[Editors note: We asked Geoffrey Meyer, collector and connoisseur of even the most obscure Dylan tracks, to do a playlist. Geoffrey has been part of a worldwide network of like-minded souls for decades, trading concert recordings with aficionados in Europe, Japan and elsewhere in the U.S., originally by snail mail and nowadays via websites and file transfers. Given this assignment, Geoffrey promptly subcontracted it, to a high school senior in southern Germany, who’d joined a rare recordings online forum. Geoffrey, self-described “stereotypical 50+ year Bobcat,” says, “Confidently passing this task along to my worthy young friend here makes me feel better about the future than I have for some time. That, and now Doug Jones!”]
Dylan’s songs opened up an entire universe to me, and I have no intention of ever leaving it. “Tangled Up In Blue” marked my point of no return, with what is revered as the “holy trilogy” from 1965-66 soon to follow (there’s nothing like it!). Then came “Blood On The Tracks”, and I knew I’d found the album of my life.
I’m still convinced I’ve found the artist of my life. The brilliance of so many lines, and of whole songs, is impalpable like an echo, but one that rings true. (Let me interject that English is not my native tongue, but never mind… Dylan continues to teach me; and, besides, his poetry must be felt.)
Mysteriously, this man has a habit of leaving some of his masterpieces off his albums, so you can find neglected gems almost anywhere, including here. Some of the links here are to whole albums or concerts, so note the particulars.
PS: He can sing.
I’m Not There (@ 0:27)
This is the musical equivalent of a raw and intimate sketch, and what a sketch it is. From the amazing “Basement Tapes,” recorded in 1967, this song was finally released on a film soundtrack in 2007.
Never Say Goodbye (side 2, track 4) https://www.juno.co.uk/products/bob-dylan-planet-waves/593878-01/
From “Planet Waves” (1974) which, if it were a child, might be diagnosed: “Inferiority complex due to overpowering siblings (‘Blood On The Tracks,’ ‘The Basement Tapes,’ ‘Desire’)”. It needs more love!
Up To Me
Yes, this is an outtake (THE outtake?), from “Blood On The Tracks” (1975), finally released on “Biograph” (1985). Also known as “The Only Way Dylan’s Greatest Masterpiece Could Have Been Even Better.” That said, speaking of “Blood On The Tracks” and “better” in the same breath is kind of… disconcerting to me.
It Ain’t Me, Babe (live 1975)
We’ll never know why Bob painted his face white and what criteria he applied to the constantly changing bouquet of flowers on his hat, but this performance of one of his classics is marvelous.
You’re A Big Girl Now (live 1976) (@ 55:47)
To this day, Dylan is constantly reinventing himself AND his songs. The “You’re A Big Girl Now” arrangement from this tour is absolutely fantastic. (And the singing! You can listen to some of the rest of the show too.)
Blind Willie McTell
This is the still-unreleased take which should have been on “Infidels” (1983). You’d really think nobody would ever cut “Blind Willie McTell” from an album, so maybe Bob should change his name to “nobody”.
To Fall In Love With You
Dylan wasn’t releasing his best albums in the middle ’80s, mostly because he somehow couldn’t see the causal chain of “write a brilliant song” and “put it on an album” at the time. (This one is still not on any album.)
Born In Time (early version)
This outtake from the “Oh Mercy!” (1989) sessions, is so much more emotional and dream-like than the version released on “Under the Red Sky” (1990). Fans will debate endlessly about “wrong” and “ultimate” versions of songs, though. (We will debate about anything.)
Tight Connection to My Heart (Has Anybody Seen My Love?) (live 1993) (@ 03:15:18)
The “Empire Burlesque” (1985) version of this song might not be a contender for his greatest ’80s song, but you can listen to the rest of these Supper Club shows and see that pretty much everything sounded magical on those evenings in New York, 11/16-17/1993.
Dreamin’ Of You
This would have elevated Album of the Year “Time Out Of Mind” (1997) to even greater heights, but you’ve got the idea by now…. Thankfully, we have “Tell Tale Signs” (TBS Vol 8, 2008) to right that wrong.
Rosalie Schnee is preparing for her exams (and her first Dylan concert) this spring. She has been a diehard Bob lover for… well over 13 months already!