Bob Dylan: The third & final recording session for “Bringing It All Back Home”


bob dylan bringing it all back home

I’ve written some songs that I look at, and they just give me a sense of awe….stuff like, It’s Alright, Ma, just the alliteration in that blows me away. And I can also look back and know where I was tricky and where I was really saying something that just
happened to have a spark of poetry to it.
~Bob Dylan (to John Pareles, Sept. 1997)

This session contains some of Dylan’s strongest performances ever!
Master versions: “Maggie’s Farm”, “On The Road Again,” “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding),” “Gates of Eden,” “Mr. Tambourine Man,” and “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.”

Some background from wikipedia:

Bringing It All Back Home is the fifth studio album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released in March 1965 by Columbia Records. The album is divided into an electric and an acoustic side. On side one of the original LP, Dylan is backed by an electric rock and roll band—a move that further alienated him from some of his former peers in the folk song community. Likewise, on the acoustic second side of the album, he distanced himself from the protest songs with which he had become closely identified (such as “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall”), as his lyrics continued their trend towards the abstract and personal.

The album reached No. 6 on Billboard’s Pop Albums chart, the first of Dylan’s LPs to break into the US top 10. It also topped the UK charts later that Spring. The lead-off track, “Subterranean Homesick Blues”, became Dylan’s first single to chart in the US, peaking at #39.

Bob Dylan - Bringing It All Back Home sessions

The third day in studio – January 15, 1965:

Once again, Dylan kept at his disposal the musicians from the previous day (that is, those that participated in the 2:30 pm to 6:00 pm session); the one exception was pianist Paul Griffin, who was unable to attend and replaced by Frank Owens. Daniel Kramer recalls “the musicians were enthusiastic. They conferred with one another to work out the problems as they arose. Dylan bounced around from one man to another, explaining what he wanted, often showing them on the piano what was needed until, like a giant puzzle, the pieces would fit and the picture emerged whole…Most of the songs went down easily and needed only three or four takes…In some cases, the first take sounded completely different from the final one because the material was played at a different tempo, perhaps, or a different chord was chosen, or solos may have been rearranged…His method of working, the certainty of what he wanted, kept things moving.”

The session began with “Maggie’s Farm“: only one take was recorded, and it was the only one they’d ever need. From there, Dylan successfully recorded master takes of “On The Road Again,” “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding),” “Gates of Eden,” “Mr. Tambourine Man,” and “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue,” all of which were set aside for the album. A master take of “If You Gotta Go, Go Now” was also selected, but it would not be included on the album; instead, it was issued as a single-only release in Europe, but not in the U.S. or the UK.

Though Dylan was able to record electric versions of virtually every song included on the final album, he apparently never intended Bringing It All Back Home to be completely electric. As a result, roughly half of the finished album would feature full electric band arrangements while the other half consisted of solo acoustic performances, sometimes accompanied by Langhorne, who would embellish Dylan’s acoustic performance with a countermelody on his electric guitar.

My thoughts, my personal needs have always
been expressed through my songs; you can feel them there even in ‘Mr Tambourine Man’. When I write a song, when I make a record, I don’t think about whether it’ll sell millions of copies. I only think about making it, the musical end-product, the sound, and
the rhythmic effect of the words.
~Bob Dylan (to Sandra Jones, June 1981)

Bob Dylan - Bringing It All Back Home sessions

ALBUM Release date CODE
Bringing It All Back Home 1965-03-22 BIABH
The Bootleg Series Volumes 1–3
(Rare & Unreleased) 1961-1991
1991-03-26 TBS1-3

Studio A
Columbia Recording Studios
New York City, New York
January 15, 1965, 2:30-5:30pm

Produced by Tom Wilson.
Engineers: Hallie and Catero.

Songs:

  1. Maggie’s Farm – BIABH
    I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more
    No, I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more
    Well, I wake in the morning
    Fold my hands and pray for rain
    I got a head full of ideas
    That are drivin’ me insane
    It’s a shame the way she makes me scrub the floor
    I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more

    ‘There was a stellar crop of musicians in the studio that day . . . but somehow no one stepped up to fill the lead role. I sort of filled in the gaps, waiting for someone to take over. The result was a guitar lead part that never got in the way of anything or stepped forward to say ‘‘Look at Me!’’. In retrospect, I feel that it was just what the song needed.
    ~Bruce Langhorne (surprised that he ended up playing lead guitar on Maggie’s Farm – BD Encyclopedia)
    -
  2. On The Road Again
  3. On The Road Again
  4. On The Road Again
  5. On The Road Again
  6. On The Road Again
  7. On The Road Again
  8. On The Road Again
  9. On The Road Again
  10. On The Road Again
  11. On The Road Again
  12. On The Road Again
  13. On The Road Again – BIABH
    The song’s title echoes the title of Jack Kerouac’s novel On the Road, which was a defining work of the Beat Generation. Dylan has acknowledged being influenced by Kerouac. However, it seems more likely that the title, and the song in itself, is a response to the song ‘On The Road’, a traditional blues performed by the Memphis Jug Band with more serious lyrical content concerning an unfaithful woman.
    -Wikipedia

    Well, I woke up in the morning
    There’s frogs inside my socks
    Your mama, she’s a-hidin’
    Inside the icebox
    Your daddy walks in wearin’
    A Napoleon Bonaparte mask
    Then you ask why I don’t live here
    Honey, do you have to ask?
    -
  14. It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)
  15. It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding) – BIABH
    Darkness at the break of noon
    Shadows even the silver spoon
    The handmade blade, the child’s balloon
    Eclipses both the sun and moon
    To understand you know too soon
    There is no sense in trying

    Well, I still do that song [It’s Alright Ma]. It’s still very relevant to me.
    ~Bob Dylan (June 1985)
    -
    Ironically, this song, which Dylan performs unaccompanied on the “folk-side” of his half-folk, half electric album, is more of a rock and roll performance than anything else on the record.
    ~Paul Williams (Performing Artist 60-73)
    -
  16. Gates Of Eden – BIABH
    Of war and peace the truth just twists
    Its curfew gull just glides
    Upon four-legged forest clouds
    The cowboy angel rides
    With his candle lit into the sun
    Though its glow is waxed in black
    All except when ’neath the trees of Eden

    -Oliver Trager interprets “Gates of Eden” as Dylan’s declaration that “blind belief in a forgiving afterlife is the ultimate lie because it creates complacency in this one.”
    -Music critic Robert Shelton has a similar interpretation, that “belief in life after death without worry or care is the ultimate myth because it takes us past the ugliness in life.”
    -Carolyn Bliss has noted about the song that “Eden is inside. Any other paradise is a sham, and pursuit of it potentially deadly to the spirit.”
    -Wikipedia
    -
  17. Mr. Tambourine Man
  18. Mr. Tambourine Man
  19. Mr. Tambourine Man
  20. Mr. Tambourine Man
  21. Mr. Tambourine Man
  22. Mr. Tambourine Man – BIABH
    Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me
    I’m not sleepy and there is no place I’m going to
    Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me
    In the jingle jangle morning I’ll come followin’ you

    The performance of Mr. Tambourine Man from Bringing It All Back Home is on my short list of Dylan’s Masterpieces
    ~Paul Williams (BD Performing Artist 1960-73)
    -
    ….and proceeded to record the final versions of “Mr. Tambourine Man”, “It’s Alright, Ma” & “Gates Of Eden” in a single take with no playback between songs… it’s as though all three songs came out of him in one breath, easily the greatest breath drawn by an American artist since Ginsberg & Kerouac exhaled “Howl” & “On The Road” a decade earlier..
    ~Paul Williams (BD Performing Artist 1960-73)
    -
  23. It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue – BIABH
    You must leave now, take what you need, you think will last
    But whatever you wish to keep, you better grab it fast
    Yonder stands your orphan with his gun
    Crying like a fire in the sun
    Look out the saints are comin’ through
    And it’s all over now, Baby Blue
    The lyrics were heavily influenced by Symbolist poetry and bid farewell to the titular “Baby Blue.” There has been much speculation about the real life identity of “Baby Blue”, with suspects including Joan Baez, David Blue, Paul Clayton, Dylan’s folk music audience, and even Dylan himself.
    ~Wikipedia
  24. If You Gotta Go, Go Now
  25. If You Gotta Go, Go Now
  26. If You Gotta Go, Go Now
  27. If You Gotta Go, Go Now – TBS1-3*
    Listen to me, baby
    There’s something you must see
    I want to be with you, gal
    If you want to be with meBut if you got to go
    It’s all right
    But if you got to go, go now
    Or else you gotta stay all night

*One of 24, 25, 26 or 27 overdubbed by unidentified musicians 21 May 1965 in Studio A, Columbia Recording Studios, New York City, New York and released on THE BOOTLEG SERIES (RARE & UNRELEASED) 1961-1991, VOLUME 2, COLUMBIA 468 086 2, 26 March 1991.
~Still On The Road – Olof Björner

Bob Dylan - Bringing It All Back Home Sessions

Personnel

1-13, 24-27  

  • Bob Dylan (guitar, harmonica, vocal)
  • Al Gorgoni (guitar)
  • Kenneth Rankin (guitar)
  • Bruce Langhorne (guitar)
  • Joseph Macho Jr. (bass)
  • William E. Lee (bass)
  • Bobby Gregg (drums)
  • Frank Owens (piano).

 

14-23

  • Bob Dylan (guitar, harmonica, vocal).

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References:

-Egil

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