Access All Areas (Blog)

A Kinda Blog

 

The purpose of this page is to post the occasional article from the pages of ISIS Magazine, random pieces of writing by myself, mostly about Bob Dylan, and sporadic items of news. Some “news” items that appear here may also be included in a shorter form on the ISIS “Dylan Digest” breaking news page.

 

Those wishing to make a comment can do so by emailing me direct-

[email protected]

 

22 January 2014

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First and foremost, Tracy and I would like to wish all our readers a slightly belated but very happy New Year. My first blog of 2014 is a bit of a sales advert but before I get into that I should mention something about touring. Back on December 20, ISIS announced dates for 14 Bob Dylan concerts in Japan. Shortly after (Dec 29), we heard that three further concerts, one each in Tokyo, Sapporo and Nagoya, might be on the cards but since that time there has been no further news. We also said that shows are likely to take place in eastern and southern Europe in 2014 in countries not played in 2013. At the time the tour had not been finalised and although we hoped confirmation might come early in the New Year there is still no word.

 

We are currently working on the final ISIS magazine of the current subscription year. This should be out in about three weeks time; many thanks to those of you who have already renewed your subs for 2014.

 

There are currently three new items to mention, all of which are on sale in the ISIS store.   

 

“Bob Dylan – The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration”

 

Staged at Madison Square Garden, New York in October 1992 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Bob Dylan’s first Columbia recording, “The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration” is to be released on March 3, 2014 in three formats, all with new bonus features.

 

The fully remastered 2-CD Deluxe Edition will include two previously unreleased bonus tracks from the concert’s rehearsal: Sinead O’Connor singing ‘I Believe In You’, which was not performed at the concert, and Eric Clapton’s rehearsal of ‘Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right’.

 

The 2-DVD set and the Blu-ray release have been produced from a new High Definition 16:9 video master with remastered audio. Both versions will include 39 minutes of previously unreleased bonus material, including rehearsals, behind-the-scenes footage and interview material. 

 

“From His Head To His Heart To His Hands”

 

As mention in ISIS 171, Michael Bloomfield is the subject of a career-spanning 3CD/1DVD box set anthology due for release in February 2014.

 

Produced by Al Kooper, “From His Head To His Heart To His Hands” contains many previously unreleased tracks including some Dylan. The three Dylan tracks mentioned are listed as a 6:35 instrumental version of ‘Like a Rolling Stone’, a 5:58 alternate, i.e. not the one included on “No Direction Home”, but the Chambers Brothers take of ‘Tombstone Blues’ and a live, 5:50, performance from the Warfield of ‘The Groom’s Still Waiting At The Altar’.

 

“The Spirit Of Radio”

 

This 3-CD box-set brings together three previously released titles: “Folksinger’s Choice”, “Studs Terkel’s Wax Museum” and the radio and TV broadcasts release, “Life And Life Only”. The three CD’s are as previously released, complete with liner notes, but are now bound together in a new outer package at a much reduced price.   

 

Finally, those of you who have already ordered the 2001 Rome Press Conference CD will be pleased to hear that stock is expected to arrive next week.

 

That’s all for now,

 

Derek.

 

9 October 2013

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First off, Tracy has made some changes to the ISIS website, just a clean-up really. In any event it’s still a work in progress. You will notice that we now have a small range of non-Dylan CDs in stock.

 

Subscribers to ISIS will be pleased to know that the magazine is expected back from the printer this weekend. 

 

Those of you who ordered your UK Dylan tickets via ISIS / Desolation Row will be receiving them very soon. John and Jane at Desolation Row are currently in the midst of sorting through these. John expects the first orders to be sent out towards the end of this week and mailings will continue over the following week.

 

The UK Promoter has asked John to inform concert goers that there is no support act for Blackpool or Glasgow. There will however be a support, at the moment unknown, for the RAH concerts.

 

We have a new Dylan related item up for sale on our website. “Portrait Of Dylan” is a single CD release along the same lines as “Bob Dylan & The Band’s Basement Tapes Influences”. As was the case with that release, “Portrait Of Dylan” is a collection of “original artists” songs that were covered by Dylan, this time during the recording sessions that eventually produced “Self Portrait”, “New Morning” and “Dylan”. The CD contains 28 tracks by a wide range of artists.

 

To accompany the recently released “Another Self Portrait BS10”, Columbia Records has gone mobile with an innovative app. As each track plays, an interactive collage of images and artefacts horizontally scrolls across the screen of your iPhone or iPad. Embedded in the scroll are links to unreleased images of Dylan, source material, such as session sheets, and newly conducted interviews with Dylan’s collaborators, including one with Al Kooper.

 

Columbia’s plan is to continue to release new material corresponding to all of the various bootleg series releases, which will update automatically into the app and unlock if the referenced music is present in a user’s iTunes account. All this stuff is way beyond me I’m afraid.

 

After weeks of speculation that some lost Doctor Who episodes have been located the BBC has now confirmed that a currently unspecified number of early episodes have been found and returned to them. It seems that the majority of the episodes of the BBC Television sci-fi series had been transferred on to film for foreign broadcasters and it appears that one such broadcaster may have found and returned these films to the BBC. BBC Worldwide is expected to confirm the find at a press conference in London later this week. I’ve never understood why the BBC couldn’t just send the Doctor back in his Tardis to a time before they junked the tapes!

 

What, you might ask, has this got to do with Bob Dylan? Well, although it might well be wishful thinking there is a rumour, and it’s only a rumour, that other missing 1960s television programmes are included in the find and “Dad’s Army” and “Madhouse on Castle Street” have been mentioned!

 

The British television play Madhouse on Castle Street, which featured the acting debut of 21 year old Bob Dylan, was aired just once by BBC Television on the evening of January 13 1963, as part of the Sunday Night Play strand.

 

The play was made with electronic video cameras, although recorded onto film rather than tape. The only known copy of the play was junked in 1968, as was the standard practice of the time, despite the fact that Dylan and lead actor David Warner were by then famous.

 

In 2005, the BBC launched a worldwide search for a copy of the film and in April 2007, BBC Four Arena broadcast a documentary about the making of the play featuring interviews with amongst others director Philip Saville and Dylan collector and regular ISIS contributor Ian Woodward. As the great man once said; only time will tell...

 

All the Best, Derek B.

 

3 September 2013

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Announced a few days back, a third show, October 26, 2013, has been added on the upcoming European tour. The concert will be at the Tempodrom in Berlin, Germany.

 

Those of you who have “Face Value” on order with us will no doubt be pleased to learn that copies are due to be delivered to us tomorrow (September 3).

 

Kevin Ring, publisher of the excellent long running “Beat Scene” magazine, is about to publish a new chapbook. These small (circa 5,000-word) booklets are basically an essay in book form. Beat Scene Press’ latest title, “Bob Dylan in Jack Kerouac’s Lowell, 1975” – number 42 in their series of chapbooks and available mid September – might be of interest to hardened Dylan collectors. This title, which is available in a limited issue of 100 numbered copies, is now available to pre-order from ISIS.

 

One final thing; not wishing to oversell, we pulled the Michael Krogsgaard “Twenty Years of Recording” and “Master of the Tracks” special limited offer books down from our website. Having now completed the mailing out of these books (see previous item, below!) we have a handful left (2 pairs of “Twenty Years of Recording” and “Master of the Tracks”; 2 single “Master of the Tracks”, and half-dozen marked copies of “Twenty Years of Recording”. Due to the fact that these numbers are so limited we are only accepting telephone orders on a first come first severed basis (02476 - 749501).

 

26 August 2013

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What We Did On Our Bank Holiday

(With Apologies to Fairport Convention)

 

 

It’s been a busy week at ISIS HQ. The latest issue of ISIS arrived back from our new printer on Tuesday so we had a hard day of enveloping and mailing the magazine. Wednesday saw the arrival of “Another Self Portrait” from Sony, and a very stylish looking package it is too. Although I’ve always had a soft spot for “Self Portrait”, these pre-overdub versions are a real joy to behold and Bob’s voice is just beautiful! Some of Bob Johnson’s overdubs and production worked on the original album but I’ve almost always had a preference for a stripped down Bob of any type and I certainly don’t miss the irritating female vocals on the likes of ‘Copper Kettle’!

 

Anyway, we finished packing and mailing those on Thursday just in time to unload the transport from Copenhagen carrying the copies of “Twenty Years of Recording” and “Master of the Tracks” which Michael Krogsgaard had very kindly donated to ISIS. Unavailable for more than a decade and highly collectable, these newly discovered copies have been numbered and signed by Michael especially for ISIS. So, with so many books to pack and mail out that’s Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday taken care of! With “Character Sketches” also due in this week and “Counting Down Bob Dylan: His 100 Finest Songs” not far behind, it looks like we’ll be up to our eyes in book wraps and parcel tape for a while longer.   

 

To my great surprise I got a message from Sony on Saturday morning informing me that they had suddenly “found” a few more copies of the 4-CD “BS 10 - Another Self Portrait” Deluxe box set and that we would now be receiving a second delivery!!! Many of you will probably have managed to find copies by now but if anyone is still in need of a Deluxe copy we now have a few more available, or will have by the middle of the week. Due to the fact that we don’t have many of these we are only accepting telephone orders (02476 - 749501).

 

Finally, although we don’t yet have confirmation, we are hearing that “Bob Dylan: The Complete Album Collection” could be with us in early November, in time for the Christmas market. There is also a possibility that Sony might release a “condensed” version (Maybe Bob Dylan: The Incomplete Album Collection. Just joking), to meet the Dad and Granddad Christmas market. Okay, that’s about all for now; back to packing those Krogsgaard books.      

  

16 August 2013

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With everything that has been happening in ISISland of late I’ve not had time to think about a blog never mind write one! Anyway, here is a quick update on what’s been happening.

 

As our subscribers will know over the past few months we have been hit by an extraordinary run of extreme bad luck. Many of you have responded to our recent plight by sending donations. You have been extremely generous. It’s certainly a great pleasure working with and being part of this Bob Dylan community. Thank you one and all. The names of those who have donated so far will appear in the upcoming issue of ISIS. The most pressing problem has been finding a new print company to work with after the sudden demise of our long-time printer, Centreprint UK. This has been a monumental headache for us but it’s now all systems go and the latest ISIS, issue 169, should be back from our new printer and mailed out to subscribers on Monday August 19.

 

Many of you will already be aware of the supply problems surrounding “The Bootleg Series Volume 10 – Another Self Portrait”. As stated in our July newsletter, the 4-CD Deluxe Box Set and the vinyl LPs are extremely limited and Sony (certainly Sony UK), appear to have oversold by huge amounts. Sellers have, therefore, had their orders cut and outside of the U.S. there has been a frantic scramble to get hold of copies, especially the 4-CD set. I notice that one eBay seller is already asking £135 for the vinyl set and it’s not even released yet!

 

Anyway, staying with “The Bootleg Series Volume 10” but on a more positive note, our New York correspondent Anne Margaret Daniel has written an extremely detailed track-by-track review of “Another Self Portrait” and the bonus Isle of Wight disc. Anne Margaret’s review for ISIS Magazine includes an interview with Happy Traum. Here.

 

OTHER NEWS: Thanks to the kindness of Michael Krogsgaard, some new original copies of “Twenty Years of Recording” and “Master of the Tracks” are being made available exclusively through ISIS Magazine!

 

Unavailable for a decade or more, ISIS is extremely pleased to be able again to offer these books for sale!! Although these two volumes have now been superseded by other works, they remain highly collectable and sought after. These titles rarely come up for sale and when they do, used copies often sell for three figure sums.

 

To make these books even more collectable, these newly discovered copies are being stamped, numbered and signed by Michael Krogsgaard. Both books are currently limited to 75 numbered copies. Order now, only from ISIS.

 

ISIS broke the news back in May that the National Portrait Gallery, London would be exhibiting 12 portraits by Bob Dylan. The London exhibit, which is called “Bob Dylan: Face Value”, is confirmed as running from August 24, 2013 to January 5, 2014. The display will be part of the Contemporary Collection displays in Room 40, on the Ground Floor Lerner Galleries in the National Portrait Gallery, London. Admission is free of charge.

 

The 48-page book which accompanies the exhibition and features all 12 works plus “comparatives” and text is already on sale through ISIS. Publication date is September 2.

 

Finally, on October 3, 2013 (19:00-20:00), award-winning political journalist and author of the latest Dylan biographies, Ian Bell, will be giving a lecture entitled “Once Upon a Time: The Lives of Bob Dylan”. The talk will be in the Ondaatje Wing Theatre. Free ticket required, available to book in advance.

 

 

News Update (6 April 2013)

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For various reasons it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here so today I’m going to play a bit of catch up. ISIS magazine was mailed out on Thursday April 4. It should arrive with most of our UK subscribers today, Saturday, or at worst early next week. We are also pleased to say that we have now received copies of Bob Dylan’s “Revisionist Art” book which were also mailed to customers mid last week. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with this book. It’s a very nice looking item which has been put together with a great deal of thought and the presentation and finish is superb.

 

                                                      ***

 

It was with deep regret that I heard last week that the “The Godfather of Rock Criticism” Paul Williams had passed away.

 

In January 1966, a year-and-a-half before Jann Wenner founded Rolling Stone, Paul Williams, at the time a 17-year-old student at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, launched the first journal of serious rock criticism, “Crawdaddy!”. The mimeographed magazine was solely written, edited and published by Paul in his dorm room. Over time “Crawdaddy!” reached a circulation of some 25,000.

 

Williams was also the author of more than 25 books, of which the best-known are “Outlaw Blues”, “Das Energi”, and the three-part “Bob Dylan: Performing Artist” series. In 1979, Paul wrote the book, “Dylan: What Happened?” about Bob Dylan’s conversion to Christianity. Famously, Dylan’s office ordered 114 copies of the book because Dylan wanted to give them out to friends.

 

I interviewed Paul for ISIS in the summer of 1990 and he also contributed several columns to the magazine during the mid-1990s. Perhaps surprisingly, the last time I talked with Paul face to face was in March 1995 when we spent some time together in Prague. We were there for the opening concerts of Dylan’s European tour at the Palác kultury.

 

Back home in the USA and shortly after the ’95 Prague concerts, Paul suffered an accident riding his bicycle and was hospitalized for a month with a brain injury. He recovered, but later began to show signs of early-onset dementia brought on by the accident. Paul suffered a steady decline to the point where his wife, singer-songwriter Cindy Lee Berryhill, had no choice but to put him in a managed-care facility in Encinitas, Calif., in 2008. Paul Williams died on March 27, 2013. He was age 64.

 

Cindy Lee Berryhill, made a short post to Facebook about Paul’s passing: “Rock-writer Paul S Williams, author and creator of CRAWDADDY magazine, (and my husband), passed away last night 10:30pm PST while his oldest son was holding his hand and by his side. It was a gentle and peaceful passing”.

 

There will be a full and fitting tribute to Paul in ISIS issue 168.

 

                                                          ***

 

On Friday April 5, 2013 the UK arm of US restructuring specialist Hilco secured a deal to rescue HMV, Britain’s last remaining high street music retail chain. The news will be extremely welcomed by both the UK music industry and music enthusiasts.

 

Hilco, which acquired HMV Canada almost two years ago, is reported to have purchase 132 HMV shops and all nine branches of the Fopp chain from collapsed group’s administrators Deloitte. The purchase could save more than 2,600 high street jobs.

 

The 92-year-old iconic UK retailer, famous for its Nipper the dog trademark, had a hand in the Beatles’ big break in early 1960s, recommending the band’s demo record to publishers.

 

                                                         ***

 

Bob Dylan kicked off his touring for 2013 last evening (April 5) with a concert at Alumni Arena, SUNY Buffalo, New York. Perhaps fittingly, the show opened with ‘Things Have Changed’. As expected, veteran guitarist Duke Robillard has joined the tour band. Robillard has replaced Charlie Sexton on lead guitar. The remainder of the band remains unchanged.

 

The early reports that have arrived here are that Bob was either centre stage or was playing the baby grand. There was no guitar and no electric keyboard, although the Korg keyboard was on stage in its usual position. In actual fact, Bob appeared to be drifting away from playing the electric keyboard during the November 2012 tour. I’m told that Bob’s vocals were extremely good and that his singing really shone on ‘Scarlet Town’ and ‘What Good Am I?’. The setlist looks very interesting.

 

April 5, 2013, Buffalo, New York - SUNY Buffalo Alumni Arena

 

Things Have Changed

Love Sick

High Water (For Charley Patton)

Soon After Midnight

Early Roman Kings

Tangled Up In Blue

Pay In Blood

Visions Of Johanna

Spirit On The Water

Blind Willie McTell

Beyond Here Lies Nothin'

What Good Am I?

Thunder On The Mountain

Scarlet Town

Highway 61 Revisited

Ballad Of A Thin Man

Happy New Year

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A happy New Year from Tracy and me. We are pretty much snowed in here at the moment so I am taking this opportunity to write a somewhat overdue blog. We are currently in the final stages of putting the next ISIS to bed. We hope to get it into the printer in the next few days and have it mailed out before the end of January. That issue, 166, will be the final magazine of the 2012 subscription year.

 

A number of people have enquired why ISIS has not yet commented about the emergence of “Bob Dylan - The 50th Anniversary Collection”. The answer is simply that I was away on a Christmas / New Year break in France when this item was announced by Sony (December 28, 2012) and by the time I returned to the office (January 7) it was already old news! By January 7 the physical product had come and gone (all 100 of them) and the download, which had been made available only in France and Germany, had been taken down by Sony. From what I gather, the download was only accessible in these two countries from December 28 to January 1.

 

Also by January 7 Rolling Stone magazine and New York Times had written about Sony’s so called copyright extension release, both using official quotes from Sony representatives. For once therefore, ISIS had missed the scoop. Through our "Dylan Digest" - Breaking News page we pride ourselves in generally being first with all the important news; you can't however win them all!

 

Nevertheless, far from ignoring this topic, I have written a lengthy three-part 7,500-word article about the Public Domain in general, Dylan recordings that have been made available as Public Domain releases, and a detailed look at “Bob Dylan - The 50th Anniversary Collection”.

 

We have no firm news re touring in 2013 other than the report in ISIS last year that talks have taken place with a Japanese promoter and that dates there, and possibly elsewhere in the Far East, may take place in spring/summer 2013.

 

For now, keep one eye open for your post person and if you haven't yet re-subscribed to ISIS don’t forget to do so.

 

If like me you are watching the snow get deeper by the minute then in the words of the late and much-lamented John Bauldie, "Stay Warm".

 

Best wishes to everyone,

 

Derek Barker.

 

Bootleg Series 10 Release

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Quite some time ago, it was hinted that Dylan’s people wanted to rehabilitate “Dylan”, the 1973 album that Columbia put out when Dylan left them for Asylum Records.

 

A little later (October 22, 2012), ISIS suggested that recording sessions from 1969 / 1970 were being considered. In particular, we had heard mention of “Self Portrait” sessions.

 

More recently, the rumours have focused on “stripped down” material from “Self Portrait” – that is, recordings from the “Self Portrait” sessions but without the overdubs and, what we might call, the peripheral stuff. Some of these tracks could be previously unreleased outtakes, while other tracks previously released material but without the overdubs. Our various sources, quite separately, seem excited by this prospect.

 

A recast version of “Self Portrait” seems unlikely to constitute a double-CD Bootleg Series release. Nevertheless, there would certainly be many recordings from the period on which to draw for such a Bootleg Series release.

 

Finally, we should point out that Dylan’s staff are apparently working on a number of different projects at the moment, that everything is subject to change (even at the last minute) and that the final decision will not rest with executives at Sony.

 

Touring In 2013 (03 December 2012)

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Over the past month or so there has been some Internet chatter about whether Bob Dylan will continue touring in 2013! Not rumours, just idle speculation. My information is that Dylan’s people have for quite some time been talking to Japanese promoter Udo re concerts there in 2013.

 

As reported in ISIS at the time, Dylan was interested in touring Japan in 2011, but the local promoter felt that it was not the right time to do so.

 

For some months, Dylan’s people have been looking at several options but a tour of Japan now seems the most likely to come to fruition. Any tour there would almost certainly be in “Zepp” concert venues. The Zepp halls play host to many international tours of Japan and Dylan has previously played these venues. Each venue takes the Zepp name, along with the city in which it is located. Zepp is a subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment Japan.

 

Dylan is rumoured to be performing at Zepp Tokyo, Zepp Nagoya, and Zepp Sapporo. Osaka has also been mentioned, however, the Zepp Theatre in Osaka has recently closed, so a concert in this city would have to be in another venue. There is a possibility of 10 shows in all. The capacity of the venues range from Nagoya, 1800 to Tokyo, 2700.

 

Most of the other tour news is with regard to shows that will not take place! Some excitement was created a couple of days ago when it was “announced” that Dylan would play a summer festival in Carhaix, France. Information that Dylan would play in Carhaix in 2013 was posted on the “Fnac” website. Tickets were said to be on sale on December 5.

 

As soon as I was sent this information alarm bells began ringing. Firstly, touring for Spring 2013 has not yet been announced and secondly, it is most unusual (maybe even unprecedented?) for Dylan to play the same festival two years running. In any event, it transpires that Fnac had somehow managed to post a listing containing last year’s acts!

 

Over the past couple of weeks there has been publicity that Dylan could headline an event called “50th Anniversary Bob Dylan Folk Festival”. Reported in “Brandeis Hoot” (Brandeis University’s Community Newspaper) the event, the brainchild of student organisers, would be held in the 2013 Spring semester to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dylan’s 1963 concert there.

 

However, the same student paper has now announced that Dylan’s booking price, nearly $300,000, would hamper the net finances of the university. It seems the event will still go ahead, but without Bob Dylan!!!

 

No further news is available with regard to touring in 2013, and it is unlikely that we will hear anything further until the beginning of next year. However, it is rumoured that the UK and mainland Europe may be in the mix for autumn 2013. Summer festivals, either in Europe or the USA, are always under consideration. One thing is for certain, Bob Dylan will be back on the road in 2013.

 

NOTE: Tomorrow, Tuesday December 4, we’ll post information regarding “The Bootleg Series Vol. 10”.

 

More on Gagosian BabyTalk

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Shortly after writing my Gagosian Gallery blog, I was sent a news clipping by Wiebke Dittmer. The clipping had appeared on a blog by Scott Warmuth.

  

The newspaper article is about the Canadian midget wrestler Lionel Giroux, best known by his ring name Little Beaver. Giroux, who began his wrestling career in 1950, was forced to retire in 1987, at the age of 52, after suffering a back injury in the ring. Giroux died on December 4, 1995 of emphysema.

 

Babytalk (with a small "t") is a genuine magazine. Launched in 1935 as a supplement, it is America's oldest baby magazine. Unlike Bob Dylan's "Vietnam" Life cover, which merely had text added to a genuine Life cover, it appears that Dylan has "designed" his "spoof" BabyTalk magazine cover from scratch.

 

I can't find another version of the Little Beaver photograph online, so it seems likely that Dylan has added colour to the black and white image as well as reinstating the cropped parts of the wrestler's arms. It seems he’s discovered the delights of "Photoshop".

 

We await with interest the unveiling of the remaining 29 creations. Are they all magazine covers? Maybe Bob will produce a spoof ISIS cover!

 

Another Side Of Dylan’s Art At Gagosian

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We would have got this information up earlier today (01 Nov 2012) but we’ve had major problems with updating our website. These things are way beyond my comprehension but what I do know is that Tracy gave up smoking six weeks ago and almost took up the habit again after today!

 

We mentioned in ISIS quite some time back that Dylan would have another art exhibition at Gagosian Gallery, New York in November 2012. In actual fact, this had slipped my mind but as the month of November came rushing in, perhaps blown along by the horrifying winds of Sandy, Gagosian, Madison Avenue, presented us with a small taste of what’s to come.

 

The exhibition, entitled “Revisionism”: Thirty New Works by Bob Dylan, will run from Wednesday, November 28, 2012 to Saturday, January 12, 2013. It is Dylan’s second exhibition at the space in a little over a year. One piece of artwork, “Baby Talk Magazine: Strengthen Your Baby (2011–12)” is displayed on the Gagosian Gallery website. From the look of this (cough) artwork, it would appear that the Life Magazine cover that was previously seen (by mistake?) at Gagosian might have been a precursor to this latest exhibition. As these pieces of art appear to be straight reproductions of magazine covers with perhaps a little added, I guess there won’t be much of an opportunity for the “Wussies and pussies” to accuse Dylan of plagiarism.

 

Best wishes to all our friends and subscribers on the American East Coat.

 

The Bootleg Series Volumes 10 & 11!

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Subscribers to the ISIS Magazine "Dylan In-Between" Newsletter will no doubt have read the following news:

Under the heading “Black Friday Records” we previously mentioned that a special release of ‘Duquesne Whistle’ will be on sale in the US for the November Record Store Day.

 

Much interest (and, indeed, much speculation) has concerned the B-side, which was announced as a previously unreleased version of ‘Meet Me In The Morning’.

 

In the past, there have been rumours that this song was recorded at the December 1974 sessions for “Blood On The Tracks” in Minneapolis. The version on the Record Store Day single, however, will in fact come from the New York sessions.

 

When the RSD 7-inch disc was announced, ‘Meet Me In The Morning’ was said to be taken from “The Bootleg Series Volume 11”. This is what the official Record Store Day website had to say about the release:–

 

“Duquesne Whistle appears on “Tempest”. B-side is a previously unreleased version of ‘Meet Me In The Morning’ from the Blood on the Tracks sessions and is a forthcoming track from The Bootleg Series Volume 11.”

 

This write-up was very quickly amended and now omits any mention of “The Bootleg Series 11”, but where did the Record Store Day people get their information from?

 

Given that “The Witmark Demos” constituted Volume 9 in the series, this caused a few raised eyebrows. In an attempt to lower those eyebrows, ISIS has made some enquiries.

 

A little digging confirmed, as I imagined, that Sony, New York had given the information to the good people Record Store Day and yes, ‘Meet Me In The Morning’ is definitely taken from “The Bootleg Series Volume 11”. As to Volume 10, no concrete information was forthcoming from Sony.

 

For some time, there have been strong rumours that there will be a “Blood On The Tracks” release, based around the withdrawn version of the album that used only the New York session recordings. Beyond repeating that rumour, ISIS will speculate no further. Nevertheless, the Sony/RSD slip-up would seem to confirm this.

 

Meanwhile, there is the question of “Bootleg 10”. Official lips remain tightly sealed on this subject.

 

Nevertheless, it is my understanding that the “Bootleg Series Volume(s) 10 & 11” will not be simultaneous or combined releases (as in “The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3”), as suggested elsewhere.

 

“The Bootleg Series Volume 10” could be with us as soon as the first half of next year and it will not be one of the usual longstanding rumours, i.e. “Blonde On Blonde” outtakes, the Supper Club or a “Hard Rain” DVD.

 

Although we have not received official information regarding this release, we understand that the powers that be are considering something from the 1969/70 period.

 

We think we know what this might be, but ISIS is not willing to speculate further at this point.

Tempest Talk

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Much has already been written about “Tempest” in the press and ISIS has two lengthy reviews of the album in issue 164, which is currently at the printer and due to be mailed out to subscribers on Monday, September 17. All I’ll say here therefore is that from the very first play I thought it was a knockout! A tour de force! And after a dozen plays I can’t see any reason to change my way of thinking. “Tempest” hangs together extremely well as a complete work– you could almost call it a concept album. To my ears there isn’t a weak track in evidence.

 

For those who want to read more about “Tempest” right now, Jeff Daily has written “A Chronicle of Anticipation” which we have posted elsewhere on the ISIS website and our Facebook page has many more thoughts on the subject.

 

The Sony hype machine has been working overtime to promote Bob this time round. Sneak previews, an MP3 single, video, free iTunes streaming and even pop-up stores in NYC, LA and London.

 

On Thursday 5, less than 24 hours before their Dylan “Tempest” promotion was due to start, the Dussmann store in Berlin still had no idea if they would be receiving signed copies of “Tempest” so people hoping to travel, in some case long distances, were left hanging. As one might have predicted, when the store opened on Friday morning nothing was delivered. Disappointed customers were told the CDs would arrive on Friday afternoon, but again they didn’t. Some of the lucky ones who persevered were eventually rewarded with a silver ink signed CD copy of “Tempest”. Thanks to Sony Germany, the Dussmann store also gave away free Dylan T-shirts with “Fifty Years of Music” on the front and “And 34 Years of Berlin Concerts” on the back. Nice touch.

 

 

It had to happen, but some individuals have already put copies of the signed CDs up for sale on eBay. The first one I spotted (bought from the LA store) was up for grabs for a mere $2,999.99. Another seller, also from LA has now listed a copy for the exact same price. A third copy has now appeared, again on eBay, but this time from London, for a slightly more realistic price of £500. My understanding is that there were a total of just 60 available from the four “Tempest” outlets. Mind you, Bob Dylan signatures ain’t what they used to be. By my calculations there are now a staggering 19,075 signed prints in the “Drawn Blank Series Limited Edition Graphics” collection. This brings a whole new meaning to the term “limited

 

 

 

Strange Tempest coins, also available from pop-up shops.

 

 

The Worst Of Times – John Hume Rest In Peace

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I’ve just returned from a week away so I am only now able to update this site with the extremely sad news that John Hume passed away in his sleep July 26-27, 2012.

 

Last week began badly for me as 10 minutes before Tracy and I were due to leave home for a week away I somehow managed to fall down stairs! I bounced off several walls, went round the corner of the dog-leg staircase, and came to rest on top of 10,000 plastic ISIS mailers. My ankle had made a sickening crunching sound during the fall and I was convinced it was broken. Luckily, it was not. In retrospect, I think someone was trying to tell me not to go away. I didn’t heed the call.

 

After 48 hours away I got a telephone call to say that my mother had been taken into hospital. She was dying, and although it was half expected (having been ill for some time), the news was still shocking.

 

Another 48 anxious hours passed and I received a message from Dylan fan Steinar Daler that John Hume had died.

 

I’m sick of writing obituaries and I’m only going to say a few words here. When I’ve got my head straight I’ll put together a celebration of John’s life for publication in next ISIS magazine. Messages of sympathy were quickly posted on the ISIS Facebook page and on the Expecting Rain Discussion Forum.

 

John had spent a week in the cardiac unit of a Belfast Hospital and had undergone what he described as a “small op on the arteries close to the heart”. He returned for tests and was given the all clear. John emailed me to say that although he would need an extra suitcase to carry all of the medication he was now on he was fit enough to attend a reduced number of concerts on Dylan’s European tour.

 

John went to those concerts and then decided to take a break in Norway at the home of fellow Dylan fan and long-time close friend Knut. It was there he died in his sleep.

 

Our deepest sympathies go to Valeria, John’s mother, Knut, Steinar and all others close to John.

 

John Hume – I’ll Remember You.

 

Love, Derek and Tracy Barker.

Funeral Service Details

 

Bum(stead) Review

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There still seems to be much confusion as to the validity of the Alan Bumstead review.

We can confirm 100% that the review is fake.

 

Surrounded By Fakery, or “Tempest Over Interstate 80”

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Because the deluge of emails coming in to ISIS asking questions about the Alan Bumstead review of “Tempest”, here are just a few comments from me.

 

I’m fairly certain that review copies of the album have not yet been sent out.

A review copy on vinyl !!!

The catalogue number looks totally wrong!

Take a close look at the centre of the LP label(s)– it’s actually a CD!!!

I could go on but I won’t.

 

Derek Barker.

 

A Few Random Thoughts On “Tempest” (July 17, 2012)

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I won’t go into great detail here, there is plenty of time for that anon.

 

The album title is interesting in itself. The Tempest is of course a play by Willie the Shake and much has already been made of the fact that many consider it to be Shakespeare’s final play. On the other hand, maybe Bob borrowed the title from the 1997 bootleg release, “Tempest Storm”. After all, some of these bootleggers, they make pretty good stuff!

 

 

The cover image is clearly a close-up of one the world famous sculptures from in front of The Austrian Parliament Building in Vienna.

 

The statue shown on the cover is part of the Pallas Athena Fountain. The main standing sculpture is of the Greek goddess Athena. A multi talented lady, Athena is the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, law and justice, just warfare, strength, the arts and crafts and mathematics! Bob always did like mathematical songs!

 

The image used on the album cover is one of the sculptures at the base of the fountain. The figure, sculpted by Carl Kundmann, symbolizes the river Vltava.

 

The album opens with ‘Duquesne Whistle’, a song about the “Duquesne Works” steel mill, home to “Dorothy Six”, the largest blast furnace in the world.

 

The Works, located in the Pennsylvania steel town of Duquesne, was part of the Carnegie Steel Company (later U.S. Steel). Andrew Carnegie was of course the man responsible for the construction of New York’s Carnegie Hall complex, part of which, the Chapter Hall, played host to Bob Dylan’s first ever concert– Saturday, November 4, 1961 (see ISIS 160).

 

During the 1930s and ’40s, the town of Duquesne, which thrived because of the steel works, had more than 22,000 residents. After the decline of the steel industry – and the closure of the works in 1984 – the population plummeted to just over 5,000.

 

Dylan appears to have taken inspiration for his song from an article, “Business & Finance: Whistle”, TIME Magazine (Monday, June 26, 1933):–

 

“Pennsylvania steel town, twelve miles up the Monongahela River from Pittsburgh. For two years its 21,000 inhabitants watched the tires die in the blast furnaces one by one. Then for two more years the furnaces were cold. Duquesne called it Depression. One day last week, Duquesne whistles shrieked, Duquesne bells clanged...”

 

As indicated some time back, we had come by a number of rumours concerning “Tempest”, some we confirmed and printed, others we didn’t. One such rumour suggested that there would be a longish ballad that was in the vein of ‘Gypsy Davy’. Another mentioned that one song was inspired by Robert Burns. It was never too clear whether these two rumours were connected. In any event, Scarlet Town was the home of Barbara Allen.

 

The album’s title track,Tempest’, is the long rumoured 14-minute song about the demise of the supposedly unsinkable British passenger liner RMS Titanic.

 

The album’s closing track, ‘Roll On John’, borrows its title from a traditional number that Dylan was known to perform back in 1962 (played on the Cynthia Gooding radio show, “Folksinger’s Choice”). The track on “Tempest” is, however, the John Lennon tribute mentioned in the June ISIS Newsletter.

 

The song quotes lines from several Beatles’ numbers, including ‘Come Together’ and ‘A Day In The Life’ (think ‘Tweeter And The Monkey Man’ and Dylan’s use of Springsteen lyrics). Although slightly veiled, Bob Dylan had previously written about John Lennon in the title track to his 1981 album “Shot Of Love”. The track was written shortly after Dylan met with Yoko Ono on January 8, 1981, a month after Lennon had been murdered by Mark David Chapman. At the Travemunde Press Conference (July 1981) Dylan said “He [Lennon] was actually shot by someone who supposedly loved him. But what kind of love is that? That’s fan love. That’s what hero worship can breed, if you worship a man in that kind of way”.

 

For the time being, that seems like a good place to leave things.

 

The 10-song 68-minute album will be released on September 11, 2012.

It will be available as a “standard” CD jewel case release; a “deluxe” CD release, possibly complete with a booklet, and as a 2-LP set.

 

TRACKS:

 

1. Duquesne Whistle

2. Soon After Midnight

3. Narrow Way

4. Long and Wasted Years

5. Pay In Blood

6. Scarlet Town

7. Early Roman Kings

8. Tin Angel

9. Tempest

10. Roll On John

 

Currently, Sony UK do not have prices for the album. As soon as the details are confirmed ISIS will take pre-release orders.

 

More details Here

Citadel Music Festival, Berlin, Germany July 2, 2012

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 1. Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat (Bob on Korg keyboard)

2. It Ain’t Me, Babe (Bob on guitar)

3. Things Have Changed (Bob centre stage with harp)

4. Tangled Up In Blue (Bob centre stage with harp)

5. Cry a While (Bob centre stage with harp)

6. She Belongs To Me (Bob centre stage with harp)

7. Love Sick (Bob on grand piano)

8. The Levee’s Gonna Break (Bob on grand piano)

9. High Water (For Charley Patton) (Bob centre stage with harp, then grand piano)

10. Desolation Row (Bob on grand piano)

11. Highway 61 Revisited (Bob on grand piano, Korg keyboard, back to grand piano)

12. Simple Twist Of Fate (Bob on guitar)

13. Thunder On The Mountain (Bob on grand piano)

14. Ballad Of a Thin Man (Bob centre stage with harp)

15. Like a Rolling Stone (Bob on grand piano

16. All Along The Watchtower (Bob on grand piano)

17. (encore) Blowin’ In The Wind (Bob on grand piano, then centre stage with harp)

 

 

A full 17-song set last night in Berlin, the encore being ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’. Any talk that the baby grand might have been borrowed from another Hop Farm act was dispelled. Bob played piano on nine songs but on a couple of songs he also moved between piano and keyboard, and piano and harp on the same number. There were six song changes from Hop Farm. The probability is that last night’s concert set the tone for the rest of the tour but any major changes will be noted here.

 

 

 

Hop Farm Festival June 30, 2012

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This, the first concert of Bob Dylan’s Summer tour of Europe, began with Stu Kimball strolling onto the stage playing a rather bluesy guitar riff. Kimball’s appearance, a couple of minutes ahead of scheduled start time, combined with the absence of the usual Al Santos pre-concert spoken introduction (the first time since I can’t remember when– 2002 I think), caught many Dylan watchers by surprise. The rest of the band followed with Dylan taking up his customary position behind the now familiar electric Korg keyboard. Proceedings began as they had at the Spring concerts with 'Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat'. This was a noticeably laidback rendition. Bob then moved centre stage to play his Rick Kelly eagle-head Strat on ‘It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue’. Bob laid down his guitar and performed the next three songs, ‘Things Have Changed’ (nice version), ‘Tangled Up In Blue’, and 'Cry a While' (reworked), centre stage with harp. So far, this was pretty much standard fare. For the next number, however, Bob took a seat at the grand piano which stood centre stage and from there on in the mood of the concert was altered. For the next 11 songs (the remainder of what was probably a slightly a truncated “festival” set), Bob did not return either to the guitar or to the Korg keyboard). Instead, he spent a total of eight songs on grand piano and a further three centre stage with harp. The one song that you would have thought would benefit from being performed at the piano, ‘Ballad Of a Thin Man’, was instead one of the three played centre stage with harp. Seemingly, Bob is not yet ready to move away from atmospheric echo-laden version just yet.

 

Overall though, the Hop Farm set had a lighter feel to it than of late. Those who complained about the supposed excess volume of last year’s out-and-out rock concerts will no doubt be delighted with the new sound. Not able to trade guitar licks with Bob, Charlie Sexton took something of a back seat compared with previous shows.

 

With nine of the 16 songs performed seated, several people complained to me that they couldn’t see Bob. However, that was probably made worse by the fact that this was a festival crowd. In any event, Bob was animated, the voice was strong, the weather good and the crowd mostly enthusiastic. ‘Can’t Wait’ was a great performance. Tonight’s set closed with the now obligatory ‘All Along The Watchtower’, in the middle of which, Bob made the band introductions! There was no encore. The burning question – which will be answered tonight in Berlin, Germany – is, does the grand piano belong to Bob, or was it borrowed from another performer– Randy Crawford?

 

Thanks to those who emailed their thoughts.

 

Set List

1. Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat (Bob on Korg keyboard)
2. It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue (Bob on guitar)
3. Things Have Changed (Bob centre stage with harp)
4. Tangled Up In Blue (Bob centre stage with harp)
5. Cry a While (Bob canter stage with harp)
6. Love Sick (Bob on grand piano)
7. Ballad Of Hollis Brown (Bob centre stage with harp)
8. Spirit On The Water (Bob on grand piano)
9. High Water (For Charley Patton) (Bob centre stage with harp)
10. A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall (Bob on grand piano)
11. Highway 61 Revisited (Bob on grand piano)
12. Can’t Wait (Bob on grand piano)
13. Thunder On The Mountain (Bob on grand piano)
14. Ballad Of AaThin Man (Bob centre stage with harp)
15. Like a Rolling Stone (Bob on grand piano)
16. All Along The Watchtower (Bob on grand piano)

Muttering Small Talk At The Wall

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That Sinking Feeling – Bob’s New Album

 

Much of the talk in Dylan circles at the moment is about a new Bob Dylan studio album. Although we mentioned this in our “Dylan Digest” page back in early March 2012, very little news has since been forthcoming. It was leaked on the Internet that Uncut’s Alan Jones would get to hear the album week commencing May 14, but it’s not certain that such a listening session took place. We understand, however, that New York and London listening session for Sony executives have taken place.

 

Water Pearl

 

The heading to our previous entry, “That Sinking Feeling”, would also have been appropriate for this piece. We wrote about Bob Dylan’s gaff schooner Water Pearl way back in ISIS 87 (November 1999). We had been sent a postcard entitled “The Launching of Bob Dylan’s ‘Water Pearl’ Bequia West Indies” that had been made from a painting by long-time Bequia habitué, Sam McDowell. The painting was made in 1979 while the postcard (re-printed in ISIS 87, page 39) was first printed in 1997.

 

We wrote about the circumstances in which the boat sank in a recent issue of ISIS (156, June 2011). The information had appeared in the May 2011 issue of “Classic Boat”. Chris Bowman, who was in the small Grenadine island of Bequia in the early ’70s, built a very nice 40/45ft local-type sloop. She was so nice that Bob Dylan financed Bowman to build Water Pearl of Bequia, a 65-70ft gaff schooner with topmasts on both masts. It seems that Bowman sailed her around the Caribbean for three or four years and had ironed out all of the bugs. He was on his way to the Pacific for a long cruise “financed by Bob Dylan” when disaster struck. En route, Bowman approached the Panama Canal at about 4am. Instead of heaving to and waiting for dawn, he tried to enter the harbour, missed the entrance and piled up on the beach. It seems that he could not organize a salvage tug in time and the Water Pearl slowly broke up over six days.

 

Anyway, all of this leads me to the recent discovery of another rather nice picture of Water Pearl, different from the one previously printed in ISIS.

 

Photo from Vanishing Sail Project

Been On The Job Too Long

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Derek Barker (2008)

 

I was in the throes of putting the finishing touches to my book, “The Songs He Didn’t Write: Bob Dylan Under The Influence”, when the much talked about (often for all the wrong reasons) “Tell Tale Signs” arrived at my door. With a publisher’s deadline to meet, the tracks of immediate interest were the cover songs that were new to me: ‘32-20 Blues’, ‘Mary And The Soldier’ and ‘Duncan And Brady’. In the end ‘32-20 Blues’ and ‘Mary And The Soldier’ would both disappoint. Perhaps it’s the repetitive guitar pattern on ‘32-20 Blues’, or maybe it’s simply that the guitar dominates the mix, especially when compared with Robert Johnson’s original recording. ‘Mary And The Soldier’ is a fine song and I can’t quite put my finger on why it doesn’t excite me more. The guitar on this one is so similar to ‘Love Henry’ that I doubt both tracks should have made it onto the same album, and of the two, Bob certainly made the right choice in retaining ‘Love Henry’.

 

Anyway, the infamous disc three, which coincidentally contained two of the three tracks I needed to hear, was too tantalizing to resist. So, I popped it into my CD player and sat back to listen. Wow! This was not the ‘Duncan And Brady’ that I expected, or indeed the one I was familiar with from live performances. This studio take, driven by David Bromberg’s slide guitar and Richard Crooks’ drumming, with some lovely organ fills from Christopher Cameron, is a revelation. Track two on disc three of “Tell Tale Signs” is a truly remarkable version of ‘Cold Iron Bound’. However, this would have to wait as I hit and re-hit the replay button for repeats of ‘Duncan And Brady’. For me, this stunning studio outtake alone is worth the (very expensive) price of admission to “Tell Tale Signs”. What follows therefore is a short examination of this intriguing song, the majority of which is taken from my book “The Songs He Didn’t Write”.

 

 

Duncan And Brady (Traditional)

 

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,

Up comes Brady in a ‘lectric car,

Got a mean look all ‘round his eye,

Gonna shoot somebody jus’ to see them die.

 

A stunning version of this song was recorded by Bob Dylan during the aborted “Good As I Been To You” album sessions which took place in Acme Recording Studios, Chicago in June 1992 with David Bromberg producing. It is this track that was released in October 2008 on the rarities compilation album “The Bootleg Series Vol. 8: Bob Dylan: Tell Tale Signs: Rare And Unreleased 1989-2006”.

 

Dylan has performed this song in concert many times, the first instance being November 17, 1999 at University Of New Hampshire in Durham, New Hampshire. The song was played forty-eight times in 2000, twenty-four times in 2001 and nine times in 2002. The last performance of the song thus far was on September 1, 2002, at the Janus Jazz Festival in Aspen, Colorado.

 

It is difficult to identify exactly where Dylan learned the song. An early printing, entitled ‘Brady’, appeared in Carl Sandburg’s 1927 “American Songbag”. One of the earliest recordings was by Lead Belly, but this version definitely is not Dylan’s source. Likewise, New Riders of the Purple Sage, John Koerner and the Grateful Dead can also be discounted. The main contenders are therefore Dave Van Ronk, who released the song on “Dave Van Ronk Sings Ballads, Blues And a Spiritual” (1959) and Tom Rush, who included the song on his 1963 album “Got a Mind To Ramble”. These two recordings have almost identical lyrics and are quite similar to the lyrics performed by Dylan.

 

Van Ronk says he learned the song from Paul Clayton whose version is entitled ‘Been On The Job Too Long’. In turn, Clayton says that he learned it from a copy of a Wilmer Watts record that he found while collecting songs in Virginia, North Carolina and Kentucky.

 

Although some of the “facts” have been altered, there is no doubt that the song ‘Duncan And Brady’ portrays an actual event. The incident happened on Monday, October 6, 1890 in the Charles Starkes Saloon at 715 North 11th Street in St Louis. A fight broke out in the bar but, when police attended, the brawl turned into a gunfight and police backup was called. One of the officers, Patrolman James Brady, was hit by gunfire and died. Harry Duncan was arrested for the murder but he reportedly claimed his innocence, insisting that the shot was fired by the owner of the bar, Charles Starkes. Duncan filed a series of appeals that took his case all the way to the US Supreme Court. Duncan’s appeal was dismissed and he was subsequently hanged on July 27, 1894. According to some, Charles Starkes would later confess to the murder on his deathbed. Most versions of the song depict Brady as a corrupt officer who, to use Dylan’s phrasing, had “been on the job too looooong”.

 

The opening verse, which has Officer Brady arriving on the scene by ‘lectric car, is both intriguing and inaccurate. The first electric vehicle in the USA was designed in 1891. It ran, as a test on the streets of Chicago in late 1892 and production began in 1895. It was around 1900 before the vehicles began appearing on the streets in the form of taxicabs and ambulances.

 

It is a matter of fact that the affray at Charles Starkes’ Saloon occurred on October 6, 1890, a year before the first electric vehicle was invented and a full five years before production began. It would have been impossible therefore for Officer Brady to have attended the incident in his ‘lectric car. (This is probably a remarkable coincidence, but it is interesting that one of the first automobiles to be driven in Manhattan was an electric car purchased by a man named “Diamond” Jim Brady).

 

My research indicates that the song ‘Duncan And Brady’ was probably written at around the time of Brady’s murder (1890) or possibly shortly after Harry Duncan was hung (1894) and that the original song did not include what is now commonly the opening ‘lectric car verse. This premise can be supported in part by the fact that one of the earliest recordings of ‘Duncan And Brady’, that of Lead Belly, does not contain this verse.

 

I have always thought it quite odd that a murder ballad should begin with a reference to the nursery rhyme – ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’ – and it is my supposition that this ill-worded line was used simply to provide a rhyme for the word “car”. Staying with nursery rhymes, Bob Dylan is not averse to beginning a song with “Once Upon A Time”.

 

Two rather unusual variant fragments are quoted in Carl Sandberg’s “The American Songbag”. Geraldine Smith, an attorney-at-law in Chicago, provided Sandberg with this version, which she heard from a group of Omaha railroad men. This version is, I think, unique in providing a supposed location.

 

Down in St. Louis at 12th and Carr,

Big Bill Brady was a-tendin’ bar,

In came Duncan with a star on his chest,

Duncan says, “Brady you’re under arrest”.

 

This second version, from the R.W. Gordon collection and also included in Sandberg, is interesting because of the lyric variations which include a stanza that has Brady “struttin’ in hell with his Stetson on!”

 

Duncan and his brother was playing pool,

When Brady came in acting a fool,

He shot him once, he shot him twice,

Saying, “I don’t make my living by shooting dice!”

 

Brady went to hell lookin’ mighty curious,

the devil says, “Where you from?” “East St. Louis”,

“Well, pull off your coat and step this way,

For I’ve been expecting you every day!”

 

When the girls heard Brady was dead

They went up home and put on red,

And came down town singin’ this song –

“Brady’s struttin’ in hell with his Stetson on!”

 

Neither of these early versions contains the ‘lectric car verse or the “been on the job too long” refrain.

 

The earliest known recording of the song is by Wilmer Watts & The Lonely Eagles who recorded it on October 29, 1929. The recording was issued in 1930 under the title of ‘Been On The Job Too Long’ (Paramount 3210). The other main early source is Lead Belly, who recorded the song twice in 1947; one version was a-capella while the other was on twelve-string guitar. Both these cuts can be found on the Smithsonian Folkways album “Where Did You Sleep Last Night: Leadbelly Legacy Vol 1”. Lead Belly’s version has no ‘lectric car and also omits the “been on the job too long” refrain.

 

Below are the first and final stanzas of Wilmer Watts’ version, which is perhaps the earliest rendition to include the ‘lectric car verse. This version also has a twist in the Devil’s tale because when corrupt and apathetic police officer Brady tells the Devil that he will soon be out of there, he is informed by the Devil that no “sucker” has ever got away from him because he’s “been on the job too long”.

 

Twinkle, twinkle like this star,

Yonder goes Brady on a ‘lectric car,

Makin’ his way to the freedom land,

He’s gonna kill him a sucker like a bullnose man,

Been on the job too long.

 

Brady went to hell with a crutch under his arm,

Says, “Mr Devil, well I ain’t here long”,

Devil says, “Brady, just this-a way,

Well, there’s never been a sucker here that ever got away,

Been on the job too long”.

 

As is common with folk songs, especially murder ballads, the lyrics to this tune have been changed and added to over the years, often to fit with different events and locales. In the book “On The Trail Of Negro Folk-Songs” – Dorothy Scarborough 1952 – Mrs. Tom Barret, a resident of Marlin, Texas, identifies the place of the shooting as being Waco, Texas.

 

According to Mrs Barret, the version(s) she knows are from “a genuine ballad” that celebrates the final adventure of a ‘bad Nigger” who shot up the town ... “Waco was the scene of the fray”.

 

Although Waco is not the setting for our version, Mrs Barret lists two fragments of lyrics which are of interest. In one song, “Brady come down on – Gabriel car”, while in another, “Brady come home on a cable car”. One version also mention’s someone by the name of “Diamond Joe” ( a popular name in American folk songs).

 

It has been written elsewhere that after Brady’s death the women in the song all dressed in red either to celebrate the fact that the corrupt officer was dead, or that the women might have been prostitutes who, with Brady out of the way, were able to work without hindrance. It should be noted, however, that wearing red was an accepted dress for funerals in some African-American traditions. The bright colour was perhaps a celebration of the deceased’s life rather than a mourning of his or her death.

 

Several blues numbers have the women dressing in red for funerals. Jim Kweskin’s ‘Ella Speed’ contains the line: “The women all heard that Ella Speed was dead / And they all went home and re-ragged in red”.

 

Even more interesting is this verse from Jesse James’ 1936 recording of ‘Southern Casey Jones’.

 

When the news reached town Casey Jones was dead,

Women went home and had it out in red,

Slipping and sliding all across the streets,

With their loose mother hubbards in their stocking feet, stocking feet, stocking feet,

loose mother hubbards in their stocking feet.

 

Extremely popular in the1880s, the Mother Hubbard was a full, loose, unbelted cotton dress with long sleeves and a high neck. The dress was introduced by missionaries to the South Seas islands (to cover the semi-naked “savages”), but became popular with African-Americans who originally wore it for cool comfort around the house. The name of the dress comes from illustrations made for Sarah Catherine Martin’s nursery rhyme character Mother Hubbard who wore a similar dress.

 

It seems that the women in the song were so eager to discover what had happened between Harry Duncan and James Brady that they were still wearing their indoor clothing and hadn’t even bothered to put on shoes!

 

Barker, Derek, first published in “The Songs He Didn’t Write: Bob Dylan Under The Influence” (Chrome Dreams 2008). Updated in ISIS Magazine issue 141 (December 2008).