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

    Hello, everyone. Two items I wanted to call to your attention:

    For those of you on Facebook, I have Facebook page for my book, and I invite you to like it here:

    That Thin, Wild Mercury Sound

    Also, if by any chance you have bought a copy of my book via Amazon, I would appreciate it if you would leave a customer review. According to the marketing person for my book, if I get a few more customer reviews, I'll qualify to compete for some awards, presumably awards given by Amazon. You can leave a review here:

    Amazon Sign In

    Thank you.

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  2. Dok

    Dok Forum Resident

    Wayne Moss, Mac Gayden and Charlie all have fairly recent biographies, some auto and written with a co author. They all touch on the BoB sessions. I've been in contact briefly with Charlie through email lately and actually saw him perform at a very small venue in Louisville, TN on Nov. 2nd with Floyd Cramer's grandson Jason Coleman. I had informed him of the BGO label reissue of 4 of his early albums which he didn't know about and gave him a copy at the show. I also recently finished Charlie's book and told him "Don't tell Wayne or Mac but I enjoyed your book more". He wrote back, "As far as the books, I probably have a better memory because I never smoked those funny cigarettes!" Actually all the books are very worthy of reading and have a different slant on things from each other.
  3. the.giffer

    the.giffer Forum Resident

    Thank you all for such a rewarding thread. I just finished the book, which I enjoyed immensely. This thread is like a Vol 2 of the book, filling in detail and interesting anecdotes.
  4. Rocknut

    Rocknut Well-Known Member


    I finally had a chance to pull out my Biograph LP set and compare "Mixed Up Confusion" to the 5oth Anniversary Collection 1962. That overdub was indeed hiding in plain sight. The backing is quite different, with way more emphasis on the drums and rhythm guitar and less on piano. It is indeed also slowed down. Still, I'm surprised that there are no electric guitars to be found on the overdub, while, as I understood that that was prerogative of the Dec. 8, 1964 session. That said, this version on the original Biograph release is definitely closer to the galloping thunder that is for instance a track like "Tombstone Blues." Altogether hipper and more mid-60s than the skiffle-like 1962 original take.

    Sorry for staying on this side thread.
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  5. Rocknut

    Rocknut Well-Known Member

    The www.45cat.com site is indeed the cat's pajamas. It's amazingly complete and accurate, especially considering that it's crowd sourced. It's the go-to place for if you need details on the 45 discography of just about every obscure R&B, garage, surf, girl group or early rock & roll artist you can think of.

    On the other hand, I did not know about your great Electric Dylan site. Ain't it great that we're all still evolving here?
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  6. Percy Song

    Percy Song Tom's Tambourine Man

    pp 65-66

    After recording "One Of Us Must Know" Bob heads over to the WBAI-FM radio studio to take part in a phone-in on "Radio Unnameable", hosted by Bob Fass. Bob is accompanied by three companions who he introduces as "Charlie Fredericks", "Pete The Suede" and "Harry The Hat"/ "Roosevelt Gook". The latter is Al Kooper, and "Pete The Suede" is said to be Victor Maymudes. I don't think the identity of "Charlie Fredericks" has been established. Robbie, perhaps?

    The show goes on for two hours. Here is the first 34 minutes:-

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  7. Percy Song

    Percy Song Tom's Tambourine Man


    Bob Fass doesn't have the Lightnin' Hopkins record that Bob requests, so the one that is played is "I Wish I Was A Baby" from his 1965 LP, "The King Of The Blues":-


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  8. RayS

    RayS A Little Bit Older and a Little Bit Slower

    Out of My Element
    For my two cents, I'm down with Dylan letting "square" journalists have it. But putting down listeners and fans/supporters for a couple of hours to prove he's too cool for school (as is Mr. Fass, who comes off an absolute jerk) is quite the turn-off. Not my favorite piece of recorded Dylan history, to say the least. :)
  9. Percy Song

    Percy Song Tom's Tambourine Man

    At around 29 minutes into the WBAI phone-in there is this conversation with Caller #8 who has identified himself as "Frankenstein":-

    C8: You see, uh, I’m pretty hungry.
    BF: Uh, huh. Thanks a lot, uh...
    BD: No, no. Don’t turn him off... he’s hungry! Tell me, are you as hungry as a man in drag?

    I think I'm right in saying that this is the first time we are aware of the half-line that would appear in "Temporary Like Achilles". He might already have jotted it down for "Medicine Sunday" of course.

    Caller #10 is Ann Wilkinson, "sort of" from Buffalo who, it seems, had seen Bob play at Kleinhans Music Hall on 20 November 1965:-

    C10: ..... I also wanted to know when Visions Of Johanna is coming out.
    BD: What?
    C10: I wanted to know when Visions Of Johanna...
    BD: Oh, you heard that song?
    C10: Yeah, Al Kooper played it for me. (much laughter in the studio)
    BD: Say that again!
    C10: Al Kooper played it for me.
    BD: Oh, yeah. It’s good, huh? (laughs)
    C10: Yeah, and I would rather hear you sing it, I think.
    BD: Wow! Where does all these... what do... where do you do... where is... well, oh, it’s
    coming out on the next record.
    C10: Oh, it is?
    BD: Yeah. You never heard me play it, huh?
    C10: No, no.
    BD: Oh.
    C10: It’s a real good song, though.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    (For some reason or other, Bob's official website shows the incorrect date for this concert.....:sigh:)

    It might be interesting to find out a little more from Ann Wilkinson about her introduction to "Visions of Johanna."

  10. Percy Song

    Percy Song Tom's Tambourine Man

    I'm inclined to agree. As does Caller #19:-

    C19: Uh, Mr. Dylan – I was just wondering why you all sit around there... pardon me if that
    sounds nasty, but why you all sit around there putting down every phone caller, when in
    fact all you have to do is to be, you know, sweet, loveable Bob Dylan and everybody will
    go crazy and ecstatic!
  11. Percy Song

    Percy Song Tom's Tambourine Man

    Later, Caller #32 gives Bob some of his own medicine:-

    C32: ..... I usually call you up about this time some evenings, to tell you that I’m doing a paper and, uh, Mr. Dylan? Uh, I think your writing is real great, and you play the kazoo and guitar real great but it would be real...
    BF: The kazoo?
    C32: ...real greater if you could, you know, just kinda sing a little bit better.
    BD: Huh. Well, I appreciate that! (laughs). I’m always looking for good, crisp, solid... good
    solid rock bottom foundational criticism. And that just sinks it right in.
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  12. RayS

    RayS A Little Bit Older and a Little Bit Slower

    Out of My Element
    The long weekend gave me a chance to finally start the book. I’m about a quarter of the way and I’m enjoying it. Inspired me to make another run through “The Cutting Edge” in parallel.
  13. Dylancat

    Dylancat Forum Resident

    Cincinnati, OH
    This is 53 yrs old.
    And it sounds like it wasn’t the most “sober” of conditions.
  14. RayS

    RayS A Little Bit Older and a Little Bit Slower

    Out of My Element
    I simply explained why I personally am turned-off by this particular audio artifact. Not sure why that rates a “Jeez” or a lesson in chronology, but I accept your condemnation. ;)
  15. Percy Song

    Percy Song Tom's Tambourine Man

    Keep an ear out for Al Kooper playing a little bit of "And Then He Kissed Me" during one take. I'm pretty sure it's somewhere in the "Blonde on Blonde" Nashville sessions. I lost my handwritten notes from last year and have yet to re-discover the moment.
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  16. Percy Song

    Percy Song Tom's Tambourine Man

    The decision to make "One Of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later)" the next single must have been taken very rapidly. I mean, Bob starts out recording what appears to be not much more than a sketch of a song during an album session on the afternoon/evening of 25 January. Indeed, on the actual handwritten studio log, one of several tantalising images of studio logs presented in the "Cutting Edge" essays by @Roger Ford , it is identified as "Song Unknown". It seems to be in the can just around midnight (although the "Job Sheet" indicates that the studio was booked until 2 a.m.) at which point, presumably, an acetate is cut which Bob takes to the WBAI studio. Right at the end of the radio broadcast, just a few hours after completing the recording of the song, Bob says this to Bob Fass:-

    BD: It’s a single. We’re into making an album, you know, and this one’s the only thing we
    came out with in, like, three days. So... so, like, gonna have to forget about the album
    for right now. It’s, it’s, it’s, uh... it’s very good, the single. It’s better than the last two,
    you know, and... and it’s just as good as Like A Rolling Stone. And... in a lot of ways it’s
    better, yeah?

    And he even seems to have figured out what the B-side will be....

    BD: On the flipside is some song from the last album. Probably Queen Jane Approximately.
    That’ll probably be on the flipside, but... that’s... I always do that, you know. I was
    gonna put Positively 4th Street on the other side, but, uh... I didn’t figure anybody could
    understand it so... What can you do?

    Could this be the acetate that Bob took to the WBAI studios for Bob Fass to listen to? Probably not - he would've been mad to have left an unreleased song on the table. Mind you, it is said by people who would know these things that Bob Fass had had access to a number of unreleased Dylan songs in the early '60s and played them over the airwaves apparently with impunity. I believe he was the first to play the then-unreleased "Percy's Song", for example:-


    In any case, the new single doesn't remain anonymous for long and has acquired its full title by the time the AJS is compiled on 31 January:-


  17. Dylancat

    Dylancat Forum Resident

    Cincinnati, OH
    Also on that Fosse radio show I’m guessing that the Hopkins song Dylan had trouble with the name and wanted to hear was “Automobile Blues”
    It’s sorta precursor and inspiration to
    “leopard skin pill box”
  18. Percy Song

    Percy Song Tom's Tambourine Man

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  19. HominyRhodes

    HominyRhodes Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Here's a fascinating interview with Mac Gayden, conducted in the control room of Columbia Studio 'A' (I really wish they would've panned the camera out into the actual studio once or twice). They talk about Dylan's Blonde on Blonde sessions, Charlie McCoy & The Escorts, and go deep into the evolution of the all-time classic song "Everlasting Love" (written by Mac and Buzz Casen). They also cover a lot of the other Nashville sessions and solo projects that Mac was involved in, and his book. He even plays a few licks on his gold-plated(?) Telecaster. What a cool, mellow guy he is.

    Mac Gayden -The Producer's Room Episode #2

    (FYI: from around 18:00 to 31:00, it cuts away to a music 'tutorial' section featuring the host, Dave Tough, and then the interview resumes.)
  20. Dok

    Dok Forum Resident

    That's Mr. Buzz Cason to you HR! :winkgrin:

    Buzz Cason

    I saw Buzz and Mac play together at one of Wayne Moss's Piccadilly Cafeteria gatherings several years ago.

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  21. Percy Song

    Percy Song Tom's Tambourine Man

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  22. RayS

    RayS A Little Bit Older and a Little Bit Slower

    Out of My Element
    I finished the book a few days ago and I'd recommend it to any Dylan fan, particularly if you own "The Cutting Edge", as Daryl's text puts names to voices in a way that really adds to one's understanding (and enjoyment) of the sessions.
  23. Percy Song

    Percy Song Tom's Tambourine Man

    While I remember, here is a link to a Youtube clip titled "Meet Jerry Schatzberg" which, for a couple of minutes, explores his photo sessions with Bob. I don't think it's been posted on this thread before. If it has, don't blame me, just pity me for having such an appalling memory, OK? The final minute is of particular relevance to this thread.

    I've got to say, I'm struggling to resist the temptation to buy Jerry's book. It looks sumptuous.
  24. Percy Song

    Percy Song Tom's Tambourine Man

    pp 66-70

    Bob returns to Studio A on 27 January with Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, Bobby Gregg and Al Kooper. Having successfully recorded "One Of Us Must Know" a couple of days earlier with a significant contribution from Paul Griffin, one might have expected the keyboard maestro to be in attendance for this session. Perhaps he was otherwise engaged.

    It seems over the course of the 12 hours of studio time that was booked - 2:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. - (cf. Krogsgaard) they don't get much done. On "The Cutting Edge Collector's Edition", marketed as "every recorded note", the taped output from this session amounts to a little over 11 minutes. Maybe it was being treated as a rehearsal session and Bob Johnston was instructed not to roll tape. Perhaps, without Griffin, Bob knew he didn't have the necessary components to record definitive versions of the songs he planned to work on. Maybe they came in late. Maybe they knocked off early due to the deteriorating weather, the famous blizzard of January 1966 having blown in during the day.

    If my memory serves me well, Robbie recalls playing "Tell Me, Momma" (or, as I prefer it, "Tell Me, Mama") in the studio around this time. Although it was a song that would feature in the live set when the tour resumed in early February we have no evidence of any studio performance. I just wonder whether there are tapes missing from this date. As it stands, all we have is the single TID sheet which does appear to document all there is from 27 January, and which supports the 11 minutes of audio on Big Blue. Unfortunately, there are no timings on the sheet to enable us to know when the performances were being recorded.

    I'd say we should probably trust the sequencing on Big Blue and assume that the fragment that is "Lunatic Princess" was the first take committed to tape. Somewhere there may be paperwork or a section of tape which identifies the song title - it is described as "unknown" on the TID sheet. The bootleggers, who got hold of this fragment donkey's years ago, named it "Lunatic Princess Revisited"; it could be that the compilers of Big Blue just went along for the ride regarding the title. I'd say the CO number for the fragment has been added at a later date - it does not seem to be the same hand that has written "unknown" for the title or the CO number for "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat". To my ears it doesn't start at the beginning but we do hear it fizzle out to nothing.


    "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat" is given another workout under a new CO number but it doesn't go anywhere special. The TID sheet and the verbal exchanges between the two Bobs indicate that there were three inserts recorded, but unfortunately only one is represented on Big Blue.

    An old, old, old song, "I'll Keep It With Mine", allegedly written for Nico, and recorded by more people than I can remember, brings the session to a close. The TID sheet indicates there were three takes, although the lower case "b" also denotes a short false start. The whole thing is listed on Big Blue as a rehearsal, apparently with an unknown date. Obviously, the song title has been identified and added to the TID sheet (dated 1/27/66) at a later date so this "unknown date" in the Cutting Edge book is just a clerical error. (@Roger Ford includes a tantalising partial image of the sheet before the corrections have been made in Part 4 of his Cutting Edge essays, here .)

    The muddy solo piano recording on the Witmark Demo in 1964 does the song no favours, but the performance during the "Bringing It All Back Home" session in January 1965 (Disc 1, Track 3 on Big Blue), where Bob named it "Bank Account Blues" is pretty special, I'd say. This attempt at a band version of "I'll Keep It With Mine" a year later is clearly just a try out. Al Kooper helps it along with some catchy organ hooks but it ends up as a somewhat lacklustre effort on Bob's part.


    It isn't the end of the road for this song... but it is the end for the New York sessions. Clinton says there is paperwork indicating that there was another session on 31 January, but this was probably a mixing session for the forthcoming single. Krogsgaard suggests that two sessions, 31 January and 04 February, were slated but cancelled.

    Frankly, things aren't working out too well for the man who likes to work quickly, but it's not all doom and gloom. He has a great new-ish song pretty much nailed down in his live shows ("Visions of Johanna"), another great song in his head ("She's Your Lover Now"), "One Of Us Must Know" in the can, and one or two probables for the new LP ("Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat", "Tell Me, Mama"[?]).

    Time to hit the road for some live shows and move on to Nashville to see if Bob Johnston is right about those Nashville Cats...

    Meantime, Nico demonstrates the marketing slogan, "Nobody Sings Dylan Like Dylan"

  25. RayS

    RayS A Little Bit Older and a Little Bit Slower

    Out of My Element
    Nico Version > Judy Collins Version (by a sizable margin, in my little corner of the world anyway)

    Was Dylan really going to properly record this song in 1966? Was he really going to sing it over a not-very-Blonde-on-Blonde-sounding backing track? My gut continues to emphatically say "No and no". I'm getting ahead of the sessions you're writing about, but it does make a little bit of sense to me that "Keep It With Mine" was recorded in Nashville perhaps just to give the paid musicians something to do other than play ping pong while Bob was in composing seclusion. I could also see Johnston, fairly new to working with the man, presenting the finished product only to have Dylan shrug his shoulders and move on to other business.
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