A bearded Bob Dylan is alive, well, and recording in Nashville, having finally emerged from his retreat in Woodstock, New York.
In the first two sessions at Columbia's country and western studios, in Nashville, Tennessee, Dylan has recorded three songs: "The Drifter's Escape" (a Kafkaesque tale about a man on trial for nothing); "I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine," and "Frankie Lee and Judas Priest." The first two are between three and four minutes long, and the last just over five and a half minutes.
An authoritative source says the feeling of the songs is close to that of Highway 61 Revisited. Dylan's voice has a fuller sound, says the source, and he is trying to "sing" the tracks, not to chant or talk the lyrics. All are done in a middle tempo, and the backing musicians are all from Nashville.
Producer Bob Johnston, who did Blonde on Blonde, and Highway 61 is pleased with the work so far, as are Columbia executives who have set no release date but want the album out as quickly as possible.
A session last week was planned to complete the album. Columbia has other Dylan songs in the can, but since he is back actively writing and recording, it is every doubtful that they will be released.
Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs will soon be releasing "Top of the Flood," a song Bob wrote recently especially for the blue-grass group.
No one but musicians and technicians have been allowed into the studio, but Dylan has been seen in public in Nashville. The beard is a chin and jaw line bush that makes him look like Abraham Lincoln, particularly since his hair is shorter and he is sporting a black, Menonite-style hat. He looks well, say those who have seen him, and his motorcycle accident in August, 1966, has left no visible scars or other damage, as was rumored in the press.
This story is from the November 23rd, 1967 issue of Rolling Stone.