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Possibly Earliest Recording of Dylan's The Times They Are A-Changin' surfaces

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Gniksam, Feb 11, 2021.

  1. Gniksam

    Gniksam Forum Resident Thread Starter

    San Francisco
  2. mpayan

    mpayan Forum Resident

    So whats the story on this?
    Saint Johnny likes this.
  3. Gniksam

    Gniksam Forum Resident Thread Starter

    San Francisco
    This is what is posted with it:

    "There are seven things to know about this tape:

    1- You have probably never heard it, or heard of it

    2- It was recorded in the fall of 1963 and may well be the first recording of this song

    3- It was tape-recorded by a close friend of Bob’s “very, very late at night when Bobby was in the mood to do the songs”

    4- It has been hiding in plain sight for way too long

    5- There is another song on the tape, which I can post if there is enough interest

    6- I think there will be enough interest

    7- The Times They Are A-Changin’


    Thank you, Bob, for sharing with us your colossal musical gifts and capacity for truth-telling."

    SKATTERBRANE Forum Resident

    Tucson, AZ
    "If there is enough interest" how coy of you.
  5. Gniksam

    Gniksam Forum Resident Thread Starter

    San Francisco
    The cat’s in the well, and the horse is going bumpety bump
  6. mestreech

    mestreech Forum Resident

    Great listen bring on the other song please.
    Gniksam likes this.
  7. Gniksam

    Gniksam Forum Resident Thread Starter

    San Francisco
    It must be brand new because he still hasn't memorized the words.
    Saint Johnny likes this.
  8. Gniksam

    Gniksam Forum Resident Thread Starter

    San Francisco
    The other track from the the Bob Dylan Very Very Late at Night in 1963 tape has been posted

    "This one is even more interesting

    Bob is in a great mood

    I love the moment when he says, 'I scare myself'

    Is that Suze Rotolo?


    When the Ship Comes In 1963
  9. asdf35

    asdf35 Forum Resident

    Austin TX
    Very interesting.....!

    Where has the tape been "hiding in plain sight?" In a library archive, or in someones personal collection? I guess a lot of things are hiding in plain sight of someone...!
  10. Gniksam

    Gniksam Forum Resident Thread Starter

    San Francisco
    asdf35 likes this.
  11. Percy Song

    Percy Song Tom's Tambourine Man

    Broadside Collection, 1962-1991

    Collection Number: 20289

    Collection Title: Broadside Collection, 1962-1991

    Agnes (Sis) Cunningham, musician and magazine publisher of New York, N.Y., founded Broadside, a magazine devoted to topical songs, with her husband, Gordon Friesen, in the early 1960s. They recorded and published many of the leading folksingers of the folk revival. The collection contains materials from the Broadside offices. Sound recordings include open reel tapes and audio cassettes, many of which were used to transcribe topical folk songs for publication in Broadside. Additional recordings include demo tapes, live concert performances, and interviews, which were sent to the Broadside offices by friends, folk singers, and subscribers. The work of numerous performers is included (many of the most significant are listed in the online catalog terms below). Documentation materials include a log of the Broadside tapes, correspondence, and tape notes. The Broadside tape log is a list of the tapes in their original order. Correspondence and tape notes consist of materials included in the original tape boxes. Correspondence includes personal letters to Cunningham and Friesen from friends and contributors. Tape notes contain track listings of songs, dates of performances, and names of performers.

    SFC Audio Open Reel FT-20289/9520
    Bob Dylan. Unidentified artist. Dubs.

    Side 1.1. Audio letter to Pete Seeger. Unidentified speaker.

    Side 1.2. "The Times they are a Changin'," Bob Dylan. Dub.

    Side 1.3. "When the Ship comes In," Bob Dylan. Dub.

    A copy (dub) of the tape is in the Sis Cunningham Collection but it doesn't mean that she recorded it, even though I'm on record elsewhere suggesting she did.

    However, it is most likely, if not certain, that this performance of "The Times They Are A-Changin'" was used by Sis for transcription purposes when the song was published in Broadside #39 in February 1964 because the line "Don't block up the doorway, don't stand in the hall" as sung on this tape features in her transcription. The album had been released the previous month with the line the right way around.


    Clinton Heylin, in his book "A Life In Stolen Moments" indicates that Bob visited Sis Cunningham and played her these two songs around the time he recorded demos of the same two songs for Witmark (late August/early September), so you can imagine that if this was the case, Sis would have recorded them. But it's perhaps more likely that Heylin saw the tape listed in the library collection and made the assumption that they were recordings by Sis Cunningham, much as I did yesterday. The uploader of the two songs asserts that they were not recorded by Sis Cunningham.

    Skimming quickly through Suze Rotolo's autobiography I haven't found reference to the recordings, but she skips about a bit in the narrative so there may be something there that gives us a clue.

    Perhaps a clue on the recording itself is Bob's exclamation, "I scare myself!" Was there someone in 1963 who had declared Bob's genius as something that scared him, or her? It's kind of familiar but I can't put my finger on it.
  12. Percy Song

    Percy Song Tom's Tambourine Man

    Last edited: Feb 14, 2021
  13. Percy Song

    Percy Song Tom's Tambourine Man

  14. President_dudley

    President_dudley Forum Resident


    Thanks, esp. to BobG1960; here's wishing him good health.
    asdf35, longdist01 and Gniksam like this.
  15. NumberEight

    NumberEight Came too late and stayed too long

    Curiously, these same two songs are those released on The Bootleg Series Vols. 1-3 in Witmark piano versions.
    asdf35 likes this.
  16. Percy Song

    Percy Song Tom's Tambourine Man

    I've done a bit more rummaging around since Sunday when it became obvious that this tape was not a two-song tape specifically made by Sis Cunningham for a Broadside transcription even though she did use the tape to transcribe "The Times They Are A-Changin'" for Broadside #39, shown above.

    This is mostly guesswork, by the way, and my hat is definitely not on the table....

    I think we can be reasonably confident in dating this audio intro from Theo Bikel to Pete Seeger to, perhaps, mid-October 1963. Pete Seeger went on tour to Australia in September, the same month that Dave Glover says he saw a (working?) manuscript of "The Times They Are A-Changin'". Theo is in L.A., Dylan is "back east now". The performances Theo is introducing would have been performed a little earlier than his spoken message but implicitly on the West Coast.

    Knowing now that this is not a tape for Broadside, I'd also posit that these were not the only two songs that "Bobby" performed "..very, very late at night.." In fact, having already recorded a few songs for the new album, wouldn't he, at an informal gathering of kindred souls and when the wine is flowing very late at night, feel the urge to play some of them, along, perhaps, with ones he had not yet recorded? So my thinking on Sunday was that these two songs, which Theo thought would be of special interest to Pete on his world tour, were dubbed from a longer tape he made containing a number of other songs.

    When Theo says that he was unfamiliar with the machine it suggests to me that the tape was made at the house of another person who owned a tape recorder. Who might that person be? Could it be a Los Angeles concert promoter?

    This snippet by the diligent researcher formerly known as The Wicked Messenger, published in Isis #86 in June 1999 and found in a dusty old box in Percy's loft on Monday, possibly holds a clue:-


    Well, we know now that Joan's concert was actually on 12 October, but otherwise doesn't this pretty much fit with clues we have on the Bikel tape?

    I don't think the date for the recordings can necessarily be pinned down to 12 October after the show, but it seems more than plausible that Ben Shapiro would invite attendees of and participants in, Joan's show (Bikel, the Farinas, Joan, Bob, maybe others) back to his place for nibbles and wine and a hoot. And he, of all people, would have a tape recorder.

    It has been said that Dylan and the others went to Henry Miller's house after the show and played ping pong for a while. Even if this was the case, we know there was not a meeting of minds and so the troupe may well have split early (by folksinger standards) and gone back to Ben's "...very, very late at night.."

    Obviously, these events don't have to be all linked so tightly like this because Bob was out west for a while, but until further evidence emerges I'm sticking with my (perhaps ropey) theory that the two songs on the Bikel tape were recorded at Ben Shapiro's house on the night of 12/13 October, 1963.

    Now all we need to do is uncover the original tape that also holds the other (potentially) six songs he sang that night.

    Oh, yes, I still can't say for sure who the lady is on the tape. I don't think Suze was with Bob when he was out west (confirmation required). I can't help feeling that if it is Joan she would be trying to join in as she did at The March on Washington. Could it be Mimi?
  17. BornBeforeTheWind

    BornBeforeTheWind Forum Resident

    For what it's worth, I believe Joan Baez mentions in the Scorsese documentary that Bob wrote When The Ship Comes In at her place in California. He wrote it in response to being initially denied a hotel room, which Baez (the bigger star at the time) intervened to correct.
    asdf35 likes this.
  18. Percy Song

    Percy Song Tom's Tambourine Man

    "We were driving around the East Coast [in August 63] .... and I had a concert to give. I said, Run in the see if this is the right place... he came out and said, There's no reservation here... I went in and they said, Hello Miss Baez, we've been waiting for you.... I said, I want an extra room.... give this gentleman a room... They said, Oh, certainly, but they wouldn't talk to him. He had said [to them], Does Joan Baez have a room here? and they had said, No.... So then he went to his room and wrote "When The Ship Comes In". It took him exactly one evening to write it... I couldn't believe it, to get back at those idiots so fast."

    She may tell a slightly different story in the documentary - I don't remember.

    [A good rock and roll tale, perhaps, but if I was a hotel receptionist and someone ambled into the joint and asked whether Joan Baez, or anyone else for that matter, has a reservation I would not divulge that information and I'd be hacked off if someone later claimed that I was an idiot.]
  19. the real pope ondine

    the real pope ondine Forum Resident

    just when you think they've unearthed everything there's more, very cool!
    longdist01 likes this.
  20. to the grave

    to the grave Well-Known Member

    I've been wondering about which of the two "wonderful" songs on the tape Bikel thinks that Pete might want to perform. (Or maybe when he says "at least one of them," he isn't thinking of a particular song.)

    Did Seeger's world tour start prior to the Australia shows? For our purposes, I just want to confirm that he was out of the country when the March on Washington occurred, meaning that he could not have heard Dylan perform "When the Ship Comes In" at the event.

    If I am right that Bikel was at the March on Washington, while Seeger had already started his world tour, I assume that Bikel heard Dylan perform "When the Ship Comes In" at the March. And if so, by the time he sent the audio letter to Seeger (perhaps the third week of October), I'm wondering if Bikel would have likely thought that Seeger would have already seen/received audio or video of Dylan's performance at the March. Maybe that performance did not circulate so quickly, but I have just been curious about whether or not Seeger could have already heard the song, perhaps suggesting that Bikel was primarily thinking of the new "Times...." as the one song that Seeger might want to perform.

    But yes, I'm very much looking forward to discovering whether or not the possible original recording is physically or digitally present at Tulsa; I suppose that research into this tape (the likely earliest recording of an incredibly important song) could qualify as an appropriate project that could get access to the archive....road trip to Tulsa, Percy?
    longdist01 likes this.
  21. Percy Song

    Percy Song Tom's Tambourine Man

    My guess is that Theo wanted Pete to pay particular attention to "The Times They Are A-Changin'" because of its more overt political content, but that's just a guess. It does seem from Theo's intro that he believes Pete hasn't heard either of the two songs though, and I think the following paragraph supports my theory.

    In June, Pete Seeger announced his World Tour would start on August 19th. Here is the folk music page from Billboard (22 June) which also, rather neatly, encompasses an announcement for the Newport Folk Festival as well as a piece on Bob!


    The last appearance of his on home soil that I can find is on August 17th at Searsville Lake Park, Woodside. This is confirmed as a "bon voyage" appearance in a snippet on Page 20 of Billboard (dated 21 September 1963). So, sure enough, Pete headed out of the US on August 19th as planned.


    It seems his first port of call, with family in tow, of course, because the tour would last until June 1964, was American Samoa. This from the book accompanying the 6 CD set, "Pete Seeger: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection"

    "They traveled to Samoa, Australia, Indonesia, and Hong Kong before ending up in Japan, the home country of Toshi’s father. Pete entertained along the way to help cover costs. Next was India, then Kenya, Tanganyika, Nigeria, Ghana, Israel, Italy, France, Austria, Ireland, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Poland, Russia, England, and The Netherlands. When in Africa, Pete took the time to make recordings of singers he found in South Africa, Tanzania, and Nigeria and their “freedom songs.”"

    His first concert in Australia seems to have been on September 3rd. This, from the book "The 1960s in Australia: People, Power and Politics"


    So, Pete Seeger was definitely out of the country for The March On Washington.

    Theo appeared at the Philadelphia Folk Festival in early September.


    Anyway, it seems quite clear that in his audio letter Theo is addressing Pete while the family are on their World Tour, so October is certainly not out of the question for these performances. Theo says he is going to Hawaii "next weekend". The date of that weekend, I think, is the next piece of the jigsaw to try to find.
    Gniksam and NumberEight like this.
  22. Percy Song

    Percy Song Tom's Tambourine Man

    Incidentally, the "Alice" whom Theo refers to in his audio letter is his long-time secretary, Alice Conklin. She is mentioned in a Folklore Center Newsletter that accompanied the flyer for Bob's Carnegie Chapter Hall concert in November 1961.

  23. kt66brooklyn

    kt66brooklyn Forum Resident

    brooklyn, ny
    My aunt still has her copy of Broadside #39, autographed by Bob Dylan.
  24. twm

    twm Well-Known Member

    Pete Seeger sang "Who Killed Davey Moore?" on that tour. Craig McGregor's review of Seeger's first concert in Sydney called it "the outstanding song of the night".
  25. Percy Song

    Percy Song Tom's Tambourine Man

    kt66brooklyn and Maranatha5585 like this.

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