Million Dollar Bash:: Bob Dylan, The Band, And The Basement Tapes

In 1967, the man referred to as spokesperson for a generation and no doubt, the leader of the predominant folk movement, dropped out, had a motorcycle accident and took the necessary steps to assimilate himself as a family man. Without any public knowledge Dylan got together with The Hawks(later to become The Band), his backing back from his 66′ European Tour, and moved forward with new musical ideas. The result would be the most prolific period in the career of Dylan, which would result in more classics such as “I Shall Be Released,” “Tears of Rage,” “Nothing Was Delivered,” “Sign on the Cross,” and much more. In “Sign on the Cross,” we see one of Dylan’s greatest songs ever, showing as much as anything that Dylan was marching down a new path while the mainstream counter culture had reached a creative drought. Driven by Dylan’s patented strong coffee, jazz cigarettes and spirits, the boys proceeded to have quite a year in upstate New York, while the public wondered and mused around the lack of details concerning Bob’s motorcycle accident and the effect it would have on his future. This period is one of music’s most prized possessions, showing Bob’s true genius on the Basement Tape Recordings, as he constantly discards material that other artists would have died to come up with. During this fabled period where the atmosphere was history, family, friends, mankind, community and home, Garth Hudson’s famous recordings come across at least half the time as a bunch of guys just having fun; Robbie Robertson makes mention several times throughout Million Dollar Bash, that he never thought anyone would ever hear these recordings. The Basement Tape Sessions changed the state of recording, while Bob Dylan changed songwriting. Million Dollar Bash doesn’t center around clearing up the mysteries of the accident and such, but certainly is an enticing read and valuable asset for any Dylan fan. Having said that, I took a while with this book, going through each song and its entry, while listening to the track from the original sessions. Having said that, the best way to enjoy this book is to go and find a good version of The Basement Tapes and dive in yourself.

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