When I want to listen to a truly beautiful Bob Dylan performance, I listen to this studio recording of “Blind Willie McTell. The song is in part a tribute to the bluesman Blind Willie McTell, and recorded in 1983. Dylan has referred to it as a demo.
In an interview with Rolling Stone he said: “I started playing it live because I heard The Band doing it. Most likely it was a demo, probably showing the musicians how it should go. It was never developed fully, I never got around to completing it. There wouldn’t have been any other reason for leaving it off the record. It’s like taking a painting by Monet or Picasso – goin’ to his house and lookin’ at a half-finished painting and grabbing it and selling it to people who are ‘Picasso fans.'”
It was released in 1991 on the The Bootleg Series Volumes 1–3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961–1991.
Dylan’s voice sounds fantastic. This is a very moving song.