We listened the original cut from Oh, Mercy and the two featured on The Bootleg Series, Volume 8: Tell Tale Signs. The song was recorded (in one take) in March of 1989 in New Orleans. At the time of recording, it was only played 31 times (it’s last performance in 2005, and the only known solo-Dylan performance on piano on October 20, 1989 in Poughkeepsie, New York).
All of the instruments (sans piano) were added after the fact. Tony Attwood notes (at Untold Dylan, not All Dylan!), “ may well be the single finest moment on the Never Ending Tour.”
But wait, what about bells?! Kelly goes over everything you’ll need to know about “the phenomenon of bells,” if historyofbells.com and half of a (5:35). Bells began around 2,000 BC(E) when metallurgy was a thing (“I don’t know ‘ (“
SWEET BELL FACTS, SPEED ROUND! The band dropped it
The song itself (19:50). Kelly’s first impression, especially after Daniel hyped up the track to be one of his favorites, was why? Her favorite version wasn’t Dylan, but was a sublime take from Sara Jarosz. “I could hear the feeling better, if that makes sense.” To Kelly, that version made the most sense for the song but Daniel countered, “It’s better that’s it’s not though, right?” That this song – as is true for many Dylan songs – can withstand wide variations in tone, tempo and genre makes it more astounding (21:44). Of the Dylan cuts available, she preferred the Supper Club take in 1993. The slide guitar made the shift to minor keys at the close of the song easier to hear and connect to. It may be early on our journey into Dylan’s Christianity but she was relieved that “God is one” instead of “won.”
Daniel thought about the track all week, if only to try to put to words what he’d been carrying inside for a decade (23:10). Maybe “Ring Them Bells” isn’t a perennial Top 10 but if there were a mix-CD, this track would be on it every single time. For him, it comes down to proclivities: if you’re into Jesus, this song will speak to that. If you love bells, this may be your jam. If you’re neither, then this probably ain’t your bag. So why is it mine? Two reasons: 1) his voice is so close, in a way that it hasn’t been for some time (even Lanois agrees: “
To close, Daniel read a Dylan quote from 1997:
The end (36:15): 526 songs remain. Kelly picked #24. It’s #221.
#24, in another timeline, would have been “Going, Going Gone” (which we got to listen to as a part of Planet Waves way back in Episode 5).