Unlocking the Basement Tapes: Sunday, Nov. 23 on OpenAir

· Nov. 19, 2014, 11:39 pm
photo: Bob Dylan 'Basement Tapes' original album cover
On Sunday, Nov. 23 at 6 p.m., hear a special behind-the-scenes take on rock and roll's worst kept secret: Bob Dylan and the Band's "Basement Tapes." 
In the hour-long audio documentary you'll hear from Band member Garth Hudson, songwriter and author Sid Griffin, Dylan biographer Clinton Heylin, author Greil Marcus, writer Anthony DeCurtis and producer Steve Berkowitz, plus many highlights from the full release of "The Basement Tapes."
Autumn 2014: the season of The Basement Tapes. It's a perfect storm of the great lost chapter for the Great White Wonder, or what Bob Dylan was called when these house-bound recordings went 60s viral and birthed the phrase "bootleg" as it applies to music.
Not only has every scrap of tape run through Hudson's borrowed tape deck been unearthed and remastered into a definitive 139-song boxed set (check out Keefer Fulgham's review), but a special super group featuring Elvis Costello, Rhiannon Giddens (Carolina Chocolate Drops), Taylor Goldsmith (Dawes), Jim James (My Morning Jacket) and Marcus Mumford (Mumford & Sons) have been assembled to put music to the lyrics from Bob Dylan's notebooks of the time.  
One could say Dylan's wishes have been ignored, but time changes all. He told Rolling Stone in 1984:
"I never really liked 'The Basement Tapes.' I mean, they were just songs we had done for the publishing company, as I remember. They were used only for other artists to record those songs. I wouldn't have put 'em out."
The hour does a good job of filling in the gaps. The missing piece between "Blonde on Blonde" and "John Wesley Harding," how Dylan recuperated from his motorcycle crash, how the Hawks flew away and The Band came into being, how a tightly focused musical collaboration loosened up during the Summer of Love and set a new course for American music. 
Here's a list of how the first of these songs were introduced to the world, early releases of the "leaked" Basement Tapes.  Sunday night, the experts recount that magical summer at Woodstock...

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