Photo: Elliott Landy
The more time that elapses since Bob Dylan’s 1967 recording sessions, the more its legend grows. As the story goes, following the tremendous success of Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde, Dylan was sidled by a serious motorcycle accident and recovered in upstate New York. While secluded there, Dylan and a group of five musicians known collectively as the Hawks (and would later become known as the Band) holed up in the basement of a small house in West Saugerties they’d nicknamed Big Pink. Over the next the few months, the group recorded over a hundred tracks—some that would go on to be classic songs of the Dylan canon and some that were just off-the-cuff jams.
Eventually, chunks and pieces of the basement sessions began trickling their way into the world. In 1969, a mysterious and unofficial record containing some of its tracks, Great White Wonder, began popping up in stores, giving birth to the music industry phenomenon of the bootleg. Later, in 1975, Columbia Records released The Basement Tapes LP, which featured a mere 16 tracks from the session. If you think that was enough to appease the rabid Dylan fans of the world, then man, you don’t know Dylan fans. For nearly 50 years, The Basement Sessions have been one of the most elusive and sought-after relics of Dylan’s legacy, with a 1968 Rolling Stone cover story about the them only adding more mystique and fueling fans’ fires. Because really, what the hell was on those tapes?
Now, all these years later, Columbia Records/Legacy Recordings is readying the release of Bob Dylan's The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11, a massive six-disc set with over 100 meticulously salvaged tracks from the sessions in chronological order. Below, we get an alternate cut of “Lo and Behold!” in which a then-26-year-old Dylan lets loose. Which is to say, right before two-minute mark, he starts breaking out into fits of uncontrollable laughter. It’s a great reminder that even iconic legends that reside in the uppermost echelon of music history are people too. Get them in a basement in a remote area with nothing but free time, some recording equipment, and maybe some prescription painkillers for those motorcycle injuries, and well, somewhere in between the sparks of genius, hilarity is bound to ensue.
Listen to this alternate version of “Lo and Behold!” below. The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 will be released on November 4. Additionally, a condensed version of highlights, The Basement Tapes Raw: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11, will also be available as a three-LP set. Pre-order here.