Fifty-three years ago, in May of 1961, Bob Dylan performed somewhere in Minnesota and played a bunch of classic folk and blues songs.
His set was recorded and has been circulating as a bootleg for years.
Below is the only recording of Dylan playing the Reverend Gary Davis’ “Death Don’t Have No Mercy.”
On his website Dylan expert Olof Björner wrote:
In an interview Jaharana Romney, formerly Bonnie Beecher (interview by Markus Wittman, May 1989) talks about the song Why’d You Cut My Hair?:
“He came to my apartment and said, ‘It’s an emergency! I need your help! I gotta go home an’ see my mother!’ He was talking in the strangest Woody Guthrie-Oklahoma accent. I don’t know if she was sick, but it was an unexpected trip he had to make up to Hibbing and he wanted me to cut his hair.” He kept saying, ‘Shorter! Shorter! Get rid of the sideburns!’ So I did my very best to do what he wanted and then in the door come Dave Morton, Johnny Koerner and Harvey Abrams. They looked at him and said, ‘Oh my God, you look terrible! What did you do?’ And Dylan immediately said, ‘She did it! I told her just to trim it up a little bit but she cut it all off. I wasn’t looking in a mirror!’ And then he went and wrote that song, ‘Bonnie, why’d you cut my hair? Now I can’t go nowhere!’ He played it that night in a coffeehouse and somebody told me recently that they had been to Minnesota and somebody was still playing that song, ‘Bonnie, Why’d You Cut My Hair?’ It’s like a Minnesota classic! And so I’ve gone down in history!”
This tape may therefore come from a coffeehouse performance. The circulating tape is known as Minnesota Party Tape 1961.
Here are some of those songs.
“Death Don’t Have No Mercy”:
“It’s Hard To Be Blind”:
“This Train Is Bound For Glory”:
“Talkin’ Fish Blues”:
“Man of Constant Sorrow”:
“Bonnie, Why’d You Cut My Hair?”:
[In August of this year I’ll be publishing my rock ‘n’ roll/ coming-of-age novel, “True Love Scars,” which features a narrator who is obsessed with Bob Dylan. To read the first chapter, head here.]
– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –-