- The Times They Are A-Changin'
- Spanish Harlem Incident
- Talkin' John Birch Society Blues
- Who Killed Davy Moore?
- Gates Of Eden
- If You Gotta Go, Go Now
- It's Alright Ma
(I'm Only Bleeding)
- I Don't Believe You
- Mr. Tambourine Man
- A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall
- Talkin' World War 111 Blues
- Don't Think Twice, It's All Right
- The Lonesome Death Of
- *Mama You've Been On My Mind
- *Silver Dagger
- *With God On Our Side
- *It Ain't Me Babe
- All I Really Want To Do
Bob Dylan: Vocals/ Guitar/ Harmonica
Joan Baez: Guest Vocalist
Advice for Geraldine on her
Miscellaneous Birthday (extract)
"when asked if you care about the world's problems, look deeply into the eyes of he that asks you, he will not ask you again. when asked if you have spent time in jail, announce proudly that some of your best friends've asked you that. beware of bathroom walls that have not been written on. when told t' look at yourself...never look. when asked t' give your real name...never give it." Bob Dylan 1964.
Recorded live in concert at Philharmonic Hall, New York City
31st October 1964
"It's hard being free in a song - getting it all in. Songs are too confining. Woody Guthrie told me once that songs don't have to do anything like that. But it's not true. A song has to have some kind of form to fit into the music...I've been getting freer in the songs I write, but I still feel confined. That's why I write a lot of poetry - if that's the word. Poetry can make its own form." Bob Dylan, 1964.
Also known as the Halloween Concert, this set was recorded (not surprisingly) on October 31st 1964. It was always intended for release as a live album, and the double CD that we have here maintains the standard that we have come to expect of this series. Dylan was rising rapidly at this point, "Another Side Of Bob Dylan" was only two months old, he was being feted by folk queen Joan Baez and he was being recognised as one of the most exciting singer/songwriters around. No surprise then that he is extremely comfortable and relaxed here in front of a highly appreciative audience as he performs a mixture of established and lesser known material with a charm and openness that was soon to disappear from his stage persona.
The opening two songs "The Times They Are A-Changin'" and "Spanish Harlem Incident" are from Dylan's 3rd and 4th albums respectively and he performs them straightforwardly and faithfully. Then he introduces the song that had caused him so much trouble on the Ed Sullivan show some eighteen months earlier. "This is called John Birch paranoid Blues" he says, emphasising "paranoid" and he draws his audience to him as he employs his innate comedic skills to the full. The song is of course an anachronism by today's (more tolerant?) standards, but it is still very funny, made more so by Dylan's amusing delivery. The first evidence that the high he is on is not a natural one comes with the giggled "...who cares?" before he performs a flawless "To Ramona" and this is emphasised by the verbal hole he digs for himself introducing "Who Killed Davey Moore?" It's strange that Dylan should be so eager to put this song down and treat it so flippantly, because even though he never released a recorded version of it, it was one of the most popular in his repertoire, and to say "...it's got nothin' to do with nothin'" seems oddly disingenuous. Anyway this long and somewhat tedious song is well received right from the first line.
"Gates Of Eden" a song that Dylan would not record until January of the following year and had only just started performing live, would not have been known to much of the audience and Dylan introducing it as "...a sacrilegious lullaby in D minor" would probably have baffled them even more. The lyrics of this surreal epic song/poem show Dylan as a maturing writer, and his offhand introduction may suggest a slight embarrassment at introducing it to a new audience. However that new audience accepted it in total almost reverential silence. The mood is lightened when Dylan introduces another new song "If You Gotta Go, Go Now" with a joke about wearing his Bob Dylan mask because it is Halloween. Joke and song go down well, and the sexual innuendo of the song is greeted with much laughter (this was 1964 remember), before Dylan performs "It's Alright Ma, I'm Only Bleeding" the other epic that would have it's studio debut on "Bringing It All Back Home." "Yes, it's a very funny song" he responds to some quip from the audience, but it is received in the same manner as "Gates Of Eden" and one can only wonder as to what people thought on hearing these magnificent works for the first time.
We are soon back on more familiar territory with "I Don't Believe You" with Dylan forgetting the first verse and asking a highly amused audience to help him out. It is testament to his charm and magnetism that this is seen as amusing and not unprofessional. There is no such frivolity before "Mr. Tambourine Man" another as yet unrecorded song (Dylan is far too shrewd to overplay any hand) and this and the following song "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall," Dylan's post apocalyptic nightmare both receive ecstatic applause.
The second part of the concert opens with another obvious crowd favourite "Talkin' World War 111 Blues" which sees Dylan having enormous fun with the lyrics, particularly the joke at the end (but could he really think that Martha and the Vandellas sang "Leader Of The Pack"). Similar fun is had with "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" before Dylan introduces "The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll" with the words "This is a true story" but does admit to taking a little poetic licence "It's like conversation really" he says. The song would prove to be one of Dylan's most enduring works and the version here remains true to the original. After that a slightly bashful Dylan introduces Joan Baez to huge applause and they duet on " Mama, You Been On My Mind" during which they stumble over the words and Baez nearly throws Dylan off by singing Daddy in place of Mama, but by now he can do no wrong. Baez then says that she is going to do an early Dylan song "Go ahead" he says "See if I care" and she does the traditional "Silver Dagger" (available on 1993's "Joan Baez Rare, Live and Classic") to Dylan's guitar and harmonica accompaniment. Having Joan Baez as a guest artist on what was a very important evening for Dylan was a sort of quid pro quo for the help and encouragement that she had given him, but she does tend to be a little overpowering. They perform "With God On Our Side" and "It Ain't Me Babe" the first being obligatory for the time and the second a sort of mini encore with the crowd picking up on the obvious chemistry between them, despite their poor harmonising.
A bizarre note is introduced into proceedings with the audience shouting requests, among which is "Mary Had A Little Lamb" "Did I record that" he asks "Is that a protest song" whereupon he launches into "All I Really Want To Do" complete with falsetto to end the evening's entertainment. After a brief "thank you" he is gone and although the audience is calling for more, they don't get it.
This album shows a side of Dylan rarely seen and one has to wonder why its release was delayed for so long. Possibly because he was such a prolific artist CBS may have sensed a danger of over exposing their young star, though that is unlikely. He was twenty three when this concert took place, and it is a remarkable document of an artist in transition, professionally things were soon to change quite drastically. Robert Shelton, music critic for the New York Times and later Dylan biographer was at the Philharmonic that night and his subsequent review ended with the words "After a half year of detours, Mr. Dylan seems to have returned his enormous musical and literary gifts to a forward course. His developing control of those gifts and his ability to shape a meaningful program added up to a frequently spellbinding evening by the brilliant singing poet laureate of young America." Praise indeed and certainly well merited.