Audio: Bob Dylan Records ‘Born In Time’ for ‘Oh Mercy’ – Feb. 28, 1989

Twenty-five years ago, on February 28, 1989, Bob Dylan began work with producer Daniel Lanois at a Victorian Mansion on Soniat Street in New Orleans that Lanois had turned into a recording studio. Dylan sets the scene in “Chronicles”: “parlor windows, louvered shutters, high Gothic ceiling, walled-in courtyard, bungalows and garages in the back.”

The Soniat Street mansion.

Dylan writes about how much he likes New Orleans in “Chronicles”: “There are a lot of places I like, but I like New Orleans better. There’s a thousand different angles at any moment. At any time you could run into a ritual honoring some vaguely known queen. Bluebloods, titled persons like crazy drunks, lean weakly against the walls and drag themselve through the gutter. Even they seem to have insights you might want to listen to. No action seems inappropriate here. The city is one very long poem. Gardens full of pansies, pink petunias, opiates. Flower-bedecked shrines, white myrtles, bougainvillea and purple oleander stimulate your senses, make you feel cool and clear inside.”

Dylan, Lanois and the amazing musician Jim Dickinson

The first session took place on February 28, 1989, according to Michael Krogsgaard, who has examined Columbia’s documentation of Dylan recording sessions. “Born In Time” was recorded.

The musicians: Bob Dylan (piano, guitar and dobro), Malcolm Burns (guitar), Daniel Lanois (electric and 12-string guitars, dobro, harpsichord, drums and bass), Darryl Johnson (bass and glockenspiel).

Krogsgaard writes that Dylan recorded new vocals on March 7 and April 13, 1989, and Lanois and Dylan recorded guitar overdubs at additional sessions.

Who knows why Dylan didn’t include this song on Oh Mercy. It’s for sure a keeper.

The first version I have included is very beautiful, and when Clinton Heylin calls the song “magnificent” in his book “Bob Dylan The Recording Sessions [1960 – 1994]” and says it has a “timeless quality,” this is the version he must be talking about. It has not been officially released, and only appears on bootlegs as far as I know.

I bet this is the first take of the song. It has that spontaneous feel.

I have also included an alternate take from Under the Red Sky and the released version from that album for comparison, plus two live versions.

“Born In Time,” Oh Mercy sessions:

Born In Time by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

“Born In Time,” alternate take 1, Oh Mercy sessions (appears on Tell Tale Signs):

Born In Time (Unreleased, Oh Mercy) by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

“Born In Time,” alternate take 2, Oh Mercy sessions (appears on Tell Tale Signs):

Born in Time 4:19 (Unreleased version #2, Oh Mercy) by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

“Born In Time,” Oh Mercy sessions:

Born In Time by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

“Born In Time,” Under the Red Sky sessions (alternate take):

Born in Time by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

“Born In Time,” Under the Red Sky sessions (versions used on album):

Born in Time by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

“Born in Time,” April 13, 1997, live, Recreation Center, Wayne, New Jersey, USA

“Born in Time,” 1998, live, Jersey City, New Jersey:

Born in Time by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

About Michael Goldberg

Michael Goldberg is a distinguished pioneer in the online music space; Newsweek magazine called him an ‘Internet visionary.’ In 1994 he founded Addicted To Noise (ATN), the highly influential music web site. He was a senior vice-president and editor in chief at SonicNet from March 1997 through May 2000. In 1997, Addicted To Noise won Webby awards for best music site in 1998 and 1999, and also won Yahoo Internet Life! awards for three years running as best music site in 1998, 1999 and 2000. Prior to starting Addicted To Noise, Goldberg was an editor and senior writer at Rolling Stone magazine for 10 years. His writing has also appeared in Wired, Esquire, Vibe, Details, Downbeat, NME and numerous other publications. Michael recently completed his first novel, Days of the Crazy-Wild, and is currently writing a second novel.

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