September 13: Bob Dylan released “Hard Rain” in 1976

Redirecting to a newer version of this post….

When we open our ears – and it may take a dozen listenings before we stop hearing this album in terms of what we expect these songs to sound like, or, for the fans, in terms of the performances we think should have been included – the rewards and surprises of Hard Rain are nearly inexhaustible.
~Paul Williams (Bob Dylan: Performing Artist, Vol 2: The Middle Years 1974-1986)

Hindsight shows that this album introduces the ragged, postmodern Bob Dylan, right from the grungy instrumental ground-pawing ahead of the start of the first number. Moreover the running order now seems surprisingly well thought out. It represents, too, the late phase of the historic Rolling Thunder Revue tour and captures the distinctive, bare-wired sound of Dylan’s existential gypsy band. Stand-out track is ‘Idiot Wind’, which, as Dylan grows ever more engaged, bursts open and pours out its brilliant venom.
~Michael Gray (The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia)

The 3 best all time (from any artist) officially released concert albums are obviously “Hard Rain”, “Bob Dylan Live 1966, The “Royal Albert Hall” Concert” & “Bob Dylan Live 1975, The Rolling Thunder Revue”. They are all brilliant. Today “Hard Rain” is the best of the lot.

The album received an awful lot bad criticism upon its release, and surprisingly still does. To my ears it has always sounded amazing. Listening to other bootlegs from Rolling thunder 2 & watching the Hard Rain movie (and outtakes), one could easily wish that more songs had been included, and he’d put out a double album. But it is what it is, and it’s incredible. It is also (as noted by Paul Williams) inexhaustible, it still sounds fresh & wonderful today.

Here is (a stunning) “Shelter From The Storm”:


Released September 13, 1976
Recorded May 16 and 23, 1976
Genre Rock
Length 51:06
Label Columbia
Producer Don DeVito and Bob Dylan

Hard Rain is a live album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released on September 13, 1976 by Columbia Records. The album was recorded during the second leg of the Rolling Thunder Revue.

The album was partly recorded on May 23, 1976, during a concert at Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins, Colorado; the penultimate show of the tour, the concert was also filmed and later broadcast by NBC as a one-hour television special in September. (Hard Rain’s release coincided with this broadcast). Four tracks from the album (“I Threw It All Away,” “Stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again,” “Oh, Sister,” and “Lay, Lady, Lay”) were recorded on May 16, 1976 inFort Worth, Texas.[4] Neither the album nor the television special was well received.

bob dylan hard rain back

“Although the band has been playing together longer, the charm has gone out of their exchanges,” writes music critic Tim Riley. “Hard Rain…seemed to come at a time when the Rolling Thunder Revue, so joyful and electrifying in its first performances, had just plain run out of steam,” wrote Janet Maslin, then a music critic for Rolling Stone. In his mixed review for Hard Rain, Robert Christgau criticized the Rolling Thunder Revue as “folkies whose idea of rock and roll is rock and roll clichés.”

Despite heavy promotion that placed it on the cover of TV Guide, NBC’s television broadcast of the May 23rd concert drew disappointing ratings. The album peaked at #17 in the US and #3 in the UK. Hard Rain eventually earned gold certification.

The last three songs on the album (“You’re a Big Girl Now,” “I Threw It All Away,” and “Idiot Wind”) are as powerful and exciting as anything Dylan has done (comparable, for instance, to the May 1966 versions of “Ballad of a Thin Man” and “Like a Rolling Stone”). As phenomenal as every aspect of each of these performances is, the unique orchestration of guitars, keyboards, violin, drums and voice on “Big Girl” must be singled out for particular praise. Stoner’s bass-playing while Dylan sings “Down the highway, down the tracks, down the road to ecstacy” on “Idiot Wind” will have a special place in my heart as long as I live.
~Paul Williams (Bob Dylan: Performing Artist, Vol 2: The Middle Years 1974-1986)

Idiot wind:


Track listing

Side one
  1. “Maggie’s Farm” – 5:23
  2. “One Too Many Mornings” – 3:47
  3. “Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again” – 6:01
  4. “Oh, Sister” (Dylan, Jacques Levy) – 5:08
  5. “Lay Lady Lay” – 4:47
Side two
  1. “Shelter from the Storm” – 5:29
  2. “You’re a Big Girl Now” – 7:01
  3. “I Threw It All Away” – 3:18
  4. “Idiot Wind” – 10:21


  • Bob Dylan – vocals, guitar, production
Additional musicians
  • Gary Burke – drums
  • T-Bone Burnett – guitar, piano
  • David Mansfield – guitar
  • Scarlet Rivera – strings
  • Mick Ronson – guitar
  • Steven Soles – guitar, background vocals
  • Rob Stoner – Bass, background vocals
  • Howard Wyeth – drums, piano
Technical personnel
  • Don DeVito – production
  • Don Meehan – recording and mixing engineering
  • Ken Regan – cover photo
  • Paula Scher – cover design
  • Lou Waxman – chief of tape research


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6 thoughts on “September 13: Bob Dylan released “Hard Rain” in 1976”

  1. I love you Bob Dylan your songs and your voice your look I am one fan of you since 1964, best and great kisses for you♥♥♥

    1. I am to your Blog ? I don’t know I am Mme Emporinni Claire and I hope that I am on your blog if not send me one mail on [email protected] thanks my dearly Bob I am you great fan since 1964 and I have 67 years now I love your songs and your voice and your look I love you Bob, great kisses too much♥♥♥

  2. Don’t forget Roger McGuinn was in that mix also, visible on the TV special at least…not sure if that means he was on any of the tracks on Hard Rain.

  3. Wonderful enunciation on the opening track which is everything that Paul Williams promises it will be and truly “stunningly great.” In one of the lines, he declares, “Beauty walks a razor’s edge, some day I’ll make it mine.” I think it was on this day in 1976 that he walked that razor’s edge to make it his own. This is the high water mark of the Rolling Thunder Review.

    1. This is punk before punk, true-protopunk, totally in tune with the zeitgeist. One could say Dylan’s venomous delivery on some tracks even puts Johnny Rotten into playschool.

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