Listen & Watch : Bob Dylan at His Best — ‘Blind Willie McTell’

Photo by Baron Wolman via Tucson Weekly.

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.

Dig the lyrics here.

Here’s a recording of “Statesboro Blues” by Blind Willie McTell:

Two live version from July 2013:

Bob Dylan, “Blind Willie McTell,” Midway Stadium, St. Paul, Minnesota, July 10th, 2013:

Bob Dylan – Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, Maryland, – July 23, 2013:

-– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post: sounds, visuals and/or news –

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 has had three novels published that comprise the "Freak Scene Dream trilogy": "True Love Scars," "The Flowers Lied" and "Untitled" which can be ordered here. His new book, "Wicked Game: The True Story of Guitarist James Calvin Wilsey," can be pre-ordered from HoZac Books. In November Backbeat Books will publish "Addicted To Noise: The Music Writings of Michael Goldberg," which can be be pre-ordered here.

1 thought on “Listen & Watch : Bob Dylan at His Best — ‘Blind Willie McTell’

  1. love the released version on the bootleg series it has a fragility and intimacy that the much vaunted band versions lack

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