Episode 42. “Born in Time.” Under the Red Sky. The Bootleg Series, Vol. 8: Tell Tale Signs. Bunker. January 11, 2018.
One of the two songs from the Oh, Mercy sessions that would be re-purposed for Under the Red Sky (the other was “God Knows”). Clinton Heylin, talking about the version released officially on The Bootleg Series, Volume 8: Tell Tale Signs:
And yet, the difference between the two performances is night and day, snow and rain. It seems Dylan still had a tendency to worry lest a song might be deemed “too sentimental,” and so in the Tell Tale Signs take two, he puts some distance between himself and the experience. If the February 28 vocal (TTS1) was recorded before he locked onto what really makes the song tick, the intermediate version (TTS) fails because he is holding back. It is all technique (and in stark isolation, one would have to say he sings it beautifully); whereas the superior April 13 vocal (GBS) sacrifices technique at the altar of expressiveness.
Dylan has played the song 56 times from February 25, 1993 to August 17, 2003.
Song Itself (11:00)
Oh, Mercy credits Brian Stoltz and Mason Ruffner on guitar; Tony Hall on bass; Willie Green playing drums; Malcolm Burn on keyboard; and Cyril Neville and Daryl Johnson on percussion. Under the Red Sky replaces everyone (and allows David Crosby to show up and provide background vocals): ; Robben Ford on guitar; Randy Jackson on bass; Kenny Aronoff playing drums;Bruce Hornsby on piano; and Paulinho Da Costa on percussion.
Daniel and Kelly note how different the versions are, in the end. They don’t think it fits on Under the Red Sky but think the vocals are great in both versions. It’s easy to find yourself taking this song too seriously, imparting too much weight to it (I’m looking at you, Don Was!) and missing the painting Dylan brushes over the night sky.
The song also coincided with meeting an old friend and Dylan’s song helped put to rest some feelings of recrimination and allow one to move toward, or at least, slouch, to reconciliation. Feelings fade along with memories until, if you’re lucky, you’re left with the real self on the edges of time.
Kelly spent the week catching up on Heat Rocks and living in the ’90s (per usual) listening to Freestyle Fellowship. Living in the moment, she also discovered the band Yuck.
Daniel started another Chernow book for the new year, Washington: A Life. He also listened to a ton of Jeff Rosenstock’s POST- (per 2018 usual).