Unlike many of the songs that were inexplicably left off of Dylan’s albums over the years, scrapping this one was a good choice. It’s certainly not bad, but neither does it rise to the high level of everything else on Freewheelin’.
‘Mississippi’ is one of Bob Dylan’s greatest achievements, and thanks to the wonder of his Bootleg Series, fans now have no fewer than four versions from which to choose (not counting Sheryl Crow’s cover).
I haven’t checked the numbers, but it seems like tracks from Dylan’s Bootleg Series have turned up here on a pretty regular basis. Granted, he has released nine volumes of those bootlegs — all double-CD sets — so those songs make up a healthy percentage of my music collection. Around 3 percent, to be exact.
But 3-in-100 odds aren’t exactly the sort you’d bet heavily on in Vegas. Mathematically, these songs are over-performing.
And there was Bob again, 36 years earlier, performing a song that didn’t make it onto any of his 35 studio albums.
According to the Bootleg Series liner notes, Dylan performed ‘Seven Days’ only five times, during his celebrated Rolling Thunder tour. One of those is captured here in stirring fashion.
The album, like the film, traces Dylan’s development as an artist from his earliest days through his electric phase, culminating with the famous “Royal Albert Hall” concert where an angry fan yelled out “Judas!”
Before the Dylan-philes jump down my throat about the incorrect lyrics I’ve included below, understand that I have just included the “official” lyrics to this song posted on Dylan’s own website. He obviously changed them quite a bit when recording the track, but I like to offer both in order to explore the contrast.
I’ve read comments from Dylan fans along the lines of “If I had access to a time machine, the ‘Royal Albert Hall’ concert is the moment in history I’d revisit.” As for me, I’d probably opt for sometime during the Roman Empire, but I can appreciate the sentiment. Certainly it would have been something to watch this concert live, both for the music and the history.
Yesterday I featured the performance that closed Todd Haynes’ I’m Not There and today I’m moving to the song that closes Martin Scorsese’s fabulous Dylan documentary No Direction Home. (If you haven’t seen that film, do so immediately.)