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Bob Dylan's 'Self Portrait' Man

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He met Dylan at the Bitter End: "He was there to hear Jerry Jeff. He told me afterwards that he liked my guitar playing and I just mumbled something in reply. Al Aronowitz introduced us. I was just backin' up Jerry so I didn't play any of my songs. I knew Dylan was in the audience but I wasn't really very nervous about it. I played good that night though.

"Afterwards he said he liked my playing and that we'd have to get together sometime. I said, 'Oh yeah . . . you . . . music,' something like that. I was too stoned to say anything more coherent.

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"He showed up again when I was playing with Paxton at the Bitter End. As a matter of fact, Paul Colby told me later that Dylan told him he was going to do a record with me but he sure didn't tell me that. But he started showing up every time I was at the Bitter End. I was playing with all kinds of people – Paxton, Doug Kershaw, a girl named Ky and some others but he showed up once a week everytime I was there. Every time he came in we talked and I became more coherent. At one point he said he'd like to get me in a studio sometime but it was too good to be true so I didn't really want to believe it until it happened.

"One afternoon he came up to my house. I was out of town for a while and when I came back I had a message from my answering service that Mr. Dilan had called and I figured it was Patrick Sky playing a joke but Pat denied it, of course, and I eventually found out it was Dylan. I got in touch with him and he came over to visit me one afternoon. We played all afternoon.

"He's really fantastic. He really sang beautifully. I was floored. I was about five feet away from him and to hear him sing that close to you is really great. I really enjoyed it. We talked about music and his records, about what he wanted to do. I don't know if I should really go into all of that because it's like a private conversation. It was really fascinating to see how straight he was. After reading all those Dylan interviews and all those Dylan interviews and all those mysterious things you hear about him you expect the guy to be some kind of Sphinx who speaks in riddles.

"After that I didn't hear from him for about a month and then he called me up about two o'clock one afternoon and asked me what I was doing. He said he was going to test out these studios and would I like to come along, and I said sure. It turned out we had to be in the studio in half an hour and that was the beginning of the sessions for Self Portrait.

Bromberg remembers the sessions as "stream of consciousness things" – one song after another for hours, and he was sick with a high fever. He would work all day, go home, fall asleep and wake up in time to go back to the studio.

"I didn't remember anything we'd done until after the album came out. It was really a challenge, for instance, working on "Little Sadie." You can tell if you listen to it that he's improvising almost everything he does and even he doesn't know what he's going to do next. All I can say about him is he's a good man, I get good vibrations from him, I like to play with him. That he's a genius I don't question for a minute."

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Coming up for Dave is an album with Mary Travers, and possibly one with Paul McCartney: "Barry Kornfeld called me up and said Paul was looking for musicians so I went over to the studio with my guitar and dobro. We played some together and got along well so I may be on his next album."

And after that, there will be another album — his own:

"I want to do as loose an album as I can with a lot of musicians I like."

This story is from the November 26th, 1970 issue of Rolling Stone.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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