Dylan released and unreleased: the lost TV appearances

By Aaron Galbraith and Tony Attwood

Aaron: Let’s take a look at some more lost Dylan performances from the 60s all the way to the 90s.  First “Only A Pawn In Their Game”  from Newport 1963.

Tony: I am still amazed at the confidence of Dylan in these early films.  Not just a confidence of being onstage, but in the delivery of what at the time was a unique musical form.   After all no one else was writing or performing music like this at the time.

It is not that he was a folk singer, but that he had invented a completely new form of folk song.  I know we’ve all heard the song so many million times now it is easy to forget just how radical this musical approach was – the varied lengths of the verse, the brief punchy lines (as below from walk in a pack onward)

From the poverty shacks, he looks from the cracks to the tracks
And the hoofbeats pound in his brain
And he's taught how to walk in a pack
Shoot in the back
With his fist in a clinch
To hang and to lynch
To hide 'neath the hood
To kill with no pain
Like a dog on a chain
He ain't got no name
But it ain't him to blame
He's only a pawn in their game

In listening to the early recordings again, I try to think if the power of the structure and the lines as if on first hearing, and this video is such good quality that it really helps to do that.   I do this sounds like a pretentious load of twaddle, but really, if you can just consider the above lines as if you have never heard them before, and never heard Dylan, they really are surely among the most extraordinary lines ever written in folk or rock music.

Aaron:  With God On Our Side. This was from the BBC show Tonight in 1964.

Tony:  It is helpful to remember that the evolution of broadcasting in the UK was utterly different from the Americas.   Until 1955 there was only one TV channel in the UK, that of the BBC, independent but funded by the state, which had its view of being the arbiter of what the British audience should be allowed to see.   (Film censorship was also very strong at the time).   The first rival to the BBC was the commercial channel ITV which started in 1955 but wasn’t rolled out across the whole kingdom for about ten years.

So when this was broadcast most British viewers did have a choice of two channels, and the BBC was trying to make itself more relevant to a younger audience.   But the result was horrifically patronising at times, and Cliff Michelmore who introduces Dylan here clearly has no idea of the what is going on – which just seemed to make the broadcaster’s output even more remote from day to day life.

Aaron: Gotta Serve Somebody – from the 1979 Grammys. Bob won the award for Best Rock Vocal Performance

Tony:  Ah Bob all spruced up and looking smart.  I wonder has anyone done a book about Bob’s dresser.  If so could you post a note to tell me about it, because I’ve obviously missed it.

Musically, it’s a great arrangement, really controlled but really bouncy at the same time.  One of the best I’ve heard.   I particularly like the two or three times where suddenly a line is dropped – really takes one by surprise.

Aaron: Bob was back at the Grammys for his lifetime achievement award in 1991. Here is Masters Of War followed by his speech.

Tony: the re-arrangement with the monotone approach followed by the unexpected two chords at the end of the verse, and then no pause onto the next verse.  The only problem is that although it makes the message very strongly it doesn’t actually make for musical entertainment.  But goodness it is powerful.  The little speech is certainly worth waiting for, if nothing else but to see Bob’s extreme uncomfortableness at the whole thing.

Aaron: Last up for this go round is an appearance on Letterman from 1993. Billy Connolly was on the show too, my all time favorite comedian..what a show this would have been!

Tony:  Billy Connolly is great in his introductory remarks and this is a lovely delivery of Forever Young – so simple and so perfectly delivered.   And it is is one of the very, very few recordings that actually has a proper Bob guitar solo in a full-band recording.  What’s more it is utterly perfect, in keeping with the arrangement, and perfectly understated as the lyrics demand.

Great choice today Aaron.  Really brilliant films.

Dylan released and unreleased: the series

 

Untold Dylan was created in 2008 and is currently published twice a day –  sometimes more, sometimes less.  Details of some of our series are given at the top of the page and in the Recent Posts list, which appears both on the right side of the page and at the very foot of the page (helpful if you are reading on a phone).  Some of our past articles which form part of a series are also included on the home page.

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7 Responses to Dylan released and unreleased: the lost TV appearances

  1. Larry fyffe says:

    It should be remembered that one of the reasons Dylan appeared on the TV outside the US, including on the CBC, was because of the censorship imposed by the three advertising-dependent, privately-owned American stations.

  2. Larry fyffe says:

    CBC Quest show, March 1964

  3. Larry fyffe says:

    Michael Zenon, writing in a notebook, plays one of the ‘silent’ actors in the taped Quest show.

  4. Fred36 says:

    You are absolutelly missing the most historical recording of them all :

    Madhouse on Castle Street.

    A BBC play starring Dylan doing one of the first performances of, among others,
    Blowin’ In The Wind.

    That the BBC have managed to lose the tape of this is its own Greatest Cultural Scandal Ever.

  5. TonyAttwood says:

    Fred, we only include recordings where we can find a copy on the internet to share. Otherwise it is just one of us raving about how good it is, leaving no one else any the wiser. Same applies for the current series Dylan cover a day.

  6. Fred36 says:

    While I apologise for my error, nevertheless what I posted does actually fit the criteria
    of your page title :

    Dylan released and unreleased: the lost TV appearances

  7. TonyAttwood says:

    Ah but Fred, if I made the title of each page utterly specific they would get a bit dull. In this case it would have to be “Dylan released and unreleased: those of the last TV appearances which we could find copies of and get the rights to reproduce them, but there may be some we missed.” It’s a matter of taste and opinion of course, but I think that would be a bit tedious, personally.

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