Wednesday, February 11, 2009

"Watching The River Flow" - Hypothetical 1972 Bob Dylan Album

It's hard to believe it, but in 1971 to 1972, Bob Dylan's career was in serious danger. 1971 was the first year without an album release by Bob since 1963. After New Morning things dried up and Dylan put an odd amount of devotion into Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits, Vol. II by recording several of his famous compositions that he hadn't recorded himself. He also recorded one new song, "Watching The River Flow" with Leon Russell. Leon also produced a recording of the Basement Tapes song "When I Paint My Masterpiece". At the sessions with Leon he also recorded "Wallflower", which wouldn't be released until The Bootleg Series Vol. 1-3, and the infamous "George Jackson" single, which has yet to make a widespread CD appearance. (It has been released on several international compilations, although none in North America; it is currently available in the iTunes Collection, though you have to re-buy his whole catalog.)
However, I think it is right to contemplate: What if, instead of spreading these tracks out on singles and on a compilation, he released an album in 1972? Here's my hypothetical idea:
Side One:

  1. Watching The River Flow (3:39)
  2. George Jackson (Big Band Version) (5:35)
  3. Wallflower (2:49)
  4. When I Paint My Masterpiece (3:25)
Side Two:
  1. George Jackson (Acoustic Version) (3:33)
  2. Spanish Is The Loving Tongue (3:38)
  3. I Shall Be Released (3:06)
  4. You Ain't Goin' Nowhere (2:49)
  5. Down In The Flood (Crash On The Levee) (2:48)
Now, the run time would be about 31 minutes, which is short. For an album in 1972, though, it wouldn't be such a stretch. Side one would include all four electric Leon Russel songs. Side two would have the acoustic "George Jackson" as the lead off, since it is such a strong track. "Spanish Is The Loving Tongue", recorded during New Morning, featuring just Dylan and a piano, so it fits as a perfect lead-in to the three Basement tapes songs from GH, V. II, recorded with Happy Traum. "Crash On The Levee" is such a strong song, that I think it would make for an ideal closer, since it performs that job relatively well on GH, V. II.
Whether this album would have been a hit or not, no one could know. Dylan himself obviously did not feel the songs would have worked together as an album, if he even ever considered it.


Mr. Mustard said...

That's a really cool idea. I can imagine it in the pages of Chronicles. Nice blog. I'll give it a link!

dsl89 said...