The next installment of Bob Dylan‘s epic Bootleg Series, The Cutting Edge 1965–1966: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 12, zeroes in on Dylan’s early electric period, presenting dozens of outtakes from the albums Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde. In advance of the release, Bob Egan, the rock scholar behind PopSpots, is telling the stories behind the covers of these landmark LPs in a series of mini documentaries. Last month, we premiered a video focused on Bringing It All Back Home, and today, we present Egan’s piece on Highway 61 Revisited.
Egan traces Dylan and photographer Daniel Kramer’s path from Greenwich Village up to Gramercy Park on the day of the Highway 61 shoot. The pair lunched at O. Henry’s Steak House on 6th Avenue and West 4th Street before heading to an apartment owned by Dylan’s then-manager, Albert Grossman. (The Bringing It All Back Home cover had been shot at Grossman’s Bearsville estate.) Dylan insisted on going inside and donning his newly acquired Triumph Motorcycles T-shirt. Beyond that, according to Kramer, there was no particular plan.
The famous image came about when Dylan sat down on the front stoop, in front of the apartment building’s ornate doorway. Sizing up the shot, Kramer felt that the background was “all naked,” so he asked Dylan’s friend Bob Neuwirth to stand behind the singer. Kramer then handed Neuwirth one of his cameras. “Once he did that, it seems like something’s going on,” Kramer tells Egan of the photo’s cryptic narrative quality. Kramer took two photos of the setup, and the second became the Highway 61 cover, a more-spontaneous counterpart to the Bringing It All Back Home image. “This wasn’t even expected that we would do a picture like this,” he says.
The Cutting Edge 1965–1966: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 12 is out November 6th in three different versions: a six-CD deluxe set, a two-CD best-of and an 18-CD collector’s edition, featuring “every single note recorded by Bob Dylan in the studio in 1965/1966.” Bob Egan’s video on the making of the Blonde on Blonde cover premieres October 27th.