Bob Dylan – The Basement Tapes


Bob Dylan: The Basement Tapes

By Chris P. James

There are a lot of misconceptions about Bob Dylan’s “Basement Tapes”. Having been recorded at such an enormously creative time in music history by one of the most famous and influential artists of the day, this body of work has come to be regarded as the stuff of myth. How could anything live up to the expectations put on this group of “sessions”?

The truth is, they were never intended for release. At best they were demos. But for the most part these recordings are of Dylan with four fifths of his still-on-retainer back-up band messing around in makeshift home studios. Dylan was searching for new ideas and had the luxury of trying things out with these other musicians. There were no pretensions of making his next album or even making sellable recordings of any kind. At least half of these tracks don’t even have a drummer. Many that do, have rudimentary time-keeping of a boom-chick variety that doesn’t sound anything like a studio session drummer. And they seldom sound rehearsed. Bob would just start a song, any song, and some combination of the guys fell in. It’s generally a pretty sloppy affair.