Bob Dylan and the Band, “Lo and Behold” (2014): One Track Mind

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A deeper dive into The Basement Tapes gives us a chance to hear the Band when they could sound unkempt and dangerous like their former selves as the Hawks — and Bob Dylan when he didn’t take himself nearly so seriously.

Such is the continuing wonder of “Lo and Behold,” featured here as an alternate take from the forthcoming six-disc Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11. We find a loose and talkative Dylan tracing the steps of a trucker on the run, after some unspoken misdeed. Along the way, Dylan’s imagination is completely unloosed, as the trucker makes new friends of Moby Dick and Molly, offers a salacious reference to a red-light district called Chicken Town, and subsequently purchases a flock of flying geese. Oh, and there’s also talk of doubling back to Pittsburgh, after a side trip to Tennessee.

This narrative — there seems to be a search for absolution tucked away in that series of fantastical items — was initially released, on 1975’s polished-up Basement Tapes, as a rambuctious slice of gothic Americana. The new take finds “Lo and Behold” at its earliest moment, loose and not quite fully formed, with Garth Hudson’s organ further back in the mix, the acoustic less mannered, and Dylan simply breaking up over his own impish wordplay.

Maybe this isn’t an essential moment. Maybe none of The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 (due from Legacy on November 4, 2014) really is. But it sure is a humanizing thing, after so much myth making about both Bob Dylan and the Band. This is the sound of creation happening, and friendship, too.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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