The Bootleg Series, Vol 16: Springtime In New York, 2021, Bob Dylan – Track by track

This is kind of an outtake. Just some jotted down notes before writing my review: “Shedding of one more layer of skin”.

Down the highway, down the tracks… – making notes as the 57 tracks passed by. For whom it is of interest.

No.TitleMy comments
Disc 1  
Señor (Tales of Yankee Power) (Rehearsal)
(Oct 28, 1980)

Tour rehearsal for the Retrospective Tour fall 1980. Dylan sings in a low register. Beautiful version. Backup singers. Clydie, Carolyn & Regina.  
2To Ramona (Rehearsal)
(Oct 10, 1980)

Tour rehearsal for the Retrospective Tour fall 1980. Rehearsal with the back-up singers and a strong mandolin from Fred Tackett. Backup singers sings part of the song, like they did in the shows.
3Jesus Met the Woman at the Well (Rehearsal)
(Oct 16, 1980)

Tour rehearsal for the Retrospective Tour fall 1980 – the song was included in the “Trouble No More” film in BS 13. This is another version of the song, including a rockabilly guitar.  
4Mary of the Wild Moor (Rehearsal) (Oct 16, 1980)
Tour rehearsal for the Retrospective Tour fall 1980 Great duet with Regina McCrary. Mandolin. Lyrics. Traditional, first in print in the 1820s, first release by the Blue Sky Boys in 1940. Dylan of course also knows the Louvin Brothers version.
5Need a Woman (Rehearsal)
(March 20, 1981)

Shot of Love Sessions Rehearsal. Fabulous vocal.  And some lyrical variations, e.g. “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”  
6A Couple More Years (Rehearsal)
(Sept 18, 1980)

Tour rehearsal for the Retrospective Tour fall 1980. This is from the very first of the rehearsals. Dylan plays the piano, directing the backup singers. Great track. They have fun.   A beautiful version included in some of the fall 1980 live sets.

Dr Hook’s version is well known, so is Willie and Waylon’s. Written by Shel Silverstein and “the voice” of Dr Hook, Dennis Loccoriere. Dylan also plays a version of the song in the movie “Hearts of Fire”, his character Billy Parker claiming he wrote it to the girl in the movie. Not Sharon Stone.  
7Mystery Train (Shot of Love Outtake) (May 15, 1981)
Shot of Love Sessions Outtake A different and longer track from what I’ve heard before, here with Dylan emulating the train whistle in a falsetto. Cool version, ready for release.   The Junior Parker song, famously covered by Elvis. Includes the “long black train” and the line “Train, train, comin’ round the bend”, a bit earlier than the slow train.
8This Night Won’t Last Forever (Rehearsal) (Oct 9, 1980)
Tour rehearsal for the Retrospective Tour fall 1980. A strange choice, this pop song, might some 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 shows. Just one take, it seems, but Dylan seems to know the song well.   A cover of the song written by Roy Freeland & Bill Bounty. The original version by Bill LaBounty, most famously covered by Michael Johnson, who released it in 1979.  
We Just Disagree (Rehearsal)
(Oct 10, 1980)

Tour rehearsal for the Retrospective Tour fall 1980 Spirited vocal from Dylan on this one. A cover of the Dave Mason song, written by Jim Krueger.   Dylan included a beautiful version of the song in live sets both in fall 1980 and in 1981.  
Let’s Keep It Between Us (Rehearsal)
(Sept 26, 1980)

Tour rehearsal for the Retrospective Tour fall 1980. A great track, Dylan very determined in his bluesy delivery.  A great song by Dylan, covered by Bonnie Raitt. Includes the great line: “Backseat drivers don’t know the feel of the wheel/But they sure know how to make a fuss”. Played 19 times live, all of them fall 1980.  
Sweet Caroline (Rehearsal)
(Sept 18, 1980)

Tour rehearsal for the Retrospective Tour fall 1980 Dylan on piano. Very tender vocal on the verses, he himself touched by the lyrics. Never played live. Cover of the Neil Diamond song.  
12Fever (Rehearsal) (Oct 27, 1980)

Tour rehearsal for the Retrospective Tour fall 1980. Dylan played it a few times in concert this fall. A heavy version, this one, very intense.   Cover of the classic Little Willie John song. An endless list of covers exists, including the Elvis version.
13Abraham, Martin and John (Rehearsal) (Oct 28, 1980)
Tour rehearsal for the Retrospective Tour fall 1980. Another great duet version, not the one included in “Trouble No More”, but not so far apart.   Original by Dion. A fabulous Dylan rehearsal was included in the “Trouble No More” film, beautiful duet with Dylan’s soulmate, as he himself told us, Clydie King. Dylan played it live with Clydie both fall 1980 and in 1981.  
Disc 2  
Angelina (Shot of Love Outtake) (March 26, 1981)

Chicken skin music. Fabulous first take of this beautiful song. Lyrical variations, as this one: “A peaceful transition of ideas, for you always was too tame….” So great to listen to how this masterpiece was born.  
Price of Love (Shot of Love Outtake) (May 1, 1981)

A great Bo Diddley-pastiche. Dylan really love to do this rocking tune, Steve Douglas with some great sax. The ghost of both Buddy Holly and Diddley.  
I Wish It Would Rain (Shot of Love Outtake)
(April 1, 1981)

A very touching cover of the song originally by The Temptations: “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.  
4Let It Be Me (International 7″ Single B-Side)
(May 1, 1981)

This might be the bluest version of the song ever recorded.   Great that the already released single B-side (to Heart of Mine) finally is available for all to hear.Dylan singing his heart out in this duet with Clydie.   Of course also released at “Self Portrait” in a more straight version. Originally a french song, famously covered by both Everly Brothers and Elvis.  
5Cold, Cold Heart (Shot of Love Outtake)
(April 1, 1981)
Yes!!! Bob Dylan singing the great Hank Williams song, a song of his “first idol”. He also fooled around with this one at the Infidels sessions, according to the great book of Terry Gans: “Surviving in a ruthless world – Bob’s Voyage to Infidels,” made after deep dives in the Bob Dylan Archive in Tulsa.   This take is a waltzy duet version with Clydie, a country take with a stop-start effect in the last line of each verse, Dylan diving into heartbreak once more. “Cold, Cold Heart” was an early cross-over-hit, notably covered by both Tony Bennett, Louis Armstrong and Dinah Washington.  A personal favorite is the version by Lucinda Williams.  
Don’t Ever Take Yourself Away (Shot of Love Outtake) (April 23, 1981)

Dylan’s song used in the series “Hawaii Five-O”, released on the soundtrack. Kind of calypso-like. A Caribbean vibe, or wind, that blows, I guess. Maybe inspired of Dylan’s vacations in the Caribbean on his own yacht, “Water Pearl”,  launched in December 1980.  
Fur Slippers (Shot of Love Outtake)
(April 2, 1981)

The one that B B King covered!   Traditional blues, tune and arrangement, with a comic flair, she is gone, and she even took his fur slippers away! The melody melts into the groove of “Shot of Love”, but more like a warm-up to the real thing.  
8Borrowed Time (Shot of Love Outtake) (April 1, 1981)

More Caribbean rhythms. Dylan improvising the whole song in studio, it seems, and the band and Clydie follows his lead, where he reminds us: “What can I tell you, we’re living on borrowed time/ When you’re defeated at the end of the road”. An idea between many, this might be the only take.  
Is It Worth It? (Shot of Love Outtake) (April 2, 1981)

Dylan reggae – related to other songs and grooves on Shot of Love, but never finished. Lyric improvisation, even laughing.  
Lenny Bruce (Shot of Love Alternate Mix) (April 30, 1981 – overdubbed May 14-15, 1981)

The song known from Shot of Love, even the same take but in a different mix, giving the backup singers a more prominent place. Strings and sax given more space. Beautiful.   Dylan sang it live mostly in 1981, but a beautiful version was included in the set of his last shows in 2019, a showstopper and needle-dropping moment each night I saw him at the Beacon Theatre. A wonderful tribute to free speech!  
11Yes Sir, No Sir (Shot of Love Outtake) (April 2, 1981)

Something completely different. An almost Eastern feel and vibe to this song and arrangement, Dylan chanting and singing his heart out to a strong rhythm and the backup singers singing  insisting repetitions “Hallelujah”. It’s like he is standing inside a cathedral, singing in tongues, fetching the words from the deep.  
Disc 3  

Jokerman (Infidels Alternate Take)
(April 14, 1983)

Alternate take and some alternate lyrics. The original master track. A more naked version than on “Infidels”, also because of the mix.  
2Blind Willie McTell (Take 5 – Infidels Outtake)
(April 11, 1983)

Finally, the fabulous full band version is released. The version first circulating, many years before the first Bootleg Series Version. The first cut might be the deepest, many of us will forever have this as a favorite. The way it builds from an almost acapella start with just the piano, but then the base kicks in, taking us on a journey that we’ll never forget. Might be the highlight of this box set. Strange, and a pity, that they makes an early fade in the guitar solo at the end. The “cough” is surgical removed. Third Man Records released a single in August, including this take on the B-side, with a fabulous and very impressive first take on side A. Great to be able listen to this masterpiece in different clothings.
Don’t Fall Apart on Me Tonight (Version 1) (Infidels Alternate Take)
(April 11, 1983)
A beautiful alternate take, a slow version, a very tender vocal, Dylan caressing each word, almost a recitation. One of the finest tracks of the box.
Don’t Fall Apart on Me Tonight (Version 2) (Infidels Alternate Take)
(April 12, 1983)
Another alternate take, from the next day, closer to the released version. Original master track. Actually the version documented in this video from the studio.  
Neighborhood Bully (Infidels Alternate Take) (April 19, 1983)

A bit rougher version, but pretty close to the released take.
Someone’s Got a Hold of My Heart (Infidels Outtake) (April 26, 1983)

A bit more rocked up version than the previously released version, still the vocal is just plain beautiful. Lyrical variations. The wig is flaming red this time.   (Another great outtake of the song was released at BS 1-3, the song an early version of “Tight Connections to my heart”.)
7This Was My Love (Infidels Outtake) (April 20, 1983)
Bob Dylan’s crooning of course did not start with “Shadows In The Night”. This is one beautiful example. Dylan gives us all of his tenderness. From the heart and to the hearts. A gem. The beautiful “This Was My Love” was released by another blue eyed boy, Frank Sinatra, in 1959.  
8Too Late (Acoustic Version) (Infidels Outtake)
(April 23, 1983)

Wow! The first released song from the box set. Early version of “Foot of Pride”. One of those two versions was included in the 80 Year special CD from “Uncut”: “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.” The long, black kind?   An acoustic version with spirited vocals, makes us feel he is telling us a story then and there, immediate, for the first time, in song – a great reading. So much feeling, so much words.
Too Late (Band Version) (Infidels Outtake)
(April 23, 1983)

Same comment as for 8. But then, this fabulous video!!!! Another take from the same day, but this time with full band. More refined vocals, but still with lots of spirit, fabulous timing and phrasing, pulling us into what should become the magic of “Foot of Pride”.  
10Foot of Pride (Infidels Outtake)
(April 25, 1983)

Another great outtake of the song, more quiet than the earlier release (1991), but still a really intense version – tough, dark and hard. Dylan is rapping as good as anyone, with masterly musicality in each phrase.   Together the three tracks 8-10 on this disc, might be one of the greatest treasures of the whole set, representing the spirit of Bootleg Series in a great way, focusing on the process as much as on the end results.
Disc 4  
1Clean Cut Kid (Infidels Outtake) (April 15, 1983)
Early version of the song that later was released on “Empire Burlesque”. The Textones covered it already in 1984. Not the shuffle version that has been circulating for years, this a more straight rocking version. The song has been played live 68 times from 1985 to 1990.  
2Sweetheart Like You (Infidels Alternate Take)
(April 18, 1983)

The cute hat is replaced with a cute pair of boots, still it’s an alternate take pretty close to the beautiful one released on “Infidels”, but slightly more laid-back vocals. Never played live.

Baby What You Want Me To Do (Infidels Outtake)
(May 2, 1983)

Hello, Jimmy Reed!! Also famously covered by Elvis. A slow boogie cover of Jimmy Reed’s song, with spirited backup singing from Clydie. Dylan probably has fun in the studio to get in the right mood for his recording of new songs.  
4Tell Me (Infidels Outtake) (April 21, 1983)
An alternate take to the one released on BS 1-3. For me, one of the greatest surprises of the set, a more quiet and very tender south-of-the border version with several nice harmonica solos, through the song we can hear Mick Taylor finding his slide way. I was expecting a more known alternate take. Someone got lucky. You just wish Flaco was joining in, and Doug Sahm singing background vocal….
Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground (Infidels Outtake) (May 2, 1983)

At last! The fabulous version (duet with Clydie King) of the beautiful Willie Nelson song was included as a B-side on four different singles in 1983, but never released on cd (or streaming services).   This is an alternate and more quiet take without Clydie King – a gorgeous vocal matching the lyrics perfectly. Probably an earlier take the same day as the duets with Clydie.  
6Julius and Ethel (Infidels Outtake) (April 27, 1983)
An unpublished song. Straight rock’n roll, Dylan’s view is effectively presented. This version is undubbed.   The story of the Rosenberg’s, both, in 1951, convicted to death penalty for spying on behalf of the Soviet Union, both executed in 1953. A very controversial case and trial, Sartre calling it a “a legal lynching which smears with blood a whole nation”. Or as Dylan puts it: “Now that they are gone, you know the truth it can come out/They were never proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”  
7Green, Green Grass of Home (Infidels Outtake)
(May 2, 1983)

I’ve always looked forward to this one, the classic country ballad, since I first heard it was recorded in those sessions. And yes – it’s beautiful, Dylan making it’s his own, both the sentiments and the arrangement, himself driving it with his piano. He sings himself all back home once more, with the melancholy mood in a dream of a convict.   A cover of the song originally released by Johnny Darrell, made popular by Porter Wagoner. An endless list of covers exists, some of the most known are Bobby Bare, Tom Jones and Elvis!  
Union Sundown (Infidels Outtake) (May 2, 1983)

Alternate take. Close to the one we know from Infidels, but with some lyrical variations. Clydie is backing the fire & brimstone front singer as best as she can, him singing about “Religious capitalism under corporate command.”  
Lord Protect My Child (Infidels Outtake)
(May 2, 1983)
Already presented on BS 1-3 in 1991, and one of my favorite tracks on that fabulous collection. This is an alternate take, touching and maybe an even more intense delivery from Dylan.  
I and I (Infidels Alternate Take)
(April 27, 1983)

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 visible. Dylan’s vocal is very strong, a lot of tears included in the way he sings it.  
11Death is Not the End (Full Version)(Infidels Outtake)
(May 2, 1983)

A song officially released on “Down In The Groove”. Same take, including the overdubbed choir contribution by “Full Force”, but this is a different mix, and this is longer than the previously released version, including many repetitions of the chorus in the ending, Dylan more and more intense. A great track, the song beautifully covered by Nick Cave.
Disc 5  
1Enough is Enough (Live from Slane Castle, Ireland)
(July 8, 1984)

A lonely track from the “Real Live Tour”. Straight blues rock to fit that kind of spot in the set. Dylan is in a good mood, talking to the audience before a spirited version. “You’re a pretty decent crowd tonight. Just like home!” Dylan’s own song, no studio recording released, played live nine times in 1984. “always” changing lyrics. “Tell ’em enough is enough!”  
2License to Kill (Live on Late Night with David Letterman March 22, 1984)

From the fabulous first Letterman appearance, a set which also included “Jokerman” and a fabulous “Don’t Start Me Talkin'” as opener. Why don’t they release all three of them, one can wonder – the whole set a classic Dylan performance, the versions of the “Infidels” songs, like this, in radically different and slightly more punk arrangements, backed by the starstrucked musicians from “The Plugz”, bassist Tony Marsico and drummer Charlie Quintana, and with J J Holiday on guitar, following the front man as best as they can. One of the top Dylan TV performances with some of his most rocking moves and jumps, giving the camera crew a hard time. Great, but also part hilarious! Dylan insisting to continue after first taking the wrong harmonica.   The very talented Daniel Romano was so impressed by this performance, he later recorded all “Infidels” songs in the way he think it would sound if Dylan was backed by The Plugz for the whole album. (What Could Have Been) Infidels. Much recommended.  
I’ll Remember You(Empire Burlesque Alternate Take)
(Jan 5, 1985)

The first of several de-eighty-fied and de-Baker-ized tracks from “Empire Burlesque”, like brushing dust from old paintings, making their true colors shine through.   A very beautiful version, Dylan’s piano a driving force. Clydie in the background. Dylan loses some words, but never stops.
Tight Connection to My Heart(Has Anyone Seen My Love)(Empire Burlesque Alternate Mix)
(Jan 15, 1985)
Alternate mix, but the same recorded track we know. No overdubs, which is great.   Combined with the now two versions of “Someone’s Got A Hold Of My Heart” it’s a great study in Dylan’s working process. So let’s just hope we in due time will get the Supper Club version in an official release!  
Seeing the Real You at Last(Empire Burlesque Alternate Take)
(Feb 14, 1985)
A great rocking version! Backed by, among others, Campbell and Epstein from Heartbreakers.   One of the toughest tracks from the album, steady rocking, like a freight train through the night. This more stripped version suits the song perfect.  
6Emotionally Yours(Empire Burlesque Alternate Take)
(Feb 12, 1985)

A beautiful naked version, both when it comes to emotions in the vocal and when it comes to production. Dylan’s voice is mixed closest to your ear. A simple love song, dismissed by many critics, but here sweet as sweet can be. It’s not “Visions of Johanna”, but why do we have to choose? We have them both, and now this in a beautiful new version.
Clean Cut Kid (Empire Burlesque Alternate Take)
(July 26, 1984)

One of the first takes of the song in the Empire Burlesque sessions. Straight rock’n roll, not so far from the released version. Ron Wood on guitar. The shuffle from the Infidels takes are far gone.  
Straight A’s in Love(Empire Burlesque Alternate Take)
(Feb 14, 1985)

Dylan’s song, not the Johnny Cash one, though that may have been an inspiration. This is more buddyhollyesque rock’n roll. Released by Williams Brothers in 1987. “In history, you don’t do too well/You don’t know how to read/You could confuse Geronimo With Johnny Appleseed”

When the Night Comes Falling from the Sky(Empire Burlesque (Slow Version) Alternate Take)
(Feb 19, 1985)
Still joined by Little Steven and Roy Bittan, but a slower take than the one released on BS 1-3, this almost an intense rehearsal, Dylan losing some words along the way. Might be my new favorite version. Joined by Dylan’s then future-to-be-mother-in-law, Madelyn Quebec.  
When the Night Comes Falling from the Sky(Empire Burlesque (Fast Version) Alternate Take)
(Feb 19, 1985)
Stevie, Roy, Sly & Robbie makes a fast version, closer to the fast part of the version included on BS1-3, but more stripped to the bone. Great track. Dylan sings like he really means it, the phrasings pretty close to the version mentioned.  
New Danville Girl (Empire Burlesque Outtake)
(Dec 6, 1984)

One of the absolute highlights of the box.The early version of what we later would know as “Brownsville Girl”, released on “Knocked out Loaded”. Co-written with the late great Sam Shepard. Maybe even more Shepard on this one than on than on the KOL version?   The (Greek) chorus plays an important role in “Brownsville Girl”, but still it’s a delight to be able to focus purely on Dylan’s masterful vocal in this fabulous road movie of a song. Only Clydie joins in on the chorus. Many lyrical variations. Dylan changes perfectly between recitation and song, never even hesitates when he has too many words for the melody line, in the end everything is fitting like a glove. Timing & phrasing, that’s what it’s all about. Close your eyes and watch the movie.
Dark Eyes (Empire Burlesque Alternate Take)
(March 6, 1985)

Really a gem, this one too, another beautiful version of the closing song of Empire Burlesque, 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 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 to search for. And a song suited for another episode of “Shadow Kingdom”: “Oh, the gentlemen are talking and the midnight moon is 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.”  

My review of The Bootleg Series, Vol 16: “Shedding of one more layer of skin”

Johnny Borgan

18 thoughts on “The Bootleg Series, Vol 16: Springtime In New York, 2021, Bob Dylan – Track by track

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

  2. Well thanks Johnny, you paint a clear and vivid picture. A lot of great songs, but for those who are sticking to vinyl, like me, it seems we get stuck with something that at least I cannot be very satisfied with. The idea to couple Shot of Love, Infidels and Empire Burlesque in this edition is debying that all three of them would deserve a Bootleg Series compilation, and what is more important, they are so different that they do not combine very well, not all in my opinion. Those guys at Sony, and Jeff Rosen have no idea of an album anymore it seems, they just string together songs as if we are all addicts of Spotify (a medium I hate, I will not let the computer decide) and on elpee it is a bother when good songs are interrupted with try outs or followed by multiple takes. It would have been so beautiful if they had given us the original Infidels with Blind Willie and Foot of Pride, together with a nice compilation of accomplished outtakes, and for those who are completists, a bunch of cd’s with the whole lot in chronological order… It was something a lot of people around me were awaiting, just like me. Now you get a double lp that is dissapointing, because it lacks the numbers we were waiting for, and a monster release of four records with mixed results without a sense of sequence. Empire Burlesque would have deserved a whole makeover without the Baker influence, together with Danville Girl and some good outtakes, as a double album as well. Shot of Love, well imagine your own favourite bootleg edition there, I know mine. To conclude, I will stick with my own bootleg Outfidels, which unfortunately does not sound too well but is great as an album, the one that should have been remixed properly by Mark., which he was appointed for in the first place… I might pass it by, although that would mean missing out on Too Late and Danville Girl, so… oh shit… I am stuck between a rock and a hard place once again… Have a good time nonetheless, I wish you all the pleasure with it, the two cd version is indeed okay, the way you tell us it is.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Hans! The news is that we can have all in vinyl. Better than not. You and me would like the Cutting Edge-version, but sadly I think that’s history. I’m just grateful we still can get those box sets. We don’t know how long. I hope you get to hear the most important tracks! J


  3. Great writing as always Johnny !
    Listen with my ears, mind and heart in heaven and now soon in concerts. How lucky can you get!
    All the best.


  4. Thanks for that – it’s a great set, isn’t it. Dylan wasn’t always making the best judgements about what takes and what songs to include on his albums during this period so it’s great that we’ve now got access to more material he was recording then.
    One question – on CD1 is the start of To Ramona slightly clipped? I assume it’s correct but I just wanted to check I didn’t have a dodgy copy


  5. Pingback: To Ramona – Recliner Notes

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s