List of Basement Tapes songs
The Basement Tapes is a collection of over 100 songs recorded by Bob Dylan and his then-backing group, The Band in the summer of 1967 in West Saugerties, New York, just outside of Woodstock. Almost all tracks were recorded in the basement of a house known as the Big Pink, where members of the Band were staying. Several of the songs are originals, but the majority of the sessions were devoted to covering traditional folk and blues ballads, rock songs, and country music.
Only twenty-four songs from these sessions were released on the official 1975 album, but well before then recordings had been circulating, first appearing on Great White Wonder, generally considered the first popular bootleg. Since their recording, more and more have been discovered and been illicitly released, finally culminating in the release of A Tree with Roots, a bootleg box set which contains almost every single recording made during the sessions. However, two songs were officially released on The Bootleg Series Volumes 1–3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961–1991 in 1991.
Below is an alphabetical list of all known songs from these recording sessions. This list does not include songs that feature only the members of the Band.
|"A Fool Such as I"||Bill Trader||This was a hit for Hank Snow on the country charts in 1953, and a #2 pop hit for Elvis Presley in 1959.|
|"All American Boy"||Bill Parsons, Orville Lunsford||Originally a hit for Bobby Bare, the song has references to Elvis Presley's manager, Colonel Tom Parker. Dylan's version has different lyrics, and some have seen the song as being critical of his own manager during the 1960s, Albert Grossman.|
|"All You Have to Do is Dream" (takes 1 & 2)||Dylan||Levon Helm, who was absent for much of the Basement Tapes sessions, is believed to be present on drums on both takes of this song, one of the last recorded during these sessions.|
|"Apple Suckling Tree" (takes 1 & 2)||Dylan||Griffin suggests this song features either Robertson on drums and Manuel on tambourine, or the other way round. Written to the tune of “Frog Went A-Courting". The second take, with some additional overdubs added in 1975, was released on the official album.|
|"Baby Ain't That Fine"||Dallas Frazier||A 1966 country hit duet for Melba Montgomery and Gene Pitney.|
|"Baby, Won't You Be My Baby"||Dylan|
|"Banks of the Royal Canal"||Brendan Behan||Also known as “The Royal Canal" and “The Auld Triangle", the song is featured in Behan's first play, The Quare Fellow, which is set in Mountjoy Prison, Dublin.|
|"Be Careful of the Stones You Throw" (false start and take)||Bonnie Dodd||Little Jimmy Dickens first recorded this song in 1949, and Hank Williams released the song under his "Luke the Drifter" moniker in 1952. The song was later a hit for Dion DiMucci and Hank Williams Jr.|
|"Belchazaar" (false start and take)||Johnny Cash||A Johnny Cash song released in 1957. One of several Cash covers recorded during the Basement Tapes sessions.|
|"Bells of Rhymney"||Idris Davies, Pete Seeger||Recorded by both The Byrds on the Mr. Tambourine Man album and by Pete Seeger on the Pete Seeger and Sonny Terry at Carnegie Hall album.|
|"Big River" (takes 1 & 2)||Cash||One of several Johnny Cash cover from the sessions. Cash recorded the song for Sun Records in 1958. Take 1 breaks down.|
|"Bonnie Ship the Diamond"||Traditional||A traditional sea shanty.|
|"Bourbon Street"||Dylan||This, along with “Don't Ya Tell Henry," prominently features the trombone.|
|"Bring it on Home"||Bo Diddley, Dylan||A variation of Bo Diddley's “Bring It To Jerome", recorded in 1955.|
|"Clothes Line Saga" (false start & take)||Dylan||Also known as "Answer to Ode," this song is widely believed to be a parody of Bobbie Gentry's 1967 hit "Ode to Billie Joe".|
|"Come All Ye Fair and Tender Ladies"||Traditional|
|"Comin' Round the Mountain"||A western song copyrighted by Spencer Williams in 1923.|
|"Confidential"||Dorinda Morgan||Cover of a 1956 hit by Sonny Knight.|
|"Cool Water"||Bob Nolan||A song widely recorded by a variety of artists.|
|"Crash on the Levee (Down in the Flood)" (takes 1 & 2)||Dylan||Take two was officially released on the 1975 album.|
|"Don't Ya Tell Henry"||Dylan||The official album features the song, but that recording is without Dylan.|
|"Don't You Try Me Now||Dylan|
|"Down on Me"||Traditional||This is just a fragment of a traditional song which had been recorded by both Odetta and Eric von Schmidt.|
|"Flight of the Bumblebee"||Rimsky-Korsakov||Not really a cover of the song itself, it seems to be an improvisation begun by Dylan and the Hawks after being amused by Manuel playing a few seconds of "Flight of the Bumblebee," with the lyrics sounding "as if it's poetry night in a 1956 San Francisco jazz club."|
|"Folsom Prison Blues"||Cash||Another Johnny Cash cover, first recorded by Cash in 1956.|
|"Four Strong Winds"||Ian Tyson||One of a number of Ian and Sylvia Tyson songs. Ian and Sylvia recorded several Basement Tapes songs as well.|
|"The French Girl" (false start and 2 takes)||Tyson||Another Ian and Sylvia Tyson song. Dylan would return to this in the late 1980s while touring with The Grateful Dead.|
|"Get Your Rocks Off"||Dylan||A Basement Tapes original later covered by Manfred Mann's Earth Band on their 1973 album Messin'.|
|"Going Down the Road Feeling Bad"||Traditional||First recorded in 1923 by Henry Whitter. John Ford used it for his film adaptation of Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. By the time Dylan informally recorded it during the basement sessions, he had been playing the song for several years.|
|"Goin' to Acapulco"||Dylan||A Basement Tapes original completely unknown until it was released in 1975 on the official album.|
|"Gonna Get You Now"||Dylan|
|"(They) Gotta Quit Kicking My Dog Around"||James A. Bland||Two different accounts of the origins of this song have been published. Alan Lomax published it as "The Hound Dawg Song" in his book, The Folk Songs of North America (1960), and suggests that the song's origins date back to the 1880s. Others have suggested the song was written by James A. Bland. Sources agree earliest recorded version was released by Gid Tanner and his Skillet Lickers in 1928.|
|"The Hills of Mexico"||Traditional||Dylan ends the performance near the three minute mark, advising Garth Hudson not to record the performance as it is just “wasting tape". This song has been recorded by Woody Guthrie, Johnny Cash, and many others. During his Never Ending Tour, Dylan performed "On the Trail of the Buffalo" many times.|
|"I Can't Come in With a Broken Heart" (false start and take)||Dylan|
|"I Can't Make it Alone"||Dylan|
|"It Don't Hurt Anymore"||Don Robertson, Jack Rollins||First recorded by Hank Snow in 1954, where it became a number one hit in the country charts.|
|"I Forgot to Remember to Forget"||Stan Kesler, Charlie Feathers||Made famous by Elvis Presley in 1955. This version bears little resemblance to Elvis's rendition.|
|"I'm Alright"||Dylan||Only a fragment.|
|"I'm a Fool for You"||Dylan|
|"I'm Guilty of Loving You"||Dylan||Another fragment. Greil Marcus states this may be loosely based on Jim Reeves' 1963 song "Guilty".|
|"I'm in the Mood for Love"||John Lee Hooker||Recorded by John Lee Hooker in 1951. Robertson and Danko also recorded the song in 1965 with John Hammond, Jr.|
|"I'm Not There (1956)"||Dylan||One of the most famous and highly regarded outtakes, not just of the Basement Tapes, but Dylan's whole career. The 2007 film about Dylan entitled I'm Not There takes its title from this song, which was released on the film's soundtrack.|
|"I Shall Be Released"||Dylan||Perhaps the most famous Basement Tapes number, and the most widely covered. However, it was not included in the official 1975 album. This 1967 recording was finally released by Sony in 1991 on The Bootleg Series Volumes 1–3.|
|"I'm Your Teenage Prayer" (false start and take)||Dylan|
|"Johnny Todd"||Traditional||A sea chanty revived during the early 1950s by the folk revival. Made widely known by Bob Roberts.|
|"Joshua Gone Barbados"||Eric Von Schmidt||Recorded by von Schmidt in 1963. Von Schmidt also taught Dylan the song “Baby, Let Me Follow You Down", written by Reverend Gary Davis which Dylan covered on his debut album in 1962 and also played in the 1966 shows with The Band for the world tour.|
|"The King of France"||Dylan|
|"Lock Your Door"||Dylan||Only a fragment.|
|"Lo and Behold!" (takes 1 & 2)||Dylan||Take 2 was released on the official album.|
|"Minstrel Boy"||Dylan||Released on The Bootleg Series Vol. 10 – Another Self Portrait (1969–1971)|
|"Million Dollar Bash" (takes 1 & 2)||Dylan||One of the more famous basement recordings; released on the official album. Recorded by Fairport Convention and released in 1969 on Unhalfbricking.|
|"Next Time on the Highway"||Dylan|
|"Nine Hundred Miles"||Traditional||Woody Guthrie made this song a folk standard.|
|"Nothing Was Delivered" (takes 1 & 2, fragment)||Dylan||Take 1 released on the official album. Recorded by The Byrds and released on 1969 on Sweetheart of the Rodeo.|
|"Odds and Ends" (takes 1 & 2)||Dylan||Officially released, with overdubs, on the official album.|
|"Ol' Roison the Beau"||Traditional||A folk revival standard.|
|"On a Rainy Afternoon"||Dylan|
|"One For the Road"||Dylan||The song has been described as an enjoyably sloppy, improvised version of a Sinatra number ("One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)").|
|"One Man's Loss"||Dylan||Marcus states this is probably loosely based on Dick Thomas's 1950 Hank William's-styled “One Man's Loss is Another Man's Gain."|
|"One Single River"||Ian Tyson, Sylvia Fricker||Another Ian and Sylvia song, which they recorded under the title "Song for Canada".|
|"Open the Door, Homer" (takes 1, 2, 3)||Dylan||The chorus echoes the 1947 hit song "Open the Door, Richard" by Jack McVea which reached number one in the charts in 1947, recorded by Count Basie.|
|"People Get Ready"||Curtis Mayfield|
|"Please Mrs. Henry"||Dylan||Appears on the acetate and the official album. Notable for Paul McCartney trying to get The Beatles to record it during the Let It Be sessions. Other bands to cover the song include Cheap Trick, Manfred Mann's Earth Band and Chris Spedding.|
|"Po' Lazarus"||Traditional||A song Dylan originally performed in 1961.|
|"Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)" (takes 1 & 2)||Dylan||This Basement Tape song was a massive hit for Manfred Mann in January 1968, reaching number one in the UK singles chart. Dylan's take one originally appeared on the first rock bootleg album, Great White Wonder, in 1969. Take two appeared on Dylan's 1985 compilation album, Biograph.|
|"Rock, Salt, and Nails"||Utah Phillips||First recorded by Rosalie Sorrells, made a hit by the bluegrass artists Flatt & Scruggs.|
|"Santa-Fe"||Dylan||A Dylan original that was finally released on The Bootleg Series Volumes 1–3 in 1991.|
|"See That My Grave Is Kept Clean"||Blind Lemon Jefferson||First recorded in 1928 by Jefferson, famously included in the Anthology of American Folk Music, and first recorded by Dylan in 1962 for his eponymous debut album.|
|"See You Later Allen Ginsberg"||Dylan||Variation on “See You Later, Alligator". The title is coined by one of the members of The Band at the beginning of first take, causing Dylan to laugh. Years later Robbie Robertson referred to some of these sessions as "reefer run amok." The first take ends abruptly, with Dylan giving instructions to erase the take.|
|"Silent Weekend"||Dylan||one of the original compositions. Originally slated for official release on The Bootleg Series Vol 1-3, released in 1991, but yanked from that release when the planned four disc release was trimmed down to three discs.|
|"Sign on the Cross"||Dylan||The longest recording of the Basement Tapes, and often regarded as one of the highlights from the sessions.|
|"Silhouettes"||Frank Slay Jr., Bob Crewe||a very brief cover of The Rays' #3 doowop song, released in 1957.|
|"Spanish is the Loving Tongue"||Charles Badger Clark||Written by 'the cowboy poet' Charles Badger Clark, and published in 1915 as a poem: "A Border Affair"; it was later set to music by Billy Simon. Dylan subsequently recorded this song twice; the second version was released as the B-side of his 1971 single "Watching the River Flow"; the third version was released on Columbia's so-called "revenge album", Dylan, in 1973, but was recorded earlier, during the Self Portrait sessions in Nashville in 1969.|
|"The Spanish Song" (takes 1 & 2)||Dylan||This song, and its partner Take 2, are bizarre recordings by Dylan and The Band, suggesting a high-spirited caricature of Spanish music. Griffin suggests that the improvised lyrics and encouraging laughter give these recordings the quality of a party tape. Greil Marcus described these recording as "complete dementia with the spirit of Sam Peckinpah present to crack the whip".|
|"Still in Town, Still Around"||Hank Cochran, Harlan Howard||One of several songs covered by Dylan and The Band that were most familiar from Johnny Cash versions.|
|"This Wheel's on Fire"||Dylan, Rick Danko||A Basement Tapes original covered by The Band on Music From Big Pink, and also released on the official 1975 album.|
|"Tears of Rage" (takes 1, 2, 3)||Dylan, Richard Manuel||The first take of one of the most famous Basement Tapes songs. The song has gone on to be one of the most covered tunes from the basement sessions. The Band recorded their own version, which appeared as the opening track of their first album Music From Big Pink. Take two breaks down, and take three was released on the official album.|
|"Tiny Montgomery"||Dylan||Released on the official album.|
|"Too Much of Nothing" (takes 1 & 2)||Dylan||Take one appears on the official album, and is notably different in arrangement from take two, which appeared on Great White Wonder.|
|"Try Me Little Girl"||Dylan||A rehearsal in which Dylan sings in a weak falsetto voice.|
|"Tupelo"||John Lee Hooker||Recorded by Hooker in 1959.|
|"Untitled instrumental"||Dylan||Fragment that appears just before "Under Control". On most bootleg copies the tape stops and “Under Control" begins immediately, suggesting that the instrumental may have erased the opening bars of “Under Control". Just before "Under Control" begins, Dylan can be heard saying that his guitar is not suited to that kind of instrumental music.|
|"Waltzing with Sin" (false start and take)||Hayes-Burns|
|"Wildwood Flower"||A. P. Carter||A song which The Carter Family made a standard, taking the song all the way to the number 3 spot in the music charts in 1928.|
|"Yea! Heavy and a Bottle of Bread" (takes 1 & 2)||Take two appears on the official release.|
|"You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" (takes 1 & 2)||Dylan||On the first take, the lyrics of this song are both improvised and absurd: "Now look here, dear soup, you must feed the cats/ The cats need feeding and you're the one to do it/ Get your hat and feed the cats/ You ain't goin' nowhere". The lyrics are tightened up by take two, so it's a chance to hear Dylan's improvisatory style of writing in action. Dylan recorded this again, with slightly different lyrics, for Greatest Hits II.|
|"You Win Again"||Hank Williams||Williams released the song in 1952. Dylan models his version on the Jerry Lee Lewis b-side version to "Great Balls of Fire", which was a number 2 hit in 1957.|
|"Young But Daily Growing"||Traditional||One of the oldest songs in Dylan's repertoire. A recording exists of Dylan singing this song in Minneapolis in 1961. Although he has additional accompaniment, this recording sounds very similar to his 1961 rendition.|
- Marcus, The Old, Weird America, p. 253.
- Griffin, Million Dollar Bash, p. 182.
- Marcus, The Old, Weird America, p. 237.
- Griffin, Million Dollar Bash, pp. 225–226.
- Griffin, Million Dollar Bash, p. 240.
- Marcus, The Old, Weird America, p. 238.
- Griffin, 2007, Million Dollar Bash, pp. 220–221.
- Griffin, 2007, Million Dollar Bash, p. 131.
- Griffin, 2007, Million Dollar Bash, p. 166.
- Marcus, The Old, Weird America, p. 256.
- Griffin, Million Dollar Bash, p. 218.
- Marcus, The Old, Weird America, p. 143.
- Griffin, Million Dollar Bash, p. 216.
- Marcus, The Old, Weird America, p. 242.
- Marcus, The Old, Weird America, p. 244.
- Griffin, 2007, Million Dollar Bash, pp. 175–176.
- Barker, 2008, Bob Dylan: The Songs He Didn't Write: Bob Dylan Under the Influence , p. 126.
- Barker, 2008, Bob Dylan: The Songs He Didn't Write: Bob Dylan Under the Influence , pp. 360–362.
- Marcus, The Old, Weird America, p. 248.
- Greil Marcus wrote: "There is nothing like 'I'm Not There' in the rest of the basement recordings, or anywhere else in Bob Dylan’s career. Very quickly the listener is drawn into the sickly embrace of the music, its wash of half-heard, half-formed words and the increasing bitterness and despair behind them. Words are floated together in a dyslexia that is music itself – a dyslexia that seems to prove the claims of music over words, to see just how little words can achieve."; see Marcus, The Old, Weird America, pp. 198–204.
- Griffin, 2007, Million Dollar Bash, pp. 203–204.
- Marcus, 2013, The Bootleg Series Vol. 10 – Another Self Portrait (1969–1971) liner notes, p. 51.
- Griffin, 2007, Million Dollar Bash, pp. 126–127.
- Marcus, The Old, Weird America, p.254.
- Griffin, 2007, Million Dollar Bash, pp. 211–212.
- Marcus, The Old, Weird America, p. 255.
- Griffin, 2007, Million Dollar Bash, p. 324.
- Griffin, 2007, Million Dollar Bash, p. 187.
- Heylin, Clinton. The Recording Sessions [1960–1994], p. 62.
- Marcus, The Old, Weird America, p. 259.
- Griffin, 2007, Million Dollar Bash, p. 133.
- Barker, 2008, Bob Dylan: The Songs He Didn't Write: Bob Dylan Under the Influence , pp. 330–332.
- Griffin, 2007, Million Dollar Bash, pp. 178–179.
- Marcus, The Old, Weird America, p. 260.
- Griffin, 2007, Million Dollar Bash, pp. 199–200.
- "Dylan's approach never changed. Alone, as in 1961, or surrounded by Danko's deep bass, Manuel's lap Hawaiian guitar with his own guitar barely leading the music—it's so slow, it barely can be led; the melody pulls back against the singer—he gives himself up to the song, disappears into it, becoming all of its actors, with as much sympathy for the father as for the daughter as for the husband as for the son." Marcus, The Old, Weird America, p. 264.
- Barker, Derek. Bob Dylan: The Songs He Didn't Write: Bob Dylan Under the Influence (New Malden: Chrome Dreams 2008). ISBN 978-1-84240-424-9
- Griffin, Sid. Million Dollar Bash: Bob Dylan, the Band, and the Basement Tapes (London: Jawbone, 2007). ISBN 978-1-906002-05-3
- Heylin, Clinton. The Recording Sessions [1960–1994] (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1995). ISBN 0-312-15067-9
- Marcus, Greil, with Michael Simmons. The Bootleg Series Vol. 10 – Another Self Portrait (1969–1971) CD booklet (2013).
- Marcus, Greil. Invisible Republic: Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes (New York: Henry Holt, 1997) ISBN 0-8050-3393-9 later re-published as:
- Marcus, Greil. The Old, Weird America (New York: St Martin's Press, 2001) ISBN 978-0-312-42043-7