Dylan / Blonde on Blonde: 'That Thin Wild Mercury Sound' (Daryl Sanders book, Oct. 2018)

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by HominyRhodes, Oct 15, 2018.

  1. Daryl Sanders

    Daryl Sanders Forum Resident

    Location:
    Nashville
    Roger, unfortunately there were no photos taken during the sessions, but I have seen some photos of how the studio looked when it opened in October 1965, as well as a photo taken from the control room several years later. Those photos, however, were not suitable for publication. My description of how the musicians were set up came from interviews with Bob Johnston, Charlie McCoy, Wayne Moss, and Billy Swan. Charlie gave the initial description and the others confirmed to me that was the basic setup.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2018
  2. Percy Song

    Percy Song Tom's Tambourine Man

    @HominyRhodes and @Daryl Sanders : FYI, the letter in question is reproduced in the "Mixing Up The Medicine" book(s).

    Big Blue Collector's Edition: Page 58
    Medium Blue 6CD: Page 42


    [​IMG]


    I wonder how many obeyed the request to destroy the record... :)


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    Last edited: Oct 20, 2018
  3. redsock

    redsock Writer, reader, grouch.

    I have never looked up the lyrics to that song, but I have always heard: "He sits in his room, his tomb, with a fist full of tacks"
     
  4. JohnS

    JohnS Forum Resident

    Location:
    London, UK
    Me too
     
  5. NumberEight

    NumberEight Came too late and stayed too long

    It is. Mr. Bakke’s transcription here is about as accurate as his “You gotta’ a lot of nerve”.

    Could this be the same individual who came up with “old black Bascom”? :)
     
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  6. Daryl Sanders

    Daryl Sanders Forum Resident

    Location:
    Nashville
    No, man, I haven't read Roger's The Cutting Edge essays. Can you link me or hook me up with copies? Regarding the original studio logs: I'm not sure what happened to the Columbia logs. I asked Nashville studio manager Harold Hitt about them but he didn't know what happened to them. I do know what happened to the local union records: In the late ’70s (I think) the wife of the president of AFM Chapter 257, Johnny DeGeorge, tossed the records because she thought they were taking up too much space at the union hall. She wasn't even a member of the union, yet she made a decision that would have a lasting impact. That was nothing less than a tragedy.
     
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  7. Roger Ford

    Roger Ford Forum Resident

    Location:
    Bristol, England
    Thanks for this clarification, Daryl. Considering how many photos there are of Dylan recording his previous two albums, it's a real shame there isn't a single one of the Blonde On Blonde sessions. Presumably Dylan just wanted to work unhindered.
     
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  8. Percy Song

    Percy Song Tom's Tambourine Man

    My pleasure, Daryl. Roger asked me to give you the links.

    The background to them is that Roger took it upon himself to write an appraisal of every track on The Cutting Edge, giving the reader as much information as he could glean from all the sources he had accumulated over the 50 years since he first encountered the LPs, including, for example, your Nashville Scene article from 2011, correspondence and interviews he had conducted with a few of the shakers and movers over the years and the usual book sources, Krogsgaard, etc. He wrote the six essays during the course of a year or so (2016, essentially) and as each essay was completed it was published in the Isis fanzine. Each essay deals with a specific set of sessions. They are featured in Isis Issues 184 through 189 and amount to something in the region of 70 pages of text with illustrations and footnotes.

    When Electric Dylan went live again in December 2017 after a lengthy absence due to the withdrawal of a web page service he was using, Roger generously included the articles in a new "Cutting Edge" section of the website for those who had been too parsimonious to buy Isis. (I was one of those people - I admit it.) They are in their original format as published in Isis, but he has added some "sticky notes" amendments and additional comments to the articles as new information has come to light. To read the sticky notes properly it is best to download the PDF files first.

    He has yet to update the articles to include information that you provide in your book and on this thread but he's going to do it, as he indicated earlier here. He may end up re-writing it all over again in a more web-friendly format as the sticky note amendments are becoming tiresome to manage.

    I think you'll find them informative, entertaining and praiseworthy...


    The Cutting Edge, Collector's Edition


    (Was that OK, Roger? :hide:)
     
  9. Percy Song

    Percy Song Tom's Tambourine Man

    Tragedy, indeed; sounds like wilful destruction of history. Let's at least hope the studio logs turn up sometime.
     
  10. Percy Song

    Percy Song Tom's Tambourine Man

    Thanks, Daryl! I know that in a 20 page interview in The Bridge fanzine #27 (Spring 2007) MK stated that he had started writing a book called "Bob Dylan's Columbia Studio Recordings", presumably expanding his session logs with more explanatory text. He says, "...I really have no more loose ends regarding information about Dylan's Columbia Studio Recording so I can write a complete discographical book about this.... hopefully I'll finish it this summer."

    I don't know what's happened to it these last eleven years.
     
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  11. HominyRhodes

    HominyRhodes Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Chicago
    That's really a brand new revelation, as far as I know. Again, I get to go back and listen to a classic Dylan track with a new appreciation for the musicians involved.

    [​IMG]
    (L-R) Bruce Langhorne, Carolyn Hester, BD, and Bill Lee, 1961.
     
  12. Percy Song

    Percy Song Tom's Tambourine Man

    Short answer is "nothing concrete", so I keep an open mind on it.

    I'm no expert on Live '65 Dylan, but diligent work by our late friend Robert Sweeney, known as hollowhorn around these parts, and his friend Bob Stacy, indicates that this concert, and the one shown on the website at Santa Monica on the 7th, did not happen. They have discovered a combination of press ads and reviews, posters, photographs, concert ticket stubs, setlists (complete or partial) and programmes for all the concerts in California between 04 December and 19 December except 05 December and 07 December.


    Bob Dylan: Known & Rumoured Appearances. (Not in general circulation)


    It doesn't mean that Bob didn't arrange these two shows at very short notice, to keep the show on the road so to speak, but still you would expect some evidence to surface over the years. But not a single torn ticket stub has been forthcoming, not a centimetre of a review in any newspaper. Also, would the Masonic Auditorium be available at short notice, even for the hottest act? Debatable.

    It's true that this article in the Oakland Tribune indicates that there would be a show at the Masonic Auditorium on 05 December and another there on 11 December. We have a recording from the 11th plus press ads and so on. Nothing from the 5th.

    As I say, debatable. It would be interesting to know whether anything has turned up in the Tulsa Archives.

    [​IMG]


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  13. HominyRhodes

    HominyRhodes Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Chicago
    People have long been searching for photos from Dylan's 1966-1969 Nashville sessions, but as far as I know, the only ones to have emerged were taken during his final recording sessions in 1969. As Roger says, Dylan may have been opposed to having any photographers present, especially local ones he wasn't comfortable with, but I think that the fact that the majority of the sessions took place during the overnight hours, when most people were home in bed, and also the fact that Sara Dylan and their infant son were present for some of the second round of sessions in March, may explain why none of the proceedings were captured on film.

    A camera crew filming a Johnny Cash documentary was present during one of Dylan's Nashville Skyline sessions in February 1969. They captured the two of them performing in the studio and also listening to a playback of "One Too Many Mornings," but most of the footage is dark (Bob Johnston had the lights turned down low, like a nightclub, he said) and unrevealing as far as the positions of the backing musicians out in the studio.

    I think everyone has seen the photos from Dylan's final Nashville session(s) on May 3, 1969, where he is shown with fiddler Doug Kershaw and several of the other musicians and backup singers. Among those dozen or two images are a few shots that offer a glimpse of how the instruments were set up in the studio, keeping in mind that this was three years after the Blonde sessions, and they may have moved things around in the interim.

    [​IMG]
     
  14. HominyRhodes

    HominyRhodes Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Chicago
    Two shots of the Nashville Studio A control room. The Bob J. and Marty R. photo from May 1967 helps establish when Columbia upgraded from 4-track to 8-track recording capability, after Blonde on Blonde and before John Wesley Harding.
    [​IMG]
     
  15. Roger Ford

    Roger Ford Forum Resident

    Location:
    Bristol, England
    Well, that was Bob Dylan, I believe. When Writings And Drawings came out in 1973, Dylan had evidently decided to rework some of his previously unpublished songs, injecting some country corn that seemed quite at odds with the vibe of the originals. Even the title "Tell Me, Momma" seemed, back in 1973, like a betrayal: in 1966 he'd surely have called it "Tell Me, Mama". And lines like "But his painted sled, instead it's a bed" - surely not even the most cloth-eared (or brave) transcriber would have come up with that. Check out the published lyrics to "Sitting On A Barbed Wire Fence" for more examples. Dylan even did it with one or two songs that had been published before: "I Shall Be Free" had appeared in the 1968 songbook Bob Dylan: the Original with a straight transcription of the Freewheelin' recording; but in Writings And Drawings we got lines like "She's a honeymooner / A June crooner / A spoon feeder / And a natural leader", clearly newly-made up. It does seem a shame that these 1972-3 reconstructions, very much of their time rather than the original songs', have stayed on as the canonical versions. I suppose they're his songs, and he can print them as he likes them; but I suspect he probably hasn't given them a further thought since 1973.

    As for "Tell Me, Mama (/Momma)", Dylan seems to have improvised different words at every performance, perhaps to loosen up for the electric half of the show; so there really can be no fixed set of 1966 lyrics.
     
  16. NumberEight

    NumberEight Came too late and stayed too long

    Nicely and convincingly argued. Although “Coal-black glass don’t make no mirror” (or whatever he’s really singing) wasn’t one of the lines Bob improvised around back in 1966, maybe he always wished he had. :)
     
  17. John DeAngelis

    John DeAngelis Senior Member

    Location:
    New York, NY
    I thought the complete 65/66 Dylan Sessions box made it clear that Charlie McCoy overdubbed his "Desolation Row" guitar part.
     
  18. HominyRhodes

    HominyRhodes Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Chicago
    I found some clearer photos of the grand opening party for Nashville's Columbia Studio "A" on October 22, 1965, taken by Jack Corn for The Tennessean; the piano player is Bill Pursell, who recorded several instrumental albums and singles under his own name for the label, and he also did session work with Johnny Cash and many others.

    The grand piano here is in the same general area as it would have been during the Blonde on Blonde recording sessions a few months later. (For a description of where the musicians were set up in Studio A for the Dylan sessions, see Daryl's book, page 103.)
    [​IMG]

    Another photo of the event, with Columbia executive Goddard Lieberson at the microphone.
    [​IMG]

    Here's a good partial view of the Studio A control room, including the same patch bay shown in previous photos:
    [​IMG]
    (L-R) Engineer Glen Snoddy, Columbia exec Bill Gallagher (there's a great story about him in Daryl's book), U.S. Rep. Richard Fulton, and the legendary producer Don Law, head of Nashville A&R at that time, who had recorded one of Bob Dylan's musical idols, Robert Johnson, in Texas back in the 1930s.

    ***************​

    Below are two recent photos of Studio A, as restored by Belmont University. Columbia Records ceased using it as a recording studio in 1982, and converted it into workspace for the company's graphics department. Music executive Mike Curb rescued the entire facility (including the adjoining landmark Quonset Hut studio) from oblivion in 2005, when he purchased the property and initiated efforts to modernize and reactivate it for educational purposes and special events.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  19. HominyRhodes

    HominyRhodes Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Chicago
    A recent G o o g l e street view image of the former Columbia Records property on Music Row:
    [​IMG]

    ...and the way it looked for the grand opening celebration on October 22, 1965; the dark rooftop seen protruding from the office structure is actually the house that Owen Bradley used as a recording facility, along with the world-famous Quonset Hut studio that was added on to the rear in 1955; the house was demolished soon after this photo was taken and the space was incorporated into the two-story office complex.

    [​IMG]



    [​IMG]


    The building immediately south of the Columbia site (shown in 1965 and in a recent Street View photo) was built by talent agent Hubert Long in 1962, and housed the local Capitol Records offices; Long added a multi-story office complex onto the rear of the building, which later became the headquarters of Buddy Lee Attractions .
    [​IMG]
    Map-diagram of the properties:
    [​IMG]
     
  20. HominyRhodes

    HominyRhodes Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Chicago
    The original Bradley facility at 804 16th Avenue, South, in the 1950s, with the attached Quonset Hut studio visible in the rear:
    [​IMG]

    The back of the property, from the same photo shoot; in 1965, Columbia's new Studio A would be built where the flat-roof garage is situated:
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Photo taken by Jimmy Ellis of The Tennessean on October 10, 1966; this is how the Quonset Hut probably would have looked to Bob Dylan from the back alley when he arrived for his first Nashville sessions earlier that year:

    [​IMG]

    An enclosed stairway was later added onto the rear of the Quonset Hut, leaving only a small portion of its curved roof visible to passersby:
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2018
  21. Percy Song

    Percy Song Tom's Tambourine Man

    Oh, @HominyRhodes , what can I say? You are excelling yourself, here.

    Now we need a photo shop image depicting Bob attending that 1965 opening ceremony with a caption, "The alien has landed..." :)
     
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  22. Richard--W

    Richard--W Forum Resident

    Wasn't Jerry Schatzberg taking photos of Dylan at this time? I thought I've seen his photos of the Blonde sessions. Perhaps I'm wrong and the photos I'm thinking of are from Highway 61 Revisited sessions. He recently published a book which I've ordered.

    Looking forward to reading your account soon as it gets here.
     
  23. Percy Song

    Percy Song Tom's Tambourine Man

    :tiphat: Apologies to all, and many thanks to the person who quietly and politely pointed out to me that I had mistakenly reported that the studio logs went missing after Michael Krogsgaard had documented the sessions. In fact, The Krogs indicates that he struggled to make sense of the Nashville sessions due to the lack of paperwork. His session listing for February is comprehensive and he says, "...all the details are available", so he must have found some supporting information, either in the form of paperwork or aural evidence. For the March sessions he did not have access to the tapes at the time so his listing for those dates is relatively sparse.

    In The Telegraph #53 (Winter 1995) which published MK's listings for the February and March sessions is this image, presumably sheets from tape boxes:-

    [​IMG]


    I believe the "mixer" "MORT" on the lower sheet must be Mort Thomasson who engineered a whole stack of records before and after Blonde on Blonde, recorded by and/or featuring many of the players on that record. Might he have been beside Bob Johnston in the studio for one or more of Bob's sessions, I wonder? Anyone got any idea of the names of the other people identified on these sheets by their initials?

    [​IMG]
    Mort Thomasson (photo from Discogs)

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  24. Daryl Sanders

    Daryl Sanders Forum Resident

    Location:
    Nashville
    To my knowledge, Schatzberg only photographed Dylan one day in the studio, July 30 1965. All his other photos of Dylan were shot either in his studio or on location around New York City. The iconic photos of Dylan wearing a black suit, white shirt, and shades with his harmonica rack around his neck, playing guitar and piano in the studio, were taken by Schatzberg on July 30, 1965.
     
  25. John DeAngelis

    John DeAngelis Senior Member

    Location:
    New York, NY
    Asking Daryl again:

    I thought the complete 65/66 Dylan Sessions box made it clear that Charlie McCoy overdubbed his "Desolation Row" guitar part.
     

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