Bob Dylan’s compilation album of live recordings, The 1966 Live Recordings, comes out Nov. 11.
D.A. Pennabaker/Courtesy of the artist.
Note: In this First Listen, you’ll hear a selection of highlights handpicked from across the full, 36-disc collection of recordings.
Before he began the tour that’s documented on the 36-disc set The 1966 Live Recordings, Bob Dylan was on record as being ambivalent about the road.
Bob Dylan, The 1966 Live Recordings.
Courtesy of the artist.
His electric adventure had started months earlier, with a short, sonically flawed performance at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. The move to electric guitar and a rock backing band brought praise from some quarters and howling derision and doubting criticism from others. By then, he was regularly hailed as an oracle, the voice of his generation — and that responsibility didn’t sit well, either: Upon returning from a U.K. tour later in ’65, he complained about the grind of touring, telling journalist Nat Hentoff he found it “very tiring having other people tell you how much they dig you if you yourself don’t dig you.”
It’s unclear what, exactly, Dylan didn’t dig about what he’d been doing — after all, this was the tour concurrent with Highway 61 Revisited.What is clear: During the months he spent on the road in 1966, he refined a highly individual approach to performance, a way of inhabiting (and then transforming) his songs that was different from anything he’d done before.
Dylan could be plenty compelling solo, in part because he kept the focus on the intricacies of his narratives and the graceful melodic details embedded within them. These aspects of Dylan’s art, apparent from the very beginning of his career, were recently celebrated in the announcement of Dylan’s Nobel Prize in Literature — his “new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”
Hey! Did you enjoy this piece? We can’t do it without you. We are member-supported, so your donation is critical to KCRW's music programming, news reporting, and cultural coverage. Help support the DJs, journalists, and staff of the station you love.