Earlier this week, Bob Dylan fans learned that the next chapter of his Bootleg Series will focus on his early-Eighties work. The focal point of Springtime in New York: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 16 (1980–1985) is studio outtakes from 1983’s Infidels, but there’s also 1980 tour rehearsals and material recorded for 1981’s Shot of Love and 1985’s Empire Burlesque.
“It’s quite often said that Bob lost his way in the Eighties,” said a source close to the Dylan camp. “But he was searching for his way in the Eighties. This set shows that search.”
There was no tour directly following Infidels, but in the summer of 1984 he did play 27 shows at European stadiums on a double bill with Carlos Santana. The tour was chronicled on the concert album Real Live, and the only recording from it on Springtime in New York is the super rarity “Enough Is Enough” from a show at Ireland’s Slane Castle on July 8th, 1984. The versions of “I and I” and “Girl From the North Country” from Real Live are also from the Slane Castle gig.
But both releases skipped over the final section of the show where Dylan was joined by Van Morrison, Bono, and Carlos Santana in quick succession for a series of poorly rehearsed duets. Bono came out for hilariously mangled attempts at “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” and “Blowin’ in the Wind” where the U2 frontman didn’t know the words and decided to just make up his own on the spot. “How many times must a bombsman last,” he sang in front of 40,000 people and the author of “Blowin’ in the Wind” himself. “How many newspapers must we read before we go to sleep?”
As you can hear from this recording, the Van Morrison segment went far better. That’s largely because they picked “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue,” a song Morrison first recorded as the frontman of Them back in 1966. He’d done it live countless times since then, and had no trouble getting the words right. They follow it up with “Tupelo Honey,” but Dylan lets Morrison handle the verses and he just chimes in on the chorus.
Somewhere in the Dylan vault sits a soundboard tape of this entire show. If the Bootleg Series makes it to Volume 40 or 50, the entire thing might see release. But for that to happen, Bono might need to give his permission, and this is not likely an evening he wants the world to revisit.