garth hudson returns to big pink

This week, Columbia Records released The Basement Tapes Complete, six CDs of music made by Bob Dylan and The Band at the house they lived in - the legendary Big Pink - in West Saugerties, New York, during the summer of 1967.

Although The Band, and Bob Dylan, and Bob Dylan and The Band, are among my favourite musical artists in the world - and although I love The Basement Tapes (a double-album from 1975) - I greet this announcement with only mild interest. I'll be excited to hear any actual new material, but different versions of already-recorded songs are never that interesting to me.

My lack of interest baffles my bootleg-loving partner, who is over the moon about this release. For more information about The Basement Tapes Complete, you might see Allan's non-baseball blog, currently called Sharp Pencil.

I did, however, love this video from Rolling Stone, documenting Garth Hudson's return to Big Pink for the first time in almost 50 years.

Not only does that house represent some of my most favourite music in the world, it is situated in an area filled with so many important memories for me. This is the Catskills region of New York State - "upstate," in local parlance. We never had a cottage or even a summer rental, but we went upstate with our dogs every summer - first a long weekend in a motel, then a week in a cabin, and eventually a rented house. The whole area is flush with memories for me, including some that are poignant, such as scattering some of the ashes of our beloved dogs Gypsy and Clyde, before we left for Canada. Somehow seeing the video of the drive to that house brought back a flood of memories.

A long time ago, when this blog was just getting going - back when I used one-word titles for every post - I wrote about our experiences upstate, just to preserve it in writing somewhere.


allan said...

Yes, I am very excited! The box is on order and I hope I will be able to get it this week.

Of the 139 songs on the discs, there are over 30 that have never been bootlegged. And the songs are presented (as much as possible using Hudson's notes) in the order they were recorded that spring/summer.

My lack of interest baffles my bootleg-loving partner

I wanna know what you will do when they release a 2- or 3-CD set of the Blood On The Tracks sessions. You can just shrug your shoulders at that, can you?

It's amazing that all of the releases from the Dylan Bootleg Series - 24 discs spread over 11 releases - have become essential to his legacy as soon as they released. (And there are numerous other sets that are rumoured to be in the works and/or semi-promised.) What other musical artist could you say that about?

RossK said...

I wonder if all that varied output from all those sessions has something to do with the fact that he was so often doing the writing during said sessions?


laura k said...

What other musical artist could you say that about?

He is unique in the all the world. No question.

It's not that I don't value these releases. I'm glad they're available. But I don't have the time and patience to sort through them all, or the concentration to listen to alternate versions and analyze what makes them different. (I wonder how many fans actually do that, and how many just collect them.)

I have so little time in my life for music now (a sad thing) and I can't see devoting the time that it would take to really sink my teeth into these releases and understand them.

IIRC, I've heard some alternate versions of various songs from BOTT. They are interesting, but they are not the album that I love.

laura k said...

I wonder if all that varied output from all those sessions has something to do with the fact that he was so often doing the writing during said sessions?

It's a good bet.

allan said...

How do you feel about the two BOTT outtakes that are on the first Bootleg Series release: Call Letter Blues and Up To Me? Do you like those?

The BOTT album is quite long: 51:42*! (I imagine if CDs had been around in the mid-70s, those two songs might have been released.)

BOTT has an interesting history, with Dylan recording everything in New York in September 1974 and CBS even pressing advance copies of the album. Then in December, Dylan played the LP for his brother, who convinced him to re-record five of the 10 songs. So he did - and the released record is a mix of the two sessions. (The 5 New York tracks that were dropped have obviously been circulating for a long time.)

Also: "Shelter From The Storm" was included on the Jerry McGuire movie soundtrack, but the version that was released has an extra verse that was edited out for BOTT!

(*: Exile, at 2 LPs, is 67 minutes!)

laura k said...

Re BOTT outtakes, I don't remember them. They didn't become instant classics for me, but I really don't remember.

My love of BOTT, similar to how I feel about The Band's brown album, isn't only about songs. It's the whole. Other songs, no matter what their history, don't fit, there's no space.