Johanna's Visions

a music site

Today: Bob Dylan second MTV unplugged taping session – 18 November 1994

I wasn’t quite sure how to do it and what material to use. I would have liked to do old folk songs with acoustic instruments, but there was a lot of input from other sources as to what would be right for the MTV audience. The record company said, “You can’t do that, it’s too obscure.” At one time, I would have argued, but there’s no point. OK, so what’s not obscure? They said Knockin’ on Heaven ‘s Door.
~Bob Dylan (to Edna Gundersen May 1995)

Knocking on Heaven’s Door:

The dreariest, most contemptible, phony, tawdry piece of product ever issued by a great artist, which manages to omit the TV concert’s one fresh and fine performance, ‘I Want You’, but is otherwise an accurate record of the awfulness of the concert itself, in which the performer who had been so numinously ‘unplugged’ in the first place ducked the opportunity to use television to perform, solo, some of the ballad and country-blues material from his most recent studio albums, Good as I Been to You and World Gone Wrong. That could have been magical. Instead—instead of seizing this moment and really stepping into the arena—we got the usual greatest hits, wretchedly performed in a phoney construct of a ‘live’ concert. This is what happens when Bob Dylan capitulates and lets overpaid coke-head executives, lawyers and PRseholes from the Entertainment Industry tell him what to do.
~Michael Gray (BD Encyclopedia)



Sony Music Studios
New York City, New York
18 November 1994
Second MTV Unplugged taping session.

  1. Absolutely Sweet Marie
  2. Shooting Star
  3. All Along The Watchtower
  4. My Back Pages
  5. Rainy Day Women #12 & 35
  6. John Brown
  7. The Times They Are A-Changin’
  8. Dignity
  9. Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door
  10. Like A Rolling Stone
  11. Like A Rolling Stone
  12. Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You
  13. Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You
  14. Desolation Row
  15. I Want You

I was hearing a lot about how Eric Clapton did Layla acoustically for Unplugged. That influenced me to do the same for Like a Rolling Stone, but it would never get played that way normally.
~Bob Dylan (to Edna Gundersen May 1995)

(real bad version of) Like A Rolling Stone:


  • Bob Dylan (vocal & guitar)
  • Bucky Baxter (pedal steel guitar & electric slide guitar)
  • John Jackson (guitar)
  • Brendan O’Brien (keyboards)
  • Tony Garnier (bass)
  • Winston Watson (drums & percussion).

All Along The Watchtower:

John Brown:

Shooting Star:

Album of the day:

Other November 18

  • Hank Ballard (November 18, 1927 – March 2, 2003), born John Henry Kendricks, was a rhythm and blues singer and songwriter, the lead vocalist of Hank Ballard and The Midnighters and one of the first proto-rock ‘n’ roll artists to emerge in the early 1950s. He played an integral part in the development of rock music, releasing the hit singles “Work With Me, Annie” and answer songs “Annie Had a Baby” and “Annie’s Aunt Fannie” with his Midnighters. He later wrote and recorded “The Twist” and invented the dance, which was notably covered by Chubby Checker. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.
  • Douglas Wayne Sahm (November 6, 1941 – November 18, 1999), was an American musician from Texas. Born in San Antonio, Texas, he was a child prodigy in country music but became a significant figure in blues rock and other genres.[1] Today, Sahm is considered one of the most important figures in what is identified as Tejano music. He was the founder and leader of the 1960s rock and roll band, the Sir Douglas Quintet. He would later co-found the Texas Tornados with Augie Meyers, Freddy Fender, and Flaco Jimenez as well as Los Super Seven.
  • Junior Parker (May 27, 1932 – November 18, 1971) was an American Memphis blues singer and musician. He is best remembered for his unique voice which has been described as “honeyed,” and “velvet-smooth”. He was posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2001.
  • Kirk Lee Hammett (born November 18, 1962) is the lead guitarist and a songwriter in the heavy metal band Metallica and has been a member of the band since 1983. Before joining Metallica he formed and named the band Exodus. In 2003, Hammett was ranked 11th on Rolling Stone’s list of The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. In 2009, Hammett was ranked number 15 in Joel McIver’s book The 100 Greatest Metal Guitarists.


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  1. Love your site but could not disagree more about the Dylan Unplugged concert…I like the whole thing, especially Like a Rolling Stone…I guess beauty really is in the eye (and ears) of the beholder….Keep on keeping’ on…


    • Hi Steve,

      I think the album is ok.. but the version of “Like A Rolling Stone” is bad..
      Great to hear from someone with a different opinion…


  2. I disagree with Gray. This was a good gig. The complete Unplugged sessions has some great stuff on it. My Back Pages, I Want You, Hazel!! And… for once he really sings the shit out of With God On Our Side. Good singing throughout.

    Bob Dylan snobs. Generally they don’t even like Bob Dylan sadly.

    • Hi Trev.. and thanks for sharing your thoughts on this!

      I agree it was a good/ok, but not great gig. It contains some good & some bad songs.
      My favs… With God On Our Side, Dignity, Shooting Star & John Brown


  3. Hi Egil,

    In terms of the official release I am in total agreement with you.

    The full two concerts however have some lovely moments. Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You and Absolutely Sweet Marie amongst the few I’ve mentioned already. I think had Sony compiled a different tracklist we would have a much stronger record.

    Weirdly, this very record is what got me into Dylan in the first place, maybe that’s my weak spot, but it was the way he used his voice on this particular release which struck me. Specifically Desolation Row and With God On Our Side. I had never heard anyone sing/sound like that before and when comparing it to his earlier albums it was totally different style of singing. Here depending on the song he either sings nasal or uses his head/throat and chest to avoid the nasal gnarl of his voice and it was great. That was something new in 1994, a definite change in his voice. He is still making the odd vocal breakthrough now, even with a voice as broken as his clearly is. The 2002 falsetto singing showed how pure his voice could be.

    Fascinating bloke Mr Dylan. :-)

  4. With God On Our Side, John Brown, and Knockin’ are powerful versions. The arrangement for Desolation is killer and Bob is doing some fine guitar work on some of these songs. Maybe my favorite (semi) released though is that lovely Love Minus Zero/No Limit. Sure, the Supper Club shows should have been the acoustic album/video release of this era, but this one has some great moments.

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  7. I agree with many of the comments I think unplugged was a bit of a comeback.
    I had grown disillusioned with his live shows at the time hearing the bootlegs etc (saw him at hammersmith in 1991 with his failing vocals and a druken/stoned performance that was truly sad to see) here he is far more controlled and focused using his voice far better on the majority of the songs. In my opinion, his voice at the unplugged sessions is stronger fuller, less nasal, more appealing in my opinion then the much lauded Supper club shows in 1993 .
    After hearing so many naff versions of Rolling stone through the 1988-1993 period, It was nice to see dylan really going for those notes at the end of the verses and singing with real power & passion in the chorus .It was a shame that the official release did not contain many other fine performances from the sessions like I WANT YOU ,MY BACK PAGES, DONT THINK TWICE, TONIGHT ILL BE STAYING…etc . which would have greatly benefitted the official release.