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.
The song was written by Tom Scott McConnell who wrote it in 1987 andrecorded it in 1990 with his band the Havalinas. Springsteen originally released his version in 1995 on the Blood Brothers EP. No oe has yet confirmed if this is that recording, or a new one.
Meanwhile, the demo of “Homestead,” was written by Bruce Springsteen and Joe Grushecky when Springsteen produced Grushecky’s 1995 album, American Babylon.
Talking about the song during an interview, Grushecky said, “I thought the words were great, and I didn’t have a good ending, and I didn’t think the music I had matched up well with the lyrics. So I just gave it casually to Bruce and said, ‘If you can think of something, be my guest.’ And a few days later, he called me back and said he had some music he really liked to it, and we should go and record it. And of course I was thrilled.”