JW: John Wesley Harding – why did you call the album that?
BD: We… I called it that because I had that song John Wesley Harding. It didn’t mean anything to me. I called it that, Jann, ‘cause I had the song John Wesley Harding, which started out to be a long ballad. I was gonna write a ballad on… Like maybe one of those old cowboy… You know, a real long ballad. But in the middle of the second verse, I got
tired. I had a tune, and I didn’t want to waste the tune, it was a nice little melody, so I just wrote a quick third verse, and I recorded that. But it was a silly little song….
~Bob Dylan to Jann Wenner November 29, 1969
This quiet masterpiece, which manages to sound both authoritative and tentative (a mix that gave it a highly contemporary feel), is neither a rock nor a folk album—and certainly isn’t folk-rock. It isn’t categorisable at all.
~Michael Gray (BD Ecyclopedia)
45 years ago Bob Dylan entered Columbia Studio A, Nashville Tennessee tempting his second recording session for “John Wesley Harding”.
Some background from wikipedia:
Dylan went to work on John Wesley Harding in the fall of 1967. By then, 18 months had passed since the completion of Blonde on Blonde. After recovering from the worst of the results of his motorcycle accident, Dylan spent a substantial amount of time recording the informal basement sessions at West Saugerties, New York; little was heard from him throughout 1967. During that time, he stockpiled a large number of recordings, including many new compositions. He eventually submitted nearly all of them for copyright, but declined to include any of them in his next studio release (Dylan would not release any of those recordings to the commercial market until 1975′s The Basement Tapes; and by then, some of those recordings had been bootlegged, usually sourced from an easy-to-find set of publisher’s demos). Instead, Dylan used a different set of songs for John Wesley Harding.
It is not clear when these songs were actually written, but none of them has turned up in the dozens of basement recordings that have since surfaced. According to Robbie Robertson, “As I recall it was just on a kind of whim that Bob went down to Nashville. And there, with just a couple of guys, he put those songs down on tape.”
Those sessions took place in the autumn of 1967, requiring less than twelve hours over three stints in the studio.