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