November 18: Bob Dylan second MTV unplugged session 1994 (videos)

bob dylan mtv unplugged

I wasn’t quite sure how to do it and what material to use. I would have liked to do old folk songs with acoustic instruments, but there was a lot of input from other sources as to what would be right for the MTV audience. The record company said, “You can’t do that, it’s too obscure.” At one time, I would have argued, but there’s no point. OK, so what’s not obscure? They said Knockin’ on Heaven ‘s Door.
~Bob Dylan (to Edna Gundersen May 1995)

Knocking on Heaven’s Door:

The dreariest, most contemptible, phony, tawdry piece of product ever issued by a great artist, which manages to omit the TV concert’s one fresh and fine performance, ‘I Want You’, but is otherwise an accurate record of the awfulness of the concert itself, in which the performer who had been so numinously ‘unplugged’ in the first place ducked the opportunity to use television to perform, solo, some of the ballad and country-blues material from his most recent studio albums, Good as I Been to You and World Gone Wrong. That could have been magical. Instead—instead of seizing this moment and really stepping into the arena—we got the usual greatest hits, wretchedly performed in a phoney construct of a ‘live’ concert. This is what happens when Bob Dylan capitulates and lets overpaid coke-head executives, lawyers and PRseholes from the Entertainment Industry tell him what to do.
~Michael Gray (The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia)


Sony Music Studios
New York City, New York
18 November 1994
Second MTV Unplugged taping session

  • Bob Dylan (vocal & guitar)
  • Bucky Baxter (pedal steel guitar & electric slide guitar)
  • John Jackson (guitar)
  • Brendan O’Brien (keyboards)
  • Tony Garnier (bass)
  • Winston Watson (drums & percussion)

  1. Absolutely Sweet Marie
  2. Shooting Star
  3. All Along The Watchtower
  4. My Back Pages
  5. Rainy Day Women #12 & 35
  6. John Brown
  7. The Times They Are A-Changin’
  8. Dignity
  9. Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door
  10. Like A Rolling Stone
  11. Like A Rolling Stone

  12. Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You
  13. Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You
  14. Desolation Row
  15. I Want You

  • Songs in bold were released on “MTV Unplugged”, Columbia 478 374 2 (CD), 11 April 1995 in Europe and 5 May 1995 in US.
  • Songs in bold were also released on video “MTV Unplugged”, 5 May 1995.


I was hearing a lot about how Eric Clapton did Layla acoustically for Unplugged. That influenced me to do the same for Like a Rolling Stone, but it would never get played that way normally.
~Bob Dylan (to Edna Gundersen May 1995)

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4 thoughts on “November 18: Bob Dylan second MTV unplugged session 1994 (videos)”

  1. I agree with John Winn. His summation is exactly why I have long wished Bobby would take a few months or a year off from performing, then come back with a little gusto. Of course, after all these years, it’s probably too late for that … and anyway, it appears he’s on the road because he sincerely wants people to be able to say they saw and heard him. he certainly doesn’t need the money. Like older versions of BB King, Etta James and Muddy Waters — well, Etta and Muddy probably DID need the money — he is aware of his legendary status and I suspect he feels an obligation to just get out there in front of his followers. It’s probably unfortunate, because he could take the time to supervise a truly intimate and expansive collection of film and video and release a monumental video chronicle that would be stunning, featuring outtakes, studio stuff, a clip or three from Renaldo and Clara and Masked and Anonymous, Bangla Desh and so many unforgettable moments. Maybe some day…

    1. RealBBrothers; That “some day” may be closing in on Bobby. Here’s an interesting insight into life as an old troubadour. I did a concert shortly after I turned turned 70, a decade and a few additional years ago. I had just written a song titled “Gettin’ Old” and introduced it with a flourish about how the light at the end of the tunnel was becoming “quite finite.” There was a lovely white haired lady directly below me in the front row who did the hands around the mouth megaphone thing and yelled up at me, “Wait’ll you hit 80.” Well, now I’ve been there and done that and I’ve never forgotten her wry and witty comment. And even though I’m still writing songs and practicing guitar every day, being 83 is not as much fun as i thought i would be. I was once described by a friend from the Village in the 1960s as “the best known of the least known” So I’ve written a book that I hope might get me a little more exposure in the history department. It’s titled “This Singin’ Thing” a phrase often used by my father who had serious doubts about a son who liked music more than basketball. It’s available on Amazon and here’s a sample, I hope you enjoy it. It’s from Episode 31 and starts on page 130.

      A trip with Bobby to Ann Arbor

      Festivals featuring folk music were beginning to emerge as the 60s folk revival was acquiring a national audience, and one of the first ones was at Ann Arbor, Michigan. Bobby was booked to appear as the new Woody Guthrie, I was to represent the troubadour tradition and we needed a ride. The vehicle that was used when we took that trip was, as I can best remember, a 1958 Plymouth sedan. The car belonged to a friend of my girlfriend and she volunteered to drive us to the concert. This was a good deal until she and Bobby decided not to like each other. For the first two hundred miles they alternated between cold silence and hostile yammering. Finally, at a rest stop on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, I bought some toys for each of us and said, “Now let’s all be good kids, stop fighting, and play with our toys.” That quieted it down for most of the rest of the trip. The concert was a success. Bobby’s growing legend took on more form as he charmed them with Woody’s songs like Pastures of Plenty and several traditional ballads. Corrina, Corrina was one of that genre that was a hit with the audience who seemed to have an appetite for his old-timey sound. After the concert Bobby didn’t want to drive back to New York in the same car “with that annoying woman.” He wanted to hitchhike back. I said, “Man, its January, the dead of winter. Do you really think two guys with guitars and a couple of suitcases would survive trying to thumb rides 500 miles all the way back to the Village?” He grumbled a bit but in the end we rode back with the ladies surrounded by the stony sound of silence. At least we were warm.

      1. RealBBrothers; Reading this story again I found myself questioning the time of year of that trip and realized I had never date checked it. it was not “the dead of winter” as romantically remembered through the cobwebs of time , but in April of 1962. As I recounted in the story he definitely did not want to ride back with “that annoying woman,” and did suggest that we should hitch hike back. Other than my mistaken memory of the date, which I must apologize for, the rest of the story stands. To my recollection, Jesse Fuller was the top of the bill and he was well received, but Bobby’s star shone the brightest. I did get to make a brief appearance on stage but could tell from the beginning what a powerful effect Bobby already had on an audience and though it was early in his career he was the one every one at the concert was talking about. He was who they came to see. I was just lucky to have been along for the ride. It was an appropriately humbling experience. That part I remember well to this day. JRW

  2. I think Bobby’s original concept was right on. Dealing with the “suits” can make you want to pick up your axe and walk out the door. The mystery of why he ducked is probably enshrined in some arcane contractual mumbo jumbo that wasn’t worth fighting so he gave them what they wanted. A definitely MTVish performance. The notes were there, Bobby was in good voice and the band was in synch. They played well and Bobby did some interesting melody variants but it lacked the passion and energy that usually surged when Bobby got on stage. In the end it was neither unplugged nor was there much electricity in the air, either. He has a blue collar streak that shows up some time when you just have to go to work and get the job done. Witness what he does for fun, welding. He must love the smell of burning steel. But when it came time for him to play he picked up his guitar and put in an ok day at the office. JRW

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