Dylan- Released/Unreleased- Clearwater 1976

By Aaron Galbraith and Tony Attwood

Details of the earlier episodes of the Released/Unreleased series can be found at the end of the article.

As with other pieces presented by the two of us, Aaron (in the US) selects the material and then I (Tony in the UK) writes the commentary as I listen to the music.

Aaron: In April 1976 Bob booked the Belleview Biltmore Hotel to record his first TV special. With Baez and McGuinn in tow, they performed two 3-hour sets in front of around 100 lucky souls.

An hour-long show was edited and prepared for release. Bob even appeared on the cover of TV Guide to promote the special. Then, just like that, he nixed the whole thing, allegedly not happy with his voice. It was replaced in the schedule with the Hard Rain show, recorded about a month after Clearwater.

Luckily for us, the whole show has leaked and you can watch it all on YouTube.

I’ll present my edited highlights for Tony to review and then the whole show at the end.

Mr Tambourine Man

Tony:  My instant reaction is that I like this voice.  Yes, it is different from Bob’s normal singing voice of the era, but then why not?  After all the music is different as well with two beats added to the end of each line, and four beats added at the end of each verse.  Plus other rhythmic oddities too.

And yes I like this throughout.  And in terms of the music, interestingly, unlike many musical changes repeated through a piece, these don’t pale into the boredom of repetitiveness but are as central to the performance at the end of the piece as they are at the beginning.

(Incidentally, perhaps I could use that “boredom of repetitiveness” phrase in a song… although I suspect not).

The Times They Are A-Changin’

Tony: So immediately I am listening out for changes to the way the song is sung, and yes here we have one or two or even more extra beats at the end of each line, as well as the melody going for a meander too.   And Bob is doing that raising of the left side of the guitar at the end of each line.

I really like the change to the melody at the opening of the lines – it is repetitive and simple but incredibly effective.  Goodness knows why Bob didn’t want this released; musically I think it is superb, and there’s nothing at all wrong with the filming.   I’m so glad you’ve presented this Aaron.

I Dreamed I Saw St Augustine (with Joan Baez)

Tony: Oh yes I am enjoying this so much – that little interplay between the two of them, and the face Joan pulls at the end of the first verse as if to say, “well that is not too far away from the way we rehearsed it, I guess.”

And yet again it is a terrific re-working of the song.  This really is a remarkable archive.

When I Paint My Masterpiece 

Tony:  It is so strange that Bob decided to ditch the whole recording when everyone seems to be having such a jolly time.  And musically the songs all work beautifully.  Which given how well we know them, is quite an achievement.  The harmonies both in this piece and the last one are remarkable, and Bob is not known for his vocal harmonics inventiveness.  And the mandolin is exquisite too.

Maybe he just didn’t like the fact that everyone was having so much fun.

Lay Lady Lay 

Tony:  Upon its original release this was not one of my favourite Dylan songs, for reasons I won’t bore you with now, but this is a terrific version, once again drawing so strongly on the harmonies which change the whole aspect of the song.

Indeed the whole production is remarkable.  Not for the first time Aaron, I owe you for introducing me to a performance I didn’t know.

Aaron: Now if you have an hour, here is the complete show. Check out Baez solo spot – a sublime Diamonds and Rust – I wonder what Bob thought of that?!

Tony: Diamonds and Rust (in case you just one to pick up that song Aaron highlighted) starts around 16′ 30″.   I haven’t played Diamonds and Rust for a while, but I have a feeling this version is taken faster than normal, and it is none the worse for that.

In keeping with the rest of the show it is a sublime performance, but maybe if Bob really did object to that song, that is why he didn’t allow it to be released…  I’ve no evidence for that and it would be an incredibly petty thing to do, but these artists you know…

Here’s the full listing of the show.

– Mr Tambourine Man – The Times They Are A-Changin’ – Blowin’ In The Wind – I Dreamed I Saw St Augustine – Diamonds And Rust – When I Paint My Masterpiece – Like A Rolling Stone – Isis – Just Like A Woman – Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door – Lay Lady Lay

Dylan released and unreleased: the series

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