Dylan Obscuranti: Track 2. Remembering Dylan’s best forgotten moments

By Tony Attwood

The first article in this series is at Dylan obscuranti: the new album  So, rather obviously, this is the second track from my invented album which Aaron is kindly creating on our YouTube channel

It is an album of recordings by Bob that you might possibly have missed along the way but which are deemed (by me, doing my imperious, “I know everything” bit) to be beyond genius.

Today’s piece is Tomorrow is a long time.

And because the series is only just starting I’ve got a chance to modify the approach a little, by including in this article some of the comments very kindly made by readers on this site about the song.

My original review of the song is here, and the first recording below is from 12 April 1963, in front of a perfectly quiet audience.  None of your shouting out names of songs, just attentiveness for a great young artist.  It is so wonderful to hear the way Bob was received.

It was written in the magical compositional year of 1962.  You can see a list of all the songs written by Dylan in that year here in chronological order.  “Lost love” was a favourite theme of Bob’s from start and during 1962 he wrote

in quick succession – they are numbers 10 to 17 on the list of songs in the order of writing showing that it was a theme that concerned him for a while.  He then left the notion of “lost love” as a song concept and added just one more (Kingsport Town) towards the end of the year’s writing.

I really do love the chronological list which we’ve developed on this site, first because I don’t think before we came along anyone else had done anything quite so comprehensive, and second because it gives me a context – even when there is no artistic or creative context to hold onto.  Just looking at the songs Dylan wrote immediately before this masterpiece, the only thing I can see as a fulsome antecedent is Blowing in the Wind.  Everything else is exploring different avenues.

Thus this just pops up, as a new song coming out of the four preceding explorations of the theme.

It is also one of those songs that, at the time it was written was largely ignored, not appearing until “Greatest Hits Volume II” in 1971 and then on the triple album “Masterpieces”.   But we do have this recording…

This recording is so perfect it can’t go any further.  Everything else is a reworking going nowhere.  Or at least that was what I thought when I first heard it, but of course, readers kindly write in and Jimmy, responding to the original review on this site, noted that “Ian & Sylvia did a gorgeous version on their second album, Four Strong Winds.”

Steve Crawford, also writing to the site, after my original piece was published had this additional interesting observation…

“The piece works at 3 levels. First, it tells a story, as all good songs do, at a very personal level. The story is about a man amidst his reflections of what he has lost as he revisits his past and re-experiences finding and losing love.

“Second, it is an invitation to explore the reflections and the emotions as we travel down his path of awareness, by tenses (today, tonight, tomorrow), and by the loss of senses, (I can’t see, I can’t speak, I can’t hear). ”

The third is to share both the joy and the sorrow of realizing that life’s beauty is temporal, leaving only memories of what was, – there’s beauty in the silver singing river, there’s beauty in the sun that lights the skies, but none of these, or nothing else can match the beauty, that I remember in my true loves eyes. Perfect rhyme, perfect meter, perfect images reflect a true master at his craft, and weaving his beautiful web. I learned this song back in 1967, have performed it 2468 times, and know what it is about.”

Robert Van Tol took us down a different route with the comment “Sacrilege Alert…I have always preferred Rod Stewart’s cover to Dylan’s original & love the “Run Down Rehearsals” version.”

OK, so Rod Stewart it is…

And we have the Rundown Rehearsal version…

This triggered more responses – and again can I say just how grateful I am to everyone who writes in to Untold.  There’s no way I can reply to all the issues raised, and keep my regular life running but I do note what is said.

Ronald Perz wrote…

One of my all time favourites since 1971. I like Sandy Dennys Version too. Elvis. Ian and Sylvia. Bob and Jerry

Thomas Parr responded to Steve Crawford’s commentary, finding them very thought provoking and adding, “Upon hearing this song for the first time I must have played it 50 times that very day and many more times in the days to follow.

“It is the story of a mans existence being experienced as non-existence.I cant see, I cant speak, I cant hear. the strong symbolism of the bed too speaks to a man who is utterly lost: ones bed is home, it is safety and it is refuge. To be deprived of it shows how abjectly alone the singer is. This is how I’ve always interpreted the song.

Steve Crawford’s comments though give reason to look deeper.

“To me it is the quintessential love song, categorically different from nearly everything of the last 50 years.

And thanks to Richard Slessor for reminding us all that Judy Collins has of course visited the song, and I really should have included this in my original review.  Thank goodness for commentators putting me right.

But of course there is only one place we can finish.  Bob said one time this was the recording he valued above all others in terms of covers of his songs…

If you’d like to suggest a song of Dylan’s to include in this series – or indeed if you would like to write the article yourself, rather than have me endlessly pontificating, please do email your article as a word document to Tony@schools.co.uk

Just remember the theme here is that the song is a work of magic which will have been missed by many people.

Untold Dylan

We are approach 2000 articles on this site.   You can find indexes to series linked under the image of Dylan at the top of the page and some relating to recent series on the home page.

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As for the writing, Untold Dylan is written by people who want to write for Untold Dylan.  We welcome articles, contributions and ideas from all our readers.  Although no one gets paid, if you are published here, your work will be read by a fairly large number of people across the world, ranging from fans to academics.  If you have an idea, or a finished piece send it as a Word file to Tony@schools.co.uk with a note saying that it is for publication on Untold Dylan.

We also have a very lively discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook with around 8500 active members. Just type the phrase “Untold Dylan” in, on your Facebook page or follow this link    And because we don’t do political debates on our Facebook group there is a separate group for debating Bob Dylan’s politics – Icicles Hanging Down

 

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