Making A Playlist From Dylan’s “The Cutting Edge 1965-1966 (Deluxe Edition)”

Dylan 65

From the display window of the Paul Stuart Store (!), City Center, Washington, D.C., November 2015

It’s a lot to work through, six CDs of alternative takes from those fourteen months in which Dylan recorded his three early masterpieces.  But if you are disciplined, and create in a more or less chronological order the songs as they were recorded between January 1965 and February ’66, a really pleasing playlist takes shape.  As a public service, we offer it below.

Some quick notes on what we’ve done and what’s not here.  Where the better version, or perhaps we should say the more pleasing version to our ears, is on The Cutting Edge 1965-1966: Deluxe Edition, we’ve used that.  And where the better version is the one used on Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, and Blonde on Blonde, or materialized on previous editions of The Bootleg Series or other compilations, that’s what’s utilized.  (We didn’t use one of the many alternate versions of “Like A Rolling Stone” that spill over an entire, fascinating CD showcasing the song’s evolution. We of course used the one that made it to AM radio.)  And as for what’s not here, well, we were never a big fan of songs that, on the official releases, sounded like amped up, perfunctory blues and rockers (cf. “Leopard Skin Pill-Box Hat”.)  Yet on this Deluxe Edition, as with Tell Take Signs, the alternative versions of numerous songs we might have skipped over, really worked.  Without further ado, here’s our playlist, with easy to follow annotations of what’s from where:

  1. “I’ll Keep It With Mine” (Take 1, Remake) T.C.E.
  2. “She Belongs To Me” (Take 1, Remake) T.C.E.
  3. “Outlaw Blues” (Take 2, Alternate Take) T.C.E.
  4. “On The Road Again” (Take 4, Alternate Take) T.C.E.
  5. “If You Gotta Go, Go Now (Or Else You Got To Stay All Night” The Bootleg Series, Vol 1-3
  6. “It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry” (Take 3, Remake) T.C.E.
  7. “Sitting On A Barbed Wire Fence” (Take 2), T.C.E.
  8. “Tombstone Blues” (Take 9) T.C.E.
  9. “Positively Fourth Street”, Biograph
  10. “Like A Rolling Stone”, Highway 61 Revisited
  11. “From A Buick 6”, Highway 61 Revisited
  12. “Highway 61 Revisited” (Take 5), T.C.E.
  13. “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues, Highway 61 Revisited
  14. “Queen Jane Approximately”, Highway 61 Revisited
  15. “Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window”, Biograph
  16. “Visions Of Johanna”, Blonde On Blonde
  17. “One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later)”, Blonde On Blonde
  18. “Leopard Skin Pill-Box Hat” (Take 3), T.C.E.
  19. “Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again” (Take 14), T.C.E.
  20. “Absolutely Sweet Marie” (Take 1, Alternate), T.C.E.
  21. “Temporary Like Achilles” (Take 3), T.C.E.
  22. “Obviously Five Believers” (Take 3), T.C.E.

Random Notes: As you can see, there’s nothing here from the official Bringing It All Back Home, and we think this is for two reasons.  One, that album seems to have comprised the versions of the songs with the highest torque, and on The Cutting Edge, the alternative versions, possibly less perfect performances than what’s on the official album, somehow come across slightly less caffeinated.  Second, a pair of classic songs from the period — “Subterranean Homesick Blues” and “Love Minus Zero/No Limit” — somehow didn’t seem to fit with the playlist as a whole; we had ’em on there, but took them off.  You may try a different approach.

Finally, we should say, just because we went with the previously released versions of some songs, doesn’t mean what’s on The Cutting Edge is not worth listening to.  It’s just that some songs were on the official releases for all the right reasons — they’re better.  We should note that at least two songs here — “Sitting On A Barbed Wire Fence” and “Highway 61 Revisited” — have at least as good versions out there on various editions of The Bootleg Series.  We just happened to really like these versions on The Cutting Edge.

Follow Tulip Frenzy on Twitter @johnbuckley100

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