In January of 1969, a bootleg was a football play or illegal alcohol. At the time, no one knew that there was a huge body of Dylan music out there just waiting to be heard. Those were the dark days before The Great White Wonder changed our musical lives forever.
That winter, I was attending school in Pottstown, PA. A friend who had been in New York for the weekend made a tape of a Scott Muni show on WNEW and brought it back to school for me. Muni was the gravelly voiced DJ who was a pioneer of the radio format that became known as progressive rock radio.
My friend gave me this magical tape that contained 11 Dylan songs. Some of the songs I had heard before in different versions, but most of them were new to my ear. Here is the song list as written on the tape box now over 40 years old:
- The Mighty Quinn
- Tears of Rage
- Nothing Was Delivered
- One Too Many Mornings
- You Ain't Going Nowhere
- Wheel's On Fire
- Tiny Montgomery
- Like a Rolling Stone
- Too Much of Nothing
- I'll Keep It With Mine
- Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?
At the time, I didn't know anything about the origins of these songs, but I knew I liked what I was hearing. Looking at this song list now, we know that the tape was a mixture of Basement demos, live 66 Tour cuts and two other outtakes. Today, as we await the release of Dylan's 46th studio album, it is hard to remember that Bob then had only released 8 studio albums. Product was slim in those days. I had played each of those first albums over and over until the grooves wore out. I knew every song by heart and had analyzed them all to death. Even though John Wesley Harding had just been released, a tape with 11 new songs was a really big deal.
The song that really stuck out when I first listened to the tape was One Too Many Mornings. I was very familiar with the song, because it was one of my favorites on The Times They are a-Changin'. To hear it go from a gentle folk song to this rocket fueled version from the 66 Tour was quite a shock.
From the first swell of the Garth's organ mixing with Manuel's piano that leads to Bob's tortured vocal, this is a song that has grown up. When it gets to Robbie's solo, you are hearing the essence of the 66 Tour and some of the best work of that Mathematical Guitar Genius. I also love the Band's backup vocals as they shout: "Beeehind" at the end of every verse. Great music and the first hint of what was to come from the 66 Tour.
This tape was a real "ear opener" at the time. I will continue this trip down bootleg memory lane with the next post on The Great White Wonder.