Expecting Rain

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PostPosted: Tue March 19th, 2013, 10:44 GMT 
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Joined: Mon August 29th, 2005, 00:29 GMT
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I have long been enamored of the songs sometimes known as the 1966 hotel tapes. My copies are from Jewels and Binoculars, the exhaustive boot that attempted to present every known 1966 recording in a massive collection of twenty-six discs. The songs themselves are: Positively Van Gogh, Don’t Tell Him, and If You Want My Love (from Denver, March 13th) and What Kind Of Friend Is This?, On A Rainy Afternoon, and I Can't Leave Her Behind (from Glasgow, May 19-20). The Glasgow songs were recorded on film by Howard Alk for the project that eventually became Eat The Document. They have surfaced on various boots, including a lovely re-presentation shared here recently by belleseb32 under the title Shades of Blue.

Not much is known about these songs, presumably all unfinished and perhaps never professionally produced or recorded. The correct title for On A Rainy Afternoon has even been in question, as the song is sometimes referred to as Does She Need Me?

I have often considered these works, especially the songs from Glasgow, as representative of a “road not taken” by Dylan. His motorcycle accident in July 1966 gave him the opportunity to escape the pressures he was feeling, and after some time he began to explore a different musical path with the Band, beginning with rockabilly and country standards.

The songs from Denver and Glasgow are halfway between Blonde On Blonde and The Basement Tapes. They retain some of the sensibilities of Just Like a Woman or She’s Your Lover Now - especially in the subject matter, which seems to be the deeply mysterious ambiguity of relationships. The songs also point towards Big Pink, especially in the emphasis on melody and in the way Dylan’s voice takes on a soaring, wandering quality.

I’ve wondered about sources for these songs and recently, by chance, I discovered one source... sort of. I was whistling On A Rainy Afternoon on a recent, well, rainy afternoon, and it reminded my wife of a song by The Shirelles, Soldier Boy, from 1962.

Here’s a link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NYw83uAQig

As you can hear, the phrase at 0:20, “You were my first love/and you’ll be my last” is quite close to the Dylan’s “Now she's walking in the morning/Howlin' you come home.” That’s the lyric transcription used by Eyolf Østrem, by the way.

Dylan’s “version” is bluesier, melancholy and yet captivating. The Shirelles present their song as upbeat and sweet... a bit too precious for modern tastes, perhaps. Dylan’s song is sweet, too, though - perhaps as sweet as he has ever gotten.

The melody of On A Rainy Afternoon, after that opening couplet, takes off in a different direction and doesn't seem to replicate any more of Soldier Boy. In fact, as the Glasgow recording continues, the song begins to evolve, away from Soldier Boy and into something different. Dylan keeps telling Robbie Robertson that the song needs to be “twice as slow” and it eventually seems to become I Can’t Leave Her Behind. Here's an document (perhaps uneaten?) that shows one way that Dylan took a source, changed it, and then made it his own, and then changed it some more.

Regardless, I thought others on this forum might be interested in my identification - or my wife's! - of that source. I think it is one of his greatest unfinished songs, and one of the most beguiling.


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PostPosted: Tue March 19th, 2013, 22:35 GMT 

Joined: Thu January 31st, 2008, 17:51 GMT
Posts: 967
excellent post,
very funny method of discovery.

i'm enjoying the similarities in the 2 songs!
i can't say if it's coincedence or not, but it's very interesting.

i'd love to read more analysis/info on the hotel tapes.
i read about "what kind of friend is this" being based on
another song - never had time to look into it.

everything about these recordings is mysterious.
even though the sound quality is good, we can't even
figure the lyrics out.


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PostPosted: Wed March 20th, 2013, 03:48 GMT 

Joined: Fri August 17th, 2012, 17:06 GMT
Posts: 20
Funny that this came up. I've been totally obsessed with "On A Rainy Afternoon" as of late. I've been a Dylan fan for nearly a decade but never really had any interest in these hotel tapes. Not sure if I was ever aware of them.

But I gotta say, this song definitely points to a direction that could have been taken, post-Blonde On Blonde. His singing is so beautiful, and melody is breathtaking. Honestly the pretty melody points me in the direction of Nashville Skyline, which I personally love.

You gotta wonder why he didn't follow this one through to completion. It seems like it wasn't just an off-the-cuff thing between him and Robbie, so it's a shame he likely never picked up the thread on this one. However I could see this being played during The Basement Tapes era (not that I think it was). Which to me means his songwriting (at least ballad-wise) from The Basement Tapes-era kinda picks up from this one. So I guess one could say he did kinda follow in this direction regardless of the fact that he didn't finish this song.

Anyways, I sure wouldn't mind if there was ever another recording of this song around, possibly a relatively "finished" one (songwriting-wise, not recording-wise, obviously he didn't properly record this in a studio).


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PostPosted: Wed March 20th, 2013, 03:54 GMT 
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Joined: Mon August 29th, 2005, 00:29 GMT
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Thanks - and What Kind Of Friend Is This is widely recognized as coming from Koko Taylor's What Kind Of Man Is This. She was an influentila blues singer who died in 2009.


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PostPosted: Wed March 20th, 2013, 04:04 GMT 
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Joined: Fri July 15th, 2011, 02:23 GMT
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Koko Taylor is greatly missed...
...and her pleasant, enduring hubby whose ass she dragged all over hell to her shows.
thanks for bringing her into this, Steverino.

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=U6udAGqXJD8


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PostPosted: Mon March 25th, 2013, 17:03 GMT 
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Joined: Tue June 30th, 2009, 05:06 GMT
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Location: you try to get away...they drag you back
one of the most ironic album covers ever:

Image

quite an admirable character, KoKo.


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