Bob Dylan – Bird’s Nest In Your Hair (Rattlesnake RS006/007)

Bird’s Nest In Your Hair (Rattlesnake RS006/007)

Earls Court, London, UK  – June 29th, 1981

Disc 1 (70:24):  Come On In This House, It’s Gonna Rain Again, Show Me The Way, Saved By The Grace Of  Your Love, Gotta Serve Somebody, I Believe In You, Like A Rolling Stone, Til I Get It Right, Man Gave Names To All The Animals, Maggie’s Farm, Simple Twist Of Fate, Dead Man Dead Man, Girl Of The North Country, Ballad Of A Thin Man, Slow Train, Walk Around Heaven

Disc 2 (65:06):  Let’s Begin, All Along The Watchtower, Lenny Bruce, Mr. Tambourine Man, Solid Rock, Just Like A Woman, In The Summertime, Masters Of War, Forever Young, When You Gonna Wake Up?, In The Garden, Blowin’ In The Wind, Love Minus Zero/No Limit, Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door

Bob Dylan played in Earls Court six times on the Shot Of Love European tour in 1981.  Bird’s Nest In Your Hair covers the complete fourth of the six, utilizing an excellent stereo audience recording.  Some tracks were included on on the old 1982 vinyl release Footprints ’81 and its clone Gospelrock And More on White Wonder.  But Rattle Snake is the only compact disc release of the show in its entirety.

The sound quality is comparable to some of the other titles from the Earls Court run of shows including Think I’ll Call It A Man (Thinman-058/59), Ways Of The Flesh (Thinman-048/49) and Live In ‘81 Earls Court (Raz Records #68).  It’s also worth having because the entire show including the non-Dylan songs were taped and are included on the release instead of having only the Dylan songs. 

It is also an extremely enthusiastic performance by Dylan and the band.  The show starts off at an exhilarating pace and never really lets up as they play the gospel material, old songs and the new numbers from the unreleased Shot Of Love.  The four song gospel set starts off the show before Dylan comes on stage for “Gotta Serve Somebody” followed by “I Believe In You.”  The first non-gospel Dylan song is “Like A Rolling Stone” played very straight but with the ling “now you don’t seem so proud” replaced by “now you don’t sin so proud.”

Regina Havis has her spot with “‘Till I Get It Right.”  The Blood On The Tracks song “Simple Twist Of Fate” is met with loud applause once the audience recognizes it in the quick tempo rock arrangement.  “This is a new song that we’ve been working on, trying to get it right, called ‘Dead Man, Dead Man When Will You Arise'” Dylan announces before the new song is played. 

Carolyn Dennis has her spot with “Walking Around Heaven All Day,” and Dylan sings “Let’s Begin” with Clydie King as a duet.  “All Along The Watchtower” is played in an infectious, hard rock arrangement as is “Mr. Tambourine Man.” 

The concert ends with “In The Garden” as do all of the gospel era shows.  The encores have a bit of a surprise with “Love Minus Zero/No Limit,” played by Dylan alone with guitar and harp, making its only appearance on the Shot Of Love European tour.  In response to a rapturous response Dylan confesses “you’re making me nervous!  This must be a dream.”  The concert comes to an end with the reggae “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.”

The title Bird’s Nest In Your Hair comes from a lyric from “Dead Man, Dead Man” where Dylan sings:  “Satan got you by the heel, there’s a bird’s nest in your hair / Do you have any faith at all? Do you have any love to share?”  The phrase itself comes from Martin Luther (the sixteenth century German reformer, not the 1960’s civil rights activist):  “temptation can be avoided by no one; but resistance may be made and with prayer and course to divine aid, we can put ourselves in readiness to meet such designs. In the book of an old father we read that a young brother expressed a desire to be rid of his thoughts. Thereupon the old father said: Dear brother, you cannot prevent the birds from flying in the air over your head, but you can prevent them from building a nest in your hair. So, as St. Augustine says, we cannot prevent offenses and temptations, but by prayer and invocation of the help of God we can prevent them from overcoming us.”

This is an early effort by Rattle Snake, released in 1999 and remains one of their strongest Dylan releases to date.  A lot of thought and care went into the production of the title including the thick booklet included with the discs. 

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  1. Obviously, the last comments on this title date from years back. But this one is a true keeper! It is probably one of the Dylan bootlegs I have listened to most. The performance is absolutely top notch, and from a period many people seem to have forgotten. Being from 1981 Dylan had already abandoned the concept of playing exclusively religious material, but despite this it seems the fire from those early performances spread onto the old classics instead. However, being Dylan, next time he returned to the stage it would be with much more mundane interpretations of classics during the 1984 tour. But, this ladies and gentlemen is the man at the peak of his game!
    In particular I love the very atmospheric recording featured. Note the conversations between the audience members in the beginning of the girls’ gospel set. It makes you feel like being there. The girls set gives a good indication of what is about to come, but still the power of the electric band is mesmerizing once Dylan hits the stage.
    Amazing show and recording! Get it if you can find it!

    • I still still stand by my comments. Absolutely terrific boot from a classic tape and era. As far as I know, still in print too!

      • Absolutely essential in my opinion!

  2. Mainstays in my Dylan collection might be Genuine Live 1966 w/bonus discs, Give the Anarchist a Cigarette, or Folksinger’s Choice…just for example.

  3. Brilliant review. Thank you. This has to be one of the, if not THE most spinned Dylan boot that I own. It’s precisely wonderful sound is always the draw for me as well as the wealth of material that it presented & that includes the gospel opening act. It truly is a mainstay in anyones Dylan collection.


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