Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan And Suze Rotolo's Book and Interview on NPR

The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan

Studio album by Bob Dylan
Released May 27, 1963
Recorded April 24-25, July 9, October 26, November 1 and 15, December 6, 1962, and April 24, 1963 at Columbia Studios, New York City[1]
Genre Folk
Length 51:04
Label Columbia
Producer John H. Hammond, Tom Wilson
Bob Dylan chronology
Bob Dylan
(1962) The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan
(1963) The Times They Are a-Changin'

Singles from The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan
1."Blowin' in the Wind"
Released: July 1963

The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan is singer-songwriter Bob Dylan's second studio album, released in May 1963 by Columbia Records. Eleven of the thirteen songs on the album were original compositions by Dylan. The album kicked off with "Blowin' in the Wind", which would become one of Dylan's most celebrated songs. In July 1963, the song became an international hit for folk trio Peter, Paul & Mary. The album contained several other songs destined to become classics of the 1960s folk scene. "Girl from the North Country", "Masters of War", "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" and "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" are considered to be among Dylan's most celebrated compositions.

Whereas his eponymous debut album, Bob Dylan, had contained only two original songs, Freewheelin' initiated the process of writing contemporary words to traditional melodies, a process which transformed the 1960s folk music revival into the flowering of the singer-songwriter. The Freewheelin' album showcased Dylan's song-writing talent for the first time, and propelled him to national and international fame.

The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan reached number 22 in the US (eventually going platinum), and later became a number one hit in the UK in 1964. In 2003, the album was ranked number 97 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. In 2002, Freewheelin' was one of 50 recordings chosen by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry.

Recording sessions
Both critics and the public took little notice of Dylan's debut album, Bob Dylan, which sold only 5,000 copies in its first year, just enough to break even. In a pointed rebuke to John Hammond who had signed Dylan to Columbia Records, some within the company referred to the singer as "Hammond's Folly" and suggested dropping his contract. Hammond defended Dylan vigorously and was determined that Dylan's second album should be a success.[2] The recording of Freewheelin' took place over the course of a year, from April 1962 to April 1963, and the album was assembled from eight recording sessions in the CBS studios in New York.[3]

Political and personal background to Freewheelin'
Many critics have noted the extraordinary development of Dylan’s song-writing immediately after completing his first album. Clinton Heylin connects the sudden increase in song writing along topical and political lines to the fact that Dylan moved into an apartment on West 4th Street with his girlfriend Suze Rotolo at this time.[4] Rotolo’s family had strong left wing political commitments; both of her parents were members of the American Communist Party.[5] Dylan acknowledged her influence when he told an interviewer: "Suze was into this equality-freedom thing long before I was. I checked out the songs with her."[6]

Dylan's relationship with Suze Rotolo also provided an important emotional dynamic in the composition of the Freewheelin' album. After six months of living with Dylan, Rotolo decided to travel to Italy to study art. Dylan missed her and wrote long letters to her hoping she would return soon to New York.[7] She postponed her return several times, until she came back in January 1963. Critics have connected the intense love songs expressing longing and loss on Freewheelin' to Dylan’s fraught relationship with Rotolo,[8] particularly "Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right".[9][10]

The tremendous speed and facility with which Dylan wrote topical songs attracted the attention of other musicians in the New York folk scene. In a radio interview on WBAI in June 1962, Pete Seeger described Dylan as "the most prolific songwriter on the scene" and then asked Dylan how many songs he had written recently. Dylan replied “I might go for two weeks without writing these songs. I write a lot of stuff. In fact, I wrote five songs last night but I gave all the papers away in some place called The Bitter End.”[11] Dylan also expressed the impersonal idea that the songs were not his own creation. In the same WBAI interview with Seeger, Dylan expressed this view of his creativity: "I don't even consider that I wrote it when I got done... The song was there before me. I just came down and sort of took it down with a pencil. But it was all there before I came along. At least, that's the way I look at it."[12]

Recording in New York
Dylan began work on his second album at Columbia's Studio A in New York on April 24, 1962. The working title of the album was Bob Dylan's Blues, and as late as July, it would remain the working title.[13] Dylan performed renditions of two traditional folk songs, "Going To New Orleans" and "Corrina, Corrina", as well as a cover of the Hank Williams classic "(I Heard That) Lonesome Whistle". At this session, Dylan also recorded four of his own compositions: "Sally Gal", "The Death of Emmett Till", "Rambling, Gambling Willie", and "Talkin' John Birch Society Blues".[14]

Returning to Studio A the following day, Dylan recorded the master take for "Let Me Die In My Footsteps". Several more original compositions followed: "Rocks and Gravel", "Talking Hava Negiliah Blues", "Talking Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues", and two more takes of "Sally Gal". Cover versions recorded at this session included the traditional "Wichita (Going to Louisiana)", Big Joe Williams's "Baby Please Don't Go", and Robert Johnson's "Milk Cow's Calf's Blues".[14] Because Dylan's song-writing talent was developing so rapidly, nothing from the April sessions appeared on Freewheelin'.[3]

The recording sessions at Studio A resumed on July 9, when Dylan recorded several new compositions. The most notable was "Blowin' in the Wind", a song which he had first performed live at Gerde's Folk City on April 16.[15] Dylan recorded "Bob Dylan's Blues", "Down the Highway", and "Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance" and master takes for these four songs were selected for the album. Dylan also recorded "Baby, I'm In The Mood For You", an original composition, which did not make the final cut for the album.[16] Two more songs, an original blues number called "Quit Your Low Down Ways" and Texan singer Hally Wood's composition, "Worried Blues", were also recorded; they did not make the final version of Freewheelin'.

At this point, Albert Grossman began to take an interest in Dylan's business affairs. Grossman persuaded Dylan to transfer the publishing rights of his songs from Duchess Music, whom he had signed a contract with in January 1962, to Witmark Music, a division of Warner's music publishing operation. Dylan signed a contract with Witmark on July 13, 1962.[17] Unknown to Dylan, Grossman had also negotiated a deal with Witmark. This gave Grossman fifty percent of Witmark's share of the publishing income generated by any songwriter Grossman had brought to the company. This "secret deal" resulted in a bitter legal battle between Dylan and Grossman in the 1980s.[18]

Albert Grossman became Dylan's manager on August 20, 1962,[19] and he soon clashed with John Hammond. Since Dylan was under twenty-one when he signed his contract with CBS, Grossman argued that the contract was invalid and had to be re-negotiated. Instead, Hammond invited Dylan to his office and persuaded him to sign a 'reaffirment'—agreeing to abide by the original contract.[20] Grossman enjoyed a reputation in the folk scene of being commercially aggressive, generating more income and defending his clients' interests more fiercely than "the nicer, more amateurish managers in the Village".[21] Some felt that Grossman exerted an influence on Dylan to become more reclusive and aloof, even paranoid.[22]

On September 22, Dylan appeared for the first time at Carnegie Hall, part of an all-star hootenanny. On this occasion, he premiered his new composition "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall",[23] a complex and powerful song built upon the question and answer refrain pattern of the traditional British ballad "Lord Randall". One month later, on October 22, President John F. Kennedy appeared on national television to announce the discovery of Soviet missiles on the island of Cuba, initiating the Cuban Missile Crisis. In the sleeve notes on the Freewheelin' album, Nat Hentoff would quote Dylan as saying that he wrote "A Hard Rain" in response to the Cuban Missile Crisis: "Every line in it is actually the start of a whole new song. But when I wrote it, I thought I wouldn't have enough time alive to write all those songs so I put all I could into this one." In fact, Dylan had written the song more than a month before the crisis broke.

Dylan resumed work on his second album at Columbia's Studio A on October 26, when he recorded three songs. Several takes of Dylan's "Mixed-Up Confusion" and Arthur Crudup's "That's All Right Mama" were deemed unusable,[24] but a master take of "Corrina, Corrina" was selected for the final album. An 'alternate take' of "Corrina, Corrina" from the same session would also be selected for a single issued later in the year.

On November 1, at the next recording session, "Mixed-Up Confusion" and "That's All Right Mama" were recorded, and again the results were deemed unsatisfactory. A master take of the third song, "Rocks And Gravel" was selected for the final album.[25]

On November 14, Dylan devoted most of the session at Studio A to recording "Mixed-Up Confusion", performing the song with several studio musicians hired by John Hammond: George Barnes (guitar), Bruce Langhorne (guitar), Dick Wellstood (piano), Gene Ramey (bass), and Herb Lovelle (drums). Although this track never appeared on a Dylan album, it was released as a single on December 14, 1962, and then swiftly withdrawn.[26] Unlike the other material which Dylan recorded between 1961 and 1964, "Mixed Up Confusion" attempted a rockabilly sound. Cameron Crowe described it as "a fascinating look at a folk artist with his mind wandering towards Elvis Presley and Sun Records".[27]

Also recorded on November 14 was the new composition "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right", accompanied by a virtuoso guitar part played by Bruce Langhorne.[28] Langhorne then accompanied Dylan on three more original compositions: "Ballad of Hollis Brown", "Kingsport Town", and "Whatcha Gonna Do", but these performances were not included on Freewheelin'.[25]

Dylan held another session at Studio A on December 6. Five songs, all original compositions, were recorded, three of which were eventually included on The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan: "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall", "Oxford Town", and "I Shall Be Free". Dylan also made another attempt at "Whatcha Gonna Do" and recorded a new song, "Hero Blues", but both songs were ultimately rejected and left unreleased.[25]

Traveling to England
Twelve days later, Dylan made his first trip abroad. British TV director Philip Saville had heard Dylan perform in Greenwich Village, and invited him to take part in a BBC television drama: The Madhouse on Castle Street. Dylan arrived in London on December 17. In the play, Dylan performed "Blowin' in the Wind" and two other songs.[29] Dylan also immersed himself in the London folk scene, making contact with The Troubadour folk club organizer Anthea Joseph and folksingers Martin Carthy and Bob Davenport. "I ran into some people in England who really knew those [traditional English] songs," Dylan recalled in 1984. "Martin Carthy, another guy named [Bob] Davenport. Martin Carthy's incredible. I learned a lot of stuff from Martin."[30]

Carthy introduced Dylan to two English songs that would prove very important for the Freewheelin' album. Carthy taught Dylan his arrangement of "Scarborough Fair" which Dylan would use as the basis of his own "Girl from the North Country". Also a 19th century ballad commemorating the death of Sir John Franklin in 1847,"Lady Franklin's Lament", gave Dylan the melody for his composition "Bob Dylan's Dream". Both songs displayed Dylan's fast-growing ability to take traditional melodies, and use them as a basis for highly personal song-writing.[31]

From England, Dylan traveled to Italy, and joined Albert Grossman who was touring with his client Odetta.[32] Dylan was also hoping to make contact with his girlfriend, Suze Rotolo, unaware that she had already left Italy and was on her way back to New York. Dylan worked on his new material, and when he returned to London, Martin Carthy received a surprise: "When he came back from Italy, he'd written "Girl From the North Country"; he came down to the Troubadour and said, 'Hey, here's "Scarborough Fair"' and he started playing this thing."[33]

Returning to New York
When Dylan returned to New York in mid-January, he recorded his new composition, "Masters of War" for Broadside magazine. He also got back together with Suze Rotolo, persuading her to move into his apartment on West 4th Street.

Returning from Europe with a batch of new songs, Dylan's keenness to record his new material paralleled a dramatic power struggle in the studio: Albert Grossman's determination to have John Hammond replaced as Dylan's producer at CBS. According to Dylan's biographer, Howard Sounes, "The two men could not have been more different. Hammond was a WASP, so relaxed during recording sessions that he sat with feet up, reading The New Yorker. Grossman was a Jewish businessman with a shady past, hustling to become a millionaire."[20]

Because of Grossman's hostility to Hammond, Columbia paired Dylan with a young, African-American jazz producer, Tom Wilson. Wilson recalled: "I didn't even particularly like folk music. I'd been recording Sun Ra and Coltrane...I thought folk music was for the dumb guys. [Dylan] played like the dumb guys, but then these words came out. I was flabbergasted."[34] At a recording session on April 24th, produced by Wilson, Dylan recorded five new compositions: "Girl from the North Country", "Masters of War", "Talkin' World War III Blues", "Bob Dylan's Dream", and "Walls of Red Wing". "Walls of Red Wing" was ultimately rejected, but the other four were included in the revised album sequence.

The final drama of recording Freewheelin' occurred when Dylan appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show on May 12, 1963. Dylan had chosen to perform "Talkin' John Birch Society Blues" but was informed by the 'head of program practices' at CBS Television that this song was potentially libellous to the John Birch Society. Rather than comply with TV censorship, Dylan refused to appear. According to biographer Clinton Heylin. "There remains a common belief that [Dylan] was forced by Columbia to pull "Talkin' John Birch Society Blues" from the album after he walked out on The Ed Sullivan Show." However, the 'revised' version of The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan was released on May 27, 1963; this would have given Columbia Records only two weeks to recut the album, reprint the record sleeves, and press and package enough copies of the new version to fill orders. Heylin suggests that CBS had probably forced Dylan to withdraw "John Birch" from the album some weeks earlier. Dylan responded to this by recording new material on April 24, and replacing four songs ("John Birch", "Let Me Die in My Footsteps", "Ramblin' Gamblin' Willie", "Rocks and Gravel") with his more recent compositions.[35]

"Blowin' in the Wind" is among Dylan's most celebrated compositions. In his sleeve notes for The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961-1991, John Bauldie writes that it was Pete Seeger who first identified the melody of "Blowin' In The Wind" as Dylan's adaptation of the old Negro spiritual "No More Auction Block". According to Alan Lomax's The Folk Songs of North America, the song originated in Canada and was sung by former slaves who fled there after Britain abolished slavery in 1833. In 1978, Dylan acknowledged the source when he told journalist Marc Rowland: '"Blowin' In The Wind" has always been a spiritual. I took it off a song called "No More Auction Block"—that's a spiritual and "Blowin' In The Wind" follows the same feeling.'[36] Dylan's performance of "No More Auction Block" was recorded at the Gaslight Cafe in October 1962, and appeared on The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961-1991

Critic Andy Gill wrote: "'Blowin' In The Wind" marked a huge jump in Dylan's songwriting: for the first time, Dylan discovered the effectiveness of moving from the particular to the general. Whereas 'The Ballad of Donald White' would become completely redundant as soon as the eponymous criminal was executed, a song as vague as 'Blowin' In The Wind' could be applied to just about any freedom issue. It remains the song with which Dylan's name is most inextricably linked, and safeguarded his reputation as a civil libertarian through any number of changes in style and attitude."[37]

"Blowin' In The Wind" became world famous when Peter, Paul and Mary issued the song as a single three weeks after the release of Freewheelin'. They and Dylan both shared the same manager: Albert Grossman. The single sold a phenomenal three hundred thousand copies in the first week of release. On July 13, 1963, it reached number two on the Billboard chart with sales exceeding one million copies.[38] Dylan later recalled that he was astonished when Peter Yarrow told him he was going to make $5,000 from the publishing rights.[27]

"Girl from the North Country"
Main article: Girl from the North Country
There has been much speculation in print about the identity of the girl in the song. Clinton Heylin states that the most frequently mooted candidates are Echo Helstrom, an early girlfriend of Dylan from his home town of Hibbing, and Suze Rotolo, whom Dylan was pining for as he finished the song in Italy.[39] Howard Sounes suggests the girl Dylan probably had in mind was Bonnie Beecher, a girlfriend of Dylan from his time at the University of Minnesota.[40] Todd Harvey notes that Dylan has taken not only the tune of "Scarborough Fair", which he learnt from Martin Carthy in London, he also adapted the theme of that song. "Scarborough Fair" derives from "The Elfin Knight" (Child Ballad Number 2), which was first recorded in 1670. In the song, a supernatural character poses a series of questions to an innocent, requesting her to perform impossible tasks. Harvey points out that Dylan "retains the idea of the listener being sent upon a task, a northern place setting, and an antique lyric quality".[41] Dylan returned to this song on Nashville Skyline (1969), recording it as a duet with Johnny Cash.

"Masters of War"
Main article: Masters of War
A scathing, anti-war song, "Masters of War" is based on Jean Ritchie's arrangement of "Nottamun Town", an English riddle song. Written in late 1962 while Dylan was in London, a number of eyewitnesses (including Martin Carthy and Anthea Joseph) recall Dylan's performing the song in folk clubs at the time. Ritchie would later assert her claim on the song's arrangement; according to one Dylan biography, the suit was settled when Ritchie received $5,000 from Dylan's lawyers.[42]

"Down the Highway"
Dylan composed this song in the form of a 12 bar blues. In the sleeve notes of Freewheelin’, Dylan explained to Nat Hentoff: "What made the real blues singers so great is that they were able to state all the problems they had; but at the same time, they were standing outside of them and could look at them. And in that way, they had them beat." Into this song, Dylan injected one explicit mention of an absence that was troubling him: the sojourn of Suze Rotolo in Perugia: “My baby took my heart from me/ She packed it all up in a suitcase/ Lord, she took it away to Italy, Italy.”

"Bob Dylan's Blues"
Dylan begins this track with a spoken intro that pokes fun at "most of the songs that are written uptown in Tin Pan Alley, that’s where most of the folk songs come from nowadays”. What follows is an absurd, improvised blues which Dylan in the sleeve notes describes as a “really off-the-cuff-song. I start with an idea and then I feel what follows. Best way I can describe this one it’s that it’s sort of like walking by a side street. You gaze in and walk on."

"A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall"
Main article: A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall
Dylan was only 21 years old when he wrote one of his most complex songs, "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall", often referred to as "Hard Rain". Dylan is said to have premiered "Hard Rain" at the Gaslight Cafe, where Village performer Peter Blankfield recalled: "He put out these pieces of loose-leaf paper ripped out of a spiral notebook. And he starts singing ['Hard Rain']...He finished singing it, and no one could say anything. The length of it, the episodic sense of it. Every line kept building and bursting".[43] Dylan performed "Hard Rain" days later at Carnegie Hall on September 22, 1962, as part of a concert organized by Pete Seeger. Many were astonished by the power and complexity of this work. For Robert Shelton, who had given Dylan an important boost in his 1961 review in the New York Times, this song was "A landmark in topical, folk-based songwriting. Here blooms the promised fruit of the 1950s poetry-jazz fusion of Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti, and Rexroth."[44]

Critics have interpreted the lyric 'hard rain' as a reference to nuclear fallout, but Dylan resisted the specificity of this interpretation. In a radio interview with Studs Terkel in 1963, Dylan said,

"No, it's not atomic rain, it's just a hard rain. It isn't the fallout rain. I mean some sort of end that's just gotta happen... In the last verse, when I say, 'the pellets of poison are flooding the waters', that means all the lies that people get told on their radios and in their newspapers."[45]

Side Two
"Don't Think Twice, It's All Right
Dylan wrote this song on hearing from Suze Rotolo that she was considering staying in Italy indefinitely,[46] and he used a melody he adapted from Paul Clayton's song "Who's Gonna Buy You Ribbons (When I'm Gone)".[47] In the Freewheelin' sleeve notes, Dylan comments: "It isn't a love song. It's a statement that maybe you can say to make yourself feel better. It's as if you were talking to yourself."

Dylan's contemporaries, including Dave Van Ronk and Paul Stookey, hailed the song as a masterpiece.[48] Dylan biographer Howard Sounes commented: "The greatness of the song was in the cleverness of the language. The phrase "don't think twice, it's all right" could be snarled, sung with resignation, or delivered with an ambiguous mixture of bitterness and regret. Seldom has the contradictory emotions of a thwarted lover been so well expressed, and the song transcended the autobiographical origins of Dylan's pain."[49]

"Bob Dylan's Dream"
Main article: Bob Dylan's Dream
"Bob Dylan's Dream" was based on the melody of the traditional "Lady Franklin's Lament", in which the title character dreams of finding her husband, Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin, alive and well. (Sir John Franklin had vanished on an expedition searching for the North West Passage in 1845; a stone cairn on King William Island detailing his demise was found by a later expedition in 1859.) Todd Harvey points out that Dylan transforms the song into a personal journey, yet he retains both the theme and the mood of the original ballad. The world outside is depicted as stormy and harsh, and Dylan's most fervent wish, like Lady Franklin's, is to be reunited with departed companions and to relive the fond memories they represent.[50]

"Oxford Town"
Main article: Oxford Town
"Oxford Town" is Dylan's sardonic account of events at the University of Mississippi in September 1962. U.S. Air Force veteran James Meredith was the first black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi, located a mile from Oxford, Mississippi. When Meredith first tried to attend classes at the school, a number of Mississippians pledged to keep the university segregated, including the state governor Ross Barnett. Ultimately, the University of Mississippi had to be integrated with the help of U.S. federal troops. Dylan responded rapidly: his song was published in the November 1962 issue of Broadside.[51]

"Talkin' World War III Blues"
Main article: Talkin' World War III Blues
The "talkin' blues" was a style of improvised song writing that Woody Guthrie had developed to a high plane. (A Minneapolis domestic recording that Dylan made in September 1960 includes his performances of Guthrie's "Talking Columbia" and "Talking Merchant Marine")[52] "Talkin' World War III Blues" was a spontaneous composition Dylan created in the studio during the final session for The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. He recorded five takes of the song and the fifth was selected for the album. The format of the "talkin' blues" permitted Dylan to address the serious subject of nuclear annihilation with humor, and "without resorting to his finger-pointing or apocalyptical-prophetic persona".[52]

"Corrina, Corrina"
Main article: Corrina, Corrina
"Corrina, Corrina" was recorded by The Mississippi Sheiks, and by their leader Bo Carter in 1928. The song was covered by artists as diverse as Bob Willis, Big Joe Turner, and Doc Watson. Dylan's version is notable for the fact that it's the only track on Freewheelin' recorded with accompanying musicians. And also, as Todd Harvey points out, Dylan borrows phrases from several Robert Johnson songs: "Stones In My Passway", "32-20 Blues", and "Hellhound On My Trail".[53]

"Honey Just Allow Me One More Chance"
"Honey Just Allow Me One More Chance" is based on "Honey, Won't You Allow Me One More Chance?", a song dating back to the 1890s that was popularized by Henry Thomas in his 1928 recording. "However, Thomas's original provided no more than a song title and a notion", writes Heylin, "which Dylan turned into a personal plea to an absent lover to allow him 'one more chance to get along with you.' It is a vocal tour de force and...showed a Dylan prepared to make light of his own blues by using the form itself."[54]

"I Shall Be Free"
"I Shall Be Free" is a rewrite of Leadbelly's "We Shall Be Free", which was performed by Leadbelly, Sonny Terry, Cisco Houston, and Woody Guthrie. According to musicologist Todd Harvey, Dylan's version draws its melody from the Guthrie recording but omits its signature chorus ("We'll soon be free/When the Lord will call us home"). Dylan's version describes the singer's uneasy relationship with women, and delivers some striking references to contemporary culture: a phone call from JFK, a satire on TV advertising, and some prodigious drinking. Placed at the end of the Freewheelin' LP, the song provides some welcome levity.[55]

Cover art
The album cover features a photograph of Dylan with Suze Rotolo. It was taken in February 1963—a few weeks after Rotolo had returned from Italy—by CBS staff photographer Don Hunstein at the corner of Jones Street and West 4th Street in Greenwich Village, New York City, just a few yards away from the apartment where the couple lived at the time.[56] In her memoir, A Freewheelin' Time, Rotolo recounts how the photo came about spontaneously, and analyses the significance of the cover image:

It is one of those cultural markers that influenced the look of album covers precisely because of its casual down-home spontaneity and sensibility. Most album covers were carefully staged and controlled, to terrific effect on the Blue Note jazz album covers... and to not-so great-effect on the perfectly posed and clean-cut pop and folk albums. Whoever was responsible for choosing that particular photograph for The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan really had an eye for a new look.[57]
[edit] Outtakes
Sheet music for "Talkin' John Birch Society Blues" first appeared in the debut issue of Broadside magazine in late February 1962. Conceived by Pete Seeger and Agnes 'Sis' Cunningham, Broadside was a magazine dedicated to publishing contemporary folk songs. Dylan was introduced to Cunningham through Seeger, and during his first meeting with Cunningham, Dylan played her the song.[58] A wry but humorous satire that also worked as a scathing portrayal of right-wing paranoia, it would be the first of many contributions to Broadside magazine.

Dylan gave Nat Hentoff this account of how he came to write "Let Me Die in My Footsteps" in 1963: "I was going through some town and they were making this bomb shelter right outside of town, one of these sort of Coliseum-type things and there were construction workers and everything. I was there for about an hour, just looking at them build, and I just wrote the song in my head back then, but I carried it with me for two years until I finally wrote it down. As I watched them building, it struck me sort of funny that they would concentrate so much on digging a hole underground when there were so many other things they should do in life. If nothing else, they could look at the sky, and walk around and live a little bit, instead of doing this immoral thing."[59] "Let Me Die in My Footsteps" was selected for the original sequence of The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, but was replaced by "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall".[36]

It is unclear whether "Mixed Up Confusion" was ever a serious contender for The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, but it was issued by Columbia as a single-only release during the Christmas shopping season. Dylan had been an avid fan of rock & roll ever since his childhood, and "Mixed Up Confusion" was his first record to recall the early rockabilly recordings of his youth. It was also his first Columbia release to group him with a studio band.

Though it wasn't recorded for the album, "Tomorrow Is a Long Time" was written and demo'd in between album sessions. Perhaps an account of Dylan's uneasy relationship with Rotolo, the song is sung from the point-of-view of a narrator who cannot lie down in his bed once again until his "own true love" is back and waiting. Dylan eventually released "Tomorrow Is a Long Time" in 1971 on Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits Vol. II, in the form of a live performance recorded at the Town Hall concert on April 12, 1963. Heylin describes the Town Hall performance as "an achingly lovely rendition of his most tender song."

The known outtakes from the Freewheelin' album are:[36][60]

Title Status
"Baby, Please Don't Go" Released on Exclusive Outtakes From No Direction Home EP[a 1]
"Ballad of Hollis Brown" Unreleased. Re-recorded for Dylan's next album, The Times They Are a-Changin'
"The Death of Emmett Till" Unreleased
"Hero Blues" Unreleased
"House Carpenter" Released on The Bootleg Series 1-3
"(I Heard That) Lonesome Whistle"
(Hank Williams, Jimmie Davies) Unreleased
"Kingsport Town" Released on The Bootleg Series 1-3
"Let Me Die In My Footsteps" Released on The Bootleg Series 1-3
"Milkcow's Calf Blues" Unreleased
"Mixed Up Confusion" Released on Biograph
"Quit Your Lowdown Ways" Released on The Bootleg Series 1-3
"Rambling, Gambling Willie" Released on The Bootleg Series 1-3
"Sally Gal" Released on No Direction Home: The Bootleg Series Vol. 7
"Rocks and Gravel" Unreleased
"Talkin' Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues" Released on The Bootleg Series 1-3
"Talkin' Hava Negiliah Blues" Released on The Bootleg Series 1-3
"Talkin' John Birch 'Paranoid' Blues" Released as a live recording from Carnegie Hall, October 26, 1963, on The Bootleg Series 1-3
"That's Alright Mama" Unreleased
"The Walls of Redwing" Released on The Bootleg Series 1-3
"Watcha Gonna Do" Unreleased
"Wichita" Unreleased
"Worried Blues" Unreleased

A few copies of the original pressing of the LP—with the subsequently deleted tracks, "Let Me Die In My Footsteps", "Ramblin' Gamblin' Willie" (retitled "Gamblin' Willie's Dead Man's Hand"), "Rocks and Gravel" and "Talkin' John Birch Blues"—have turned up over the years, despite Columbia's supposed destruction of all copies during the pre-release phase. Other permutations of the Freewheelin' album include versions with a different running order of the tracks on the album, and a Canadian version of the album that listed the track in the wrong order.[61]

In April, 1992, the first known stereo copy of the original version of Frewheelin' (with the label listing the four variant songs) was found at a Greenwich Village thrift store in New York City. The record was used; it was auctioned via Goldmine magazine and fetched $12,345.67. It would probably have fetched more if it had been in mint condition.[62][63]

Dylan promoted his upcoming album with a number of radio appearances and concert performances. In May 1963, Dylan performed with Joan Baez at the Monterey Folk Festival, where she joined him on stage for a duet of a new Dylan song, "With God on Our Side". Baez was at the pinnacle of her fame, having appeared on the cover of Time magazine the previous November. The performance not only gave Dylan and his songs a new prominence, it also marked the beginning of a romantic relationship between Baez and Dylan, the start of what Dylan biographer Sounes termed "one of the most celebrated love affairs of the decade".[66]

In July, Dylan appeared at the second Newport Folk Festival. That weekend, Peter, Paul and Mary's rendition of "Blowin' in the Wind" reached #2 on Billboard's pop chart. Baez was also at Newport, and she appeared with Dylan twice on stage, both in his set, and her own. The combination of the chart success of "Blowin' In The Wind", and the glamour of Baez and Dylan singing together generated excitement about Dylan and his new album. Tom Paxton recalled: "That was a big breakout festival for Bob. The buzz kept growing exponentially and it was like a coronation of Bob and Joan. They were King and Queen of the festival".[67]

The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan had been available since late May, but despite the controversy surrounding Dylan's cancelled Sullivan appearance, the album had not attract many reviews in the mainstream press. It sold modestly upon its release, but with Dylan's appearance at Newport, Baez's endorsement, and covers of his songs by Baez, Odetta and Peter, Paul and Mary, sales began to rise. Dylan's friend Bob Fass recalled that after Newport, Dylan told him that "suddenly I just can't walk around without a disguise. I used to walk around and go wherever I wanted. But now it's gotten very weird. People follow me into the men's room just so they can say that they saw me pee."[68]

By September, the album finally entered Billboard's album charts. The highest position it reached was number 22 (it eventually came to sell one million copies in the USA).[69] Dylan himself came to acknowledge Freewheelin' as the album that marked the start of his success. During his dispute with Albert Grossman, Dylan stated in a deposition: "Although I didn't know it at the time, the second album was destined to become a great success because it was to include 'Blowin' In the Wind'."[70] Besides "Blowin' In the Wind", "Masters of War", "Girl from the North Country", "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" and "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" have all been acclaimed as masterpieces, and they have been mainstays of Dylan's performing repertory to the present day.[71] The album's balance between serious subject matter and levity, earnest finger-pointing songs and surreal jokes captured a wide audience, including The Beatles, who were on the edge of global success. John Lennon recalled: "In Paris in 1964 was the first time I ever heard Dylan at all. Paul got the record (The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan) from a French DJ. For three weeks in Paris we didn't stop playing it. We all went potty about Dylan."[72]

In a survey of Dylan’s work published by Q magazine, the Freewheelin’ album was described as “easily the best of [Dylan’s] acoustic albums and a quantum leap from his debut—which shows the frantic pace at which Dylan’s mind was moving.” The magazine went on to comment, “You can see why this album got The Beatles listening. The songs at its core must have sounded like communiques from another plane.”[73]

Stephen Thomas Erlewine’s verdict on the album in the Allmusic guide was: “It's hard to overestimate the importance of The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, the record that firmly established Dylan as an unparalleled songwriter… This is rich, imaginative music, capturing the sound and spirit of America as much as that of Louis Armstrong, Hank Williams, or Elvis Presley. Dylan, in many ways, recorded music that equaled this, but he never topped it.”[64]

Music critic Richard Williams has pointed out that the richness of the imagery in "A Hard Rain" made Dylan into a cult performer for a burgeoning college audience hungry for a new cultural complexity: "For students whose exam courses included Eliot and Yeats, here was something that flattered their expanding intellect while appealing to the teenage rebel in their early-sixties souls. James Dean had walked around reading James Joyce; here were both in a single package, the words and the attitude set to music."[74] Andy Gill adds that in the few months between the release of Freewheelin' in May 1963, and Dylan's next album The Times They Are A-Changin' in January 1964, Dylan became the hottest property in American music, stretching the boundaries of what had been previously viewed as a collegiate folk music audience.[75]

In March 2000, Van Morrison told the Irish rock magazine Hot Press about the impact that Freewheelin' made on him: "I think I heard it in a record shop in Smith Street. And I just thought it was incredible that this guy's not singing about 'moon in June' and he's getting away with it. That's what I thought at the time. The subject matter wasn't pop songs, ya know, and I thought this kind of opens the whole thing up...Dylan put it into the mainstream that this could be done."[76]

Freewheelin' was one of 50 recordings chosen by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry in 2002. The citation read: "This album is considered by some to be the most important collection of original songs issued in the 1960s."[77]

[edit] Charts
Album Year Chart Position
1963 Billboard 200 22
1964 UK Top 75 1
Singles Year Single Chart Position
1963 "Blowin' in the Wind" Billboard Hot 100 —
1963 "Blowin' in the Wind" UK Top 75 —
"—" denotes the release failed to chart.

[edit] Track listing
All songs by Bob Dylan, except where noted[78]

[edit] Side one
1."Blowin' in the Wind" – 2:48
2."Girl from the North Country" – 3:22
3."Masters of War" – 4:34
4."Down the Highway" – 3:27
5."Bob Dylan's Blues" – 2:23
6."A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall" – 6:55
[edit] Side two
1."Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" – 3:40
2."Bob Dylan's Dream" – 5:03
3."Oxford Town" – 1:50
4."Talkin' World War III Blues" – 6:28
5."Corrina, Corrina" (Traditional) – 2:44
6."Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance" (Dylan, Henry Thomas) – 2:01
7."I Shall Be Free" – 4:49
[edit] Personnel
Bob Dylan - Guitar, Harmonica, Keyboards, Vocals
Bruce Langhorne - Guitar
Howard Collins - Guitar
Leonard Gaskin - Bass guitar
George Barnes - Bass guitar
Gene Ramey - Double bass
Herb Lovelle - Drums
Dick Wellstood - Piano
John H. Hammond, Jr. - Producer
Tom Wilson - Producer
Nat Hentoff - Liner Notes
Don Hunstein
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