March 23, 1989 Bob Dylan Recorded “Series of Dreams”





bob dylan series_of_dreams

Dreams can tell us a lot about ourselves, if we can remember them. We can see what’s coming around the corner sometimes without actually going to the corner..
~Bob Dylan (to Bill Flanagan in 2009)

“Series of Dreams” is a major Dylan song and an important statement.
~Paul Williams (Bob Dylan: Performing Artist Volume 3: Mind Out Of Time 1986 And Beyond)

#62 on my list of Dylan’s 200 best songs. First recorded on March 23, 1989 during the recording sessions for Oh Mercy. It was overdubbed and first released in 1991 as the final song on “The Bootleg Series 1-3”. It is a great haunting song.. with fascinating lyrics.

1991 version:

…One track, Series of Dreams, was a fantastic, turbulent track that I felt should have been on the record but… ha had the last word
~Daniel Lanois

bob-dylan-oh-mercy

Look, I don’t think the lyrics are finished, I’m not happy with them. The song’s too long. But I don’t wanna cut out any of the lyrics.
~Bob Dylan (to Lanois/Burn.. during the recording process of Oh Mercy – accoring to Malcolm Burn)

Recorded March 23, 1989 & January 1991
Genre Rock
Length 5:52 (on Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3) –
6:27 (on Bootleg Series Volume 8)
Label Columbia
Writer(s) Bob Dylan
Producer Daniel Lanois

Series Of Dreams” is a song written and composed by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. Originally recorded for his 26th album Oh Mercy and produced by Daniel Lanois, this song was never used in the album but was later remixed and included in Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits Volume 3, and Bootleg Series Volume 8. Dylan played the song live only once, in 1993, a recording of which is included on various bootleg albums including The Genuine Bootleg Series Take 2. According to the booklet in Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3 it was recorded on March 23, 1989. It is one of Dylan’s major works of the 1980s and has surrealistic lyrics which differ from Dylan’s earlier surrealistic songs such as “Desolation Row” and “Visions of Johanna”.
~wikipedia

bob dylan series of dreams

The Recording session

The Studio New Orleans, Louisiana 23 March 1989 9th Oh Mercy recording session, produced by Daniel Lanois

  1. Series Of Dreams
  2. Series Of Dreams
  3. Series Of Dreams
  4. Series Of Dreams

Musicians

  • Bob Dylan (guitars)
  • Glen Fukunaga (bass)
  • Roddy Colonna (drums & percussion)
  • Daniel Lanios (guitars, bass, strings & percussion)
  • Mason Ruffner (guitar)
  • Cyril Neville (talking drum).

bob dylan oh mercy

..although Lanois liked the song, he liked the bridge better, wanted the whole song to be like that. I knew what he meant, but it just couldn’t be done. Though I thought about it for a second, thinking that I could probably start with the bridge as the main part and use the main part as the bridge…the idea didn’t amount to much and thinking about the song this way wasn’t healthy. I felt like it was fine the way it was — didn’t want to lose myself in thinking too much about changing it.
~Bob Dylan (Chronicles, Vol. 1,)

Versions

1. The 1991 – Bootleg Series 1-3 version

According to the “book” included with “The Bootleg series 1-3”, this is a version overdubbed in 1991. The original is take 1 from March 23, 1989.

This version version is according to Clinton Heylin, altered to fit Daniel Lanois vision of the song. It is shorter; verse 2 from the 1989 take is dropped, & the bridge is also  duplicated an put at the end:

  • original:  verse 1,2,3 bridge, 4
  • 1991: verse 1,3, bridge, 4, bridge

The dropped verse 2:

Thinking of a series of dreams
Where the middle and the bottom drop out
And you’re walkin’ out of the darkness
And into the shadows of doubt
Wasn’t going to any great trouble
You believe in, it’s whatever it seems
Nothin’ too heavy to burst the bubble
I was just thinking of a series of dreams

Heylin also suggests that the March 23 version might have been edited in April 1989. Bob Dylan Bootleg_series_1-3

 2. Tell Tale Signs version

This version is take 2 from the March 23 recording session.

Spotify:

 

Bob Dylan Tell Tale Signs Cover

Lyrics

I was thinking of a series of dreams
Where nothing comes up to the top
Everything stays down where it’s wounded
And comes to a permanent stop
Wasn’t thinking of anything specific
Like in a dream, when someone wakes up and screams
Nothing too very scientific
Just thinking of a series of dreams

Thinking of a series of dreams
Where the time and the tempo fly
And there’s no exit in any direction
’Cept the one that you can’t see with your eyes
Wasn’t making any great connection
Wasn’t falling for any intricate scheme
Nothing that would pass inspection
Just thinking of a series of dreams

Dreams where the umbrella is folded
Into the path you are hurled
And the cards are no good that you’re holding
Unless they’re from another world

In one, numbers were burning
In another, I witnessed a crime
In one, I was running, and in another
All I seemed to be doing was climb
Wasn’t looking for any special assistance
Not going to any great extremes
I’d already gone the distance
Just thinking of a series of dreams

Live versions

The song has been played only 10 times live. It was debuted in Vienna, Virginia on Sept 8 in 1993, and then played nine times in 1994.

It was played 7 times during his “Far East 94 tour” (5-25 Feb, 1994 – first leg of 94-touring).

Hiroshima, Japan – 16 February 1994:

Check out:

-Egil

12 thoughts on “March 23, 1989 Bob Dylan Recorded “Series of Dreams””

  1. Believe it or not, I first heard “Series of Dreams” as the musical intro to the Rush Limbaugh radio show. At the time I had only just heard of Limbaugh from conservative friends and listened to his show once in a while when I felt like getting irritated. But Limbaugh used the song for quite a while and often spoke of his fondness for the song.
    Soon after this I bought the Bootleg Series Vol. 1 album and “Series of Dreams” has been one of my favorite Dylan songs ever since.

  2. Intriguing posts. But one, admittedly minor, element which is not broached here is the issue of the “accompanying” videos.

    There have been at least 2 official(?) videos released. In my opinion the 1st was more interesting/ intriguing/ immediate, though perhaps slightly less polished, than the 2nd.

  3. By my count, there are five *takes*, and then several alternate *versions* within the various takes, as follows. Usually, the best way to identify the *takes* is by the lyric differences in the second verse:

    Take # 1 – (“where the time and the tempo drag, and there’s no exit in any direction,”)
    Greatest Hits Vol 3 (5:54)
    The Bootleg Series Vols. 1-3 Sampler – 12 track promo CD, Columbia CSK 3081 (USA) [CSK 3041 on some copies?], Jan 1991 (4:49-4:52 edit)
    Take # 2 – (“where the middle and the bottom drop out, and you’re walking out of the darkness, and into the shadows of doubt”)
    Tell Tale Signs D2 (6:27)
    Deeds of Mercy Version I (5:24) (“Where the middle and the bottom drop out, and you’re walking out of the darkness”)
    Broken Days Version I (5:14) (“where the middle and the bottom drop out, and you’re walking out of the darkness, and into the shadows of doubt”)
    Genuine Bootleg Series 3 D3 (5:16) (“where the middle and the bottom drop out, and you’re walking out of the darkness”)
    Take # 3 [could be #4] (“where the time and the tempo drag, Suddenly the gate is thrown open, and you’re left there holding the bag”)
    The Bootleg Series Vols. 1-3 Sampler Rare & Unreleased 1961-1991 – 5 track promo CD, Columbia SAMPCD 1476 (Austria for Europe), Jan 1991 (5:52, fades out between 5:24 – 5:40)
    Deeds of Mercy Version III (5:47)[better sound, Broken Days clips]
    Broken Days Version III (5:47) (“where the time and the tempo drag, suddenly the gate is thrown open, and you’re left there holding the bag”)
    Another take, Take # 4 [could be #3] [follows the official lyrics — (“Where the time and the tempo fly, And there’s no exit in any direction, ‘cept the one you can’t see with your eyes”)
    Deeds of Mercy Version II (5:22)
    Broken Days Version II (5:21) (“where the time and the tempo fly, and there’s no exit in any direction”)
    Genuine Bootleg Series Vol 1 D3 (4:22) (“where the time and the tempo fly, and there’s no exit in any direction”)
    Another take (Take #5?)
    Genuine Bootleg Series Vol 2 D3 (5:51) (“where the bottom and the tempo fly”) (not well sung, not very good recording)

    1. Thanks Mr. “OutsideTheLaw”…. this was overwhelming… a lot of stuff I haven’t heard here….

      Very interesting. We just have to keep on collecting .. don’t we 🙂

      -Egil

  4. There’s also a 4:52 edit which appears on the The Bootleg Series Sampler, a 1991 single-disc compilation from The Bootleg Series 1-3 box set, which omits the “Thinking of a series of dreams/Where the time and the tempo fly…” verse which appears on the 5:52 box set version.

    1. Hi Judy,

      Well, the pressure’s down, the boss ain’t here
      He gone North, he ain’t around
      They say that vanity got the best of him
      But he sure left here after sundown
      By the way, that’s a cute hat
      And that smile’s so hard to resist
      But what’s a sweetheart like you doin’ in a dump like this?

      – “Sweetheart Like You” from Infidels.

      -Egil

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