May 28: Bob Dylan When Did You Leave Heaven? Sweden 1989

bob dylan stockholm 1989

When did you leave heaven ?
How could they let you go ?
How’s every thing in heaven ?
I’d like to know.

Today it’s “Down In the Groove”s birthday. Here is a live version of one it’s songs.

When Did You Leave Heaven? was written by Walter Bullock & Richard Whiting.

What possessed Dylan to record something as banal as ‘When Did You Leave Heaven?’ is
one of life’s little mysteries. I am not sure if this is the same angel that was flying too close
to the ground in 1983, or if another one had gone AWOL from paradise. At any rate, I wish
she had not flown in Dylan’s direction. As with much of the material released on “Down
In The Groove” Dylan’s choice of ‘When Did You Leave Heaven?’ smacks of a man
desperate for a direction home.
~Derek Barker (The Songs He Didn’t Write: Bob Dylan Under the Influence)

Globe Arena
Stockholm, Sweden
28 May 1989

  • Bob Dylan (vocal & guitar)
  • G. E. Smith (guitar)
  • Kenny Aaronson (bass)
  • Christopher Parker (drums)

Why did you trade heaven ?
For all these earthly things ?
Where on earth you hide halo ?
Where did you lose your wings ?

Have they missed you ?
Can you get back in ?
If I kiss you would it be a sin ?
I am only human but you are so divine.
When did you leave heaven angel mine ?

and here is a live version from Big Bill Broonzy:


One thought on “May 28: Bob Dylan When Did You Leave Heaven? Sweden 1989”

  1. I have always loved the slightly chaotic, slightly throwaway bar-band feel of the rock tracks on ‘Down In The Groove’ and the alternative takes and additional tracks available on various recordings, bootleg and otherwise, are a genuine pleasure.
    The ‘Hearts of Fire’ soundtrack album includes the cover of John Hiatt’s ‘The Usual’ that is superior to the Wilbert Harrison cover, ‘Let’s Stick Together’, that opens ‘Down In The Groove’. It helps that Hiatt’s song is such a great one but Dylan’s performance here is energised and powerful and bears comparison with any of the great vocal performances he was giving with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers a little earlier.
    By adding the three tracks from the ‘Hearts of Fire’ soundtrack album and then sourcing some of the bootleg recordings from these sessions like, for example, the gorgeous cover of Gene Vincent’s ‘Important Words’, or Slim Harpo’s ‘Got Love If You Want It’, and ditching the ‘Infidels’ derived ‘Death Is Not the End’, it is possible to begin to hear the ‘Down In The Groove’ album as it should be heard: a seminal collection of great interpretations, with some originals thrown in, experimenting with a vast range of musical styles from grungy bar rock to narrative Western (‘Silvio’) to 50’s pop to exquisite covers of folk standards (‘Shenandoah’) and Appalachian Mountain music (‘Rank Strangers’). And Dylan’s ability to find the corny beauty in a song such as ‘When Did You Leave Heaven’ is part of his unique humour and somewhat perverse genius.
    The ‘Hearts of Fire’ soundtrack album misses out on the Shel Silverstein classic, ‘A Couple More Years’ but this can be heard in the actual film if you can find an old VHS copy (as bad as this film is, Dylan’s presence on screen is always charismatic, so time for a DVD release I reckon).
    Please Sony, dust off the boxes of tapes and give us some more of this rich material on the next Bootleg series release so the world can hear ‘Down In The Groove’ for what it should have been all along.

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