Bob Dylan - "Legionnaires Disease"

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Sprocket Henry, Apr 19, 2017.

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  1. Sprocket Henry

    Sprocket Henry Forum Resident Thread Starter

    This is a song I keep stumbling upon whenever I pull out my copy of Lyrics 1962-2001. Perculiar lyrics and references to family and conflict. There's a couple of covers floating around on YouTube, but does anyone know if Dylan actually recorded it? My understanding is that it was written when they were touring Street Legal during 1978.

  2. Louise Boat

    Louise Boat oh look a unicorn

    a quick google...

    never recorded by Bob apparently:
    Delta-Cross Band - Back On The Road Again / Legionaires Disease

    "This may be the only officially recorded version of Dylan's "Legionaires Disease", by Dylan's touring guitarist at the time of creation, Billy Cross."
    "gboe April 16, 2010
    This may be the only officially recorded version of Bob Dylan's "Legionaires Disease". Written some time after the mysterious outbreak of a deadly disease that killed several veterans attending a convention of the American Legion in Philadelphia in July 1976, the song may have lost it's meaning when in january 1977 the real killer, the legionella bacteria, was found. The first verse goes:

    Some say it was radiation
    some said: acid on the microphone
    And some say it was a combination
    of things that turned their hearts to stone
    But whatever it was, it drove them to their knees
    that Legionnaire's disease

    Dylan never recorded the song, and according to various sources, he never even played it to an audience. Only once it was played - at a soundcheck in Detroit, 13 Oct 1978 - at the time when Billy Cross was Dylan's touring guitarist. Three years later Cross did the only recording of the song with his Delta-Cross Band.
    Thoug reality may have let the lyrics down, this is however one of Dylan's best melodies of the mid 70's. The song deals with modern legend and myth and in that way reminds a bit of "Hurricane" except Dylan was on the right track with Rubin "Hurricane" Carter. Had he also been right on the legionaires disease - and the forensic schientists wrong - the song definately would have made it to vinyl, and another late 70's dylan classic would have lived. Instead it the song that was brought to it's knees. "
    Sprocket Henry likes this.
  3. Louise Boat

    Louise Boat oh look a unicorn

    Expecting Rain adds:
    Bob Dylan - Expecting Rain - Legionnaire's Disease

    "Tim Dunn in "I Just Write 'em as They Come" (1990)...
    Written in 1978, Heylin notes that Billy Cross,a member of Dylan's
    1978 band and, also, of "Delta Cross Band", has said he has a copy of this
    from a 1978 soundcheck. Heylin has determined the date of its
    performance as 13 October 1978 in Detroit. (Rain Unravelled Tales, 1985, p.92)
    However, there is no copy of it in general circulation."
    Sprocket Henry likes this.
  4. Percy Song

    Percy Song Tom's Tambourine Man

    It has that 65/66 organ sound and the "How Does It Feel?" riff from LARS. If you didn't know better, you'd say it was cheap Dylan parody....;)
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