Chris' OUTTAKES & His Songs
The number that opens this album, You're No Good, was learned from Jesse Fuller, the West Coast singer. Its vaudeville flair and exaggeration are used to heighten the mock anger of the lyrics.
Talkin' New York is a diary note set to music.In May, 1961, Dylan started to hitch-hike West, not overwhelmingly pleased at what he had seen and experienced in New York. At a truck stop along the highway he started to scribble down a few impressions of the city he left behind. They were comic, but tinged with a certain sarcastic bite, very much in the Guthrie vein.
Dylan had never sung In My Time of Dyin' prior to this recording session. He does not recall where he first heard it. The guitar is fretted with the lipstick holder he borrowed from his girl, Susie Rotolo, who sat devotedly and wide-eyed through the recording session.
Man of Constant Sorrow is a traditional Southern mountain folk song of considerable popularity and age, but probably never sung quite in this fashion before.
Fixin' to Die, which echoes the spirit and some of the words of In My Time of Dyin', was learned from an old recording by Bukka White.
A traditional Scottish song is the bare bones on which Dylan hangs Pretty Peggy-O. But the song has lost its burr and acquired instead a Texas accent, and a few new verses and fillips by the singer.
A Diesel-tempoed Highway 51 is of a type sung by the Everly Brothers, partially rewritten by Dylan. His guitar is tuned to an open tuning and features a particularly compelling vamping figure. Similarly uptempo is his version of Gospel Plow, which turns the old spiritual into a virtually new song.
Ric Von Schmidt, a young artist and blues singer from Boston, was the source of Baby, Let Me Follow You Down. House of the Risin' Sun is a traditional lament of a New Orleans woman driven into prostitution by poverty. Dylan learned the song from the singing of Dave Van Ronk:«I'd always known Risin' Sun but never really knew I knew it until I heard Dave sing it.« The singer's version of Freight Train Blues was adapted from an old disk by Roy Acuff.
Song to Woody is another original by Bob Dylan, dedicated to one of his greatest inspirations, and written much in the musical language of his idol.
Ending this album is the surging power and tragedy of Blind Lemon Jefferson's blues – See That My Grave is Kept Clean. The poignance and passion of this simple song reveals both the country blues tradition – and its newest voice.Bob Dylan – at their very finest.