“Songs From Behind The Curtain” – Fragments: Time Out of Mind Sessions (1996 – 1997), Bootleg Series Vol 17, Bob Dylan, 2023

Some of us turn off the lights and we lay
Up in the moonlight shooting by
Some of us scare ourselves to death in the dark
To be where the angels fly

(“Red River Shore”, Bob Dylan)

When Bob Dylan’s “Time Out of Mind” was released in September 1997, it took most of the world with surprise. February 20th, 1991, while the Gulf war was still raging, just one year after his last album of original Dylan songs, he received what he himself characterized as a kind of “death kiss”, a proof that nothing more was to be expected from this artist – he received the “Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award”. He retorted appropriately with a short speech, including these words, speaking about his father: “He said, you know, it’s possible to become so defiled in this world that your own mother and father will abandon you, And if that happens, God will always believe in your own ability to mend your own ways. Thank you!” He then gave the audience his most punk version of “Masters of War” ever, before leaving the stage, mending his own ways. He was still busy being born, into his third year of what should be known as the “Never Ending Tour”, about a hundred shows a year, each night the real moment of truth, meeting the audience. A working man. And maybe the world didn’t need any more Bob Dylan songs, after all?

I like to think that it’s not a coincidence that the cover of “Fragments: Time Out of Mind Sessions (1996-1997)” is a photo from 1991. Today we all know this wasn’t the end of his career, more like a centre point, just in the middle of it all, but also a starting point for a new phase, six years later manifested for the world by the release of the wonderful “Time Out of Mind”. “Bootleg Series” is of course all about process, about sharing knowledge about, and insights in, the creative process that leads to a release. An important part of Dylan’s working method was alway his deep diving into the music and genres that came before him – folk, blues, country, gospel, soul, bluegrass and more. This time a creative cleansing takes place with the great albums “Good As I Been To You” (1992) and “World Gone Wrong” (1993) (Both Grammy-nominated, the last also got one, Best Traditional Folk Album). Alone with the acoustic guitar, he regains a steady footing in the folk and blues tradition, sometimes dark songs about both death and corruption, hard times, physical and psychological pain, a full merry-go-round in the vicissitudes of human nature, leaning on both known and unknown predecessors, some of them from times out of mind. Several of the songs from the albums would be integrated in the live shows the next years, together with even more songs from the same traditions, it all leaking into the musical and lyrical melting pot we came to know as Bob Dylan.

When Dylan in August 1996 showed Daniel Lanois the lyrics of the songs to what later became “Time Out of Mind”, Lanois’ immediately understood that this was gold, and they shook hands. But there was more to it than the words. Dylan suggested that the producer, and later also the musicians, should listen to songs of Charley Patton, Little Walter, Little Willie John, Arthur Alexander, Link Wray and more, to really understand what sound and vibe he was searching for. Even more, at the start of the recordings at Teatro, Los Angeles, he also kick-started the sessions with the most beautiful rendition of the British 18th Century ballad, “The Water is Wide”, to set the mood. A song both known and sung by Dylan from the early years on, notably used as a duet with Joan Baez at Rolling Thunder, later also included in NET, like this fabulous version from 1989 in Dublin. The version that opens CD 2, the Outtakes and Alternates section of the set, differs from both in all its quiet, stately tenderness, certainly an inspiration for the work with one of the highlights of the box set, the beautiful “Red River Shore”, represented with four versions (two of them known from Tell Tale Signs, here on the Bonus Disc, CD5), two of them new for us all, the most interesting might be the Teatro version, showing us where the song was born, the band learning the song that sounds like it comes from immemorial times, like the best of songs often do. Timeless. Classic. In the first version the “I” is wearing the “cloak of a gambler”, not of misery, but the lyrical changes are minor.

Lots of musicians were involved – some of them bewildered by the fact that duplicate competence was brought in on some instruments, never really sure who’ll make the mix. Tony Garnier on bass, multi-instrumentalist Bucky Baxter on all kind of strings & drummer David Kemper from Dylans touring band at the time were reinforced with hand-picked musicians like Augie Myers on organ and accordion, well known from his work with Doug Sahm, the great Jim Dickinson of Memphis fame on keyboards and virtuoso Cindy Cashdollar on pedal steel. Bob Britt, who also have played guitar in Dylan’s band the last years, from 2019, joined the sessions, as did blues guitarist Duke Robillard, also for a short time in Dylan’s band in 2013. Jim Keltner was brought in, well-known from playing with Dylan 1979-81 and also later. There were lots of drums involved – Tony Mangurian on drums and percussion, Winston Watson, David Kemper and Brian Blade all played drums during the sessions at Criteria Studios. The producer himself, Daniel Lanois, also sometimes played guitar. Bob Dylan himself played both guitar, piano & harmonica.

The Album. (CD 1)

With every “Bootleg Series” most of the anticipation is directed towards the stuff we’ve never heard before. Of course. This time is special, this is also the 25th Anniversary Celebration of the album “Time Out of Mind”, and we’re presented a radical remix of it. Many of us have listened to the album on all kind of formats already, so how different can it really be? I’m one of those who loved the album from the start, a love that never faded. Still, the stories of discrepancy between Lanois and Dylan, including breaking of glass and slamming doors, comments from both musicians and the two themselves, make the story of the production of the final album itself quite a thriller. Like the engineer Mark Howard’s story about how Dylan’s love of the sound of a cassette Howard made for the artist influenced the final output. Howard also tells the story about how the whole process “shut down” for months after the Miami sessions: “It was such a mess!” Luckily they got it all back on track. The disagreement between Dylan and Lanois, both about songs and song choices, versions and production choices are well known. According to Dylan, Lanois never really understood the quality of “Mississippi” as a song, no matter how many versions and arrangements were tried. Dylan ended up postponing it to “Love And Theft”, the first album with Dylan’s alter ego, Jack Frost, as a producer, calling the shots. With “Fragments” we now have five different takes and styles of the song, this time including two “new” tracks from the sessions in Miami, the first maybe the most interesting, beautiful with Augie Myers on accordion, the second with more of a reggae beat. Dylan’s vocal is strong on both, actually on all chosen tracks, even if the intensity and the mood swings from version to version, letting us follow the search for the moment of time where everything clicks into place. You never know. The tape was rolling the whole time. Most tracks where complete versions of the songs. The story also tells that Lanois pestered Dylan about going back to an earlier (and very beautiful) take of “Can’t Wait”, not recognizing that “going back to an earlier take” wasn’t really an option for Dylan, not a part of his method. As the story goes, Lanois also asked after the album’s version of “Highlands” (16:31 long) if Dylan had a shorter version. Dylan’s answer was simple: “This is the short version”. Whatever happened in the studio, and between Dylan and Lanois, the album got three Grammy’s, among them Album of the Year. Dylan made his speech, including those words: “Everybody worked really hard on this and we didn’t know what we had when we did it, but we did it anyway.” He thanked Lanois and he also thanked Mark Howard for “a particular sound on this record that you don’t get every day”. The magic of the cassette deck? (Dylan also performed at the night of the Grammys, a great version of “Love Sick”, the one with the surrealistic “Soybomb” incident by an uninvited dancer. Dylan didn’t miss a beat.)

Back to the box set – CD 1 is Michael Brauer’s great remix of the original album, the same versions of songs but now true to the real concept of “Fragments”, to let us hear the songs like they were heard in studio, removing reverb and all other sonic and atmospheric additions. This don’t mean the original version wasn’t great. The result is both beautiful and exciting – a “Time Out of Mind – Naked Edition”, taking us behind the curtains and filters. It’s the same album, but different. I love them both, but this time it’s more like the artist is in the room with me when I’m listening, and the musicians and the instruments are coming forward from the shadows made of the sonic choices of the original. No wall of sound. We can see and hear more clearly now. As an example, for me “Dirt Road Blues” always was a weak point at “Time Out of Mind”, while the effect of the new mix makes you “feel” the room it’s recorded in, you can almost “see” the groove. As I understand it might be the “oldest” song of the set, older than the rest of them, one riff Dylan wouldn’t let go, and now it’s easy to understand – it’s like a lost brother of songs coming fresh out of Sun Studios or Chess Records in the 50’s, certainly a sound close to Dylan’s heart.

The Outtakes & Alternates. (CD 2, 3 & 5)

Talking about “Dirt Road Blues”, the last of the alternate versions might even top the released version – down in the groove, indeed. The first one includes the most substantial lyrical variations, and includes verses like:

“Well, right up ahead I see a flash of light
I’m wonderin’ why the flowers and the trees are so white
People all around me droppin’ like flies,
I got the miseries of the world in my eyes
Well, I’ve been slidin’ on flat ground watching the colors up above
Rolling through the rain and hail, looking for the sunny side of love

and the great ending

Well I carry on an umbrella, usin’ it for a cane
I’ve seen the houses of the holy boys and the palaces of pain
Well I’m all dressed up and I’m never late
It’s all I can do to keep my head on straight
Well I’ve been sliding through the sea of mud

Feeling like my brain has turned into sand
I’m gon’ keep on walking ‘til I know just exactly where I stand

Gon’ walk down that dirt road, until everything becomes the same
Walk down that dirt road, til everything becomes the same
I’m gonna keep on walking til I hear her holler out my name

The themes of “Time Out of Mind” and also of “Fragments” are of course the same as we already know, and some of the lyrical variations in the alternates tend to underscore some of them even more. The impermanence of life, the realization of the course of life, the Memento Mori theme, which always was there, in one way or another, is strongly present, but now maybe in a new and more insisting flavor. Still one can argue that lovesickness and heartbreak is even more a main theme of this new suite of songs. In “Not Dark Yet”, Version 1, this is especially obvious:

“Just bein’ in the same country as her is just makin’ me blue
I got nothing left over of the love that we knew
A love that I know that I never can share
Oh, it’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there”

and

Well I can close my eyes and I see her from such a long way off
Her lips were so tender, her skin was so soft
I’ve gone too far down life’s beaten track
And I’m prayin’ the master will guide me back
The violets are fading and the trees are bare
Lord it’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there”.

The originally released version might have more clean-cut lyrics, with the love story toned-down, but it sure is touching to see what sentiments it contains in an earlier version, where it’s coming from. The second version is great, too, but both lyrically and vocally more close to the original.

The piano version of “Dreaming of You” is beautiful, very different from the known version from Tell Tale Signs (the one with the great Harry Dean Stanton video). The intensity in the vocals makes it more like a soul ballad, this impression helped by some of the strong, effective alternate lyrics, like:

“Your love is my link to the outside world
And always it will remain
Dreamin of you is all I do,
but it’s drivin’ me insane”

and

“The light in this place is really bad
Like being at the bottom of a stream
But the burning reality of your sweet face
makes me feel like I’m expecting to wake up from a dream
The river runs strong
Like myself it’s left alone
By the grave of some child who neither ever laughed or smiled
I parted my (fate/faith) in the rain

Dreamin of you is all I do
And it’s drivin me insane”

Dylan once was asked about what song was his greatest about heartbreak. His answer was “Love Sick”. One might think it was a tie with many other songs, but still, “Love Sick” is in so many ways distilled heartbreak, right there, in a bottle. I was overwhelmed by it from the start, and by so many fabulous live versions, but listening to the second version from “Fragments” makes it come almost unbearably close, unbearably naked. The sound and the mix makes you feel you’re there when it happens, makes you look down, hold your breath, because the tender vocal makes it’s almost too intense, makes you wonder how it might be to be in the studio at such moments, relating to so much pain of the “I” in the song:

“Below me desolation in any direction
Below me nothing’s making any connection
I’m divin’, straddlin’, struggle and strivin’
For perfection”

This track is, for me, one of the absolute highlights of the set. The other version of the same song is beautiful, but closer to the original, both lyrically and when it comes to performance.

“Can’t Wait” is one of the songs that’s been wearing many different disguises, both from the start in the studio and live. Both the importance and flexibility of the song is on “Fragments” shown by the six different versions enclosed – two on CD 5 from Tell Tale Signs, two live versions and then the two new strong alternate takes. The first of them a guitar-based rock version, the organ joins in, the other a more funky version with a caribeean feel, more use of percussion. Great performances, introducing lines like: “Did you ever feel your brain was bolted to the wall/That all the screws were tightened and you were cut out from it all” and the list of ways to describe heartbreak gets longer with lines like: “It’s gotta end, everything about it just feels wrong/I’ll pretend being close to her is where I don’t belong” and “Skies are grey, life is short and I think about her a lot/I can’t say if I want the pain to even end or not”. Most of the Time Revisited.

The second version ends with a verse of almost plain hopelessness, after a changed bridge. It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there:

The trees are shakin’, I’ve been rolling through the stormy weather
I feel my heart break but I’m holding all the parts of it together

My hands are cold, the end of time has just begun
I’m getting old, anything can happen now to anyone
I’m trying to stand up on my own two feet
And not have to lean on everybody that I meet
I thought somehow that I’d be spared this fate
And I don’t know how much longer I can wait”

‘Til I Fell In Love With You” is represented with three great tracks. The first version is from Teatro, and might be my favorite vocal track of the three, but it ends after just three verses, one of them goes like this:

“Well, loneliness got a mind of its own
The more people around the more you feel alone
Without a God, without a job,
greed can cut you right through the heart
Just don’t know what I’m gonna do
I was doin’ all right ’til I fell in love with you”

The second version is pure tough blues: “Claustrophobia is breathin’ into my face”, with Dylan’s unmistakable guitar riffs throughout the song. So cool. The third version a more cool laid-back groove, Dylan again with that superb best male rock vocal, and again with the linkwrayesque guitar. A smokin’ hot version. Also with lyrical variations:

Well I’m thinking about the things that I can’t resist
My hopeless heart has been dreamin’ of a kiss
Sorrow and pity rules the earth and the sky
I’m not looking for nothing in anyones eyes
well I just don’t know what I’m gonna do
I was all right ’til I fell in love with you

Well the sweat’s fallin’ down, I’m starin’ at the floor
I’m thinkin’ about that girl who won’t be back no more
I’m carryin’ the roses that was given to me
I’m thinkin’ bout paradise, I’m wonderin’ what it might be
Still I just don’t know what I’m gonna do
I was all right ‘til I fell in love with you

“Marching To The City” is one of the songs not on “Time Out of Mind”, but with two versions on CD 5, the beautiful piano, almost gospel version and the more up-tempo shuffle version. The new version we get on CD 3, places itself between the two of them. The phrase “Loneliness got a mind of its own” also shows up in “‘Til I Fell In Love With You”. Then there is this verse, again a compressed story about lost love:

“I was hopin’ that we’d never part
You took the madness out of my heart
I was hopin’ we could drink from life’s clear streams
I wish that we could dream life’s pleasant dreams”

The day Bob Dylan finally received, and carefully examined, the Nobel Prize medal and diploma, the 1st of April, 2017, the Swedish Academy, who first awarded him the prize, this day handed it to him in a secret ceremony. Later the same night they attended a fabulous show, first row at Waterfront in Stockholm, led by the academy’s Secretary, the late Sara Danius. (On the picture above on her way to Waterfront.) One song was standing out as really special that night. The song was “Standing In The Doorway” from Time Out of Mind. This was the last time Dylan, so far, has played it, and it was the first time since 2005. It is reasonable to think that the song was carefully chosen for this occasion. The first version on “Fragments” might have a lighter arrangement than the original, but the story is the same, the ghost of an old love has not gone away. it don’t look like it will any time soon. The lyrics are spiced up with “Too many silver spoons/too much salt in my wounds” and “The horse that I’m ridin’ could throw me, but it don’t”. The way he cries out “Don’t pass me by/Give me liberty or let me die” is just one example of one of the most masterly performances of the box set. Heartbreak, desperation & sadness meets at the crossroads of the “I’s” doorstep. The second version is maybe a little bit slower, mostly the same lyrics as the first, the flawless performance a bit closer to the original version, this time with a touch more of resignation than desperation.

“Make You Feel My Love” might be the most reviled song on the album, maybe partly because Dylan with this song approaches a genre that many of his fans dislike, the way some of them dislike his flirting with the Great American Songbook. In a later release of that book this song might be included, not least due to the phenomenal reception of a song released in more than 200 cover versions. Still counting, I guess. The version on “Fragments” is a bit softer, more guitar and organ with the piano, the lyrics close to the original. As the story goes, Dylan wasn’t at first too sure about releasing the song. At the end of the track we can hear applause in the studio; “Niiice!” and “Yeah, that’s a beauty!”, while Dylan wants to get back to some other song.

“Highlands” arrives in a shorter (!) version, just eighteen, not twenty verses, and at a bit higher pace. It’s more like a walking blues with a country flavor than the original, it swings more, combined with a great vocal performance, possibly with a wink in the eye, it bring out the humor in the song even more. Erica Jong is gone with the two verses, but of the lyrics left there are not really any substantial changes, an extra word here, one less there, but overall without changing the meaning. I love this version!

One of the drummers, David Kemper, at the time touring with Dylan, in one place tells the story of how the song “Cold Irons Bound” came about, that Dylan on the spur of moment was inspired by a drum-pattern from Kemper, and that Dylan quickly wrote down the first version of the song. Not unlike many stories told of Dylan’s capacity when the spark flies. The alternate version is in mood and arrangement close to the original, but has a few lyrical variations, most notably in this verse:

Well there is so many stones in a pathway hurled
It is so easy to be corrupted in my corner of the world
Well, the road is rocky and the hillside’s mud
right over here nothing but clouds of blood

There is love proven untrue, there might be anger, there is an “I” of the song presumably in prison, so what happened? The ingredients of a classic murder ballad are in place, but we’ll never know what really happened here, will we? Dylan got his Grammy for Best Male Rock Vocal for this song. The alternate take would have deserved it, too!

Nevertheless, the fields have turned brown in the first verse, as Stanley Brothers once put it. Dylan also borrowed “the highway of regret” in “Make You Feel My Love” from the same brothers. (Ten years later Dylan also borrowed “Ain’t talkin’, just walkin’….heart’s burning, still yearning” from the same song in – of course, “Ain’t Talkin'” from “Modern Times” (2006))

Dylan’s love for Stanley Brothers had already been proven true all the way from his debut album, where “Man of Constant Sorrow” was included, “Rank Stranger” on “Down In The Groove” (1987). In 1998 the duet “Lonesome River” with Ralph Stanley and Dylan was released – Dylan later called this duet “the highlight of his career”.

Even before that duet, Bob Dylan showed his love in a telegram sent for Ralph Stanley’s 50th Anniversary as a recording artist, at Grand Ole Opry the 9th of November in 1996, well into Dylan’s work with the songs at “Time Out of Mind”. The telegram read: “Dear Dr. Ralph. The fields have turned brown. Not for you, though. You’ll live forever. Best wishes, Bob Dylan.”
The telegram supposedly became one highlight in Ralph Stanley’s already great career. I use this just as one example of how Dylan’s art constantly is woven together with the traditions his work grew out of, like roses grew ’round the briar. Like I wrote in my review back in 1997, the album is sprinkled with invisible hypertext links to the tradition, Dylan tipping his hat, but in a way that lifts both his own songs and the song where he got the inspiration or idea. There is a lot of it, as you know, too many to mention. Several books are written already. Happy hunting!

Most of you will certainly know the alternate tracks on CD 5 by heart, all of them collected from “Tell Tale Signs”, Bootleg Series Vol 8 (2008). If not, you have something to look forward to, there are lots of gems on this one, and with “Fragments” it’s now like every track is coming home, it’s really great to have all the known fragments collected like this, both on CD and vinyl. CD 5 also includes two great live tracks, of “Cold Irons Bound” and “Trying To Get To Heaven”.

(I still think the editor of this collection should have made an effort to more easily show in what order the versions of the alternates are recorded. As it is delivered, you now get version 1 and 2 of Mississippi on CD 2 & 3, then version 1, 2 & 3 on CD 5, and so on with the other songs. The recording dates helps, and for my own use, I have tried to sort it all out at the end of this post, to whomever it might be of interest.)

The Live Versions (1998 – 2001). (CD 4)

To combine studio tracks and live recordings from the period documented, has proven successful also in earlier installments of Bootleg Series, notably with “Trouble No More (1979-1981”. This time is a different approach, picking live performances of songs from just one album, that underlines Dylan’s own words about the fact that some songs first reach their utmost potential on the road. We know that both “Can’t Wait” and “Not Dark Yet” were presented in new beautiful arrangements as late as in 2019, that “Love Sick” has been a real showstopper for many years (I still remember the magic of hearing the third & fourth live version in Cardiff & London in October 1997, since then played 912 times live), as has “Trying To Get To Heaven”, in many different suits along the way. And we’ll of course never forget the Milan Version of “Can’t Wait” in 2011. Still, “Fragments” contains golden moments and versions of the songs also when limited to the period of 1998-2001. (By the way – I’m writing more about the singer and performing artist Bob Dylan in “The Sound of Bob Dylan – Poetry for Your Ear”.)

It’s a really great move to include also two live versions of “Can’t Wait”, easily as different as if they were two songs. A great example of how a song evolves, sometimes from year to year, sometimes inside a year. The vocal coloring of the song varies, the timing and phrasing varies, the arrangement varies, the tempo varies. “Trying To Get To Heaven” from Birmingham, 2000, is one of my favorites here, the mini-drama performance makes me remember those two fabulous nights in Portsmouth a few days later, always on my list of favorite shows. To listen to this brings me down Memory Lane, indeed. The singer caresses each word of “Not Dark Yet” in Sheffield, and really are rockin’ and reelin’ in Oslo with another drama, “Cold Irons Bound”, fittingly once again showing us he was worthy of that Grammy for the same song. One of the most tender live versions of “Make You Feel My Love” is included, as is a proud and majestic reading of “Mississippi”, almost always a highlight in the shows where it was sung.

Another highlight of this CD (and this box set) is the cool, funky groove of “Highlands” in Newcastle, Australia. Dylan is bungling some words in the napkin verse, but never misses a beat. Fabulous performance! Just listen to this verse:

“I see people in the park forgetting their troubles and their woes
They’re drinking and they’re dancing, they’re wearing bright-colored clothes
All the young men with all their young women and they’re looking so good
Well, I’d trade places with any of them
If I only possibly could.”

High Art! The song has been played only nine times live, the Santa Cruz version officially released (The Best of Bob Dylan, Limited Version, 2000). Luckily we got a new one this time.

This box set, and maybe especially the live recordings in itself, makes us remember the magic qualities of song, the power of songs, the way they can make unforgettable moments, the way they can make us relive the past, almost feel the rain again, recall the memories of her or of him, the scent, the taste. The songs from “Time Out of Mind” are those kind of songs, in my experience usually highlights of the shows where they were performed, another proof of what a wonderful collection of songs this album was and is, and that they perfectly blend in the company of some of Dylan’ greatest work.

“But so it is with music, it is of a time but also timeless; a thing with which to make memories and the memory itself. Though we seldom consider it, music is built in time as surely as a sculptor or welder works in physical space. Music transcends time by living within it, just as reincarnation allows us to transcend life by living it again and again.”
(“The Philosophy of Modern Song”, Bob Dylan)

Summary

“Time Out of Mind” was and is a masterpiece in its original version, and rightly received the Grammy for Album of the Year. The collaboration between Dylan and Lanois was challenging and demanding, but in the end also fruitful. Lanois rightfully gets his thanks in the liner notes for the box set. Still, after “Time Out of Mind”, Bob Dylan’s alter ego Jack Frost, took full control over the producer’s role in future album projects, from “Things Have Changed”(2000) and “Love And Theft”(2001). A new phase started with “Time Out of Mind”, but then again also another one phase after the same album. The remixed version is, one would think, closer to the credo of Jack Frost. A new masterpiece. Now we have both – we don’t have to choose. What’s more, we now also have fragments of the process behind the album.

The alternates and outtakes are of superb quality when it comes to both sound, mix and, not least, vocal delivery. We can’t judge the cherry-picking up against the complete recordings, but the ones chosen seems all to be there to strengthen the quality of documenting the process, either by performance, arrangement, lyrical variations or a combination of those. Dylan wanted to move further away from home to finish the recordings, from Teatro in California to Criteria in Miamia, Florida, not that far from Key West. If you’ve lost your mind, you’ll find it there. The Teatro recordings included nevertheless add great value to the box set, both by completing the story told and by giving us some very beautiful tracks and variations in their own right. Bob Dylan’s timing and phrasing is always the driving wheel of the production, making the musicians listen, making us listen, his mature and unique voice marinated in lived life, deep musicality & the well of tradition.

The live recordings are like just lifting the lid of an infinitely large treasure chest of live material from what we know as the “Never-Ending Tour”, these tracks chosen from a fabulous album and from a very strong period (1998 – 2001) of the more than 3000 shows from 1988-2019. The selection makes CD 4 one of the greatest live documents officially released in Dylan’s discography, easily the most underrated part of his Art. (Makes me hope even more for the “Rough And Rowdy Ways Live” album, maybe from the last show at London Palladium last year. Pleeeease!

The layout of the box set and books included are delicate as always, lots of beautiful and not so well-known photos and well written liner notes from Douglas Brinkley and Steven Hyden,

Dylan has in “Chronicles” told us he had doubt about himself in the Eighties, he felt burnt out. He felt others starting to doubt him, they were awarding him the Grammy For Lifetime Achievement in 1991. He took his time, he walked the line, he found his way through the thicket, he was making his own new milestone, called “Time Out of Mind”, in 1997. Mending his own ways, making the new album the starting point of the second half of his career. Keepin’ on keepin’ on, like a bird that flew. Tangled up in Blue.

“Now your body is failing – losing fire and virility – there’s an empty space at the center of yourself. You’re saying a long farewell to greatness, piling the ashes of your life into the corner. In view of all this you still have the backbone and audacity to look the endgame straight in the eye and carry on with bravado. Untroubled and tough as nails, you’re not mournful or morose, you’re standing tall, cool, still gritty and filled with spunk. You’re lifting up a life that’s been shot full of holes, going for broke this time, undaunted and unafraid.”
(The Philosophy of Modern Song, Bob Dylan)

Take my advice, listen to Bootleg Series Vol 17. It’s fabulous!

Johnny Borgan

P.s. Many thanks to Freak Music Club for their fabulous work and investigations on “Time Out of Mind” and all things Dylan, also for the Mark Howard and Jochen Malhorst clips used above. Freak Music Club Homepage. D.s.

Bonus: Order of versions.

List of songs presented with several versions on “Fragments”, in the order they were recorded by date – marked A for the first version, B for the second and so on.

The numbers and order on the box set might be a bit confusing, sometimes version 2 is recorded before version 1 and so on.

When there is two versions from the same recording session, I just do my best guess.

ACD 59. Can’t Wait – Tell Tale Signs, version 1 (10/1/96, Teatro)B-flat – piano
BCD 510. Can’t Wait – Tell Tale Signs, version 2 (1/5/97, Criteria Studios)Slow version
CCD 33. Can’t Wait – version 2 (1/14/97, Criteria Studios)dark, desperate
DCD 27. Can’t Wait – version 1 (1/21/97, Criteria Studios)whispering start, guitar  
      
ACD 28. Dirt Road Blues – version 1 (1/12/97, Criteria Studios) 
BCD 32. Dirt Road Blues – version 2 (1/20/97, Criteria Studios)My favorite version
      
ACD 22. Dreamin’ of You (10/1/96, Teatro) 
BCD 51. Dreamin’ of You – Tell Tale Signs (10/1/96, Teatro)VIDEO
      
ACD 31. Love Sick – version 2 (1/14/97, Criteria Studios)VIDEO
BCD 24. Love Sick – version 1 (1/14/97, Criteria Studios)Closest to original version lyrically
      
ACD 57. Marchin’ to the City – Tell Tale Signs, version 1 (1/5/97, Criteria Studios)Fabulous soul/gospel version
BCD 35. Marchin’ to the City (1/5/97, Criteria Studios) 
CCD 58. Marchin’ to the City – Tell Tale Signs, version 2 (1/6/97, Criteria Studios)Shuffle version
      
ACD 54. Mississippi – Tell Tale Signs, version 1 (9/96, Teatro)Guitar version a la Blood On The Tracks
BCD 29. Mississippi – version 1 (1/11/97, Criteria Studios)Beautiful version with accordion
CCD 37. Mississippi – version 2 (1/11/97, Criteria Studios)More uptempo, lighter version
VIDEO
DCD 56. Mississippi – Tell Tale Signs, version 2 (1/17/97, Criteria Studios)Slow shuffle – vocal low register
ECD 55. Mississippi – Tell Tale Signs, version 3 (1/17/97, Criteria Studios)Caribbean feel
      
ACD 26. Not Dark Yet – version 1 (1/11/97, Criteria Studios)VIDEO Lyric variations
BCD 310. Not Dark Yet – version 2 (1/18/97, Criteria Studios)Mostly the same lyrics as original
      
ACD 23. Red River Shore – version 1 (9/26/96, Teatro)Almost a demo, the band learning it – but so beautiful
BCD 53. Red River Shore – Tell Tale Signs, version 2 (1/8/97, Criteria Studios)Starts with accordion and band
CCD 34. Red River Shore – version 2 (1/19/97, Criteria Studios)Starts with acoustic guitar
DCD 52. Red River Shore – Tell Tale Signs, version 1 (1/19/97, Criteria Studios)Starts with electric guitar – bass and band from fourth verse
      
ACD 211. Standing in the Doorway – version 1 (1/13/97, Criteria Studios)Intense soul version
BCD 38. Standing in the Doorway – version 2 (1/13/97, Criteria Studios)More quiet, tender version
      
ACD 25. ‘Til I Fell in Love with You – version 1 (10/3/96, Teatro)Strong drums from the start – rock version
BCD 210. ‘Til I Fell in Love with You – version 2 (1/16/97, Criteria Studios)Slower – blues version
CCD 39. ‘Til I Fell in Love with You – version 3 (1/16/97, Criteria Studios)Reggae version
      
ACD 311. Tryin’ to Get to Heaven – version 2 (1/12/97, Criteria Studios)Tender version – pretty straight forward – minor lyrical variations
BCD 212. Tryin’ to Get to Heaven – version 1 (1/18/97, Criteria Studios)Tender version in an even more blue, sad mood – a prominent guitar in a light tone all through the song – minor lyrical variations

6 thoughts on ““Songs From Behind The Curtain” – Fragments: Time Out of Mind Sessions (1996 – 1997), Bootleg Series Vol 17, Bob Dylan, 2023

  1. Thank you Johnny- I do understand that you love these “Fragments” ! I Can’t wait to get it. And I love your writing All the best from Anne Sofie

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  2. Even in the darkest wintertime – up in cool Norway – you keep on keeping on, and are again shining a (northern..?) light on things BD-wise, now Bootleg vol 17
    Thanks for your efforts, Johnny. Very, very well written!

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