Uncut talks to the musicians, producers and crew who have worked with Dylan from 1989 to 2006, and catches an unprecedented glimpse of the real Bob…

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GOOD AS I BEEN TO YOU (1992)
WORLD GONE WRONG (1993)
30 years on from his debut, Dylan surprised the world again by “going acoustic”, retreating alone to the studio with guitar and harmonica for two magpie collections of beautifully ragged folk and blues standards.

Micajah Ryan, engineer: “Debbie Gold [long-standing Dylan friend, credited as producer on Good As I Been To You] had convinced Dylan to record with just acoustic guitar and vocals. She was my manager, and while I was on vacation she called me to record just a couple of songs for a day or two. I wanted to be professional, got everything prepared. Then in comes Bob Dylan and all bets are off. There just isn’t anyway to prepare for a moment like that. Dylan was on a roll, and I didn’t get back to my family until a couple of months later, when we finished what became Good As I Been…

“It seemed Bob had a very strong idea of what songs needed to be on the record. My job was to record everything he did. I was very nervous at first. But Debbie had a great working relationship with Bob, so that took some of the edge off for me – and for Dylan as well. He consulted Debbie on every take. He trusted her and she was never afraid to tell him the truth, and, boy, was she persistent, often convincing him to stay with a song long after he seemed to lose interest.

“He’d come in each day with at least a couple of songs to work on. He’d do several takes in every key and tempo until he felt he got it. He was rarely conversational with me. But I remember him being concerned with the difference between analogue and digital, how digital recording was ruining modern music. He told me of different techniques he’d heard of – like not letting the digital recording ever go completely to “black”, in an effort to simulate the analogue medium that always has some sound on it, even if it’s hiss. Only Debbie and I were in the control room when Bob played. No-one else ever came to the studio the entire time we recorded Good As I’ve Been To You and World Gone Wrong. I believe that intimacy had a lot to do with the warmth in the sound of his performances.”

  1. 1. Introduction
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  • somebodystolemynamefatboy

    Reminding me of Jackson Pollock; the drunker he splashed, the louder the huzzahs.

  • somebodystolemynamefatboy

    Dylan (IMO) was an inspired songwriter in the early days, but seemed to run out of steam, never to recover (IMO).
    This is not uncommon with songwriters, performers, mathematicians, and others.
    Sometimes it is the better part of grace to retire to one’s garden.

  • JGat

    I can appreciate that you’re tired of 1-4-5. It’s certainly not new. Nor are the 8 notes of a scale, or songs about love, sadness, jealousy or pain. But they can all do miraculous things, depending.on the voice, the time & place, the emotions hidden or revealed. If you feel restricted by the imagined constraints of a particular progression or structure, that’s a cage of your own construction. Have you lost your will to explore, or become so linear in you thinking that you accept or assume everything that can be done there has already been done? It’s really in the hands of the player, isn’t it? Bob absolutely drops.some uninspired frrck along the way. I prefer to allow him some benefit of the doubt after the hundreds of gems he’sproduced. I think one day the kid might get the hang of this songwriting thing.

  • somebodystolemynamefatboy

    Oh boy! A pen pal!
    Sure, 1-4-5 as a structure is nothing for a musician (or a fan) to brag about.
    It’s tired.

  • JGat

    Yes. And the sky is blue. Is there a cogent point here?

  • somebodystolemynamefatboy

    1-4-5 is 1-4-5-.

  • JGat

    Chords aren’t “inspired” or “uninspired” on their own. Any more than hammers and nails. That’s in the hands of the craftsman. Complex or fancy doesn’t mean “inspired”. Sometimes it just means “busy.”

  • Minneapolis Musician

    I am struck by how seriously they all took these recording sessions, like they were doing art for the ages every time the tape rolled. Even if what they were doing in that particular session was actually pretty much poorly played and uninspired. So many unknown musicians today work so hard so long and get no chance, and these guys, so self-important while doing lazy stuff that any decent musician could do.

    Dylan is amazing, and HAS done great stuff. But it’s uneven. He’s also done pedestrian stuff where the emperor has no clothes, and no one has the social courage to admit it. I think Dylan knows that.

  • Rubinstein

    Follow the money

  • somebodystolemynamefatboy

    I can’t speak about the lyrics, but I know uninspired chords when I hear them.
    1-4-5. Wow.