly the first song that he chose to rehearse with his band, beginning work on it October 5th at the sound check before his show that night in Largo, Maryland. More work was done on “Slow Train” at sound checks on October 14th and December 2nd. He may have also worked at it on other dates but, if so, no tapes exist.

This first attempt at “Slow Train” is fascinating. The tempo is slower than what it would evolve into and the band is certainly tentative. Dylan’s voice, after 62 shows is somewhat ragged and the lyrics are clearly not even close to being finished. That said, the enigmatic opening lines—“Lost in a dream/voodoo confection (confession?)”—are nothing short of tantalizing. The chorus is fully formed in all its burgeoning apocalyptic power with the background vocals singing ghostly “oohs” like sirens in the night while echoing the title line the second time around. Although Bob did not perform “Slow Train” publicly on the 1978 tour, it wasn’t too long before he began talking about an analogous slow train during his intro to “Señor” during his shows that fall.

On May 3, 1979 Bob arrived in Muscle Shoals to start recording the songs for his first gospel album. The studio version of “Slow Train” opens up with stinging lead licks from Dire Straits’ guitarist Mark Knopfler and immediately establishes itself as a tour de force, a clarion call to Bob’s newfound beliefs about a world gone so mad that “People starving and thirsting, grain elevators are bursting/Oh you know, it costs more to store the food than it do to give it.”


2. Do Right to Me Baby (Do Unto Others) (sound check – Greensboro, NC – Dec. 7, 1978)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Billy Cross, Steven Soles – guitars
Steve Douglas – saxophone
Jerry Scheff – bass
Ian Wallace – drums
Bobbye Hall – percussion

At the sound check for the eighth-to-last show of the 1978 tour on December 7th in Greensboro, North Carolina, Dylan worked on another new song rooted in his newfound interest in Christianity. The premise of “Do Right to Me Baby (Do Unto Others)” is the Biblical proverb from Matthew: “Therefore all things whatsoever that ye would [wish] that men should do to you, do you even so to them: for this is the law of the prophets.” (7:12) The opening line of the song, “Don’t want to judge nobody/Don’t want to be judged,” is based on another dictum in Matthew: “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” (7:1)

As is the case with a number of Bob’s early gospel songs, “Do Right to Me Baby” is structured as a series of lists, in this case of what the song’s protagonist doesn’t want to do to others and doesn’t want done to him. The version heard here, sounds like it had been previously worked on by the band. The performance is strong, the arrangement is largely fleshed out (dig Bobbye Hall’s wonderfully animated conga part) and Dylan seems comfortable and confident with both the lyrics and the melody, being particularly animated during the last chorus.

The band worked on the song again at the sound checks in Lakeland, Florida December 15th and at the Hollywood Sportatorium December 16th, debuting it at the Hollywood gig, which happened to be the last of 115 shows that year, as the penultimate song in the second set before the encores. The concert version was substantially faster and featured one less verse than that heard in the sound check from the 7th. The version cut for the Slow Train Coming album on May 4, 1979 is a full band version and has five verses, whereas the version Bob worked on at the sound checks in late 1978 had only three different verses. The only verse to survive intact between late 1978 and spring 1979 was the core first verse taken from the Gospel of Matthew.


3. Help Me Understand (sound check – Largo, MD – Oct. 5, 1978)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Billy Cross, Steven Soles – guitars
Alan Pasqua – keyboards
Steve Douglas – flute and saxophone
Jerry Scheff – bass
Ian Wallace – drums
Bobbye Hall – percussion
Helena Springs, Jo Ann Harris, Carolyn Dennis – background vocals

One of the most fascinating oddities on this collection stems from the same sound check as “Slow Train” at the Capital Center in Largo, Maryland on October 5, 1978. While Bob rehearsed a handful of blues covers at various sound checks during the 1978 tour, including Muddy Waters’ “I’m Ready” and Tampa Red’s “Love Crazy” and “Love Her with a Feeling,” all three of these songs were eventually integrated into the opening slot at various points in the tour. For some reason, at the Largo sound check Bob decided to work through a complete version of Hank Williams’ 1950 recording “Help Me Understand.” Williams’ version was issued under the nom de disque Luke the Drifter which he employed for seven singles issued between early 1950 and late 1952. The Luke the Drifter recordings consisted largely of recited, morality tales, the most well-known of which are “Too Many Parties and Too Many Pals,” “Be Careful of Stones That You Throw” and “Pictures from Life’s Other Side.”

“Help Me Understand” was issued as the flipside of the third Luke the Drifter single, “No, No, Joe,” the A-side being a political recitation written by Williams’ producer Fred Rose and directed at Joseph Stalin. Bob chooses to skip Williams’ opening verse and the first five lines of the original recitation, instead opting to go straight into the refrain which he sings twice shadowed by Helena Springs, Carolyn Dennis and Jo Ann Harris. He then launches into the heart of Williams’ recitation about a divorce and the effect it has on the make-believe couple’s young daughter. In one sense the piece is maudlin in the extreme yet, in Williams’ day he was completely serious about these recordings and Bob does an extraordinarily faithful rendition, capturing Williams’ nuances in the recitation with obvious respect and veneration.

Hank Williams’ songs have appeared in Dylan’s repertoire from his earliest known recordings. The producers included it here to illustrate Dylan’s long history of singing songs with biblical or straight out Gospel influences, from “Gospel Plow” and “In My Time of Dyin’” from his very first album to the ‘Heavenly Father’ invoked on this rehearsal.


4. Gonna Change My Way of Thinking (rehearsal with horns – Oct. 2, 1979)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Fred Tackett – guitar
Spooner Oldham – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums
Unknown horns

This horn rehearsal is rough and sounds like the band is still learning the groove that the lyric needs to sit in. It picks up on the third verse with the entrance of the strutting Stax-influenced horn line that is also heard on the studio version. Although Dylan did several rehearsals with horns, in the end it proved fiscally impossible to bring four additional members out on the road.

In March 2002, he re-recorded the song as a duet with Mavis Staples, replete with new lyrics, for a compilation of various artists singing his gospel material entitled Gotta Serve Somebody: The Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan. “Gonna Change My Way of Thinking” was performed regularly from 1979 to 1990 and then again on occasion from 2009 through 2011.


5. Gotta Serve Somebody (Take 1 – Slow Train Coming studio outtake – Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, Sheffield, AL – May 4, 1979)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Mark Knopfler – guitar
Tim Drummond – bass
Barry Beckett – keyboards
Pick Withers – drums

The differences between the first studio take for the Slow Train Coming album and the final version three takes later is quite revealing. Take 1, heard here, has a much more sprightly tempo, is dominated by interplay between acoustic piano and a funky clavinet line (the released version features a swampy, reverb-infused electric piano) and has a much more forceful vocal from Dylan right from the beginning of the track. Both this early take and the released version share Tim Drummond’s voodoo bass line while Take 1 doesn’t have the gospel singer responses on the chorus dubbed in yet and, in general, lacks the low down, taut edge that marks the released version.


6. When He Returns (Take 2 – Slow Train Coming studio outtake – Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, Sheffield, AL – May 4, 1979)

Bob Dylan – vocal
Barry Beckett – piano

According to co-producer Jerry Wexler in an interview with Jann Wenner, Dylan had planned to have Regina McCrary, Carolyn Dennis and Helena Springs sing the song for the album. With Barry Beckett improvising a piano accompaniment, Dylan laid down a rough vocal to serve as a demo for the girls. Dylan supposedly changed his mind, continued Wexler, and practiced all night. The next day he sang the vocal used on the album over Beckett’s piano part that had been originally cut for the demo. While Wexler’s account might be true, this outtake from those sessions makes at least part of his story problematic. What we do know for sure is that on May 4th, Dylan recorded ten takes of the song. Take 1 is supposedly with the full band while Take 2, included here, features just Beckett and Dylan. The curious thing is that Beckett’s piano part is significantly different as he comes to full stops at the end of the first phrase of each of the first two lines of all three verses, something he avoids doing on the take issued on the album. So, if Wexler’s story is true, which piano part is the one from the demo? Ultimately, I suppose, it doesn’t really matter as both versions are phenomenal, the differences simply throwing relief upon two masterful Dylan vocals. Just listen to the way he articulates the word “wilderness” at the end of the fourth line of the second verse on the outtake. Over a full two bars, at an incredibly slow tempo, he holds the syllable “ness,” changing his volume, the speed of his vibrato, and the thickness of his timbre before ending the syllable with a wonderful short melisma. It is a sublime moment, warranting innumerable repeated listenings.

Take 9 was the one used on the finished record.


7. Ain’t No Man Righteous, No Not One (Take 6 – Slow Train Coming studio outtake, unreleased song – Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, Sheffield, AL – May 1, 1979)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Mark Knopfler – guitar
Barry Beckett – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Pick Withers – drums
Mickey Buckins – percussion

“Ain’t No Man Righteous (No Not One)” is the third and final outtake attempted for Slow Train Coming. Ten takes of the song were recorded on May 11, 1979. The barrel house piano played here reminds me of classic early seventies Leon Russell.

Sources for the lyric can be found in Romans, Isaiah and Psalms as Dylan at this stage of his gospel writing is recasting Biblical passages into poetic form, fleshing out their meaning for a contemporary audience.

Primary sources include:

Romans 3:10: “As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one.”

Isaiah 4:6: “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are as filthy rags.”


8. Trouble in Mind (Take 1 – B-side studio outtake – Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, Sheffield, AL – April 30, 1979)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Mark Knopfler – guitar
Barry Beckett – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Pick Withers – drums

“Trouble in Mind” was the first song Dylan tackled when the Slow Train Coming sessions commenced in Muscle Shoals on April 30, 1979. A menacing one-chord blues, perhaps, not coincidentally, it shares its title with a 1926 blues standard written by Richard M. Jones and first recorded by Bertha “Chippie” Hill featuring Louis Armstrong on cornet. The latter is undoubtedly a record that Dylan would have known. The whole session that first day was devoted to “Trouble in Mind” with Dylan and producer Jerry Wexler eventually selecting take 7 to serve as the B-side to “Gotta Serve Somebody.” Included here is the very first take cut that day.

The song is built upon an atmospheric and haunting two bar bass line that ascends in the first bar only to descend in the next, at times answered by bright piano chords in the treble register. Dylan’s lyric combines ideas from the Book of Psalms, Ephesians and Jeremiah into a heady brew of apocalyptic warnings. Lines such as “You think you can hide but you’re never alone/Ask Lot what he thought when his wife turned to stone” are chilling in their implication.

Even more full of dread is the final verse that Dylan ultimately chose to leave off the single but that is included here: “When my life is over, it’ll be like a puff of smoke/How long must I suffer, Lord, how long must I be provoked/Satan will give you a little taste, then he’ll move in with rapid speed/Lord, keep my blind side covered and see that I don’t bleed.”

Bob’s vocal is equal to his lyric, full of foreboding and weariness. The ending perfectly captures the zeitgeist of the song as the band gets quieter and quieter, repeating the riff until everything fades to black.


9. Ye Shall Be Changed (Slow Train Coming studio outtake – Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, Sheffield, AL – May 2, 1979)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Mark Knopfler – guitar
Barry Beckett – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Pick Withers – drums

The lyric is based on 1 Corinthians 15:52: “In a moment, in a twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” While the image in the chorus of “The dead will arise and burst out of your clothes” is certainly arresting, the song is ultimately too repetitive and remains a minor composition within Dylan’s canon. As opposed to “Trouble in Mind,” it is not surprising that it was left off of Slow Train Coming and was never performed in public.


10. Covenant Woman (Take 3 – Saved studio outtake – Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, Sheffield, AL – February 11, 1980)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Fred Tackett – guitar
Spooner Oldham, Terry Young, Barry Beckett – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums

By the time Dylan got to Muscle Shoals to record Saved, the majority of the songs had been played in concert approximately 50 times by the same band that would go into the studio to cut them. This is the only time in Dylan’s career that he has worked that way. As a result, instead of Dylan experimenting in the studio, producing a raft of fascinating outtakes as he explores different approaches to arrangements, instrumentation and phrasing, there are few outtakes from the Saved sessions that are significantly different from the takes that appeared on the finished album. “Covenant Woman” is an exception as is manifest on this take from February 11, 1980.

The outtake begins with a bass line and implied chord progression that is absent from all the publicly performed versions of the song as well as the released version on Saved.


11. Stand by Faith (rehearsal, unreleased song – Sept. 26, 1979)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
John Pechizkijian – guitar
Spooner Oldham – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums
Regina McCrary, Helena Springs, Mona Lisa Young, Terry Young – background vocals

Written sometime after Slow Train Coming was recorded, “Stand by Faith” was rehearsed before the first gospel shows in the fall of 1979 but never actually made it to the stage. Although it was copyrighted in mid-November 1979 alongside “Blessed Is the Name of the Lord Forever,” it seems to have been in a pretty rudimentary and perhaps unfinished form at the time of the September 26th rehearsal version that we have here.

The song itself is set in a simple call and response fashion with a question being asked, “How do we stand (move/see/live/walk)?” which is always answered with “We stand (move/see/live/walk) by faith, Oh Lord.” Each question and answer is sung in harmony by Dylan, Helena Springs, Mona Lisa Young, Terry Young and Regina McCrary.

The Biblical source for the song is Romans 11:20: “Because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith.”


12. I Will Love Him (live, unreleased song – Toronto, Canada – Apr. 19, 1980)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Fred Tackett – guitar
Spooner Oldham, Terry Young – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums
Clydie King, Gwen Evans, Mary Elizabeth Bridges, Regina McCrary, Mona Lisa Young – background vocals

“I Will Love Him” debuted as the final encore at the third show in Toronto April 19, 1980. Dylan had worked on the song at the sound check two days previously and would work on it again at the sound check in Montreal on April 22 before performing it for a second and final time in Montreal on April 23.

As with “Ain’t Gonna Go to Hell for Anybody” and “Pressing On,” “I Will Love Him” is built upon a chorus in which the gospel singers simply repeat the words “I will love him, I will serve him, I will glorify His name” four times through to both start and end the song as well as to serve as the link between each verse. The song is infectious and might have been developed into an integral part of these shows but my guess is that Dylan may have thought that it was too similar to “Ain’t Gonna Go to Hell for Anybody” to keep it in regular rotation. I distinctly recall the exhilaration in the audience when Dylan performed the song at both the Toronto and Montreal concerts and it is an absolute joy to see it finally get released on this box set.


13. Jesus Is the One (live, unreleased song – Lorelei, Germany – Jul. 17, 1981)

Bob Dylan – vocal
Fred Tackett, Steve Ripley – guitar
Willie Smith – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums
Clydie King, Carolyn Dennis, Regina McCrary, Madelyn Quebec – background vocals

“Jesus Is the One” was supposedly written during the first few days of the summer 1981 European tour. It was premiered in Oslo July 9th and played eight times on the European tour, each time with different lyrics! It was reprised twice on the fall North American tour, once in Ottawa and then again at the final gospel show in Lakeland, Florida on November 21st.

The song is a hard hitting one-chord rocker with Steve Ripley laying down Chuck Berry-influenced licks in the intro and Bob and Clydie both playing cow bells. The lyrics are simple, the verses consisting essentially of a list of people who are not Jesus (including Nixon, Rockefeller and Roosevelt) while repeatedly asserting in the choruses that “Jesus is the One.” The word “Jesus” is declaimed by Bob and Clydie on beats 1 and 2 and then the words “is the one” are sounded at the end of the following bar, being echoed by the rest of the gospel singers immediately afterwards. The song only has two verses and so it is left to Steve Ripley to deliver flame-throwing solos after each verse over a stomp down rhythm courtesy of Jim Keltner and Tim Drummond.


14. City of Gold (live, unreleased song – San Francisco, CA – Nov. 22, 1980)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Willie Smith – organ
Clydie King, Carolyn Dennis, Regina McCrary – background vocals

“City of Gold” was rehearsed prior to the 1980 fall tour on October 16 and October 22. The song was premiered at the second show of the tour during the encores as the last song the full band would play before Dylan came back for 1-3 acoustic songs from the early and mid-1960s. It would continue in that position for the remaining 18 shows on the tour. The following summer Dylan played it one more time, mid-tour, in Birmingham, England. The classic gospel quartet the Dixie Hummingbirds recorded a version with rewritten lyrics in 2003 for the soundtrack to Dylan’s Masked and Anonymous movie.

The lyric is based on Revelation 21:18: “The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass.” The song, itself, has a simple four line, eight bar structure, each verse being an extension of the first verse’s opening line, “There is a city of gold.” Subsequent verses begin “There is a country of light,” “There is a city of love,” etc. After the first three verses, the late Willie Smith takes an extremely soulful organ solo backed by Dylan’s inimitable rhythm guitar. A sense of calm and peace pervades the performance as, other than quiet hand claps and, during the solo, tambourine, the rhythm section is silent leaving the performance to Smith, Dylan and the gospel singers.


15. Thief on the Cross (live, unreleased song – New Orleans, LA – Nov. 10, 1981)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Fred Tackett, Steve Ripley – guitar
Al Kooper – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner, Arthur Rosato – drums
Clydie King, Regina McCrary, Madelyn Quebec – background vocals

“Thief on the Cross” is the last song to be performed or recorded and probably the last song to be written during Dylan’s gospel period. It was only presented once in concert, in New Orleans on November 10, 1981. This is the same show that the version of “Dead Man, Dead Man” that was released as the B-side of “Everything is Broken” and the version of “Heart of Mine” that was issued on the 1985 Biograph anthology were taken from.

Steve Ripley is in fine form at this performance, playing lead lines on slide guitar in between Dylan’s high energy vocal and taking a fine solo before the final verse. Dylan sounds particularly animated. Although it is played at a much quicker tempo, the riff that runs through the song is slightly reminiscent of that used over a year earlier on “Cover Down, Pray Through.”


16. Pressing On (Take 1 – Saved studio outtake – Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, Sheffield, AL – February 13, 1980)

Bob Dylan – vocal and piano
Fred Tackett – guitar
Spooner Oldham – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums
Clydie King, Regina McCrary, Mona Lisa Young – background vocals

This studio outtake, the first of nine takes, is interesting in that the song is attempted in 12/8 time. Dylan’s voice sounds strained, nasal, high, insistent and intense on this outtake as he tightens up his vocal chords. It is a very different performance from that heard in concert or on the Saved album. Notice that on the outtake the third line of the first verse has also been changed from “But how can he give a sign for experience within” to “What kind of sign they need when it all come from within.” Dylan made that change just a couple of days after the November 6th performance included on Disc 2 of this collection.

Dylan drew inspiration for the song from Philippians 3: 13-14: “This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

Lines such as “When what’s lost has been found and what’s to come has already been” feel conclusive in their logic, poignant in their poetic grace, final, absolute, and irrefutable.


Disc Four : Rare and Unreleased

1. Slow Train (rehearsal with horns – Oct. 2, 1979)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Spooner Oldham – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums
Regina McCrary, Helena Springs, Mona Lisa Young, Terry Young – background vocals
Unknown horns

Here we have a fascinating version of “Slow Train” taped during early rehearsals in preparation for the first concert showcasing Dylan’s gospel material at San Francisco’s Warfield Theater. While it is fascinating to get a sense of what this material would have been like on the ensuing tour if the horns had been part of the band, Bob was apparently told that he could afford to take either the horn section or the background gospel singers on the road, but not both. I am sure the decision was easy as it is simply inconceivable to imagine what the gospel tours would have lost without the power, anointed presence, energy, and timbral and harmonic richness that the various configurations of background singers brought to this music. Unfortunately, at this point no one associated with the sessions can remember who the horn players were.


2. Gotta Serve Somebody (rehearsal with horns – Oct. 9, 1979)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Fred Tackett – guitar
Spooner Oldham – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums
Regina McCrary, Helena Springs, Mona Lisa Young, Terry Young – background vocals
Unknown horns

This rehearsal with horns in October is quite sparse during the first verse and chorus. On the second verse, the baritone sax plays on the offbeat before beat 1 and then right on 1 (+1) leading into every second bar while the full horn section plays harmonic pads under the chorus. On subsequent verses, the full horn section plays +1 on every second bar of the verses. While interesting, the horns do not play as transformative a role here as they did on the version of “Slow Train” rehearsed a week earlier and discussed above.


3. Making a Liar Out of Me (rehearsal, unreleased song – Sept. 26, 1980)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Fred Tackett – guitar
Willie Smith – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums

When Dylan and his band reconvened for rehearsals before his fall 1980 “Musical Retrospective” tour, he planned to combine his gospel material alongside earlier secular songs and a number of covers. Sixty songs were slated to be worked on at the rehearsals. Twenty of these were cover songs but a significant number of the remaining forty songs were newly written Dylan originals, presumably penned between June and September. One of those originals was “Making a Liar Out of Me”

“Making a Liar” sounds very much like a work in progress that had the potential to be developed into something special. For these rehearsals and the ensuing tour, Dylan brought in Toronto keyboard ace Willie Smith to replace Spooner Oldham and Terry Young. Smith’s gospel-infused organ dominates this rather interesting take before Dylan runs out of verses and the band peters out to a close. As far as can be discerned, the song was never worked on at any of the subsequent rehearsals and clearly was not considered for any of the shows or for the Shot of Love album.


4. Yonder Comes Sin (rehearsal, unreleased song – Oct. 1, 1980)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Fred Tackett – guitar
Willie Smith – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums
Clydie King, Regina McCrary, Carolyn Dennis – background vocals

“Yonder Comes Sin” was worked on at the same rehearsals at Rundown Studios as “Making a Liar.” Based on a riff that is slightly reminiscent of the Rolling Stones’ “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” the song is an uptempo rocking treatise whose lyrics declaim that even the most devout Christians are going to be continuously tempted as the Devil’s hand is always placing enticements in our pathways.

It is hard to know how long Dylan spent on “Yonder Comes Sin.” The copyright for the song lists seven verses while only four appear on this recording from the rehearsal on October 1, 1980 and there appears to be no other tape of the song in Dylan’s archive. If he had moved forward with it, “Yonder Comes Sin” would surely have been a hard rocking highlight of his live shows for its sheer energy alone.


5. Radio Spot for January 1980, Portland, OR show


6. Cover Down, Pray Through (live, unreleased song – Buffalo, NY – May 1, 1980)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Fred Tackett – guitar
Spooner Oldham, Terry Young – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums
Clydie King, Gwen Evans, Mary Elizabeth Bridges, Regina McCrary, Mona Lisa Young – background vocals

“Cover Down, Pray Through” immediately followed “Ain’t Gonna Go to Hell for Anybody” that first night in Toronto in April 1980 and stayed in that slot for the thirty concerts Dylan performed through the end of May. It was listed as a consideration for rehearsal in the fall but, if it was actually rehearsed, the song was never performed during the tour.

“Cover Down” is a blues-rock song with a chorus consisting entirely of two repetitions of the song’s title. The complete performance consists of four 16-bar verses, the same number of 8-bar choruses and guitar and electric piano solos. The second half is particularly notable as lyric lines 5-8, each occupying 2 bars, are taken in turn by Regina McCrary, Mona Lisa Young, and Clydie King (I absolutely love her singing of “Genesis to Revelation”!) with the final two lines harmonized by Gwen Evans and Mary Bridges. The arrangement reminds me of nothing so much as the way Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions would trade off lines between various group members and then between solo voices and two or more members singing harmony, communicating a profound sense of conviction and community.


7. Rise Again (rehearsal – Oct. 16, 1980)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Clydie King – vocal

The final track to discuss from the September-October 1980 rehearsals for the “Musical Retrospective” tour was a cover of a 1977 CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) song by Dallas Holm and Praise entitled “Rise Again.” Covered by Elvis Presley in the same year it was a hit for Holm, Dylan introduced the song November 18, 1980 at the ninth show of his fall tour and continued to perform it through the final show in Portland, Oregon on December 4th. Dylan sang the song one more time the following summer in Clarkston, Michigan before it vanished from his concert repertoire forever. The versions played at his concerts were sung as duets with Clydie King accompanied by the full band. On this rehearsal from October 16, 1980, Bob and Clydie are backed only by acoustic guitar. Bob sings the first verse, Clydie the second and they harmonize their way through the third. The real magic occurs on the three choruses where every line is sung together. Both singers have idiosyncratic voices with more than their fair share of rasp. The combination is one of the most exquisite things I have ever heard in my life. At times they are slightly reminiscent of the go-for-broke heterophonic harmonizing of Dylan and Baez in concert in 1963. Listen to the three open sixths they sing as they move though the word “rise” leading into the word “again.” The naked beauty of those open sixths, especially in the context of the lyrics where Jesus, literally, is proclaiming in no uncertain terms that he will rise again, is sublime beyond words.


8. Ain’t Gonna Go to Hell for Anybody (live, unreleased song – Salem, OR – Dec. 2, 1980)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Fred Tackett – guitar
Willie Smith – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums
Clydie King, Carolyn Dennis, Regina McCrary – background vocals

As is evident from a fragment of a highly revised lyric sheet in Dylan’s archive, he continued to work on the lyrics for “Ain’t Gonna Go to Hell for Anybody” over the summer. By the time he resumed touring in November 1980, with the exception of the bridge, the lyrics were completely different from both the version played in the spring and from the lyric sheet from the summer (albeit one line in the fall was a variant of one found on the summer’s lyric sheet: “Even when you’re walking away with your legs far apart” on the lyric sheet becomes “legs spread apart” at the December 2nd Salem, Oregon performance included here).

Tellingly Dylan introduces the fall 1980 performance by saying “This is a new thing that I’ve been trying to fix up.” The gorgeous a capella opening delivered by the gospel singers is gone. The song now begins with a band intro and is taken at a significantly quicker tempo. Dylan’s vocal sounds much more animated, nearly desperate at times, totally bereft of the calmness with which he declaimed the song’s title at the shows in the spring.


9. The Groom’s Still Waiting at the Altar (Take 2 – Shot Of Love studio outtake – Clover Recorders, Los Angeles, CA – May 1, 1981)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Fred Tackett, Steve Ripley, Danny Kortchmar – guitar
Steve Douglas – saxophone
Benmont Tench, Carl Pickhardt – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums
Clydie King, Regina McCrary, Madelyn Quebec – background vocals

As is the case with the eventually released version, the version included here features very different lyrics from the live performances in the fall of 1980 and is taken at a much quicker tempo, replete with wailing slide guitar and a baritone sax playing beat 4 and the following off beat. While it is cleaner and more developed than the live versions, it’s a toss-up as to which version I prefer.

The lyrics in all versions are exceptional, Dylan continually varying line length and creating rule breaking rhymes such as using “January” with “Buenos Aires” as end rhymes in the unforgettable couplet “What can I say about Claudette? Ain’t seen her since January/She could be respectably married or running a whorehouse in Buenos Aires.” That just might be my favorite Dylan rhyme since he paired “skull” with “Capitol” on 1974’s “Idiot Wind.”


10. Caribbean Wind (rehearsal with pedal steel – Sept. 23, 1980)

Bob Dylan – vocal and piano
Fred Tackett – guitar
Ben Keith – pedal steel guitar
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums

This pre-tour rehearsal of “Caribbean Wind” features Ben Keith playing pedal steel. At that same rehearsal Dylan ran through “Cover Down, Pray Through,” “Rainbow Connection,” “The Groom’s Still Waiting at the Altar” and “Yonder Comes Sin.” Presumably, Keith played pedal steel on all of these. Keith came back for one other rehearsal that month where Dylan and band worked again on “Yonder Comes Sin,” “Caribbean Wind” and the “The Groom’s Still Waiting at the Altar,” plus covers of Lowell George’s “Willin’,” Willie Nelson’s “Sad Songs and Waltzes,” “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” an old Irish ballad called “Easy and Slow,” a blues of unknown provenance entitled “Airplane” and Gordon Lightfoot’s “If You Could Read My Mind” as well as a number of Dylan originals including “Every Grain of Sand,” “Gotta Serve Somebody,” “What Can I Do for You?,” “Gonna Change My Way of Thinking,” “Let's Keep It Between Us” and “Fourth Time Around.” In addition to Ben Keith’s presence, it is interesting to note that David Mansfield and T Bone Burnett, both veterans of the Rolling Thunder Review, dropped by these rehearsals. Whether Dylan was considering bringing Keith on tour and adding pedal steel to several other songs in his set and/or changing other members of his band remains an interesting question.

The rehearsal version of “Caribbean Wind” is fascinating, featuring a previously unknown set of lyrics, the most arresting line being: “I was only paying attention like a rattlesnake does when he’s hearing footsteps trampling on the flowers.” That makes four different sets of lyrics that Dylan sang on different attempts at “Caribbean Wind”: at this rehearsal, at the one live performance and at two different studio sessions (March 31 and April 7, 1981—the latter appearing on Biograph). Ben Keith’s pedal steel lines function much as they do on his work with Neil Young, adding crystalline coloring under Dylan’s vocals, extending the end of lyric lines, adding responsorial fills and taking a solo to bring the song to a close.


11. You Changed My Life (Take 4 – Shot Of Love studio outtake, unreleased song – Clover Recorders, Los Angeles, CA – April 23, 1981)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Danny Kortchmar, Steve Ripley – guitar
Benmont Tench – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums
Clydie King – background vocal

“You Changed My Life” was worked on at Clover Studios on April 23, 1981 during the Shot of Love sessions. A version cut later that same day was included on the 1991 Bootleg Series Vol. 1-3 anthology. The version heard here is Take 4. It is slower than the later version, has significant lyric changes, a very different rhythm guitar part and a very different approach to the groove. Notice on the third verse on the line “I do it myself, it’s not so unreal” how much Dylan sounds like Randy Newman at his most sardonic.

The lyric is a paean of thanks and gratitude for the way Jesus Christ has changed the singer’s life. “You Changed My Life” had great possibilities but, certainly in the version heard here, it is quite a ways from being finished.


12. Shot of Love (Shot of Love studio outtake – Rundown Studios, Los Angeles, CA – March 25, 1981)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Steve Ripley, Danny Kortchmar – guitar
Carl Pickhardt – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums
Clydie King, Regina McCrary, Carolyn Dennis – background vocals

This outtake is interesting largely due to session musician Carl Pickhardt’s nearly out of control organ playing and Jim Keltner’s canon-like drums as well as the break down in the second last verse with Tim Drummond playing a great broken line bass part with Pickhardt adding the odd organ stab.


13. Watered-Down Love (Shot of Love studio outtake – Clover Recorders, Los Angeles, CA – May 15, 1981)

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Fred Tackett, Danny Kortchmar – guitar
Willie Smith – keyboards
Donald Dunn – bass
Jim Keltner, Ringo Starr – drums
Carolyn Dennis, Madelyn Quebec – background vocals

“Watered-Down Love” was originally titled “Pure Love.” Over the years, the song has tended to be designated as one of Dylan’s minor works. While its structure doesn’t offer a lot of variety, it has a rather engaging melody and a soul-influenced guitar lick between verses that several critics have suggested has a close connection to Betty Wright’s early seventies R&B smash “Clean Up Woman.” Close listening makes it clear that the connection is superficial at best. The lick is just a variant of a common early seventies soul/funk guitar part underpinned here with a bit of a reggae groove.

The reggae groove is much more pronounced on this outtake, recorded at Chuck Plotkin’s Clover Studios. Both the outtake and the live version on Disc 2 contain a fifth verse that was excised from the released take on Shot of Love: “Love that’s pure is not what you teach me/I got to go where it can reach me/I got to flee towards patience and meekness/You miscalculate me, mistake my kindness for weakness.”


14. Dead Man, Dead Man (Shot of Love studio outtake – Clover Recorders, Los Angeles, CA – April 24, 1981)

Bob Dylan – vocal, guitar, harmonica
Danny Kortchmar, Steve Ripley – guitars
Benmont Tench – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums
Clydie King – background vocals

Dylan attempted to record the song at six different sessions in April and May 1981. At seven-plus minutes, this outtake is substantially longer than the released version and has a completely different second verse, a fifth verse which was excised for the final version and a substantial change to the latter part of the third verse. It also has a much more pronounced reggae feel and Dylan’s harmonica playing seems to reflect a serious interest in reggae great Augustus Pablo’s idiosyncratic melodica playing. There is no harp work in any of Dylan’s known recordings that sounds anything like this. It is absolutely fascinating.


15. Every Grain of Sand (rehearsal – Sept. 26, 1980)

Bob Dylan – vocal
Fred Tackett – guitar
Willie Smith – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums

Dylan told Cameron Crowe that the song effectively wrote itself: “That was an inspired song that came to me. It wasn’t really too difficult. I felt like I was just putting words down that were coming from somewhere else, and I just stuck it out.” The title of the song is most likely derived from Blake’s observation in Auguries of Innocence that he could “see a world in a grain of sand.” The lyrics have a deep-seated feeling of sadness to them: “In the time of my confession, in the hour of my deepest need/When the pool of tears beneath my feet flood every newborn seed/There’s a dyin’ voice within me reaching out somewhere/Toiling in the danger and in the morals of despair.” It doesn’t get much bleaker than that.

Yet, it also seems to be a lyric that arrives at a deep understanding of the nature of the world: “In the fury of the moment I can see the Master’s hand/In every leaf that trembles, in every grain of sand.” Just as that last couplet suggests that there is an order and logic to the universe, there is an unmistakable sense of orderliness and logic to Dylan’s lyric. As opposed to most of his compositions, there are virtually no changes in the lyric from the first demo, through rehearsals, studio outtakes and a live performance, all spanning a period of 14 months. It is a rare example of a Dylan song that appears to have truly arrived fully formed.

The version that closed the Shot of Love album was recorded about seven months after the rehearsal in the fall of 1980 and about six months before the live debut in Lakeland, Florida.

***

The gospel years from 1979-1981 represent one of Dylan’s most creative, and often unfairly overlooked, periods in terms of song writing and performance. The commitment he evidently felt towards this material was profoundly in evidence night after night. I saw 16 shows in 1980 and another 7 in 1981 and I rank them alongside the Rolling Thunder concerts of 1975 and the December 1995 shows on the so-called Never Ending Tour as among the most moving performances of Dylan’s life. And that, my friend, is saying a lot given that in 2017 Bob Dylan is still pressing on, out on the road with an astonishingly fine band, still demonstrating a facility as a vocalist and performer that has virtually no peers.

By Rob Bowman, Grammy Award winning author of Soulsville U.S.A.: The Story of Stax Records

Disc Five : Live in Toronto 1980

1. Gotta Serve Somebody (April 18, 1980)
2. I Believe in You (April 18, 1980)
3. Covenant Woman (April 19, 1980)
4. When You Gonna Wake Up? (April 18, 1980)
5. When He Returns (April 20, 1980)
6. Ain't Gonna Go to Hell for Anybody (April 18, 1980)
7. Cover Down, Pray Through (April 19, 1980)
8. Man Gave Names to All the Animals (April 19, 1980)
9. Precious Angel (April 19, 1980)


Disc Six : Live in Toronto 1980

1. Slow Train (April 18, 1980)
2. Do Right to Me Baby (Do Unto Others) (April 20, 1980)
3. Solid Rock (April 20, 1980)
4. Saving Grace (April 18, 1980)
5. What Can I Do for You? (April 19, 1980)
6. In the Garden (April 20, 1980)
7. Band introductions (April 20, 1980)
8. Are You Ready? (April 19, 1980)
9. Pressing On (April 18, 1980)

All tracks recorded live at Massey Hall, Toronto, Canada.

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Fred Tackett – guitar
Spooner Oldham, Terry Young – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums
Clydie King, Gwen Evans, Mary Elizabeth Bridges, Regina McCrary, Mona Lisa Young – background vocals


Disc Seven : Live in London – June 27, 1981

1. Gotta Serve Somebody
2. I Believe in You
3. Like a Rolling Stone
4. Man Gave Names to All the Animals
5. Maggie's Farm
6. I Don’t Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met)
7. Dead Man, Dead Man
8. Girl from the North Country
9. Ballad of a Thin Man

Disc Eight : Live in London – June 27, 1981

1. Slow Train
2. Let's Begin
3. Lenny Bruce
4. Mr. Tambourine Man
5. Solid Rock
6. Just Like a Woman
7. Watered-Down Love
8. Forever Young
9. When You Gonna Wake Up?
10. In the Garden
11. Band Introductions
12. Blowin' in the Wind
13. It's All Over Now, Baby Blue
14. Knockin' on Heaven's Door

All tracks recorded live at Earls Court, London, England on June 27, 1981.

Bob Dylan – vocal and guitar
Fred Tackett, Steve Ripley – guitar
Willie Smith – keyboards
Tim Drummond – bass
Jim Keltner – drums
Clydie King, Carolyn Dennis, Regina McCrary, Madelyn Quebec – background vocals


Disc Nine : DVD

Bob Dylan
Trouble No More
A Musical Film

Michael Shannon
as The Preacher

The Musicians
Guitar – Fred Tackett
Bass – Tim Drummond
Drums – Jim Keltner
Keyboards – Spooner Oldham
Piano, Vocals – Terry Young

The Choir
Clydie King
Mona Lisa Young
Mary Elizabeth Bridges
Gwen Evans
Regina McCrary

The Songs
Jesus Met the Woman at the Well
Are You Ready?
Solid Rock
Slow Train
When He Returns
Precious Angel
Saved
Do Right to Me Baby (Do Unto Others)
Ain’t Gonna Go to Hell for Anybody
What Can I Do for You?
Pressing On
Abraham, Martin and John


DVD EXTRAS:
Shot of Love
Cover Down, Pray Through
Jesus Met the Woman at the Well (Alternate version)
Ain’t Gonna Go to Hell for Anybody (Complete version)
Precious Angel (Complete version)
Slow Train (Complete version)

PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY
Jennifer LeBeau

Original concert footage produced and directed by Ron Kantor

Sermons written by Luc Sante
Sermons: director of photography – Ellen Kuras

All songs written by Bob Dylan
except Abraham, Martin and John, written by Dick Holler,
Saved, written by Bob Dylan and Tim Drummond,
and Jesus Met the Woman at the Well, traditional arranged by Bob Dylan.
Recensent : Henri Drost
Datum : 10-06-2017
verschenen in Platomania : 342
Waardering : 8.0
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