Volume 7 of Bob Dylan’s Bootleg Series is a companion soundtrack to Martin Scorsese’s documentary No Direction Home: Bob Dylan and, as such, has less to offer than the previous volumes I’ve covered on the blog.
The songs here are mostly unreleased versions of old classics (either live, demo or alternate takes). But despite its not being a treasure trove of new material, this 2-disc set does offer some illumination into Dylan’s early work.
One memorable clip in No Direction Home shows a 22-year-old Dylan performing ‘Man of Constant Sorrow’ during his first TV appearance, in 1963, on a show called Folk Songs and More Folk Songs. Dylan had released this song (in this arrangement) on his debut album a year earlier.
This is quite a different version than fans of the Coen Brothers’ O Brother Where Art Thou? are used to (hear that one here). Both versions seem to have been around for quite some time, and the song itself is at least a hundred years old and by most accounts a lot older than that.
I’ve seen trouble all my days
I’ll say goodbye to Colorado
Where I was born and partly raised
Through this open world I’m a-bound to ramble
Through ice and snow, sleet and rain
I’m a-bound to ride that mornin’ railroad
Perhaps I’ll die upon that train
Your mother says that I’m a stranger
A face you’ll never see no more
But here’s one promise to ya
I’ll see you on God’s golden shore
I’m a-goin’ back to Colorado
The place that I’ve started from
If I’d knowed how bad you’d treat me
Babe, I never would have come
I’m partial to the version featured in O Brother, but this is perfectly nice as well.