Stolen Moments (Hollow Horn ‘Encore’)
Town Hall, New York City, NY – April 12th, 1963
Disc 1: Audience noise, Down Thru The World, Bob Dylan’s Dream, Talkin’ New York, Ballad Of Hollis Brown, Walls Of Red Wing, All Over You, Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues, Boots Of Spanish Leather, Hero Blues, Blowin’ In The Wind, John Brown, Tomorrow Is A Long Time, A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
Disc 2: Dusty Old Fairgrounds, Who Killed Davy Moore?, Seven Curses, Highway 51, Pretty Peggy-O, Bob Dylan’s New Orleans Rag, Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right, Hiding Too Long, With God On Our Side, Masters Of War, Last Thoughts On Woody Guthrie
Bob Dylan’s Town Hall concert on April 12th, 1963 is a landmark performance because it is the one of his first high profile gigs. With only one, poor selling album out and six weeks before the release of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, the nine-hundred seat venue was only about two-thirds full. Columbia recorded the show planning on releasing it as a live album for the Christmas season, it went as far as an acetate before it was scrapped.
Various reasons are offered why it was not released including the inclusion of the long poem “Last Thoughts On Woody Guthrie” or the record label having concerns about “Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues.” That acetate is the source for previous releases which include While the Establishment Burns (1848 A/B 70-297/8 M ) and Looking Back (LB 1-4), which attributed this tape to a Berkeley date. Both of these titles include “Ramblin’ Down Through The World,” “Bob Dylan’s Dream,” “Tomorrow Is A Long Time,” “New Orleans Rag,” “The Walls Of Red Wing,” “Hero Blues,” and “Who Killed Davey Moore?”
The acetate is among the very earliest Dylan CD releases with the first one in 1988 as Talking Too Much (World Production WPOCM 0888 D 003-2) which includes “Last Thoughts On Woody Guthrie,” “Dusty Old Fairgrounds,” “John Brown,” and “Bob Dylan’s New Orleans Rag” edited with material from the October 26th, 1963 Carnegie Hall concert. Almost a decade later In Concert came out on both Wild Wolf (6401) and Colosseum (97-C-029) and in 1994 Banjo Tape & NYC Town Hall (Yellow Dog YD 058) was released. Columbia officially released several songs from this show over the past forty years. “Tomorrow Is A Long Time” is found on Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 (Columbia KG-3112) released in 1971 and on Masterpieces (CBS/Sony 57 AP875-7) in March 1978 in Japan, and later 1978 in Australia and New Zealand. “Last Thoughts On Woody Guthrie” is included in The Bootleg Series (Rare & Unreleased) 1961-1991, Volume 1 (Columbia 468 086 2) released in 1991 but with spoken introduction edited out. And finally “Blowin’ In The Wind” and “Masters Of War” are on Bootleg Series, Vol. 7: No Direction Home in 2005.
Stolen Moments is a release on the Encore offshoot of the Hollow Horn label and for the first time presents the entire concert from the master tape and not acetate. The music is complete, but there is a cut after “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” corresponding with the intermission and on disc two there are cuts after “Seven Curses,” “Peggy-O,” “New Orleans Rag,” “Hiding Too Long,” and after “With God On Our Side.” Since this is the final mix of the tape it is perfectly balanced and clear and the sound quality is as good as any official release, and indeed surfaced because it was up for consideration for the Columbia Bootleg Series. Some have questioned why this concert has never been released in its entireity officially given its historic significance. It is a good show and Dylan plays it sober, but his nervousness is apparant too and doesn’t compare to Carnegie Hall several months later.
The tape begins with forty seconds of ambient noise as Dylan hits the stage and begins with the harmonica exercise “Down Through The World,” the only time it has been performed. After “Bob Dylan’s Dream” and “Talkin’ New York” from the first album, he introduces the premier version of “Ballad Of Hollis Brown” as “a true story.” This version sounds brighter and happier than the one recorded for The Times They Are A-Changin’. “Ah, let’s see.” There is a pause as he adjusts his harp to the laugher of the audience. “Red Wing. It’s a reform school. Don’t have no high school football teams or nothing like that though. There are no cheerleaders….Bad harmonica too” and he introduces “All Over You” as “a 1930 ragtime tune that I just wrote last week.”
Before “Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues” Dylan gets into a long, rambling monologue: “That’s sort of a mad song. This one here…I never use a list. I don’t much believe in lists. But I noticed most of the guitar players do have them now. And I wanted to get the best songs on my list. I didn’t want any of these songs…” “It’s a hard rain!!” someone shouts. “Oh, I..I..let me explain about my list first. I guess I’ll tell you about my list and I swear I’ll get there. Anyway I went around and copied down all the best songs I could find on everybody else’s list. That’s why I’m in trouble because some of these songs I don’t know too well. ‘Hard Rain’ ain’t on my list.” Although this is supposed to be “controversial,” this song is really a cut up and funny as hell. But the mood becomes much more serious afterwards. “I used to be romantic. This is called ‘The Boots Of Spanish Leather.'” This is the first performance of the classic and the audience follows the twists of the verses closely. It’s a mesmerizing performance and one of the greatest tracks on this release.
The obscure “Hero Blues” follows which Dylan introduces by saying, “This is for all the boys who know girls who want them to go out and get themselves killed.” This is the first performance of the song and it wouldn’t be played again until it is used as the opening number on some of the dates on the 1974 tour with The Band “Here’s a song I wrote that’s been recorded. It doesn’t much sound like it, the way I do it. But the words are the same. That’s the important thing” he says before “Blowin’ In The Wind.” The first set ends in answer to the audience request for “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.”
The second half of the show begins with the only performance of “Dusty Old Fairgrounds,” one of many down on their luck travelogues that Dylan would write over the next forty years. “If you want to know about the abashment of boxing I would ask Miss Benny Kid Paret or Mrs. Davey Moore before I asked Cassius Clay. Just a personal tendency there” is his introduction to the first ever performance of “Who Killed Davey Moore?” “Seven Curses,” which follows, is introduced by saying, “this song here is based on an old legend.” “Peggy-O” is played by audience request. Before “New Orleans Rag” he explains, “This ones called New Orleans Rag, you’ll find out why. I’ll try to remember all the verses for you. At one time this was very long. But I don’t think it will be quite that long tonight. I’ll try to see what I can put in it though.”
“With God On Our Side” is introduced under the alternate title “With God On Your Side” and the she closes with “Masters Of War” for which Dylan says, “I believe in the ten commandments. The first one is I am the Lord thy God. It’s a great commandment if it’s not said by the wrong people. So here’s this is called ‘Masters of War.'”
For the encore Dylan reads the poem he wrote for Woody Guthrie, certainly a strange way to end an evening. “I have a poem here. This is the first concert I played alone in New York, really. An a fellow in Brooklyn State Hospital, his name is Woody Guthrie. But err Woody is more than a folk singer. He’s really something else more than a folk singer an there’s this book coming out that’s dedicated to him. And they asked me to write something about Woody. like what does Woody mean to you in 25 words. And I couldn’t do it I wrote out 5 pages and I have it here. I have it here by accident actually. But I’d like to say this out loud. So this is my feelings towards Woody Guthrie. Cannot really be told in how many records of his I buy, it’s a lot more than that actually. So if you can roll along with this thing here this is called Last Thoughts On Woody Guthrie.”
Stolen Moments is named after a poem Dylan wrote for the concert program called “My Life Is A Stolen Moment.” It is packaged in the same style cardboard sleeve as the Hollow Horn series are. There are many period photos and reviews of the show printed on the inside. The packaging is gorgeous, the sound quality is perfect, and the show is important. For all these reasons this title is worth having and is one of the most important Dylan tapes to surface so far this year.
Several months after its initial release, a two disc jewel cased no label version on Stolen Moments appeared on market. It is an identical copy of the Encore edition described above.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)