Bob Dylan – The Witmark Demos

| October 28, 2010

Bob Dylan 1962-1964 Witmark Demos

Bob Dylan – THE WITMARK DEMOS 1962-1964 Bootleg Series #9

I am sitting in a trailer, on the ground, by a gas well, above the Barnett Shale, about a buzzard’s flap from the Red River. Game consoles, games, a big tubular TV, a jar of peanut butter, water samples … all the flotsam of boredom’s dirty business lay scattered inside the wind whipped tin box.

From my vantage point on the plaid crushed foam fold out couch, I have a bright image of a canary yellow water tank framed by an insecure swinging screen door. The fall air on the Shale is so cool, today we’re just letting her blow on through.

You may find it hard to believe this is a music review, but I thought it necessary to set the sounds of a masterpiece’s first listening to a specific location on the geological survey.

It’s taken a little while, but in the last year-and-a-half some of the younger more current acts have finally begun plowing the fallow fields of social unrest and North America’s economic upheaval. Now comes Bob Dylan’s “The Witmark Demos.” Rewind your mind to 1962, and Bob Dylan … in a recording closet, getting lyrics in the can as quickly as possible – to shop to other recording artists. The result – HIS masterpieces such as “Masters of War,” “Blowin’ in the Wind,” and on and on. You can even hear the door shut in the tiny recording booth, where a technician looks in and records history on tape at half speed to save tape. What else was in the closet? Dylan, his harmonica, guitar, or piano, words and music, and that’s about it.

Imagine the art world finding a stack of Rembrandt drawings that lead to his masterpieces, some raw unfinished sketches, and some complete. Forget that Dylan singlehandedly changed music and the music business, if you like. This is lightning in a bottle, sitting on a circular acre of scorched earth.

And somehow, once again, that which was old becomes new, and vital to the senses of struggling souls who find ourselves outside the hedge, looking and waiting for signs of economic life, a monetary revival of art appreciation, or perhaps a whole new life. We see more wrath than grapes in our time.

So, get The Witmark Demos, and go back to where you are, close your eyes, and listen … be transported away from wherever you are, back in time and listen to the sounds of the rosetta stone of modern American folk music.

Bob Dylan will be doing a little touring as well, so if you miss him, don’t be left wishing you had been there. You can bet, he won’t be doing anything close to what you’re going to hear on these CD’s.

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Category: Life Observed, Music

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