The David Bromberg sessions: the missing Dylan album. Part 1: Kaatskill Serenade

Proper research by Jochen Markhorst and Aaron Galbraith.  General commentary, pulling together of information, personal opinion and probably the addition of errors, by Tony Attwood.

Kaatskill Serenade

A while back I was asked my opinion of the David Bromberg sessions of 1992 or there abouts, where it is suggested Dylan worked on an album that never was.

The suggestion is that it was an album that Dylan was working on but abandoned, and obviously as such since this site aims to cover all of Dylan’s work it is something we ought to be looking at and listening to.

My interest was peaked by the fact that there are quite a few songs listed as being on the album that I either don’t know or have forgotten, and I always find it interesting to hear them – but more than that, it is interesting to know what Dylan was listening to is itself always interesting as a source of inspiration.

On the website that has dug right into this they list …

  • Hey Joe
  • Mobile Line
  • Just Because / Just Because You Didn’t Answer, written by Thom Bishop
  • Field Of Stone (Would You Lay With Me)
  • Annie’s Song / Annie’s Going to Sing Her Song
  • Jugband Song
  • Rock Me Baby
  • Send Me To The ‘lectric Chair
  • Gotta Do My Time
  • Su Su’s Got A Mohawk / Susu Got a Mohawk
  • Northeast Texas Woman
  • Sail On
  • Can’t Lose What You Never Had
  • World Of Fools
  • Everybody’s Crying Mercy
  • Tennessee Blues
  • Summer Wages
  • Casey Jones
  • Morning Blues
  • Young Westley
  • The Lady Came From Baltimore
  • New Lee Highway Blues
  • Rise Again
  • Duncan & Brady
  • The Main Street Moan
  •  Nobody’s Fault But Mine
  • Miss The Mississippi & You
  • Sloppy Drunk

 Jochen immediately pointed out that in the list on the website “Lady Came From Baltimore” was noted as traditional, but it was composed by Tim Hardin.  But that one slip suggests that this is not a list picked up directly from the source – Bob Dylan would know that, so this makes me think it is an engineer’s collection and notation or something akin to that.

Aaron pointed out that two of the tracks, “Miss the Mississippi and me” and “Duncan and Brady” appeared on the Tell Tale Signs boxset.

The first of the three recordings that Jochen found was Kaatskill Serenade which is not actually on the list above (and so I’m already confused) but it certainly is Dylan and mr tambourine also notes it as being from these sessions.   Here is David Bromberg’s version

The transformation that Dylan has made between the original and his version is just so overwhelming I can hardly take it in.   Hearing the Bromberg original, this is not a song that I find that interesting, perhaps because the lyrics are just so obvious and plaintive and if I may say, mawkish.  But because Bob obscures them and sings it as if he feels every second of what is being described it becomes an utterly different piece.

In short, Bob sings it as if he were part of it, which is a sense the original doesn’t portray.   This recording by Dylan is, in short, for me, an utter masterpiece of reinterpretation.   Dylan shows here in one fell swoop that not only can he write songs that others can reinterpret in their own ways, sometimes adding to the song, he can do the reverse. And how!

I’ll stop here and continue later.  For the moment just enjoy this remarkable performance.


  1. In regards to “Serenade” –
    See: Untold Dylan: Washington Irving (and his dog ‘Wolf)

  2. “Mr. Alice/Shirley Temple Don’t Live Here Anymore”, a somewhat revised version thereof

  3. Gary Cooper nicknamed energetic Shirley Temple ‘Wiggle Britches’.
    They starred in “Now And Forever,”

  4. Says “Wiggle, Wiggle” is actually about fishing, and you should have seen the size of the one that got away.

  5. I don’t see Polly Vaughn on the list – another amazing performance from the sessions that can be found on youtube.

  6. There’s another song from the sessions called “you belong to me” included in the soundtrack to the film
    “natural born killers”.

  7. Interesting list. Lay You Down (In a Field of Stone) is by David Allen Coe. A song where he ripped off the melody from Townes Van Zandt’s If I Needed You. Interesting selection. I assume Northeast Texas Women is by Willis Alan Ramsey’s first and only record. Another pretty rarely played song. Obviously Bob was listening to what was being done by others and transforming the songs into his own style and quirks. I am a bit surprised Bob didn’t cover one by Townes….

  8. Themes of lost and wasted time, for sure:

    Well, you’ve been on the job too long
    (Bob Dylan: Duncan And Brady ~ traditional)

    Picked up in the following song:

    Black rider, black rider
    You’ve been on the job too long
    (Bob Dylan: Black Rider)

  9. “Close up they don’t look as large as they do from a distance”
    (Gary Cooper: Now And Forever)

  10. “And you realize – you agree completely –
    you belong to me”
    (George Sanders: All About Eve)

  11. Watch the sunrise on a tropic isle
    Just remember, darling, all the while
    You belong to me
    (Jo Stafford: You Belong To Me ~ C. Price)

  12. Her apron wrapped around her
    And he took her for the swan
    Oh and alas, it was she Polly Vaughan
    (Bob Dylan: Polly Vaughan ~ traditional)

  13. Akin to “Wesley Harding”, a romantic song of the times of the Old West in California gone by:

    As they saddled up to leave
    Some heard her say
    You live life as a gambler
    All along the St Joaquin
    In your eyes remain the stories
    Of the times you have seen
    But your smile across the campfire
    Makes the dreams alive again
    Oh young Westley take me away
    (Mary McCaslin: Young Westley)

  14. Memories are bringing happy days of yore
    Miss the Mississippi and you
    Mocking birds are singing round my cabin door
    (Jimmy Rogers: Miss The Mississippi And You ~ Bill Heagney)

  15. Pretty maids all in a row lined up
    Outside my cabin door
    I’ve never wanted any of them wanting me
    Except the girl from the Red River Shore
    (Bob Dylan: Red River Shore)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *