“Shedding off one more layer of skin” – The Bootleg Series, Vol 16, 1980-85: Springtime In New York, Bob Dylan, 2021

Where do I start? The news of a new installment of the Bootleg Series is always exciting. The first released songs were mouthwatering, the complete list of songs made us even more interested – and gave rise to more speculation than the first tastings. (My own thoughts at that stage you can find here.) After listening to not only a few of the songs, but the whole shebang, well, there is a lot more to say. There are surprises, there are gems, there is even room for some disappointment, but most of all – this box set contains multitudes.

Multitudes? In what way? Just 57 tracks, but the range is wide – here comes pop, gospel, soul, folk, country, blues, bluesrock, reggae, rock’n roll, ballads and rock in different colors and suits. Here come 16 cover versions spanning most of the genres mentioned, some of them used as warm-ups to recordings of new songs, some meant for live performances. Here come the simplest of love songs as well as poetic masterpieces, here come jams, unfinished sketches, fumbling with lyrics, laughter and improvising of both words and music, and here comes the well crafted classic. And here come the great performing artist in which all this melts together. This time – we have it all.

In this box set we can hear a hot-blooded singer at the bandstand croon “This Was My Love”, an artist who is refusing to be pinned down like a butterfly or caught like a bumble-bee in a jar, whether we likes what he does or not – even if he succeeds or not – just restlessly shedding off a few more layers of skin, once more time inviting us to see what happened somewhat behind the scenes and behind the albums, just like the whole Bootleg Series concept does. So much is now revealed, but not all, of course. There’s plenty more to hide, plenty more to come. We’re invited to learn about the process as much as, or even more than, to listen to end results. The interest in phases and stages of a song makes the whole experience even richer than just arguing over which version we personally love the most (which of course also can be interesting).

Some of the magic of “Springtime In New York” is due to the magicians behind the production – eternal thanks to them all – Mark Wilder, Steve Addabbo and Chris Shaw, for making me almost forget about the production, the way they have uncovered the songs from behind the dated layers of the eighties, letting the song and the singer shine through with time out of mind. The re-reverbing, the un-dubbing, mixing and mastering is masterfully done. Thanks.

1980 – 1985

While this box set starts with Fall Rehearsals before the Musical Retrospective Tour, Dylan started the year with the second leg of the Gospel Tour, still performing only gospel material; then came the recording sessions for “Saved,” the songs written and performed live since fall 1979. He got his first Grammy award for best male rock vocalist in February, then continued with the third leg of Gospel shows in April and May. This part of the year is of course covered by Bootleg Series, vol 13: Trouble No More. Then, enter Bootleg Series, vol 16, which can be divided into five parts:

  • Rehearsals for Musical Retrospective Tour – September & October 1980, Santa Monica, California
  • Shot of Love Sessions – March, April & May 1981, California
  • Infidels Sessions – April & May 1983, New York City
  • Live 1984 (Letterman Show, 22th of March 1984, & Enough is Enough, Slane Castle, 8th of July 1984)
  • Empire Burlesque Sessions, spread over the period July 1984 to March 1985 – California & New York

As we know, both 1981 and 1984 included touring, both in the US, Canada and Europe in 1981, and Europe in 1984. Just one appearance in 1982, at Peace Sunday in June, with Joan Baez. 1985 was also the year of “We Are The World,” “Live Aid” and the fabulous “Farm Aid” show with Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. The 1981 tour is also well documented in Bootleg Series, vol 13, with the fabulous Earls Court Show from London. One of the disappointments has to be that nothing from “Farm Aid” is included this time.

A rich period, indeed, and there is a long journey from the pure gospel shows in 1980 and to the sound and songs of Empire Burlesque. So much happened from the fire and brimstone songwriting of the Saved-songs in 1979 and to the recovered complexity and variety in songs related to the following recording sessions. During the period Dylan delivered a long string of great performances, both in studio and live. A lot of them are presented here.

  • Rehearsals for Musical Retrospective Tour
  • The Fall Tour in 1980, known as the Musical Retrospective Tour, is one of the favorite tours, not just for me, but for many of Dylan’s followers. Not only because Dylan started mixing the gospel songs with his pre-gospel songs, but also because of the mind-blowing quality of the performances, the guests invited to the stage (e.g. Michael Bloomfield and Jerry Garcia), the stories Dylan told, the hand-picked cover versions and the introducing of completely new songs (e.g. Caribbean Wind and Groom’s Still Waiting at the Altar).

    On CD 1 we are introduced to eleven songs from the rehearsals for this tour. Two of the songs were included in Trouble No More, but here in different versions, making a fine link between the two box sets. The traditional “Jesus Met The Woman By The Well” is steaming with a rockabilly guitar, and the Dion original “Abraham, Martin & John” is again presented as a beautiful duet between Dylan and his soulmate, Clydie King.

    Only three of the songs are Dylan originals: a beautiful and dark version of “Senor” with backup singers, a jaunty version of “To Ramona,” and the new song “Let’s Keep It Between Us,” which is presented here for the first time on a release by Dylan himself, notably covered by Bonnie Raitt. “Backseat drivers don’t know the feel of the wheel/But they sure know how to make a fuss.” The song was only performed live in the fall of 1980.

    The traditional folk song “Mary From The Wild Moor” was a beautiful moment in shows both in fall 1980 and in 1981 – a song of tragedy and early death, Dylan digging back to a song from the 1800s, most certainly knowing the original release from The Blue Sky Boys in 1940, as well as the classic rendition from Louvin Brothers. Dylan sings it with Regina McCrary, and the song is lifted by Fred Tackett’s mandolin.

    The odd song out between the eleven is “This Night Wont Last Forever.” A strange choice, this pop song, some might say. I would think it’s the sentiments of the lyrics that caught Dylan’s ear: “Everybody likes a celebration, happy music and conversation/But I’d be lyin’ if I said I didn’t have the blues.” Never included in the live shows. Just one take, it seems, but Dylan seems to know the song well. “A Couple More Years” (Shel Silverstein/Dennis Locorriere), well known from versions by both Dr Hook and Willie & Waylon, is a touching performance here as it was in the shows. His singing on Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” especially the verses, is heartfelt, warm and tender. The classic “Fever” made its way to the stage, and this rehearsal proves why – Dylan, back up vocals and Tackett’s guitar – ready to go! The same is the case for a fine cover of Dave Mason’s “We Just Disagree”, with the lines: “So let’s leave it alone ’cause we can’t see eye to eye/There ain’t no good guy, there ain’t no bad guy/There’s only you and me and we just disagree.”

  • Shot of Love Sessions
  • It comes rolling in like a train, the rehearsal of “Need A Woman” from March 1981, and so does the vocal. “There’s a wall that can fall, and a wall that you can walk right through” – “I need a woman, black, white, yellow, blue or green”. An earlier version than the one we got on BS 1-3, but wow! Dylan on fire!

    This version of “Mystery Train” is different from what I’ve heard before, longer and with Dylan emulating the train whistle in falsetto. Great version, from all involved. It is a slow train, though – slower than many of the known cover versions of Little Junior Parker’s classic song. This is really a mystery train coming around the bend.

    On the top of my wish list for this box was to get another take of “Angelina” – and yes, we got it, indeed the first take, the birth of the song, so to speak. This is chicken skin music, less polished than the fabulous take we’ve already heard – but here Dylan is finding his way, searching for the best way to perform those wonderful lyrics. It is also an example of how his writing and poetic focus has changed since the songs of “Saved”: “A peaceful transition of ideas, for you always was too tame….” One of the highlights of this box set.

    With Dylan’s unfinished “Price of Love” we can feel the ghost of both Bo Diddley and Buddy Holly – a great beat and a great performance. To get in the right mood for the sessions, there are lots of cover versions, the well-known B-side to “Heart of Mine,” a beautiful “Let it be me,” but my personal favorite has to be Dylan’s intense take on The Temptations’ “I Wish It Would Rain”: “My eyes search the skies desperately for rain/Cause rain drops will hide my teardrops”. Dylan breaks perfectly into a falsetto in the line “I got to cry, cause crying EEEEEEASES the pain,” just like in The Temptations’ original recording. Dylan’s first idol, Hank Williams, is represented by a fine and waltzy version of “Cold, Cold Heart”, one of Williams’ first cross-over hits, recorded by both Tony Bennett and Dinah Washington. Still, my favorite has to be the one with Lucinda Williams. Dylan loves to sing it, and ends each verse with a very slow “HEAAAAAAAAAART”, almost like sung through a harmonica – in perfect tonal breath control. “Fur Slippers”, covered by B.B. King, is traditional blues, about the one that left him, and even took his fur slippers.

    In December 1980, Dylan got his yacht “Water Pearl” launched, and his trips in the Caribbean might have inspired several of the songs, like the calypso-feeling in “Don’t Take Yourself Away”, the rhythms of the improvised and never finished, but interesting “Borrowed Time” and the reggae vibe of “Is it worth it?”, musically related to other songs on Shot of Love, except that Dylan is having a laugh. There is also a beautiful alternative mix of “Lenny Bruce”, the singer and singers more in front, strings and sax given more space. Kind of an upgrade of the song. The strangest of all the takes included is “Yes Sir, No Sir”, different from all the rest, with not a hint of Caribbean. It’s like it’s coming from a completely different place and time, an Eastern vibe, Dylan chanting and channeling his feelings in a tongue-singing way, as if he is standing inside a great dark cathedral or a temple, singing to the choir, which in return sings their ecstatic “Hallelujah”‘s again and again. The singer is trying to connect to something here – he might also know what it is, and further work down this road could have been very interesting. I love it, but it’s strange.

    Shot of Love‘s is often addressed as the third album in the “Gospel Trilogy”, but I don’t think that is right. It is not a gospel album. Dylan is moving on, but not from his deep interest in human nature, the politics of sin and the complexity of life, something that is easy to read even in the masterpiece “Every Grain of Sand”. That he still uses his arsenal of images and poetry based on the Bible, doesn’t change this. He always used that. The album might be, in many ways, closer to Infidels than to Saved, a deeper focus on social causes and the human to human relations. The songs from Shot of Love chosen for Springtime in New York doesn’t change my view on this matter.

  • Infidels Sessions – April & May 1983, New York City
  • It’s springtime 1983 in New York, and it might be the inspiration for the name of this project – did they think of an all Infidels release at first? Nevertheless, this part still is the tenderloin of this box set. With two CDs worth of songs, 21 tracks, the main focus is on Dylan’s own songs, but with just one of them never released before: “Julius And Ethel”, Dylan’s angry straight rock’n roll take on the controversial execution of the Rosenberg couple, executed for spying in 1953: “Now that they are gone, you know the truth it can come out/They were never proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt”.

    Oh, of course you can argue that “Too Late” is a “new song” with this release, but the song’s obvious place as a step forward to the song “Foot of Pride”, makes the two versions, acoustic and with band, delightful documentations of the process. Even these steps are masterpieces in their own right. “Whether there was a murder, I don`t know, I can`t say, I was visiting a friend in jail/There were only two women at the scene at the time, neither one of them saw a thing, both of them were wearing veils.” It’s like Dylan is thinking and writing the song as he sings it. In the acoustic version: so many feelings, so much words, so immediate, the trademark phrasing is phenomenal. The band version is more developed musically, the vocal more relaxed, but why do we have to choose – we have both. From just three days later we got an alternate version of “Foot of Pride”, circling in the end result of the process, a very intense, dark and strong version, Dylan is rapping as good as anyone. It might be my favorite of the two we got. And the four tracks we now have, gives us a good case for studying Dylan’s process both when it comes to writing lyrics and studio work during this period of his career. This one also a song that Dylan battled with a long time, 47 takes identified, 16 written drafts of just “Too Late”, according to the great Terry Gans there might be as much as 96 different verses written. Still, it didn’t find it’s place on Infidels, maybe because it didn’t fit, maybe because Dylan never felt he really finished it. So: God bless The Bootleg Series.

    As for studying the process, another gem in this treasure chest is an early take of “Don’t Fall Apart On Me Tonight” – a slow and easy, soft version, far away from the one we know from the album. Dylan goes from recitation to song and back again, caressing each word. Wonderful, and another one of the highlights of this set, for me. The second version of the same song, from the next day, is much closer to the album version, but still evolving – and is the one from this video.

    An alternate version and mix of “Jokerman” is pretty close to the original, but with some lyrical variations. “So drunk, standing in the middle of the street/Directing traffic with a small dog at your feet.” The alternate “Neighborhood Bully” might be a bit rougher than the released version, but still doesn’t bring much new to the table, IMHO. The same goes for “Union Sundown”, still a better mix, with some lyrical variations, Dylan pointing directly to the cause of the problem: “Religious capitalism under corporate command” – and with a spooky ending, about “…a man in a mask in the White House, who’s got no name and no important ties,/Just as long as he understands the shape of things to come, he can stay there till he dies/Got to be an invisible man, not a front man for some diseased cause/Certainly not a union man, an independent man or a man tied to social laws….” Hm…

    “Lord Protect My Child” was included in The Bootleg Series 1-3, 1991, and was one of my favorite tracks on that fabulous collection. This is an alternate take, touching and maybe with an even more intense delivery from Dylan.
    “I and I” – Faster version than the one released on Infidels. A bit different environment is drawn out musically from the start. A touch of Dire Straits is more present in Knopfler’s guitar. Dylan’s vocal is very strong, a lot of tears included in the way he sings it. A boogie version of “Clean Cut Kid”, with Dylan on piano, is cool and easy-going, actually I like this better than the released version on Empire Burlesque. This version is different from the shuffle-version that has been circulating. A “full version” of “Death Is Not The End” is included – the same track released on Down In The Groove, with the overdubbed choir contribution by “Full Force”, but this is a different mix, and longer than the previously released version, including many repetitions of the chorus on the ending, Dylan more and more intense insisting even more than ever (as now right after his 80th birthday) that death is not the end.

    Many were surprised when Bootleg Series, I-III, was released without the version of “Blind Willie McTell” they already had learned to love, the one with Mick Taylor’s guitar, the one that builds and builds, with the raw energy, all the emotional flavors and intensity in Dylan’s vocal. Of course, the released piano-version were great, too, but still. At last it’s here and we can enjoy both of them. Even the third, though not on the box set, newly released on the Third Man Records Single of “Blind Willie McTell”. That’s an incredible great first take of the song, with this one, take five, on the B-side. Another highlight, of course. Maybe “The Highlight” of this release? It must be: many would think it’s one of the highlights of Dylan’s whole career. Oh, and the famous cough in the start is surgical removed. But why the early fade from the beautiful guitar solo?

    The alternate take of “Someone’s Got A Hold Of My Heart” is fabulous, Dylan’s vocal more intense than on the version we got before: he is singing like his life depends on it, the whole take more rocking.

    Then its four melancholy cover versions. The first, “This Was My Love”, was a Frank Sinatra release from 1959, a honey-drippin’ and sugar-coated sweet ballad. Dylan brings the song into his own landscape, far from the original – already building a bridge from Sinatra to himself, from the Great American Songbook to his own Songbook. “Soft as a raindrop, fresh as the sea/Warm as the sunshine shining on me/This was my love, this was my love”. Then it’s: Hello, Jimmy Reed, Dylan uncovering the Reed original, “Baby What You Want Me To Do”. Like with “Mystery Train” this is a much slower version than what Elvis did on his cover. Spirited singing of Clydie helps Dylan make this slow boogie a really great track.

    Then a gorgeous “Tell Me”, an alternate take to the one released on BS 1-3. For me, this was one of the great surprises of the set, a more quiet and very tender south-of-the border version with several nice harmonica solos, and through the song we can hear Mick Taylor finding his slide way. I was expecting a more known alternate take. Someone got lucky. We did. You just wish Flaco Jimenez or David Hidalgo was joining in on the accordion, and that Doug Sahm was singing background vocal…. Another surprise was coming up, I was “sure” that the fabulous duet with Clydie of “Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground”, the Willie Nelson jewel of a song, which was released as a B-side to several “Infidels” singles, finally should get it’s digital release. I was wrong: this is Dylan solo with the band – and a version I’ve never heard before, once more a naked and tear-jerking rendition, in the same arrangement as the duet. Why not release both? I guess we have to wait for The Complete Album Collection, Volume Two: there are a few B-sides waiting, right beside the tributes. Well, let’s be grateful for what we have – and this is another gem. For a fan of country music, just the rumor of Dylan making his version of “Green, Green Grass of Home” has always been a joy, and to get this gorgeous and 100 % Dylanesque version of course completes the joy even more. Dylan, duetting with Clydie once more, makes the song his own, both in sentiments and arrangement, he himself driving it with wonderful piano. He sings himself all the way back home once more, with the melancholy mood in the dream of a convict. I love it. Easily on my most-played list so far.

    The road from Shot of Love to Infidels, when it comes to themes, might not be so long. Still, Infidels is an evolving of Dylan’s focus on social causes, on the deep challenges in modern societies, both when it comes to justice and when it comes to human relations, when it comes to love. Is it a big step from a Christian faith, or a big step towards his jewish heritage? Bob only knows, he contain multitudes, but nevertheless, biblical imagery is an integrated part of this album, too, always a great poetic tool for Dylan, to make a point or to paint a picture in our mind. The new songs and outtakes from the Infidels sessions doesn’t make me change my point of view, even if some of the songs chosen of course are of an extraordinary quality, both when it comes to music, lyrics and vocal performance, and of course could have been released officially in 1983.

  • Live 1984
  • Dylan’s first visit on The Letterman Show was in March 1984, Letterman promoting Infidels for him. But Dylan, resisting interviews, rocks out with a fabulous rendition of Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Don’t Start Me Talkin'”, a raw punk attitude, backed by musicians from The Plugz, represented here by bassist Tony Marsico and drummer Charlie Quintana, with their friend JJ Holiday on guitar, hanging on and hoping the roof stays on. The second song, presented in this set, “License To Kill” – tough rendition, raucous, and far from the album version. The hilarious mix-up of harmonicas on the last song “Jokerman” makes the video even more memorable. One of Dylan’s greatest TV appearances. A classic.

    While the tours of 1980 and 1981 are well documented in the “Trouble No More” box set, the tour of 1984 here is represented with just one song, “Enough is Enough”. A song never released elsewhere, and included in nine shows, is straight bluesrock, here with a happy introduction and greeting to the Irish audience at Slane Castle: “You’re a pretty decent crowd tonight. Just like home!” Great fun, this one. Mick Taylor was the bridge between the Infidels sessions and this tour. We can only hope for a hand-picked package of the greatest performances from this year, further down the road. What about “Why Do We Have To Choose”, yes, and what about “Every Grain of Sand” from Barcelona, and, um, maybe one disc of the beautiful solo acoustic performances? The re-written “Simple Twist of Fate”? Oh, well….

  • Empire Burlesque Sessions 1984 & 1985
  • Six tracks from the Empire Burlesque album are included, all of them in more naked versions when it comes to production. For me, the ballads are the ones that profits the most from the new mix. Both “I’ll Remember You” and “Emotionally Yours” comes much closer than the original versions, and on both Dylan’s piano is delightful.

    “Tight Connections To My Heart (Has Anbyody Seen My Love)” is an alternate mix, but the same vocal track that we now. Nice to get it in a cleaner version, the vocal more in focus, but my vote still goes for “Someone’s Got A Hold Of My Heart”.

    “Seeing The Real You At Last” is a tough pure rocker, the new mix fits like a glove. A crispy clear “Clean Cut Kid” with a rocking Ron Wood on guitar, not so far from the original, but with a very powerful vocal from Dylan. “When The Night Comes Falling From The Sky” comes in two versions, one slow and one fast. My favorite is the slow one, which opens beautifully with Roy Bittan’s piano, and, unlike the BS 1-3-version, stays in the slow lane all through the song, Dylan’s vocal in full command, loses some words but continues to the end.

    “Straight A’s In Love” gets its first official release – straight rock’n roll á la Buddy Holly. “In history, you don’t do too well/You don’t know how to read/You could confuse Geronimo With Johnny Appleseed/And if you don’t know who Thomas Edison is,/Well, baby, that’s OK,/But in love, crazy love, you get straight A’s.”

    We all know the phenomenal “Brownsville Girl” from “Knocked Out Loaded”, with the backup singers doing the role of a Greek Chorus. Finally we get the early version, the beautiful “New Danville Girl”, which focuses only on Dylan’s vocal. We know the song is co-written with the late great Sam Shepard, maybe this version is the one they wrote together, and the changes was made by Dylan himself in the next take? A masterpiece in its own right, in this version Dylan takes us down the road in a dream-like journey, sliding in and out of happiness, in and out of a movie he’ve seen one time. Of course, the song would also have lifted Empire Burlesque. Most of the song is recitation, but here and there he crosses the line to song, just listen to the gorgeous delivery on this verse: “We drove that car all night into San Antone/And we slept near the Alamo, fell out under the stars./Way down in Mexico you went out to see a doctor and you never came back./I stayed there a while, till the whole place it started feelin’ like Mars.” There are some lyrical variations – Henry Porter and Ruby still there, but different. Perhaps there’s even a nod to Blind Willie McTell in the line “Tell me about the time that our engine broke down and it was the worst of times, Tell me about all the things that I couldn’t do nothin’ about”? Just close your eyes and watch the movie.

    Empire Burlesque takes several songs and themes from the Infidels sessions a step further, both with “Tight Connections To My Heart” and “Clean Cut Kid.” Simple love songs are more prominent, but then again, the complexity of relations and the darkness is still present in songs like the slightly apocalyptic “When The Night Comes From The Sky” and the thunderous “Seeing The Real You At Last”. Even if the “I” wont be a fool, starving for affection, or that the “I” never gonna be the same again, the search for love continues. And – if you need somebody you can trust, trust yourself. The one song that in one way transcends the original album, is “New Danville Girl”, but still there is also a logical connection between this magnum opus to an album filled with quotes and clues from the world and univers of movies. That Dylan (and Sam Shepard) makes their/his own movie with this song might be a logical next step, even if the song was moved to the next album.

    The whole box ends with a stunning alternate version of “Dark Eyes”, the closer of the album. Thank you, Arthur Baker, for challenging Dylan to include one acoustic song. Not so far from the Empire Burlesque take, but a bit faster, and maybe a more personal and determined vocal, as opposed to the very tender original. A very fitting end to this collection, too, in all its naked glory – reminding us about the journey from 1980 to 1985, but also from 1962 to 1985. A great performance, near the perfection Dylan long time ago gave up searching for. And a song suited for another episode of “Shadow Kingdom”:

    “Oh, the gentlemen are talking and the moonlight’s on the riverside,
    They’re drinking up and walking and it is time for me to slide.
    I live in another world where life and death are memorized,
    Where the earth is strung with lovers’ pearls and all I see are dark eyes.”

    The Box

    The box and the books are beautiful as always, two books enclosed in the slipcase. One for the liner notes and a beautiful, hand-picked and extensive collection of photographs, tickets, singles, magazine covers, reviews, and so on from the period; and one for the CD’s, with information about the songs and who was playing on each track. We even get to see some pictures of lyrics, like an alternate opening line to the second verse of “Blind Willie McTell”: “I sang a song at sundown/with my foot upon a fence”, or a line from “Someone’s Got A Hold Of My Heart”: “I know why the sons of Adam killed each other & went broke/in the golden age of voodoo what is righteous is a joke.”

    The liner notes are by Damien Love – part essay going deeply into the story of Infidels, with more rudimentary comments on Shot of Love and Empire Burlesque, and part insightful track-by-track comments. The artwork in the books is fabulous, as always.

    Is it worth it?

    If you’ve read all the way to these last words, you may have the answer yourself. For those of us for whom the process of Dylan’s artistic development is of great interest, this is of course a priceless piece of the picture. To compare it to other installments of the Bootleg Series is difficult. It focuses on a period of time, like “Tell Tale Signs”, one of my favorites in the series, and one with even more surprises than this one, it is focusing on three albums, but it isn’t a Cutting-Edge-approach that gave us “all” that happened. These are carefully hand-picked tracks, ones that the editor thinks can shed some more light on what was going on during those years, and of what might be of interest to listeners. If we accept this, it’s a really great compilation. Most of the tracks will be completely “new” to most of us, even if many of the songs are well known in other disguises and versions.

    Some of us will still wonder if there wasn’t any more interesting takes of Dylan’s own songs from Shot of Love, or why the released duet version of “Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground” wasn’t included, why the complete Letterman Show appearance with the wonderful “Don’t Start Me Talkin'” isn’t here, why “Who Loves You More” and “Go Away Little Girl” aren’t part of the release, and so on. And what about the fabulous Farm Aid performance? One can wonder. Still, for me, I feel very grateful each time we get to look behind the curtain, one more time, and to be able to dive into so much beautiful music in a flawless production and package.

    “Springtime in New York” is an important contribution to the understanding of a challenging period for Dylan, and shows us how wholeheartedly he was searching for new songs and new ways to sing. It shows how Dylan, as usual, also in the early eighties, used both old and new songs from the complete American Songbook to get inspiration and find the many moods he needed to get the job done. Even if also this volume of Bootleg Series is very much about the process, it’s another great monument of Bob Dylan, the singer, from a period where he gave us some of his most beautiful vocal performances and when the Earth was strung with lover’s pearls.

    Johnny Borgan

    P.S: While I was listening to the box, I made a track-by-track summary, to remember some of my own thoughts when listening. For those who might be interested, you’ll find it here – Bob Dylan’s Springtime in New York – Track by Track. D.S

    P.S.II: Next year is 2022, and it’s 25 years since the release of the masterpiece “Time Out of Mind”. I’m hoping for the Deluxe Edition as Vol 17 of The Bootleg Series. All we have to do is dream. D.S.

    One thought on ““Shedding off one more layer of skin” – The Bootleg Series, Vol 16, 1980-85: Springtime In New York, Bob Dylan, 2021

    1. Pingback: The Bootleg Series, Vol 16: Springtime In New York, 2021, Bob Dylan – Track by track | Johnny B.

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