3 thoughts on “bob dylan al kooper 1966”

  1. The infamous Al Kooper….perhaps no other musician had as profound an effect on the “mercuryesque” sound Dylan refers to in the famous quote. The story (tale) goes that Kooper had first appeared for the HIGHWAY 61 sessions, as a guitarist, but upon realizing that Mike Bloomfield had also been tapped to supply electric fills and runs, he decided to leave his axe in its case. During the recording of ROLLING STONE, Al, who was in the control room, observing the session, noticed that no one was seated at the big Hammond organ with the Leslie speakers. With the piano being used (the bar-room sound nailed down tight!), Kooper, noticing producer Tom Wilson had been distracted by a telephone call, slithered into the studio, and plunked down in from of the pipes. In an actual piece of tape of the session (with Dylan, seemingly everything was recorded…sniffs, chuckles, banter…) we can hear Wilson reacting to seeing the ‘guitarist’ at the organ: “Heyyyy (laughing)…what’re you doing there?!” Kooper has told us that Wilson, being Columbia’s big cheese producer, could have “easily busted me, but Tom was a very generous soul, and he decided to let me have a go…” Kooper (who wrote the Gary Lewis hit “THIS DIAMOND RING” at age 15, an organ-based pop gem if EVER there was one) stressed to Wilson and gang “I can do this, man; I got a great part for this!” Kooper quotes Wilson as lazily and hiply observing “Hey…you not an Organ player, man….” Well, they had a go at the number, with Kooper inspired, and apparently, contrary to Wilson’s cool protestations about guitarists trying to play organ, Bob Dylan perked up in a big way: “Hey, man; DON’T tell me who’s an organ player and who’s not…TURN UP THAT ORGAN!!” And the rest, as they say, is thin & wild history. Kooper’s intuitive, gurgling, swirling, percolating rock organ was to appear on so many future Dylan LPs, including BLONDE, NASHVILLE SKYLINE, NEW MORNING (which he also co-produced), and so many other Dylan classics, none of which, in my humble opinion, would have contained even half the mystical, magical sound they did, had it not been for the guitarist’s alchemical ways with the oscillating, hovering, silvery notes he conjured up on the intrinsic instrument, so utterly recognizable and iconic, that turned R&R on its head (or ear!). 61 & BLONDE are blatantly obvious examples of Al’s trademark blocks of chords and shimmering trills, but if you haven’t yet headphone’d the eclectic beauty of NEW MORNING, you’re sure to hear a true, naturally gifted genius doing his bit on gems such as “DAY OF THE LOCUSTS,” the title track, “WENT TO SEE THE GYPSY,” and many more…..sublime stuff….years later, you can hear him filling up tracks on the LP UNDER THE RED SKY. That majestic title track, and most especially the euphoric HANDY DANDY are Kooper showcases….E aka MOD~

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