Bob Dylan Plotting Coffeehouse Years Collection for Future Bootleg Series
Bob Dylan’s More Blood, More Tracks: The Bootleg Series Vol. 14 doesn’t arrive until November 2nd, but his team is already thinking about their next archival release. While nothing is confirmed, the singer’s team is most excited at a future Bootleg Series spotlighting his pre-fame days as a coffeehouse performer in New York’s Greenwich Village.
“We’ve wanted to do a Bootleg Series on Bob’s earliest performances for a long time,” says a source close to the Bob Dylan camp. “For decades we’ve been collecting tapes from the time before he began making official recordings. I think it would be really interesting to go through those. We’ll probably call it something like The Villager.”
Recordings from his era have been circulating within fan circles for decades, most notably a trio of tapes that Dylan’s girlfriend Bonnie Beecher and his friend Tony Glover created between May and December of 1961. The vast majority of songs in his set at the time were covers like “Baby Please Don’t Go,” “I Ain’t Go No Home” and “Man of Constant Sorrow.” “We have some beautiful-sounding tapes that nobody has ever heard,” says the source. “Or if they have, we have first generation tapes.”
Also under consideration is a Bootleg Series chronicling the creation of Dylan’s 1997 comeback album Time Out of Mind. “It would be really fun to reexamine that period,” says the source. “There’s tons of material even though we used some of it on [the 2008 Bootleg Series] Tell Tale Signs. There’s different versions of songs on the album, early versions…It’s a robust collection of stuff, so we’re thinking about doing it.”
Last year, Dylan’s gospel period of 1979 to 1981 was the subject of a Bootleg Series. A future set might tell the story of what happened in the immediate aftermath. “We might do something that reexamines the early 1980s,” says the source. “It’ll be about the period between Shot of Love and Infidels. There’s still a lot to explore there.”
A European copyright law that says recordings enter the public domain if they’re unused for 50 years has forced the Dylan camp to release nearly everything in the vault from 1965 to 1967, and it may compel them to release even more going forward. “The  Johnny Cash sessions will probably wind up coming out in 2019,” says the source. “Maybe if people want them, they’ll be a Bootleg Series. There’s a couple of tracks that nobody has heard that are really interesting. I just don’t love them because they change the keys of the songs.”
A documentary about the 1975/76 Rolling Thunder tour has been in the works for nearly a decade. “We’re hoping it comes out next year,” says the source.
How about a Bootleg Series focusing on the Never Ending Tour, which celebrated its 30th anniversary back in June? “We’re thinking about something like that,” says the source. “That would be fun.” A sequel to Dylan’s 2005 book Chronicles: Volume One? “No idea,” says the source. “That would be great though.”
Broadly speaking, there’s no master plan when it comes to plotting out future archival Dylan releases. “What happens is we start listening to tapes,” says the source. “We see what gets us excited. Once you get excited you can start digging, which is what happened with the gospel collection. We’ll only stop doing them once we stop finding things that excites us.”
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