Paris – Dylan XII Linked
Right now, there are only two stories happening, one is Paris and its aftermath and the other is Bob Dylan’s The Bootleg Series Vol XII: The Cutting Edge 1965 – 1966 (Collector’s Edition). Of the two, one is slowing down. Life goes on (unless you’re Foo Fighters, in which case you get an extended holiday) even with 120 and counting dead, to paraphrase Dylan, how long can we search for what we have not lost?
But XII will last a lifetime or longer.
There are four versions out there
Sampler (15 songs) – B+
Best Of (36 songs) – A-
Deluxe (111 songs) – A
Collector’s (379) – A+
It is s the Collector’s Edition that is otherworldly. I wrote about the limited necessity for the the Deluxe Edition: I was glad to have it, overjoyed, but it didn’t do what it said it was going to do: it didn’t show the process of making those three albums -yeah, I know you know but, Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde On Blonde, happen. It didn’t. Too many holes, it seems as though it is a magician showing you one trick but not the other. Sleight of hand, if you will. But the Collector’s Edition is the bride stripped bare.
The entire studio tapes for three albums can be bizarrely not there -“It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” has only one take???. But sometimes, and I don’t mean “Like A Rolling Stone” in twenty takes, I mean “One Of Must Know (Sooner Or Later)” in nineteen takes, you can see hear him create it. I mean hear his decisions, his sense of showbiz, his tweaking a clumsy line mid song, he stops it and adds the new line, watching the sentiments and emotion change from an apology to an indictment. Plus, on Album 11, track 17, hear Dylan check how long the song is and decide to cut the first harp solo because he wanted to bring it in under five minutes. Or this: “no no, I don’t like that bassline. It’s modal.” Or did he say “muddled”??
I keep flipping from one album to another, I never stop hearing something that stops me in my tracks. It is like… it is actually like nothing I’ve ever heard before. Bluesman Tomas Doncker sent me demos and the studio outtakes as he recorded them off his upcoming album, The Mess We Made, and it is in some way similar (they both boast major songwriting) but there are two big differences. Tomas did it in real time, and Tomas songs were new but Dylan’s songs I’ve lived with for decades. I guess it is like seeing early outlines of a Renoir painting.
Obviously, this is the best album of the year. And also obvious, it is an event and an experience and also very very old.
I don’t know how to write about it or even whether to write about it (though this is my third time round and counting).
If you can afford it, buy it.
By the way, there is another connect between Paris and Dylan: Dylan is playing Austria tonight, Italy on Wednesday… I guess Grohl forgot to send him the memo…