[this is a part of the continuing Audio Archaeology series, where I explore the found reel-to-reels of past recording enthusiasts.]
This is a partial recording off the radio of an audio career retrospective of Bob Dylan. There is quite a lot of commentary by Dylan biographer Anthony Scaduto. We can only speculate about where the story begins, but it’s clear the taper started late, just as the Basement Tapes story begins. In fact, it seems that perhaps the whole rationale for the special was the emergence of what is arguably rock music’s first bootleg release.
There were no program notes accompanying this Scotch 111 7-inch reel, but one thing we can tell for sure is this radio program came out after the release of Self Portrait in 1970 and before the official Columbia release of selected Basement Tapes in 1975. In the recording, Scaduto says more than once what a “pity” it was that the tapes had not been released officially.
After some introduction, four tracks from the Basement Tapes appear. The versions confirm these were bootlegged copies at the time of the radio production. “Nothing Was Delivered” is not the official Basement Tapes version- the only exposure the world at large would have to it for decades would be the plain white labeled “Great White Wonder” bootleg which appeared mysteriously at some record stores in 1969. Several radio stations picked up on this fairly quickly. The special featured here was probably not one of these first-line broadcasts; it does seem to be something produced in reaction to the release, though, apparently within a few years of the appearance of the bootleg. The version here is labeled “Take 2” on various later CD bootlegs such as The Complete Basement Tapes and A Tree With Roots.
After playing four tracks, plus a cover of “Too Much of Nothing” by Peter, Paul and Mary, the story continues with released material. The tape ends as we arrive at Self Portrait. Here’s a complete list of the tracks included:
Nothing was Delivered- Bob Dylan and the Band (unreleased version, alternate lyrics)
Too Much of Nothing- Peter Paul and Mary
Million Dollar Bash- Bob Dylan and the Band (eventually released officially on The Basement Tapes)
Apple Suckling Tree- Bob Dylan and the Band (unreleased version, alternate lyrics)
“Clothesline”- Bob Dylan and the Band (eventually released officially on The Basement Tapes)
John Wesley Harding- Bob Dylan (John Wesley Harding)
I Pity the Poor Immigrant- Bob Dylan (John Wesley Harding)
All Along the Watchtower- Bob Dylan (John Wesley Harding)
I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight- Bob Dylan (John Wesley Harding)
Girl From the North Country (excerpt)- Bob Dylan (The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan)
Girl From the North Country- Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash (Nashville Skyline)
Lay Lady Lay- Bob Dylan (Nashville Skyline)
Country Pie- Bob Dylan (Nashville Skyline)
Take a Message to Mary- Bob Dylan (Self Portrait)