The source of the artwork of Another Side of Bob Dylan

By Patrick Roefflaer

  • Released:                 August 8, 1964
  • Photographer:          Sandy Speiser
  • Liner Notes:              Bob Dylan
  • Art-director:               John Berg

On the evening of June 9, 1964, Bob Dylan had recorded fourteen original compositions. Eleven of those songs were selected to form his fourth album, called Another Side of Bob Dylan. Even as late as 1978, the singer showed himself unhappy with the title, for which he blamed producer Tom Wilson: “I thought it was just too corny,” he said, “I just felt trouble coming when they titled it that.”

A portrait of the singer was needed for the sleeve. So, sometime in early Summer, Columbia staff photographer Sandy Speiser and Bob Dylan met in the company’s recording studio on the seventh floor of 799 on Seventh Avenue, New York. This was probably after a mixing session for the album, as producer Tom Wilson can be seen in one of the outtakes from the photo session.

Speiser proposed to hit the street and see what happens – much in the same way his colleague Don Hunstein had done for the photograph on The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.

Based on what Dylan is wearing (a dark brown collarless coat over a mock-turtleneck shirt), some ten photographs of the session could be identified as coming from that same date.

As some of these pictures are printed in colour, either Sandy Speiser was carrying two cameras: one with a colour film and another with black-and-white, and was using them alternately, or – more likely – all these photos, including the album cover, were shot in colour.

Bob Egan is a New Yorker who keeps a very interesting website, called PopSpotsNYC, where he publishes the results of his research to find “The exact locations of album cover photos and other visuals of pop history”, mostly in New York City.

Thanks to Bob Egan’s detective work, we can follow the trajectory the three men took that day, almost step by step.

The starting point is the corner of Seventh Avenue and West 52nd Street, just outside the building where the Columbia studio is located. They cross the street and walk down 52nd Street, heading West, staying on the pavement on the left side.

First stop is a newsstand, where Tom Wilson buys a newspaper, as can be seen on two surviving colour pictures.

A bit further, just across the next intersection, an amusement centre is located on the south-west corner of 52nd Street and Broadway.

They go inside and Bob tries out a rifle-shooting game – at least three photos were taken.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back outside, they notice a policeman, just around the corner, talking to a woman. Bob walks pass them, looking knowingly over his shoulder to the photographer.

While doing so, they pass the outside of the arcade centre.

A window where masks and joke items are displayed, is recognized as an interesting background.

One mask represents Jackie Kennedy, another the French president Charles De Gaulle. Dylan crouches in front of the window, for two more photos.

With Dylan still crouched on the sidewalk, Speiser then moves to the right of him to take some more pictures.

While doing this, Speiser notices a lamp pole, with a distinctive triangular street sign, as used then all along Broadway.

Dylan poses in front of the pole, smiling while looking to the right. Then he moves to the left, first somewhat contemplative-looking downward, and finally posing with his left foot on the bottom of the pole. And that’s the cover of Another Side of Bob Dylan.

Columbia’s art director John Berg, places the photo, printed in black-and-white, in the centre of a white square, with on the upper left, the album title and on the other side the CBS logo, plus the song titles.

‘Some Other Kind of Songs’, a long text by Dylan occupies the entire back of the cover

Note:

The photo with the masks, “Large Selection of Masks”, is considered in 2003 for the front of Volume 6 of the Bootleg Series: Live 1964 – Concert at Philharmonic Hall. Ultimately, a portrait from another session with Speiser is preferred.

 

 

 

Also in this series

 

 

 

 

What else is on the site

You’ll find some notes about our latest posts arranged by themes and subjects on the home page.  You can also see details of our main sections on this site at the top of this page under the picture.

The index to all the 590 Dylan compositions and co-compositions that we have found on the A to Z page.

We also have a very lively discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook with over 2000 active members.  (Try imagining a place where it is always safe and warm).  Just type the phrase “Untold Dylan” in, on your Facebook page or follow this link 

If you are interested in Dylan’s work from a particular year or era, your best place to start is Bob Dylan year by year.

On the other hand if you would like to write for this website, please do drop me a line with details of your idea, or if you prefer, a whole article.  Email Tony@schools.co.uk

And please do note   The Bob Dylan Project, which lists every Dylan song in alphabetical order, and has links to licensed recordings and performances by Dylan and by other artists, and links back to our reviews

 

 

 

 

 

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