Electric Review

Culture & Criticism From the Far Distant Realms

Travelin’ Thru Invites Us All To A Magical Rock-Country Wedding

TRAVELIN’ THRU. THE BOOTLEG SERIES – VOLUME 15 – 1967-1969. Bob Dylan. Produced by Jeff Rosen and Steve Berkowitz. Liner notes by Colin Escott and Rosanne Cash. Sony Legacy.

“I might be in Colorado

Or Georgia by the sea

Working for some man who may not know at all who I might be

If you ever see me coming and if you know who I am

Don’t you breathe it to nobody ’cause you know I’m on the lam”

(Bob Dylan, “Wanted Man”)

Cover courtesy of Sony Legacy.

Over the past 25 years, the Dylan Camp has rewarded the musician’s loyal followers with treat after treat, with gifts sent in the form of a steady stream of previously unavailable treasures released in high fidelity packages. And Halloween 2019 offers quite the special box of treats –  Travelin’ Thru (Bootleg Series #15) is a collection of unreleased gems spanning the John Wesley Harding and Nashville Skyline sessions.

Accordingly, this record marks another piece of the puzzle documenting one of Dylan’s key transformational periods. The period – 1967 through 1969 – follows on the heels of Dylan’s near fatal motorcycle accident and outlines a distinct change in style, with the poet’s work morphing from straight-ahead drum-centered rock to this sweet mix of folk/country/country-rock. Moreover, the period further showcased some of Dylan’s finest allegorical writing (John Wesley Harding), with these pieces often written as if to be performed in costume on the theater stage.

In the midst of this creative whirlwind, Dylan made an appearance on Johnny Cash’s television show, further spending a dedicated amount of time in the studio with the legendary country star who had served as both a mentor and early supporter. The certain centerpiece of Travelin’ Thru reveals the best of the Dylan-Cash  collaboration that first teased us in 1969 via a duet on “Girl From The North Country” (Nashville Skyline).

“The Bob and Johnny stuff had been bootlegged and available for some time. Parts were there, parts weren’t, but nobody has ever accessed back to the real tapes and heard the bits in between, like we did,” Travelin’ Thru co-producer Steve Berkowitz said in a recent interview with Uncut Magazine (“How High’s The Water Bob?” by Graeme Thomson; Uncut Magazine, December 2019 Edition). “Some parts are taken from the multi-tracks, and some are from the safety quarter-inch mono running in parallel. They would let the safety tape run all the time in the studio at a slower speed in case they missed something on the multi-track. We picked up some things on that and added it in at the correct chronological spot. We also had to use some expert engineering to bring up the volume of the studio chatter. It was so good to get that feeling of being in the room.”

Travelin’ Thru is arguably the easiest of the Bootleg records to hear (a quiet tour through a summer-struck country dell), and the package sports an array of highlights: Disc Two featuring the Dylan-Cash sessions lays out an incredible experience for the listener, with pieces we’d only heard rumor of suddenly in front of us.  Carl Perkins’ “Match Box,” the alternate takes of “One Too Many Mornings” and the fatigued whisper of “Big River” are collectively chilling, commanding repeated plays. In addition, the other discs  are full of ‘can’t misses.’ “Wanted Man” from Disc 3 somehow stands tall, this rough-cut that shows Dylan’s prowess as a writer via one of his ‘minor’ songs. Finally, Disc One built from the Harding and Skyline Sessions is probably the most intriguing record here, with the alternate takes of “One More Night” and “Tell Me That It Isn’t True” far out-distancing the original tracks, while the bluesy wistful hue of  “Western Road” forces us to ask just why haven’t we heard this before?

In sum, Sony Legacy/Columbia have done a magnificent job laying out the Bootleg Series, giving fans all the stuff they’ve longed to hear in a historically relevant shape, with each installment featuring superior fidelity (the remastering certainly had to be a challenge given they were working with 50 year old tapes that were often not recorded under optimal conditions).

At the end of the day, Travelin’ Thru does not deviate from the lofty standards of its predecessors. As such, it’s essential Dylan for fans and historians alike.

The Details

Travelin’ Thru, 1967–1969: The Bootleg Series, Volume 15

Disc 1

October 17, 1967; Columbia Studio A, Nashville, TN; John Wesley Harding Sessions

1. Drifter’s Escape – Take 1 (Alternate Version)

2. I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine – Take 2 (Alternate Version)

November 6, 1967; Columbia Studio A, Nashville, TN; John Wesley Harding Sessions

3. All Along the Watchtower – Take 3 (Alternate Version)

4. John Wesley Harding – Take 1 (Alternate Version)

5. As I Went Out One Morning – Take 1 (Alternate Version)

6. I Pity the Poor Immigrant – Take 4 (Alternate Version)

7. I Am A Lonesome Hobo – Take 4 (Alternate Version)

Bob Dylan: vocals, guitar, harmonica

Charlie McCoy: bass

Kenneth Buttrey: drums

February 13, 1969; Columbia Studio A, Nashville, TN; Nashville Skyline Sessions

8. I Threw It All Away – Take 1 (Alternate Version)

9. To Be Alone with You – Take 1 (Alternate Version)

10. Lay Lady Lay – Take 2 (Alternate Version)

11. One More Night – Take 2 (Alternate Version)

12. Western Road – Take 1 (Outtake)

February 14, 1969; Columbia Studio A, Nashville, TN; Nashville Skyline Sessions

13. Peggy Day – Take 1 (Alternate Version)

14. Tell Me That It Isn’t True – Take 2 (Alternate Version)

15. Country Pie – Take 2 (Alternate Version)

Bob Dylan: vocals, guitar, piano, harmonica

Kelton D. Herston, Norman Blake, Charlie Daniels, Wayne Moss (10 & 12): guitars

Bob Wilson: piano, organ

Peter Drake: steel guitar (13-15)

Charlie McCoy: bass

Kenneth Buttrey: drums

Disc 2

February 17, 1969; Columbia Studio A, Nashville, TN; The Dylan-Cash Sessions

1. I Still Miss Someone – Take 5

Written by Johnny Cash and Roy Cash, Jr.

2. Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right/Understand Your Man – Rehearsal

Written by Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash

February 18, 1969; Columbia Studio A, Nashville, TN; The Dylan-Cash Sessions

3. One Too Many Mornings – Take 3

4. Mountain Dew – Take 1

Written by Bascom Lamar Lunsford and Scott Wiseman

5. Mountain Dew – Take 2

6. I Still Miss Someone – Take 2

7. Careless Love – Take 1

Traditional, arranged by Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash

8. Matchbox – Take 1

Written by Carl Perkins

9. That’s All Right, Mama – Take 1

Written by Arthur Crudup

10. Mystery Train/This Train Is Bound for Glory – Take 1

“Mystery Train” written by Junior Parker

“This Train Is Bound for Glory” written by Woody Guthrie

11. Big River – Take 1

Written by Johnny Cash

12. Girl from the North Country – Rehearsal

13. Girl from the North Country – Take 1

14. I Walk the Line – Take 2

Written by Johnny Cash

15. Guess Things Happen That Way – Rehearsal

Written by Jack Clement

16. Guess Things Happen That Way – Take 3

17. Five Feet High and Rising – Take 1

Written by Johnny Cash

18. You Are My Sunshine – Take 1

Written by Jimmie Davis and Charles Mitchell

19. Ring of Fire – Take 1

Written by June Carter and Merle Kilgore

Disc 3

February 18, 1969; Columbia Studio A, Nashville, TN; The Dylan-Cash Sessions

1. Studio Chatter

2. Wanted Man – Take 1

3. Amen – Rehearsal

Written by Jester Hairston

4. Just A Closer Walk With Thee – Take 1

Traditional, arranged by Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash

5. Jimmie Rodgers Medley No. 1 – Take 1

Based on “Blue Yodel No. 1 (T for Texas),” “The Brakeman’s Blues (Yodeling the Blues Away),” and “Blue Yodel No. 5 (It’s Raining Here),” written by Jimmie Rodgers

6. Jimmie Rodgers Medley No. 2 – Take 2

Based on “Waiting For A Train,” “The Brakeman’s Blues (Yodeling the Blues Away),” and “Blue Yodel No. 1 (T For Texas),” written by Jimmie Rodgers

Bob Dylan: vocals, guitar

Johnny Cash: vocals, guitar

Carl Perkins: guitar (8,10, 2, 4-6)

Bob Wootton: guitar

Marshall Grant: bass

W.S. Holland: drums

May 1, 1969; Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, TN; Live on The Johnny Cash Show, Originally broadcast on ABC-TV, June 7, 1969

7. I Threw It All Away

8. Living the Blues

9. Girl From the North Country

Bob Dylan: vocals, guitar

Johnny Cash: vocals, guitar (09)

Norman Blake and Charlie Daniels: guitars

Peter Drake: steel guitar

Bob Wilson: piano

Charlie McCoy: bass

Kenneth Buttrey: drums

May 3, 1969;  Columbia Studio A, Nashville, TN; Self Portrait Sessions

10. Ring of Fire (Outtake)

Written by June Carter and Merle Kilgore

11. Folsom Prison Blues (Outtake)

Written by Johnny Cash

Bob Dylan: vocals, guitar

Fred F. Carter, Norman Blake: guitars

Charlie Daniels: guitar (11), bass (10)

Bob Wilson: piano

Peter Drake: steel guitar

Charlie McCoy: harmonica (10), bass (11)

Kenneth Buttrey: drums

Delores Edgin and Dottie Dillard: background vocals

May 17, 1970; The Home of Thomas B. Allen, Carmel, New York; With Earl Scruggs

12. Earl Scruggs Interview

13. East Virginia Blues

Written by A.P. Carter

14. To Be Alone with You

15. Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance

Traditional, arranged by Bob Dylan

16. Nashville Skyline Rag

Bob Dylan: vocals, guitar

Earl Scruggs: banjo

Randy Scruggs: acoustic guitar

Gary Scruggs: electric bass

 

All songs written by Bob Dylan except where noted.

All tracks previously unreleased except where noted.

Produced by Jeff Rosen and Steve Berkowitz.

John Wesley Harding, Nashville Skyline, and Self Portrait sessions originally produced by Bob Johnston.

Liner notes by Colin Escott and Rosanne Cash.

Of Related Interest

TARANTULA. Bob Dylan. Read By Will Patton. A Simon and Schuster Audiobook.

Cover courtesy of Simon & Schuster.

Bob Dylan wrote and released this collection of poetry in 1966, when he hovered at the height of  his lyrical powers. This audiobook (to hit the stores on December 3) owes its roots to the Beat poets – namely Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs – and rolls in complete ‘free form.’ In turn, listeners get to hear the poet’s writing process and the way he must have approached constructing the double-record classic Blonde on Blonde. Moreover, readers familiar with Martin Scorsese’s 2005 documentary No Direction Home will recall a moment in the film where Dylan is seen on a sidewalk in Europe sometime in 1966 spontaneously turning a street sign into a series of William Carols Williams-like snapshots. Patton’s expert interpretation of Tarantula sounds a lot like the scene from Scorsese’s masterpiece. Running time: 3 hours on 3 CDS.

“HOW HIGH’S THE WATER, BOB?” Uncut Magazine. Written by Graeme Thomson. Featured centerpiece article, December 2019 Edition.

This article published by Uncut Magazine provides the definitive critical resource on Travelin’ Thru and the Dylan-Cash collaboration, with in depth exploration of the music Dylan made at Columbia’s Nashville studios under the direction of producer Bob Johnston. In addition, the interview with Travelin’ Thru co-producer Steve Berkowitz is an absolute revelation, offering deep insight into the way Sony has approached the release of Dylan’s classic underground catalog via the Bootleg Series.   “How High’s The Water, Bob?” is is an old-style Sunday feature with many layers – the kind of magazine that fans will want  to keep along-side their Dylan collections in perpetuity. Go here for further information and to purchase.

by John Aiello

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This entry was posted on November 20, 2019 by in 2019, In the Spotlight, November 2019, Rat On Fiction & Nonfiction, Rat On Music and tagged , , , , .
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