While the official version of “Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?” was released on December 21, 1965, a different version was mistakenly released as the A-side of what was supposed to be the “Positively Fourth Street” single three months earlier on September 7, 1065.
As a kid I heard “Positively Fourth Street” on the radio, loved it and went to the record store down the hill from where I lived and bought a copy.
I was surprised to discover a different song on the A-side but it was just as great as “Positively Fourth Street.”
Michael Bloomfield and Al Kooper both play on this version, which according to Clinton Heylin, was recorded on July 30, 1965 at Columbia’s Studio A in New York:
Here it is as well in better fidelity:
Forty-nine years ago, on December 21, 1965, the official version recorded with the Hawks on October 4, 1965, was released.
Forty-nine years ago, on June 16, 1965, Bob Dylan and a handful of ace session musicians including the great blues guitarist Michael Bloomfield and a upstart organ player, Al Kooper, recorded the take of “Like A Rolling Stone” that established Bob Dylan as one of the great rock ‘n’ rollers of all time.
The session took place in Columbia Studio A in New York, where Dylan was comfortable working, and where he had recorded his previous albums.
Dylan had started recording the song the previous day but didn’t cut a killer take.
Michael Bloomfield, guitar, Joe Macho, Jr., bass, Bobby Gregg, drums. Al Kooper, organ; Paul Griffin, piano; Bruce Langhorne, tambourine.
Greil Marcus writing about the fourth take on June 16, 1965, the take with the magic:
Take 4 — 6.34
“Four,” Wilson says. As it happens, this will be the master take, and the only time the song is found.
“One two, one two three”: the bang that sets it off is not quite as big as in the take just before, but it somehow makes more space for itself, pushes the others away for the fraction of a second necessary to mark the act. Gregg, too, has found the song. He has a strategy, creating humps in the verses and then carrying everyone over them.
As big as the drums are, Griffin plays with light hands; you can imagine his keys loosening. At the very start, piano and bass seem the bedrock — but so much is happening, and with such gravity, you cannot as a listener stay in one place. You may have heard this performance thousands of times, but here, as it takes shape, the fact that it does take shape doesn’t seem quite real. The false starts have created a sense that there can be no finished version, and even if you know this is where it happens, as with all the takes before it you are waiting for it to stop short.
Bloomfield is playing with finesse, passion, and most of all modesty. He has a sense of what to leave out, of when to play and when not to. He waits for his moments, and then he leaps. And this is the only take where, for him, everything is clear.
There is a moment, just after the first “How does it feel?” when Kooper’s organ, Bloomfield’s guitar, and Gregg’s cymbals come together in a single waterspout, and you can feel the song running under its own power. You wonder: what are the musicians thinking, as this astonishing story, told with such a sensation of daring and jeopardy, unfolds in front of them for the first time?
Kooper holds down a stop at the fade, long after everyone else has quit playing. “Like wild thing, baby,” someone says, beside himself. “That sounds good to me,” Wilson says, happiness all over his voice.
You can read Marcus’ description of the entire June 16 session here.
The song that changed everything:
“Maggie’s Farm” into “Like A Rolling Stone” at Newport Folk Festival, July 25, 1965:
Hollywood Bowl, Sept. 3, 1965:
Liverpool, England, May 14, 1966:
The Royal Albert Hall, London, May 26, 1966:
Not sure when or where this is from or who is playing the solo but it smokes:
Bob Dylan with Michael Bloomfield, Warfield Theater, San Francisco, November 15, 1980:
Along with “Like A Rolling Stone” and “Positively 4th Street,” “Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?” was one of the first Bob Dylan songs I heard.
I was 12 years old and could totally relate to the anger and bitterness in Dylan’s voice.
The surreal lyrics, which have always reminded me of Salvador Dali and Picasso’s Cubist period, run through both “Like A Rolling Stone” and “Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?”
And of course the sound on those records was unlike anything else going on at the time.
Bob Dylan first tried recording “Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?” on July 30, 1965 while working on Highway 61 Revisited with a group of musicians that included Harvey Brooks (bass), Al Kooper (organ) and Michael Bloomfield (guitar).
There were two takes recorded that day, the second of which was mistakenly released as “Positively 4th Street” on September 7, 1965. I bought that single and have long loved that version of the song.
On October 5th, 1965, Dylan and The Hawks rerecorded the song, and that version was released as a single on December 21, 1965.
I’ve included those versions below, but also a number of interesting covers.
Each of these artists — the Hold Steady, Jimi Hendrix, The Vacels and Transvision Vamp — make the song their own.
I think the Transvision Vamp version is quite good, especially if you don’t try and compare it to the Dylan versions,
Bob Dylan (version that was mistakenly released as “Positively 4th Street”):
Bob Dylan and the Hawks:
The Hold Steady:
Jimi Hendrix – Can You please Crawl Out Your Window (1967)
Transvision Vamp – Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window.flv