Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Great White Wonder: Bootlegs and My Life Part 2

As we get ready for the release of Bob's 33rd studio album next week, I am thinking about all of the great music Bob has produced over the years. There are many classic official albums as well as so many great songs that would never have seen the light of day without the bootleg industry.

This has all become very commonplace today. Bob plays a live show and within a week or two, you can buy it on a bootleg CD. Ah, the modern world.

This was not always the case. Before September 1969, the only unofficial Dylan material I had ever heard was on the tape featured in a post from March 16th. During the summer of 1969, word filtered out through Rolling Stone that a bootleg album of unreleased Dylan material had been released in California. In September, I went to a record store in downtown Philadelphia and came home with a copy of The Great White Wonder.

It is hard today to describe my excitement at the time to own a double album of Dylan music that was all new to my ears. After playing all the official albums to death over the previous years, it was a big event to have some new Dylan material.

The four sides of the double album were filled with a curious collection of Dylan material. Two sides contained songs from the legendary 1961 Minneapolis Hotel Tape. There was also a sampling of mid-60's outtakes and of course the seven songs from the Basement Tapes.

Although at the time it was a treat to have any new Dylan material, the real joy of the record for me came from the seven tracks from the Basement Tapes that were found on the end of side two and all of side four. These were:
  1. Mighty Quinn (Take 1)
  2. This Wheel's On Fire
  3. I Shall Be Released
  4. Open the Door, Homer (Take 1)
  5. Too Much of Nothing (Take 2)
  6. Nothing Was Delivered (Take 1)
  7. Tears of Rage (Take 2)
First, it was a real improvement to have a few of the songs from the Basement Tapes on vinyl. It was a little easier than cranking up a reel to reel tape machine. Besides that, the highlight was to hear Dylan's version of Tears of Rage. Since it was released as the opening track on the classic Band album Music From Big Pink, Tears of Rage has always been one of my favorite Dylan songs. The fact that it was written with Richard Manuel, who met such a tragic end, makes the the sadness and emotion of the song that much more poignant to me. It is a beautiful song:


The Great White Wonder made an impressive debut as the first of many bootleg albums. I am proud to still have my original copy.


  1. The accepted sequencing of GWW with its white labels has always puzzled me. This was released in the days of record changers. Double LP sets were commonly pressed with sides 1 and 4 on one record and sides 2 and 3 on the other. If one "renumbers" the four sides of GWW in this fashion it would flow logically with the Minnesota tracks in sequence instead of being separated as they are now. What do others think?

  2. My own original experience with vinyl bootlegs seems so primitive, now that we can download within a few hours any public Dylan concert. Many are available on video as well. The available material is now so vast, only time and computer space limits us.

  3. Good point, Fred. It has been so long since I played any vinyl, I total forgot about the typical sequencing. Not sure I could turn a turntable on these days.

    Guess I am showing my age by not mentioning the avaiablity of all this music on the 'net. No real reason to buy the CD. Thanks "Dream".