For the fourth straight year, rare and never-before-screened clips from the Bob Dylan Archive at the University of Tulsa were shown at the Asbury Park Music and Film Festival; the event took place April 28 at House of Independents, with live commentary from Dylan’s manager, Jeff Rosen.
Though there weren’t quite as many revelatory moments as there were in the first three years (see links to my coverage of them, below), it was still a treat to see these clips, drawn from various phases of Dylan’s career, on a big screen.
Here’s the rundown on what was presented, in the same (mostly) chronological order that the clips were played.
“North Country Blues.” A protest song from Dylan’s The Times They Are a-Changin’ album, played solo acoustic at the 1963 Newport Folk Festival, with Judy Collins, Doc Watson, Clarence Ashley and others looking on. Previously seen in Murray Lerner’s “Festival” and “The Other Side of the Mirror: Bob Dylan at the Newport Folk Festival” documentaries.
“A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall.” From Dylan’s 1964’s appearance on the Canadian show “Quest,” on which he played solo acoustic in a rustic cabin set.
“It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.” The “find” of the show, for me. A clip from Dylan’s 1966 tour, filmed by documentary maker D.A. Pennebaker but believed to be lost until just recently, and being shown in public for the first time in Asbury Park, according to Rosen. A mesmerizing solo acoustic performance, with Dylan playing around with the song’s phrasing, making odd faces, and reinventing the song on the spot. Great stuff.
“Baby, Let Me Follow You Down.” From that same tour, but from the electric part of the show, where Dylan was backed by the musicians who were later known, collectively, as The Band. A hard-rocking version of the Eric von Schmidt-arranged folk song that Dylan recorded for his 1961 debut album. Only two of the Band musicians, guitarist Robbie Robertson and organist Garth Hudson, are visible.
“Baby, Let Me Follow You Down.” A clip of Dylan and The Band from The Band’s Martin Scorsese-directed farewell concert film, “The Last Waltz” (filmed in 1976). Not a rarity at all, of course, but just included to show the same musicians playing the same song, 10 years later.
“It Ain’t Me Babe.” Dylan wears white face and is shown in close-up for much of the song, which features a much faster beat than the original recording. The clip was shot at a 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue show and used in the 1978 film “Renaldo & Clara,” but many Dylan fans have never seen it, since “Renaldo & Clara” is not currently available to the public in any form. The clip will not be included in the Scorsese-directed documentary “Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story” (which will debut on Netflix in June), Rosen said.
“Going, Going, Gone.” A track from Dylan’s 1974 Planet Waves album, performed on the Rolling Thunder Revue in 1976, with some different lyrics at times. This is an outtake from the “Hard Rain” television special, and never before screened, Rosen said. Definitely another highlight of the event.
“What Can I Do for You?” A track from Dylan’s 1980 Saved album, played on one of his gospel tours, in 1980, with a long harmonica solo. This was being screened for the first time in its entirety, Rosen said.
“Shot of Love.” A funky, high-energy version of the title track of Dylan’s 1981 album, performed that year by a band featuring Fred Tackett (of Little Feat), drummer Jim Keltner, singer Clydie King and others. Included in the bonus DVD of Dylan’s 2017 compilation, “The Bootleg Series Vol. 13: Trouble No More, 1979 –1981.”
“When the Night Comes Falling From the Sky.” An assertive 1986 performance of the Empire Burlesque song, with fine backing by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and the Queens of Rhythm vocal group. This clip was included on the 1986 concert video, “Hard to Handle.”
“Tight Connection to My Heart (Has Anybody Seen My Love).” Also from Empire Burlesque, but performed here with a full-band but unplugged arrangement in an unusually intimate setting, the Supper Club in New York, in 1993. The screening’s final highlight.
“Love and Theft commercial.” A one-minute TV commercial for Dylan’s 2001 album, featuring the late magician and actor Ricky Jay.
“Cry a While.” Dylan’s performance on the 2002 Grammy Awards. His band is sharp but most of his vocals are undecipherable.
Here are my reviews of the previous screenings of archival Dylan material at the Asbury Park Music and Film Festival:
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If they share this with some people in public, why not share them (at whatever reasonable cost) with everyone that loves Dylan?
Only Dylan and his management could answer that, but I suspect the answer would be something like:
“We’re releasing things regularly via the bootleg series. It’s impossible to release everything immediately, because we want to make sure everything we release is of the highest quality possible, and things have to be negotiated with record companies, music publishing companies, film directors, etc. We’re going as fast as we can.”
Again, just a guess on my part.
Bootlegs of Renaldo and Clara have been available for years.