Another Self Portrait Review

Bob Dylan, The Bootleg Series, Vol. 10: Another Self Portrait (1969-1971) Review by Anne Margaret Daniel

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How does a journey begin? Once upon a time, you might have had your fortune told before you set out. From the first visit to a gypsy fortuneteller to the last encounter with that gypsy, through all the traditional and folk tunes, and a trip to the Isle of Wight in the summer of 1969, Another Self Portrait is a journey for the ages. These four discs of music, recorded over three years half Bob Dylan's lifetime ago, are put together like a bride's catalog of something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, something tried and true.

 

What's new, everyone wants to know. The previously unreleased tracks (in any version by Dylan) are those I have the most room to speak of, here, though I'll speak of others as I go. They are: "Pretty Saro," "Annie's Going to Sing Her Song," "Thirsty Boots," "These Hands," "Working On A Guru," "Bring Me A Little Water" (or "Bring Me A Little Water, Sylvie"), "Tattle O Day," and "This Evening So Soon" (or "Tell Ol' Bill). Other Dylan versions are available of some of the unreleased tracks, like "House Carpenter" and "Railroad Bill," from 1961, and "Only A Hobo" on The Bootleg Series Vol. 1-3: Rare & Unreleased 1961-1991. The "Tell Ol' Bill" on Dylan's Bootleg Series, Vol. 8: Tell Tale Signs (2008), and featured in the soundtrack of the movie North Country (2005), is another song entirely. Two of the previously unreleased tracks are already out: "Thirsty Boots" appeared, with "Wigwam," on Dylan's Record Store Day single in April 2013; and "Pretty Saro" was released, with its video, last week.

 

What's really new, and astounding too: Dylan's voice. I think of it as his Nashville Skylinevoice - that mature, fresh, melodious tenor that seemed to come from his time in the clean Catskill air. Dylan had been in and out of Woodstock, New York since the early 1960s, and bought a house for his family there in 1965. Four new records came from those Woodstock years: John Wesley Harding (1967), Nashville Skyline (1969), Self Portrait (1970) and New Morning (1970). Dylan's voice was never sweeter than on Nashville Skyline, and Another Self Portrait showcases that voice as none of these other records - full of instrumental accompaniments, backing singers, and sometimes intense overproduction - managed to do.

 

Another Self Portrait's first two discs contain all the previously unreleased songs, and the alternate, skillfully stripped and cleaned-up, versions of songs on Self Portrait and New Morning. All the songs have had a bath that they thoroughly enjoyed: the makeup and extras and window-dressings are gone, and the tracks are bright and clean and clear. As a rule they feature two main instruments – something with strings, and Bob Dylan’s light, clear tenor voice. Lush overproduction and backup and background has happily given way to Dylan and a guitar, a fiddle, a banjo, keyboards.

 

Disc One

 

"Went To See The Gypsy," in a demo version, is the opening track on the first side, and is the first perfect example of the fresh sound of Another Self Portrait: the slow strum of a handful of strings, a truly beautiful soft and resonant voice. "I contemplated every move, or at least I tried" rings out. And so does that guitar of David Bromberg's. Bromberg, Al Kooper, Happy Traum, and George Harrison are only a few of the many musicians - some whose participation by name, though not their contributions, have been lost - joining Dylan in the studio, so long ago.

 

Some of these songs, according to the invaluable "Still On The Road" portion of Olof Bjorner's Dylan website, sustained many takes. However, what comes out of Another Self Portrait - even when there are multiple versions of a song - feels fresh and developing, rather than failed and retreaded. Here is a man having a good time making music with his friends.

 

Happy Traum, one of those friends, remembers "one take or two takes and move on. [Dylan] rarely even played it back." Studio snippets bear out just what Traum recalls, a desire to do it and keep going. "Let's just take this one," says Dylan, "ya ready?" He launches into "Little Sadie," and, ready or not, everyone else does too.

 

"Pretty Saro" is a standout. Dylan’s voice lifts the whole old song, and especially Saro’s name, skyward in a pure, sweet tenor, then sinking low on the “wherever I go”s. The song features singing birds in that sad lonesome valley, and Dylan’s voice rises and flies, swoops and falls, like birdsong. His strummed guitar accompanies him: no overdubs, no extra production. David Bromberg – it must be Bromberg, so light and fine is the touch – follows Dylan’s voice, putting a gorgeous conclusion to the song.

 

“Alberta #3” still has the backup singers who troubled me on the original, and this version is better-sounding but didn’t make a great difference to me. Contrarily, Dylan's voice on an alternate version of "Spanish is The Loving Tongue" sounds almost like a boy's changing into a man's, husky and rich. When you just have Dylan and one instrument - as you often do on Another Self Portrait - it's magical. Dylan never gets the credit he's deserved for being a great keyboards player. Perhaps his audiences are always too thrilled when he plays the guitar to pay much attention to his piano playing. Another Self Portrait should help change this point of view. That said, having the master, Al Kooper, on the piano and organ for many of the tracks is one of this record's great strengths.

 

"Annie's Going to Sing Her Song" is a Tom Paxton tune with which Dylan has fun. It may take a lot to laugh, but you're supposed to, when a song is funny. Go ahead. The instruments rattle around companionably as Dylan chronicles Annie's faithlessness, her pleas for him to take her back again, and his constant put-uppance. The ramshackle honky-tonk suits the lyrics, and Dylan's genial weary delivery.

 

 

An alternate version, “Time Passes Slowly #1,” is a gentle, slow folk air full of Catskill breezes and easy-flowing rural time. Its Robert-Burns, William-Blake reference to the red rose of summer preserves the feel of what Shakespeare called summer’s lease, with its all-too-short date.

 

It’s appropriate that a mountain song leads into a tune Dylan recorded with his old Woodstock neighbor and friend Happy Traum. Dylan has on his old Woody Guthrie voice for "Only A Hobo," and you must admit it's appropriate for a hobo song. At first, you feel like you're listening to Dylan in 1963, when he first recorded the song, and not on the other end of the decade. Then Traum comes in, light and clear. Traum's accompanying vocals and banjo shape and enrich the song, just as his art on some of the other tracks from this recording session - "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere," "Crash on the Levee," and "I Shall Be Released" - have long done. About "Only A Hobo," Traum laughs today, "I was surprised that I could sing that high. I don't know if I could now."

 

"Minstrel Boy" is classic Basement Tapes material: everyone sounds drunk as a lord, and happily lost in pulling the past up to the present. This good-natured jingle-jangle won't hurt you, but it's an extra rather than a keeper. Similarly, “I Threw It All Away” is a pretty alternate version of a song you already thought was beautiful.

 

"Railroad Bill," with its blast of a harmonica start and skiffle beat, is another matter. Bootlegged in a very early version on the "Minnesota Party Tape" from 1961, this version has producer Bob Johnston saying "that's really nice" at the end. And he is right. "Thirsty Boots," too, is excellent. Dylan enunciates his words clearly - as a wordsmith, and poet, and songwriter himself, he cares very much about making heard the words he's delivering. "Thirsty Boots" is a beautiful example of this clarity. Not a word's debatable. The song is of rest for the weary - those thirsty boots have much in common with Dylan's own wandering bootheels - and this version does Eric Andersen proud.

 

"Remember Bob Gibson?" asks Dylan, and then he picks up his harmonica. Gibson recorded the traditional "Tell Ol' Bill" in 1958. So did Dave Van Ronk, in 1961. Dylan's version takes its title, "This Evening So Soon," from the song's refrain, as did a celebrated James Baldwin short story of 1960. "This Evening So Soon" is the tragic tale of a man who just couldn't leave them downtown girls alone, and Dylan sings it with exuberance and passion, emphasizing the mixed-up time, morning and evening, all too soon, too soon to die. Ol' Bill comes home in the end, but he's dead, in a hurry-up wagon, with his arms, legs and feet a-draggin.' Dylan's keening, wailing, intricate harmonica on this track is the best part of a superb recording.

 

"These Hands" is a working man's blues. Dylan's voice is both wavery and plodding at the start, but it builds and strengthens to a sensational spiritual ending, with slip-sliding complementary guitars in the hands of Dylan and Bromberg. Johnny Cash and Hank Snow both recorded the song, and Dylan's vocal range is interestingly right in between the two.

 

A second “Little Sadie,” the version from Self Portrait (“In Search of Little Sadie”) without its overdubs, comes next. It’s rawer and better this way, abrupt and tense as befits a murderer’s confession that he “met little Sadie and [he] blowed her down” with a .44.

 

"House Carpenter" knocks me down flat. It's my pick for best track on disk one, though "This Evening So Soon" is exhilarating, and "Pretty Saro" and "Only a Hobo" have my heart. The beginning makes me think it's going to be "Gates of Eden," until the shift in rhythm comes. The way Dylan's plaintive, ominous voice leads the instrumentals is both passionate and scary. As he alternately takes the voice of the tempted lady and the seductive sailor, you want to warn her, to stop him, but the ballad rolls and ripples on, down to the sea. The house carpenter's left to care for the three little babies; his wife runs away with the sailor, and pays for her faithlessness, as do so many runaway wives in ballads, with her life. The elegance and complexity of the piano, dancing like the waves of the sea and following Dylan's voice like a wake streaming out from a ship, must be Al Kooper's. Dylan had sung the song many times before, but I wonder if he's ever sung it better.

 

Why does the brief little chorus of “All the Tired Horses” have to come after this flaying ballad? Is it a joke, or a reminder that you’re listening to what didn’t go onto the album that became Self Portrait? At any rate, it lightens the mood of “House Carpenter,” though with my Southern-mountain sensibility and Celtic-ballad soul, I didn’t really want lightening.

 

Disc Two

 

The first unreleased track on the second disc is the much-anticipated "Working On A Guru." Preceding it are four songs: two that are nice but unexceptional, and two that dazzle. "If Not For You," on which Dylan's uncertain voice leads a beautiful fiddle, the player now unknown, through the plaintive mood of the song, opens the tracks. It’s followed by the plodding waltz a "Wallflower" might dance.

 

"Wigwam," in the Self Portrait version minus overdubs, remains a work in progress to me, and one I’m delighted to have. This is how Dylan writes a song. D. A. Pennebaker documents it in “Dont Look Back” – Bob with the tune, but not its speed, worked out, and crooning along syllables (wo wo wo, da da da) until the words come to where they’re meant to be. Here, Dylan’s delivery of the syllables, like his breath through the harmonica, feels like he’s speaking to his listeners without having to use any words.

 

"The Days of 49," also in an undubbed version, is glorious. Can Dylan really sing this low, and fierce, and antique? You bet he can. How many other iconic rock stars can deliver an archaic "how oftimes I repine" but Dylan? The cast of characters - Jake the New York butcher's boy, Poker Bill, roaring Bill from Buffalo - are kin to Dylan's own mysterious strangers who live on Desolation Row, in the alley with the Tombstone blues, and on the shores of Black Diamond Bay. His spontaneous "oh my goodness" in the middle of a verse made me feel as if I were sitting on a chair listening to him record it. Dylan swings and flows with this tune from the days of old, the days of gold, the days of 1849.

 

"Working on a Guru" is, alas, not a great song. George Harrison's guitar, though, is great, as always and ever. The song is fun, too, and to hear the men laughing together at the end of the song is joy being spread. I'm glad that one of Dylan's songs with Harrison - some oft-bootlegged, others never heard - has emerged in this pretty, professionally produced state.

 

“Country Pie,” with a false start and a failed finish, gives way to “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight.” The Isle of Wight version is placed here, perhaps as a treat for those who don’t buy the deluxe set, perhaps because it’s a kinder, gentler version of the song as a collective, uncynical promise, thanks to the raised voices of the men in The Band on the refrain. Hearing Levon Helm yowling along with “kick your shoes off” purely made me want to. Another Isle of Wight track follows, “Highway 61 Revisited.” It’s strange, on this disc, to go from the studio to the stage – but why should it be? Musicians do that. The placement of these songs makes it all feel very real, and this version of “Highway 61 Revisited” is spectacular. I’d swear Dylan opens it singing “God said to Abraham give me a song.”

 

“It’s one of our old favorites.” Thus Dylan introduces “Copper Kettle,” which is really revelatory when you hear it with only Dylan’s voice and a handful of strings, at first, keeping time with him. The disgust with anyone who’d use “green or rotten wood” to fire that moonshine still, the caress he gives to “the pale moonlight,” is lyric. The silky-smooth croon of the organ following Dylan’s voice obediently is Al Kooper at his best – which, on this record, he constantly is.

 

Another old favorite is “Bring Me A Little Water,” on which Dylan sounds rough, hard-worked, weary, and parched. Some years ago Sweet Honey In the Rock had a hit with this song as “Sylvie.” The constant harmonizing of earlier versions are a good contrast to Dylan’s stubborn solo. This is the voice of a thirsty man who’s been working hard. Sylvie will be kind.

 

Dylan’s very audible indrawn breath after the first line of “Sign on the Window” is stunningly intimate. Being so close to Dylan’s voice – here, to his very breath – is perhaps the most remarkable thing as you keep listening to this record. It’s sad when the instruments and background vocals break in, on this version with instrumentals not subtracted but added – an intrusion between you and him. And it’s a relief when Dylan and the piano come back alone. You wait for this on the stanzas, as the song goes on, and are comforted. The instrumental bursts give way to the insistent piano and the even more insistent voice. “Build me a cabin in Utah / Marry me a wife, catch rainbow trout / Have a bunch of kids who call me paw / That must be what it’s all about.” You know what? Maybe it is. For Dylan’s impassioned voice on this track, I’ll forgive it the outrageous harp (not harmonica. Harp.) ending.

 

"Tattle O Day," by Eric Andersen, the last of the unreleased tracks, is a riddle song of magical animals. There's a whistling dog who carries the singer round the world in half a day, a little bull whose melodious bellow sends the walls of London Town tumbling down, a flock of all-weather sheep with wool, sometimes, and sometimes feathers. It's a Gulliver's Travels world, with fantastical creatures and cashboxes and epic journeys. "Him that tells a bigger tale would have to tell a lie" sings Dylan at the end, like an Elizabethan soothsayer. It's a mode that, among many, suits him.

 

Many listeners can’t get past the title of “If Dogs Run Free,” and focus helplessly on the sweet, but also silly, line itself when it comes. Listen to the rest of the song – you can hear it more clearly now. “Across the swooping plain” Dylan delivers in such deadpan I’d bet it’s with a grin. When he sings “My mind weaves a tapestry of fine design and rhyme,” you know it’s true.

 

Horns come blaring onto disc two at this point; they shake you up and wake you up. Well, they should. It’s a new morning. A rooster crowing? You bet. And all that follows. This version of “New Morning” is rowdy and happy – and why not be. The addition of the horn section is a fine reveille.

 

I was surprised, next, by another version of “Went to See The Gypsy.” The one that began the album wasn’t enough? No, it wasn’t. This take is searing and solitary. When Dylan repeats that “little Minnesota town,” and then the piano adds a final, benedictory amen, you’ll feel the nostalgia, loss, and power of the past.

 

“The bloomin’ bright star of Belle Isle,” proclaims Dylan as the next track begins, but it doesn’t sound like him until “down by the banks.” He sounds rather like a midwestern Clancy Brother, here – his delivery is poetically phrased and graceful. This is a Dylan mask I love. When he sings “Young maiden I wish not to banter / Tis true I came here in disguise” you know it’s him, though, for sure. He likes disguise, and changes it frequently – and you always feel warm and happy when you manage to know him the next time ‘round.

 

We’ve already had a “Time Passes Slowly,” but get another, more memorably, after a one-two-three-four CRASH that sounds like it’s going to be “Polythene Pam” at first. This version feels run by a machine, a turning mechanical crank, like a wound-up clock with its gears grinding away for all eternity. The longer it’s been, the more slowly time passes. The rhythm is incessant, the world turns on.

 

"When I Paint My Masterpiece" is the ideal ending for a record with self-portrait in the title. The Band released their delicious, carnival version of the song in 1971 before Dylan did, later that same year, on Greatest Hits Vol. II. Dylan's voice - sounding here a little like Levon Helm's - chimes with the elegant piano, repeated keys insistently pinging the time, like a striking clock. I'd never noticed the time passing, in this song, until now: the hurry back to yet another hotel room; the hours I've spent wasting time, sailing round the world. "Sailin' round the world in a dirty gondola / sure wish I hadnta sold my old Victrola /ain't nothing like that good ole rock and roll-a" is a trio better than that grin-inducing original couplet of gondola and Coca-Cola.

 

 

The assertive conclusion of when, not if, Dylan paints that masterpiece ends Another Self Portrait. You've come full circle from the visit to the gypsy, survived fatal ballads, vignettes of American life over three centuries, and the slow passage of time, and seen the old Victrola give way to rock'n'roll. Another Self Portrait is a pleasure trip, for anyone who wants to hear Bob Dylan's voice pure and simple, and enjoy music from instruments, and not devices.

 

Disc Three

 

Bob Dylan famously didn’t make it to Woodstock in August 1969 – or, rather, didn’t make it from Woodstock to Max Yasgur’s farm. He did make it over the water to the Isle of Wight a couple of weeks later. There, he performed a set of seventeen songs with The Band – apart from several solos near the beginning. Four of the tracks from the set (“She Belongs To Me,” “Minstrel Boy,” “Like A Rolling Stone,” and “the Mighty Quinn (Quinn The Eskimo)”) were released on Self Portrait. Most of the others have tiptoed out on bootlegs. Finally, here’s the whole set – complete with a very polite English introduction.

 

“Could everybody, everybody, everybody please sit down?” asks the emcee, Rikki Farr, to general laughter. 150,000 people, and how many chairs, I wonder. “In return,” says Farr, “people, welcome onto the stage The Band and Bob Dylan.”

 

“All right,” you can hear Dylan saying, and with the kickstarting ting-ting-ting of Levon Helm’s drumstick on a cymbal, off they go into “She Belongs To Me.” Dylan’s voice is rich and rested, and The Band…The Band is the best band in the world that night. They’d already been on the island for a few days, and done their own set earlier. Garth Hudson and Richard Manuel, on a big grand piano and on keyboards and organ, respectively; Robbie Robertson, acoustic or electric; Rick Danko on his bass; and Levon Helm behind the drums or cradling his mandolin: you can hear every one of The Band’s instruments so well on this new release it’s almost unbelieveable. That Dylan’s voice lifts out well, along with his strummed guitar lines and sharp harmonica, is no surprise. That Danko’s bass line, so muddied on the bootlegs, and Manuel’s delicate background vocals, so often drowned in a bad mix, are so clear is near miraculous. Little details, like the way Levon chimes in happily on “buy her a drum,” are a delight.

 

“Great to be here, great to be here, thank you very much, great to be here,” enthuses Dylan as “She Belongs To Me” ends in long applause. He hurries on, as if embarrassed, into a sweet “I Threw It All Away.” The Band’s instruments seem sympathetic to the lyrics: there’s just a light brush of keyboards, as if to say sorry, too bad, as Dylan laments the loss. Just before the “take a tip from one who’s tried,” Helm pings out a warning, punctuating and making you listen up to what Dylan’s about to sing.

 

“Maggie’s Farm” is sung by a cocky guy who has every confidence in, and is loving, his electric band. The rollicking drums and Robertson’s lead guitar hijack the song, turning the instrumental section into a conversation between Levon and Robbie. Dylan doesn’t mind, and even shares the chorus (with repeated, shouted “no more”s) with The Band.

 

Dylan’s gone electric – and just as quickly he confounds by pulling back into the depths, or perhaps the heights, of folk right away. The Band, to use a word they made famous, recedes. There stands the minstrel boy, all alone with his harp and guitar. “O the summertime is comin,” sings Dylan gently, and the crowd is almost silent. They can’t believe it. “Wild Mountain Thyme” is so 1962, so Clancy Brothers and Joan Baez and New Christy Minstrels. Stay hushed, people: it’s a wonderful version.

 

From “Wild Mountain Thyme” Dylan goes straight into a song of his own, where the “will ye go, lassie, go” is very different, not a request to accompany, but a directive to get out: go ‘way from my window; go lightly on the ledge, babe; go melt back into the night, babe. “It Ain’t Me, Babe” is delicate and without the edge Dylan often gives it. His vocal has more flourishes than you could imagine, a downright vibrato accenting the song. As he punches out the “melt back” and “come each time you call” the crowd is loving it, hardly able to wait to shout their approval.

 

This might be the best version of “To Ramona” I’ve ever heard. Every word is crystal clear, the rhymes – breathlike and deathlike; tryin’ and dyin’ – soft and controlled. On the second stanza, from the rhyme of dream, babe and scheme, babe, Dylan begins to give the song a Tex-Mex flavor that swings on to the end.

 

Without pause, a harmonica blast to make a break – and Dylan ends his solo set with a spectacular “Mr. Tambourine Man.” He shouts out the Hey! like a friend who’s seen a friend across a crowded street, and sings the song with vigor and gladness. Dylan and a guitar and a harmonica, alone on a stage. Some day, Lord willing, we’ll see that sight again.

 

“Thank you, thank you,” Dylan says politely, as The Band rejoin him. Levon and Rick roll out a low bass percussion together, giving “I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine” its slow, waltzy heartbeat. Robbie’s guitar soon supplies the nerves, Garth and Richard the flowing blood of the keyboards, and the song is alive. Dylan’s voice goes higher, almost in a keen, and Robertson’s guitar rises to meet it. His voice is no longer a solo instrument, but part of the company.

 

What to do next – are they figuring it out? Dylan begins to strum, says “yeah,” and then Helm’s drums swell like a wave to carry Dylan’s voice into “Lay, Lady, Lay.” Now, it must be said, Levon Helm is not only an excellent drummer, but a very sexy drummer when he wants to be – which is often. Men writing about The Band, which is to say most everyone who’s written about The Band, don’t say this, but I surely will. This disc isn’t a video disc, but I can see in my mind’s eye the sparkle in Levon’s, and that infectious, mischievous grin, as he’s warming up this song. He makes a lady much more inclined to respond to the invitation in the lyrics, and Dylan’s voice swings low to get down and dirty with the drums. It’s a glorious track with a striptease beat.

 

“Highway 61 Revisited” sounds very, very much like it begins “God said to Abraham, give me a song.” This version owes much to Robertson’s excellent guitar, supplying the fire and drive, and also replacing that whistle from the 1965 album version.

 

“One Too Many Mornings” shines in a cakewalking, alternate-rhythm version that belongs to the keyboards. Hudson and Manuel cede the song only to a gorgeous guitar stroll by Robertson, and the song tumbles into an unconstructed, or deconstructed, conclusion.

 

“I Pity The Poor Immigrant” sounds like a Basement Tape. I didn’t recognize it at first, and as it went on I half expected to hear Dylan announcing, in “Joshua Gone Barbados” style, “that’s enough, it’s a very long song.” Garth Hudson’s liquid accordion makes the song beautiful, though.

 

On stage, you’d recognize the need for a change of pace, and Dylan serves it right up. The next song hides, for a few moments: the instruments jumble, Dylan does a countdown with a guitar strum, and the audience has no idea what’s coming. They don’t know until Dylan belts out the storybook, tale-telling start – “Once upon a time” – and then hundreds of thousands of people begin to yell. Dylan’s vocals, cleaned up on the track and showcased, are full of play. On the “Miss Lonely” verse, he cascades the lines right down the scale, toppling down just as she’s gone from the finest schools to the company of, and being at the mercy of, the mystery tramp. He’s having fun with the song he’s already expected to sing every time. Let him. He wants The Band to have fun, too. “Just like a rolling stone, one more time now,” he encourages them. It’s a lot merrier and more companionable here in 1969 – no one’s having to snarl “play fuckin’ loud” – and I like that.

 

“I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” continues the feel-good vibes. The honky-tonkin,’ line-dancin’ guitars couple with a rhumba piano to make you want to close your eyes, close the door. The schmaltz of the mockingbird and the Rudy-Vallee-rhymed moon that shines like a spoon is rougher and rowdier when six guys are all singing together on the chorus. If you heard this below your window at night, you’d either throw shoes at it, or grin and shinny down the gutter.

 

As the set nears its end, Dylan’s voice is louder with enthusiasm and perhaps relief. He raps the lyrics of “Quinn The Eskimo,” shouting sometimes, gleefully, as he goes, full of energy and the rhythm. “Well ‘at guitar now,” he calls for the instrumental, and Robbie obliges. Does he oblige. Like Charlie McCoy said to Robertson once, at the end of the track of “Leopardskin Pill-Box Hat” that made it onto Blonde On Blonde, “Robbie, the whole world’ll MARRY you on that one.”

 

It’s jarring to go from the heady “Quinn” to the near-dirge of “Minstrel Boy.” The ring-a-ding-ding of the drums, and the idea of being still on the road despite all the traveling, are poignant, though.

 

The constant crowd-pleaser “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” ends the set. With its marching beat and funky, juicy organ and piano solos, it’s a little gem. The gentlemen, and the crowd, put a lot of heart and whooping and hollering into each “Everybody must get stoned.”

 

“More, more, more, more,” beg the crowd, as the disc ends. I chanted along with them, and then smiled, and pushed the little arrow to go back to the beginning again. I wasn’t there, but I can have more, now. Bob and The Band were born in spring, and I was born too late. I’d add a lot of years to my life to have been dancing by the stage that night. Since I can’t, I’m very happy with this remembrance of things past.

 

Disc Four

 

The fourth disc of the boxed set is the original Self Portrait (1970), entirely remastered, 2013. Unfairly maligned at the time, the record has always been popular with those who like to hear Dylan cover other people’s work, and traditional tunes. It is here if you want it, and you should be grateful, for there would be no Bootleg Vol. 10: Another Self Portrait (1969-1971) without it.

 

© Anne Margaret Daniel 2013