Continuing the chronological presentation of my 25 favorite songs…
‘Tangled Up in Blue (Demo)‘ – Bob Dylan (1974)
This song is one of two selections on my list of 25 that refers to a specific version different from the official release. To be fair, Bob Dylan’s ‘Tangled Up in Blue’ would certainly make this list in its initial full-band Blood on the Tracks incarnation as well.
Today’s track is the fourth Random Weekend selection from Bob Dylan’s Whitmark demos, a collection of songs recorded in the early 60s to shop around to other performers.
This one is well-timed, coming on the heels of the news that Dylan has sold the songwriting rights of his entire catalog to the Universal Music Publishing Group for a sum reportedly north of $300 million. It is likely the largest deal of its kind ever made.
In terms of longevity and output, Bob Dylan is the standout among this week’s group of old men. The 79-year-old released his 39th studio album earlier this year, as he nears his 60th year of recording.
Rough and Rowdy Ways is Dylan’s first album of original material since 2012’s Tempest. He spent the time in-between releasing three albums of standards (including the three-disc Triplicate), but clearly playing Frank Sinatra was not going to be Dylan’s final creative act.
‘The Wicked MEssenger’ is a track from Bob Dylan’s 1967 album John Wesley Harding, the first record he released after his mysterious motorcycle accident a year earlier.
Dylas has said the accident gave him an excuse to “get out of the rat race” after a two-year span that saw the release of three classic, era-defining releases (Bringing it All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde On Blonde). John Wesley Harding was a far quieter, less mind-bending album than that trio.
Between 1962 and 1964, Bob Dylan recorded a few dozen tracks for the publisher M. Witmark & Sons, with a plan to shop those songs to other artists.
Those songs, along with eight tracks he recorded for Leeds Music, were released in 2010 as the ninth volume of Dylan’s Bootleg Series. The collection features some of the earliest versions of beloved classics along with lesser-known and previously unheard tracks.