When I Paint My Masterpiece
|"When I Paint My Masterpiece"|
|Song by The Band|
|from the album Cahoots|
|Released||September 15, 1971|
|"When I Paint My Masterpiece"|
|Song by Bob Dylan|
|from the album Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits Vol. II|
|Released||November 17, 1971|
|Recorded||16-19 March 1971|
|Studio||Blue Rock Studio|
Dylan himself recorded the song at New York's Blue Rock Studio when he was backed by Leon Russell and session musicians, including Jesse Ed Davis on lead guitar. The recording sessions lasted from March 16 to 19, 1971, and also saw the recording of the 45 RPM single "Watching the River Flow", released by CBS Records on June 3, 1971. Both songs appeared on Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits Vol. II, released November 17, 1971, with Russell credited as the producer of the two songs.
During the March 1971 sessions at Blue Rock Studio, Dylan also recorded a solo version with slightly different lyrics, accompanying himself on piano. This version was released in 2013 on The Bootleg Series Vol. 10: Another Self Portrait (1969–1971).
Dylan and The Band performed the song together live, in the early hours of January 1, 1972, at a New Year's Eve concert by The Band; a recording was released as a bonus track on the 2001 CD reissue of The Band's live album Rock of Ages.
In 2019, five live performances of the song from Dylan's 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue tour were released on the box set The Rolling Thunder Revue: The 1975 Live Recordings.
The Band performed the song at the 1992 Bob Dylan tribute concert. The recording is on the CD of the event.
In popular culture
Dylan's recording is played during the closing credits of the 2013 documentary Tim's Vermeer.
The Band's version of the song was featured in the 2009 film Observe and Report.
Dylan's recording was used over the ending of the 2002 film Comedian.
"When I Paint My Masterpiece" was frequently performed by the Grateful Dead in concerts starting in 1987; the song was sometimes played alongside several other Dylan songs. Though Grateful Dead vocalist Bob Weir sang lead on the song when it was played by the band, lead singer Jerry Garcia had played the song as early as 1972 with Merl Saunders and John Kahn, both of whom would become members of the Jerry Garcia Band.
Emmylou Harris recorded a version of the song for her album Portraits in 2008.
Elliott Smith often played the song live.
The bluegrass band Greensky Bluegrass included a live version of the song on their 2010 live album "All Access: Volume 1" recorded at The Riviera Theatre in Three Rivers, MI on Nov. 27, 2009. The song has a regular rotation in their live performances.
Blake Mills performed a live solo version of "When I Paint My Masterpiece" on Bob Dylan's iconic Stratocaster to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Dylan's performance at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival.
The Backyard Committee included a live version on their album "Plains" released in 2017.
Personnel for studio recording released on Cahoots by The Band
- Levon Helm - lead vocals, mandolin
- Robbie Robertson - acoustic guitar
- Garth Hudson - accordion
- Rick Danko - bass
- Richard Manuel - drums
Personnel for Bob Dylan studio recording, March 1971
- Bob Dylan - vocal, guitar & harmonica
- Leon Russell - piano
- Jesse Ed Davis - guitar
- Don Preston - guitar
- Carl Radle - bass
- Jim Keltner - drums
- Claudia Linnear & Kathi McDonald - backing vocals