Fiftieth Anniversary Collection (1963)

A couple of weeks ago I had dinner in Toronto with my friend Peter, who admitted to falling behind on this blog. Talk turned, as it has so often for me this year, to Bob Dylan. He asked me if I had complete recordings of the Town Hall Concert from 1963 and the Carnegie Hall show from October of the same year. He mentioned that one of his customers – Peter is a retailer – had unexpectedly brought him some CDs of this show, and he’d be happy to copy them for me. We checked my phone – more than half of its storage taken up with Dylan songs – and I told him that I did have a complete Town Hall, but not a complete Carnegie Hall show.
Just as at the end of 2012, at the end of 2013 Sony dumped a bunch of Dylan material into the European market in order to extend their copyright on it. This time they did it as a series of six LPs, and only 100 copies were made. It immediately became a hot collectible and wound up on the torrent sites. This set is a little better than the 1962 set and it has some interesting choices. Most of the material that had not yet received an official release was well circulated as bootlegs.
The set opens with unused outtakes and version from the sessions for The Times They Are a-Changin’. This stuff has been extremely picked over by the various Bootleg Series releases, so we’re now down to the items that have almost no chance of an official release. This is for the diehardiest of the diehards. It is followed by a Greenwich Village set from Gerdes Folk City, that I already had.
The Town Hall show takes up most of the second and third LPs. As I said, I had this already, but once again Sony has made it sound just that little bit better. The fourth LP includes five songs from the “second MacKenzie tape”. My version of that bootleg had thirteen, including a number of instrumentals. Perhaps there is a reason that they deemed some of the music not worthy of protecting. The sound quality here means that this is unlikely to get a commercial release anyway.
The set continues with Dylan’s songs from his interview with Studs Terkel, but not the interview itself, and the Bear Club show, which I already had. They include his performances from the March on Washington and from the television show Songs of Freedom (two songs that I did not have).
Finally, the set ends with nine songs from the Carnegie Hall show in October 1963. This was professionally recorded by Columbia for a potential live album that never came to be. It is now entirely available legally, although you have to do the work of putting it together on your own. Here is the complicated release history of this show, which included nineteen tracks.
Songs #3 (“Who Killed Davey Moore?”) and #5 (“Talking John Birch Paranoid Blues”) were released on the first Bootleg Series.
Songs #12 (“Hard Rain”) and #19 (“When the Ship Comes In”) were released on No Direction Home, the seventh Bootleg Series album.
Bizarrely, six songs were put out on the promotional EP Live at Carnegie Hall in 2005, bringing the total to ten.
The remaining nine were put out on this release for the lucky 100 people.
Fortunately you can patch all this together on an iTunes playlist and listen to the whole thing.
I guess that they aren’t going to put this album out, which is a shame. The Bootleg Series has included a 1964 show and a 1966 show, so a 1963 one might not be forthcoming.
I’m happy to be able to piece this all together now, but the whole thing is like a metaphor for this blog – a lot of scrambling around to try to figure out how to get all the Dylan parts that I want!
Here’s “Seven Curses” from Carnegie Hall

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