Altars are burning, the flames far and wide The foe has crossed over from the other side They tip their caps from the top of the hill You can feel them come, more brave blood to spill
– ‘Cross the Green Mountain
The Bootleg Series Vol. 8 – Tell Tale Signs: Rare and Unreleased 1989–2006 is a compilation album the official “bootleg series” of rare and unissued recordings. It was originally released as a double, and (limited edition) triple album. It was later released as a single album, consisting of disc one of the double set. The three-disc version of Tell Tale Signs includes a detailed 56 page book annotating the recordings by Larry Sloman, and a book of photos of “The Collected Single Sleeves of Bob Dylan” drawing on Dylan releases from around the world, plus a 7″ vinyl single with two tracks from the set: “Dreamin’ Of You” and “Ring Them Bells”.
The bootleg series—the commentary to the canon—did finally catch up to the latter phases of his recorded output. Again it was a revelation and a fantastic collection of alternative versions and outtakes. It is a strong confirmation of the sky-high quality of Dylan’s latter-day production.
I don’t know… It’s certainly not an album of felicity… I try to live within that line between despondency and hope. I’m suited to walk that line, right between the fire … I see [the album] right straight down the middle of the line, really.
~Bob Dylan to Robert Hilburn in 1997
“My recollection of that record is that it was a struggle. A struggle every inch of the way. Ask Daniel Lanois, who was trying to produce the songs. Ask anyone involved in it. They all would say the same. I didn’t trust the touring band I had at the time to do a good job in the studio, and so I hired these outside guys. But with me not knowing them, and them not knowing the music, things kept on taking unexpected turns. Repeatedly, I’d find myself compromising on this to get to mat. As a result, though it held together as a collection of songs, that album sounds to me a little off.
~Bob Dylan (Press conference 2001)
“Most of them [the songs on “Oh Mercy”] are stream-of-consciousness songs, the kind that come to you in the middle of the night, when you just want to go back to bed. The harder you try to do something, the more it evades you. These weren’t like that.”
~Bob Dylan (to Edna Gundersen, 21 September 1989)
While it would be unfair to compare ‘Oh Mercy’ to Dylan’s Sixties recordings, it sits well alongside his impressive body of work.
~Clinton Heylin (Behind The Shades)
August 30: Bob Dylan released Highway 61 Revisited in 1965
“I never wanted to write topical songs, have you heard my last two records, Bringing It All Back Home and Highway 61? It’s all there. That’s the real Dylan.”
~Bob Dylan (Frances Taylor Interview, Aug 1965)
[Highway 61] Oh yes, it goes from where I used to live… I used to live related to that highway. It ran right through my home town in Minnesota. I traveled it for a long period of time
actually. It goes down the middle of the country, sort of southwest…. lot of famous people came off that highway.
~Bob Dylan (John Cohen And Happy Traum Interview, June/July 1968)
Dylan’s sixth album and his first fully fledged eagle-flight into rock. Revolutionary and stunning, not just for its energy, freshness and panache but in its vision: fusing radical electric music—electric music as the embodiment of our whole out-of-control, nervouenergy-fuelled, chaotic civilization—with lyrics that were light-years ahead of anyone else’s, Dylan here unites the force of blues-based rock’n’roll with the power of poetry.
~Michael Gray (Bob Dylan Encyclopedia)
Like a Rolling Stone:
How does it feel
How does it feel
To be without a home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?
It’s in my system. I don’t really have enough time to talk about it. If someone really wants to know, I can explain it to them, but there are other people who can do it just as well. I don’t feel compelled to do it. I was doing a bit of that last year on the stage. I was saying stuff I figured people needed to know. I thought I was giving people an idea of what was behind the songs. I don’t think it’s necessary any more. When I walk around some of the towns we go to, however, I’m totally convinced people need Jesus. Look at the junkies and the winos and the troubled people. It’s all a sickness which can be healed in an instant. The powers that be won’t let that happen. The powers that be say it has to be healed politically.
~Bob Dylan (to Robert Hilburn – Nov 1980)
Musically, this is probably Dylan’s finest record, a rare coming together of inspiration, desire and talent that completely fuse strength, vision and art.
~Jann S. Wenner (rollingstone.com – Sept. 1979)
Slow Train Coming was a collection of songs Dylan had originally intended to donate to backing singer Carolyn Dennis.
~Clinton Heylin (The Recording Sessions)
Sometimes I feel so low-down and disgusted
Can’t help but wonder what’s happenin’ to my companions
Are they lost or are they found
Have they counted the cost it’ll take to bring down
All their earthly principles they’re gonna have to abandon?
There’s a slow, slow train comin’ up around the bend
~Bob Dylan (from the title cut)