Unravelled Tales (Hollow Horn ‘Encore’)
Carnegie Hall, New York, NY – October 26th, 1963
Disc 1: The Times They Are A-Changin’, Ballad Of Hollis Brown, Who Killed Davey Moore?, Boots Of Spanish Leather, Talking John Birch Paranoid Blues, Lay Down Your Weary Tune, Blowin’ In The Wind, Percy’s Song, Seven Curses, Walls Of Red Wing
Disc 2: North Country Blues, A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall, Talking World War III Blues, Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right, With God On Our Side, Only A Pawn In Their Game, Masters Of War, The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll, When The Ship Comes In
Unravelled Tales is the second release on the Encore imprint by Hollow Horn and presents another excellent quality uncirculated professionally mixed live recording from Dylan’s vast archives. Just like the Town Hall tape, Carnegie Hall surfaced as a candidate for official release by Columbia but was rejected. Five songs, “Who Killed Davey Moore?”, “Lay Down Your Weary Tune,” “Percy’s Song,” “Seven Curses,” and “When The Ship Comes In” were planned to be released on Bob Dylan In Concert (Columbia CL-2302, CS-9202) along with four tracks from the April Town Hall recording. An acetate exists but Dylan rejected its release and it has been released unofficially on Talking Too Much (World Productions WPOCM 0888 D 003-2) and Bob Dylan In Concert (both Wild Wolf (6401) and Colosseum (97-C-029)).
In March 1991 The Bootleg Series (Rare & Unreleased) 1961-1991, Volume 1 (Columbia 468 086 2, 26) was issued with “Who Killed Davey Moore?” and “Talking John Birch Paranoid Blues” from this show. “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” and “When the Ship Comes In” were released on The Bootleg Series Vol. 7: No Direction Home: The Soundtrack in August 2005 and the following November the EP Live At Carnegie Hall 1963 was released with “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” “Ballad Of Hollis Brown,” “Boots Of Spanish Leather,” “Lay Down Your Weary Tune,” “North Country Blues,” and “With God On Our Side.”
This concert at Carnegie Hall occurs between the fifth and six (and final) recording session for this third album The Times They Are A-Changin’. This year is the height of his somewhat reluctant involvement in the civil rights movement and the year that cemented his role as the “voice of the 60’s counter-culture.” This is his first live performance since playing three songs at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC on August 28th for the March On Washington (the same event where Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech). The set list is contains nineteen songs including eight out of the twelve to be released on the new album. The show begins with the title track “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” Only being recorded two days before, this is the world debut of this revolutionary song sung with the same fierce passion as it is on album.
“Ballad Of Hollis Brown,” another song from the unreleased album, is a bit older and was played several times live before. Dylan gives a short harp blast by the beginning but the guitar accompaniment sounds softer than previous live versions robbing it of its bleak, windswept quality. “Can you hear this guitar? You can hear it? I don’t know anything about microphones” he says as he adjusts the microphone stand. “Mr. Carnegie! I need you!” A fast rendition of “Who Killed Davey Moore?” is followed by the new song “Boots Of Spanish Leather.” It is introduced as “when you can’t get what you want you have to settle for less kinda song.”
“Talkin’ John Birch Blues” is given a loud ovation when Dylan introduces it. “And there ain’t nothing wrong with this song” he says referring to his non-appearance on the May 12th, 1963 “Ed Sullivan Show” because CBS were afraid of potential lawsuits about the song. Carnegie Hall is as engaging as the Town Hall performance and George Lincoln Rockwell, the founder of the American Nazi Party, is the only true American who hates communists since he “picketed the movie Exodus.”
The following several numbers contains some of the most extraordinary performances on the entire set. The otherwordly “Lay Down Your Weary Tune” receives its only live performance. It was recorded for the new album but was not included, only to reappear twenty years later on Biograph. “Blowin’ In The Wind” is preceded by a long story about a graduate student in upstate New York who didn’t understand the words, asking why is blowing in the wind the answer? “I thought the answer is to blow into the wind, and you’ll find the answer. And this guy is gonna be a teacher. He’s got a master’s degree.” Both of these songs are linked by an almost pantheistic view of nature.
Three more songs that were recorded but not released on Times follows and all with a similar theme with judges and prisons. “Here’s a song I wrote it’s about a friend of mine an it’s called ‘Percy’s Song.’ An I took the tune from a song that a folk singer by the name of Paul Clayton sings. Called the ‘Wind And The Rain.'” The recording captures the crystal clear finger picking as Dylan narrates the eight-minute tale of a fruitless and frustrating conversation, trying to convince the judge to reduce his friend’s sentence. “Seven Curses,” which debuted at the Town Hall show in April, follows with no introduction. Similar to “Percy’s Song” it features a judge, but instead of the narrator sitting on the court steps the daughter in “Seven Curses” gains her revenge on “a judge so cruel.” Both of these performances paired back-to-back are extraordinary.
Dylan introduces “North Country Blues” saying, “I’m sure you all know about the coal mining countries in West Virgina and southern Pennsylvania. This is a song about the ore country. I wrote this in a woman’s words.” Speaking about his hometown of Hibbing, Minnesota, there is irony with performance since his mother was in the audience. “Hard rain’s a gonna fall means something’s gonna happen” is the simple introduction for the next song. “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” was “written to make me feel better.” This song is tracked by a six minute story he tells about seeing a movie called Hootenanny Hoot. The story meanders until he speaks about the black listed writers in general, and Pete Seeger and The Weavers in particular, before singing “With God On Our Side.”
“Only A Pawn In Their Game” is another song from the upcoming album. It received its first performance at the rally on July 6th in Greenwood Mississippi, three weeks after the assassination of NAACP secretary Medgar Evers on June 12th. The final song of the set is “When The Ship Comes In,” a song he wouldn’t play until 1985 at Live Aid with Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood. He says, “I wanna sing one song here recognising that there are Goliath’s nowadays. And people don’t realise just who the Goliaths are but in older days Goliath was slayed and everybody looks back nowadays and sees how Goliath was. Nowadays there are crueler Goliaths who do crueler things but one day they gonna be slain too. And people 2,000 years from now can look back an say remember when Goliath the second was slain.”
Unravelled Tales is packaged in the same style cardboard sleeve as used for the Town Hall and all other Hollow Horn releases. This is an opportunity to hear, in pristine sound quality, Bob Dylan at the height of his early sixties influence. Although many, even Dylan himself, are hold the political and social power of music in suspicion, it is still extraordinary that one man with a guitar and a harp can evoke such powerful feelings, moods, ideas and attitude in one ninety minute long concert. That the entire show has now finally surfaced more than forty years later is a small miracle and this, along with Stolen Moments, are among the most important Bob Dylan releases, official or otherwise, to surface this year.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)