Tag Archives: Like A Rolling Stone

Goldberg On Dylan: 18 CD ‘The Cutting Edge’ Set Reviewed

Down the Rabbit Hole with Bob Dylan in the Mid-Sixties

By Michael Goldberg

The mysteries of the ’65/’66 recordings revealed (maybe)

How deep can you go into a song? As Greil Marcus’ two recent books, “The History of Rock ‘N’ Roll in Ten Songs” and “Three Songs, Three Singers, Three Nations,” reveal, there’s no limit. Alice falling down the rabbit hole to discover a subterranean landscape dotted with surreal characters such as the “mad” Hatter, the White Rabbit and a hookah smoking caterpillar, has nothing on Marcus, who takes a song as deceptively simple as Bascom Lamar Lunsford’s 1928 recording “I Wish I Was a Mole in the Ground” and finds lost continents in its strange lyrics.

It’s no coincidence that Marcus is obsessed with Bob Dylan, the master of bottomless songs; Marcus has written entire books delving into what he hears in Dylan’s recordings. He’s been digging Dylan even longer than I have, and I’ve been in the Dylan Zone for 50 years.

I read “Three Songs…” just prior to the arrival of the Collector’s Edition of The Cutting Edge 1965-1966: The Bootleg Series Vol. 12, a pricey ($599) 18 CD set that contains “every note recorded during the 1965-1966 sessions,” according to a Sony press release, as well as a CD of recordings made in hotel rooms while Dylan was touring during those years that include some wonderful, apparently never completed Dylan originals. Now if only they’d released all the live recordings, but perhaps that’s in the works, hint, hint…

Just so you understand, 18 CDs translates to over 18 hours of music. Close to a full day and night’s worth of Bob Dylan recording the albums that set a new standard for what rock ‘n’ roll records could be, and to this day influence musicians the world over. Many of the songs on those albums are deep. They are songs with trap doors and secret passages, songs that confound, defy, deny, and mystify.

Here was an opportunity to explore not only the depth of the songs recorded during the sessions that produced Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde On Blonde, but a rare look at the creative process of an artist at the top of his game: Bob Dylan attempting many takes of some songs, radically changing his approach from take to take in some cases while making minor changes in others. Dylan cracking jokes and cracking up.

BD1_Bootleg 12ed_ (c) Don Hunstein copy

“Like a Rolling Stone” Turned My World Upside Down

I’d just turned 12 the first time I heard Bob Dylan. His voice from the car radio singing his Top Ten hit as my mom drove me somewhere in the summer of ’65. I had been listening to rock music – including songs by The Beatles and the Stones and the Beach Boys and the Lovin’ Spoonful and The Byrds – for a year or so. This was different. This was “Like a Rolling Stone.” This was the ecstatic transmuted into a six minute, thirteen second recording.

That song changed me. There was rebellious fury in Dylan’s voice, in how he sang his Beat lyrics about class privilege and the fall from grace, in how he sang a song that managed to say what it took F. Scott Fitzgerald a whole novel, “The Beautiful and the Damned,” to say. But though I related to the lyrics, what slayed me was the music. And more. Dylan’s voice and the sound of that record made me know one didn’t have to go along with the rules society imposed, that there was another way to live. That it was possible to be fully alive, and not sleepwalk through life.

Or as Dylan sang, “It’s life, and life only.”

So for me, perhaps the pièce de résistance here are the complete studio recordings of “Like a Rolling Stone,” all 20 of them. As it turns out you can also get them on the much less expensive 6 CD Deluxe Edition; for many that will be the way to go. And let me be clear here: the 18 CD set is only for the total obsessives, the immoderates, of which I am one.

Listening chronologically to all the takes of “Like a Rolling Stone” provides a kind of fly on the wall view of how Dylan and a crew of extremely talented musicians – on the first day the song is attempted: Michael Bloomfield on guitar, Al Gorgoni on guitar, Paul Griffin on organ, Frank Owens on piano, Joseph Macho Jr. on bass and Bobby Gregg on drums; and on the second day: Bloomfield, Griffin on piano, Macho Jr., Gregg and the addition of Al Kooper on organ and Bruce Langhorne on tambourine – succeed against all odds in recording one of the great rock ‘n’ roll records.

In the epitaph to his 2005 book, “Like a Rolling Stone: Bob Dylan at the Crossroads,” Greil Marcus describes in detail what happened during the “Like a Rolling Stone” sessions based on listening carefully to the session tapes. When I read his book in 2011, I wanted so bad to hear what Marcus had described. His writing made me feel as close to being there in the studio as I imagined one could ever get.

I was wrong. Miracle of miracles! Now we can actually listen for ourselves, we can get even closer, we can listen in on a historic moment in rock history, when everything fell apart, then came together for those six minutes, 13 seconds – musicians, producer, singer, words, melody – and fell apart all over again.

As Marcus has written, and as is clear when you listen, nothing was going right. When they start in on the song at Columbia Studio A in New York, near the end of a long session on June 15, 1965 that has already found these musicians cutting ten takes of “Phantom Engineer” (the song that was retitled “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry”), and seven takes of “Sitting On a Barbed Wire Fence,” Dylan admits, “My voice is gone.”

Soon they pack it in, only to pick up where they left off the next day, which is to say, during the first few takes the song remains out of reach. It doesn’t have a hook to pull you in from the first notes, Michael Bloomfield hasn’t found the guitar riffs the song needs, Al Kooper is searching for what to play on organ, and Dylan hasn’t found the right tempo or pacing, nor settled on how he should sing his bitter words.

As I listened, first to the January 15 recordings, then the first few takes cut the next day, lost in the moments of those takes, despite knowing that Dylan and the band had eventually pulled it off, I started to have my doubts. It was as if they’d taken a wrong turn and were miles from the song. And then, amazingly, with the fourth take they hit pay dirt. Only they weren’t sure, and recorded ten more takes, once again losing their way.

Read the rest of this essay at Addicted To Noise.

– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post –

Audio: Bob Dylan Interviewed By Martin Bronstein 1966 – ‘this piece of vomit, 20 pages long’

This interview for the Canadian Broadcasting Company by Martin Bronstein is quite amazing. During the 11+ minute interview Dylan says that his breakthrough song was “Like A Rolling Stone” and explains why.

He also says some very funny things.

Worth a listen.

[I published True Love Scars in August of 2014.” Rolling Stone has a great review of my book in a recent issue. Read it here. There’s info about True Love Scars here.]

Video: Bob Dylan At Beacon Theater, 1990 – ‘Willin’,’ ‘Man In The Long Black Coat’ & More

Bob Dylan at the Beacon Theater, New York, October 17, 1990.

The concert begins 30 seconds into the video clip.

Set list

Absolutely Sweet Marie
Man In The Long Black Coat
Willin’
T.V. Talkin’ Song
Simple Twist Of Fate
Wiggle Wiggle
Man Of Constant Sorrow
It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue
A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll
Tangled Up In Blue
Joey
What Good Am I?
It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry
In The Garden
Like A Rolling Stone
The Times They Are A-Changin’
Highway 61 Revisited

[Last August I published my rock ‘n’ roll novel, True Love Scars.” Rolling Stone has a great review of the book. Read it here. There’s info about True Love Scars here.]

Video: Bob Dylan In Concert, Madison Square Garden Arena, 2001

A decade and a half ago Bob Dylan was still filling his sets songs from his past.

On November 19, 2001 he brought his band to the Madison Square Garden Arena in New York and performed a set that included songs from many of the albums he recorded in the ’60s and early ’70s.

Someone was nice enough to share this very cool video of the show:

Set List:

Wait For The Light To Shine
It Ain’t Me, Babe
A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
Searching For A Soldier’s Grave
Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum
Just Like A Woman
Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues
Lonesome Day Blues
High Water (For Charley Patton)
Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right
Tangled Up In Blue
John Brown
Summer Days
Sugar Baby
Drifter’s Escape
Rainy Day Women #12 & 35
Things Have Changed
Like A Rolling Stone
Forever Young
Honest With Me
Blowin’ In The Wind
All Along The Watchtower

Culture Critic Roy Trakin Includes ‘True Love Scars’ in His Best Books of 2014 List

Not that I can keep from letting it go to my head (that’s long been a lost cause), but it is exciting that culture critic Roy Trakin has included my novel, True Love Scars, in his best books of 2014 list. The book is #4 in his list.

Writes Trakin:

Just call it a portrait of the young rock critic as a freakster bro, coming of age in the glorious peace-and-love innocence of the ‘60s dream, only to crash precipitously, post-Altamont into the drug-ridden paranoia of a ‘70s nightmare, characterized by the doom and gloom of the Stones’ sinister “Sister Morphine” and the apocalyptic caw-caw-caw of a pair of ubiquitous crows. The one-time Rolling Stone journalist turned-Internet pioneer with his groundbreaking mid-‘90s Addicted to Noise site has always been on the cutting edge and here he perfectly captures a horny, but romantic, teenager growing up in Marin County back in what he calls the Days of the Crazy-Wild, where getting your parents to let you grow out your hair was proof alone of your manhood. If you lived through those momentous times, or even if you didn’t, Goldberg conveys that rush of ideas, music and literature that made it such a heady era, while still ruefully acknowledge its fleeting, self-destructive aftermath in what amounts to his version of fellow one-time Stone scribe Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous.

Read Trakin’s whole column here.

And here’s a short audio clip of me reading and Henry Kaiser riffing from my reading last weekend:

[I just published my rock ‘n’ roll novel, True Love Scars.” Rolling Stone has a great review of my book in a recent issue. Read it here. There’s info about True Love Scars here.]

Audio: Michael Goldberg & Guitiarist Henry Kaiser Live – ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ Set Me Free

Photo from my LitQuake reading, October 2014.
Photo from my LitQuake reading, October 2014.

Yesterday afternoon, Saturday December 13, 2104, I read from my novel, True Love Scars, as the acclaimed, Grammy-winning experimental guitarist Henry Kaiser improvised. And then Henry did a short, brilliant instrumental. The reading took place at Down Home Music in El Cerrito, CA.

I called the event a “post-beat happening.”

It was thrilling to read as Henry’s music lit up the room. When you’re on a stage and you’re in the groove, and the music, music you’ve never heard before, is exactly right for what you’re doing, you levitate.

Two sections I read were about how Bob Dylan’s music changed the narrator’s life. I’ve included both of those and then another excerpt which is the first few pages of the novel. Plus an instrumental improvisation by Henry that concluded the reading.

Down Home Music was an incredible environment for a reading. A room filled with CDs and vinyl and a wall of music books and music posters on the walls and incredibly knowledgeable folks running the place.

Where else is an impulse buy going to be a Roscoe Holcomb DVD?

Yep, I now own that DVD.

There was a nice write-up in advance of the reading in the East Bay Express and that brought a great group of folks into the store to hear me and Henry do our thing.

I read about 30 minutes while Henry utilized a guitar, a whammy bar and more than a dozen pedals to create a sonic backdrop for my words. Actually, it was more than a backdrop, as you’ll see if you listen to the first excerpt, below.

1) The impact of “Like A Rolling Stone”:

2) “It was Dylan, man!”:

3) How the book begins:

4) Henry’s concluding instrumental:

[I just published my rock ‘n’ roll novel, True Love Scars.” Rolling Stone has a great review of my book in a recent issue. Read it here. There’s info about True Love Scars here.]

Video: Bob Dylan, Neil Young Perform ‘Like A Rolling Stone, ’ ‘Everybody’s Movin’,’ ‘Gates Of Eden’ & More – June 10, 1988

On June 10, 1988, Bob Dylan and his band performed at the Greek Theater, University of California, Berkeley, California.

They were joined by Neil Young on wild electric guitar.

The band consisted of: Bob Dylan (vocal & guitar), Neil Young (guitar), G. E. Smith (guitar), Kenny Aaronson (bass), Christopher Parker (drums).

These first songs are without Neil Young.

“Joey”:

“Absolutely Sweet Marie”:

“Tangled Up In Blue”:

Neil Young joins Dylan for these songs except “Rank Strangers To Me”:

“It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry”:

“In The Garden”:

“Gates Of Eden”:

“Like A Rolling Stone”:

“Rank Strangers To Me”:

“Everybody’s Moving'”:

“Maggie’s Farm”:

[I just published my rock ‘n’ roll novel, True Love Scars.” Rolling Stone has a great review of my book in a recent issue. Read it here. There’s info about True Love Scars here.]

Audio: Bob Dylan, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Australia 1986 – Full Show – ‘Positively 4th Street, ‘I’m Alright, Ma’ & Many More

Bob Dylan backed by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, True Confessions Tour, Sydney, Australia, Feb. 24, 1986. 

Set List:

01 Justine (Don Harris/Dewy Terry)
02 Positively 4th Street
03 Clean Cut Kid
04 I’ll Remember You
05 Trust Yourself
06 That Lucky Old Sun (Gillespie/ Smith)
07 Masters of War
08 Bye Bye Johnny [Petty]
09 Straight Into Darkness [Petty]
10 A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall (acoustic – Dylan solo)
11 Girl Of the North Country (acoustic – Dylan solo)
12 It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding) (acoustic – Dylan solo)
13 I Forgot More Than You’ll Ever Know (Null)
14 Just Like a Woman
15 I’m Moving On (Hank Snow)
16 Lenny Bruce
17 When the Night Comes Falling From the Sky
18 Lonesome Town
19 Ballad of a Thin Man
20 So You Wanna Be a Rock-n-Roll Star [Petty]
21 Refugee [Petty]
22 Rainy Day Women #12 & 35
23 Seeing the Real You at Last
24 Across the Borderline (Cooder/Hiatt)
25 I and I
26 Like a Rolling Stone
27 In the Garden
28 Blowin’ in the Wind
29 Uranium Rock (Warren Smith)
30 Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door

[I just published my rock ‘n’ roll novel, True Love Scars.” Rolling Stone has a great review of my book in a recent issue. Read it here. There’s info about True Love Scars here.]

Video: Laura Marling & Eddie Berman Transform Bob Dylan’s ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ – Listen Right Now!

Laura Marling and Eddie Berman.

Singer-songwriters Laura Marling and Eddie Berman collaborate here on a version of Bob Dylan’s 1965 hit, “Like A Rolling Stone.”

L.A.-based Berman and England’s Marling turn Dylan’s caustic rocker into an introverted, brooding folk song.

It’s a powerful and very different version of this classic, and it will be on Berman’s upcoming album, Polyhymnia, due out October 21, 2014.

Give it a listen.

Marling and Berman previously covered Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing In The Dark.”

You can listen to Berman’s last album, This Past Storm, here.

[I just published my rock ‘n’ roll novel, True Love Scars.” Rolling Stone has a great review of my book in the new issue. Read it here. There’s info about True Love Scars here.]

— A Days Of The Crazy-Wild blog post —

Audio/ Video: Bob Dylan at Newport, 1965 – Complete – ‘Like A Rolling Stone,’ ‘Phantom Engineer’ & More

Bob Dylan, Michael Bloomfield at Newport, 1965.

OK, so I’ve posted this landmark set before, but someone just uploaded most of it again yesterday so why not give it another listen.

This never gets old for me.

This was Bob Dylan’s first public electric performance (OK, of course he played rock ‘n’ roll as a teenager, but after he started making records as a folk singer, this was the first electric show).

This took place on Sunday, July 25, 1965.

Here’s audio for the set opener, “Maggie’s Farm”:

Maggies Farm (Newport '65) by Bob Dylan on Grooveshark

This clip is the audio with the exception of “Maggie’s Farm.”

0:00 – Pre-show/Intro
2:20 – Maggie’s Farm (BLOCKED – Can be seen in “The Other Side of the Mirror”)
8:07 – Like a Rolling Stone
14:39 – Phantom Engineer (It Takes a lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry)
18:00 – Intermission/Intro
22:04 – It’s all Over Now, Baby Blue
29:34 – Mr. Tambourine Man

Here’s some of the video but no audio:

[I just published my rock ‘n’ roll novel, True Love Scars.” I’ve got a Goodreads. book giveaway going right now. Click here and enter.]

— A Days Of The Crazy-Wild blog post —