Dylan Opens Up the Vault

Songs from legendary 1962 shows finally get a release

Bob Dylan
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Bob Dylan
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After sitting in the vaults for more than forty years, Bob Dylan's oft-bootlegged acoustic 1962 performances at New York's Gaslight Café — including some of the earliest versions of "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" and "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" and folk gems such as "Barbara Allen" and "The Cuckoo" — will come out on August 30th in official, remastered form. Like Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill Acoustic, Dylan's CD will be sold exclusively at Starbucks — and it debuts the same day as No Direction Home, a Bootleg Series soundtrack of early-Sixties rarities that is a companion to Martin Scorsese's late-September Dylan documentary on PBS.

Why release the remastered Gaslight tapes now, after Dylan fans have demanded them for decades? It's all about the PBS series, says a source close to the project: "By choosing music that is complementary to the time period of the film, we could raise awareness about the television event."

Dylan performed dozens of songs at the Gaslight over several nights, and Starbucks officials worked with Sony BMG and Dylan's management to trim Bob Dylan: Live at the Gaslight 1962 to ten tracks. "This may be the first time people get to listen to Bob Dylan from this particular period, and we wanted to make sure that we released an album that was great to listen to for both the hard-core fans and the initiate," adds the source.

The two-disc No Direction Home soundtrack, available at all record stores, as well as Starbucks, will include rare and unreleased songs and alternate takes from 1961 to 1966. Scorsese's two-part PBS film focuses on the early Sixties and includes revealing new interviews with Dylan.

Dylan, currently touring with Willie Nelson, had little involvement in the CD projects. "Bob really doesn't take his time going through the vaults," says the source. "He leaves this up to his record company. His focus is on touring, making new music and writing his memoirs."

This is a story from the July 28th, 2005 issue of Rolling Stone.

From The Archives Issue 979: July 28, 2005