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The Bootleg Series: Vol. 9: The Witmark Demos: 1962-1964


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BOB DYLAN Biography by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Bob Dylan's influence on popular music is incalculable. As a songwriter, he pioneered several different schools of pop songwriting, from confessional singer/songwriter to winding, hallucinatory, stream-of-consciousness narratives. As a vocalist, he broke down the notion that a singer must have a conventionally good voice in order to ... Read more in Amazon's Bob Dylan Store

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Frequently Bought Together

The Bootleg Series: Vol. 9: The Witmark Demos: 1962-1964 + The Bootleg Series, Vol. 8, Tell Tale Signs [Rare And Unreleased] 1989-2006 + Another Self Portrait (1969-1971): The Bootleg Series Vol. 10
Price For All Three: £29.87

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Product details

  • Audio CD (18 Oct. 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Columbia / Legacy
  • ASIN: B0040GJ312
  • Other Editions: Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 32,932 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Man On The Street (Fragment)
2. Hard Times In New York Town
3. Poor Boy Blues
4. Ballad For A Friend
5. Rambling, Gambling Willie
6. Talking Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues
7. Standing On The Highway
8. Man On The Street
9. Blowin' In The Wind
10. Long Ago, Far Away
See all 25 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Don't Think Twice, It's All Right
2. Walkin' Down The Line
3. I Shall Be Free
4. Bob Dylan's Blues
5. Bob Dylan's Dream
6. Boots Of Spanish Leather
7. Walls of Red Wing
8. Girl From The North Country
9. Seven Curses
10. Hero Blues
See all 23 tracks on this disc

Product Description

The Witmark Demos see their first commercial release nearly five decades after they were first recorded. The Witmark Demos features 47 Bob Dylan songs recorded by the artist – accompanied only by his acoustic guitar, harmonica and occasionally piano – for his first music publisher, Leeds Music, in January 1962, and for his second publisher, M. Witmark & Sons, between 1962 and 1964. Listening to these recordings, one can trace Dylan’s dramatic growth as a songwriter from early traditionally-styled songs like “Man On The Street” and “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Willie” through the social commentary of “Blowin’ In The Wind, “The Times They Are A Changin’” and “Masters Of War”, and the groundbreaking lyrical genius of “Mr. Tambourine Man.” All of these songs, and all the others on The Witmark Demos, were written – and their subsequent demos recorded – before Bob Dylan turned 24 years old. Among the many gems found on The Witmark Demos are 15 Bob Dylan songs that were recorded by the artist only for these sessions, and which had never been officially released to the public. These include the plaintive “Ballad For A Friend,” the civil rights era-inspired “Long Ago, Far Away” and “The Death Of Emmett Till,” and the poignant “Guess I’m Doing Fine

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

62 of 67 people found the following review helpful By endlessharmony on 18 Oct. 2010
Format: Audio CD
The latest in the Bob Dylan Bootleg series, Volume 9, is somewhat a revelation about the young Dylan developing his talent and these 47 demo tracks recorded for `Leeds' and `Witmark' show not only how prolific he was but also how his talent evolved into being one of the most important artists of the 20th Century. These demos were recorded as much for other artists to hear these songs (e.g. Peter Paul and Mary, Judy Collins, etc.), as they were to demonstrate the raw talent of an upcoming unknown artist. I am sure that many people would have heard these songs previously on the various bootleg recordings, but these sound completely different after they have been cleaned up and digitised, and are really a revelation.

On the first disc we can hear some of the early attempts at songs that would be well known throughout his career, such as `Blowin' In The Wind' and `A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall' , but you can also hear him steal from other artists, creating new lyrics for songs of the folk and blues musicians who had a big influence on him. As we move on to disc 2, there is a marked change in Dylan's song writing and playing, and though just a year or so later it's clear that he is developing into the person who would be known and loved across the globe, and influence artists for several generations. Some of the better known demo songs from this period were `Don't Think Twice, It's All Right', `Girl From The North Country' , `When The Ship Comes In', `The Times They Are A-Changin' , `Baby Let Me Follow You Down', `Mama, You Been On My Mind', and `Mr Tambourine Man'.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By scunnytiger on 19 Oct. 2010
Format: Audio CD
Like many other Dylan fans this album is a collection of songs some of which I have had on bootleg recordings for many years. I must admuit despite the obvious quality of the songs presented on this album I approached it with some caution. Although it would provide me with an opportunity to renew my acquaintance with some of the greatest songs ever written concerns remained about the potential quality of the recordings.

However, I was pleased to find that my anxieties were allayed. This official release presents its forty-seven historic tracks with both a generally good consistency of audio quality and some vigour in both Dylan's singing and guitar playing. For the first time I was able to hear many of these tracks without having to listen to a series of interuptions, mangled voices and guitar playing and distortions, which I have grown used to over the past thirty-odd years.

As well as displaying many old favourites in a paricularly appealing light Bootleg Series Vol. 9 also provides some new gems. I am particularly attracted to 'Ballad for a Friend' and 'Guess I'm Doing Fine'. Evidence of both Dylan's genius as a songwriter, with his ever developing ability to capture and present complex ideas and feeelings is evident throughout. His use of humour to put over some of his points is also crystal clear for all to hear. [Some of the lines in both 'John Birch Blues' and 'Bear Mountain Massacre', although long time facourites of mine made me laugh out loud once again.]

Personally, this colection is steeped with nostalgia and, arguably, is no bad thing. Listening to the more familiar tracks in their infant state proving to be both informative and enjoyable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kirk McElhearn TOP 500 REVIEWER on 16 Dec. 2014
Format: Audio CD
Between February, 1962 and June, 1964, Bob Dylan, at the dawn of his career, made a number of recordings for two publishing companies, Leeds Music and M. Witmark & Sons. These recordings were released in 2010 as The Bootleg Series: Vol. 9: The Witmark Demos: 1962-1964.

Dylan had recorded his first album in late 1961, which was mostly covers, along with two original songs. His originals – the ones on the album, but also those that he was performing – were interesting enough to spur his producer at Columbia Records, John Hammond, to set up a meeting between Dylan and Lou Levy, at Leeds Music Publishing. The goal was to record songs so that other singers could hear them, and potentially buy the rights to record them. He recorded eight songs for Leeds.

In early 1962, manager Albert Grossman also became interested in Dylan. He suggested that Dylan sign with M. Witmark & Sons for publishing. Since Leeds hadn’t earned anything from Dylan, they let him out of his contract, and he signed with Witmark. In a dozen sessions, Dylan recorded 39 songs for Witmark.

In a way, this minimalist Dylan is the most authentic version of his songs that we have, other than some early live recordings. These songs show Dylan in a very relaxed atmosphere; just him, his guitar, and his harmonica, in a simple studio. The recording quality isn’t always great, and Dylan’s not performing for an audience, but he is clearly aware that he needs to set down these songs in a form that will be nearly canonical. Some of the performances are as good, or ever better than what was released on his albums.
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