Bob Dylan Interview | Mary Travers and Friend Radio Show

In his book No One Else Could Play That Tune Clinton Heylin notes that the only contemporary radio interview in which Bob Dylan discussed Blood On The Tracks was with Mary Travers but he carefully steered her away from it after a brief exchange. This is said interview (just the talk, the commercials and music are edited out). They also talk Woody Guthrie, topical songs, and about the then forthcoming Basement Tapes release. At one stage the conversation gets a little philosophical until Bob points out to Travers that she is crossing another one of his red lines.

Click here for more on No One Else Could Play That Tune, Clinton Heylin’s book on Blood on the Tracks


EXTRACT | Bob Dylan’s Lost ‘Blood on the Tracks’ Guitar

Prior to the recording of Blood on the Tracks, Bob Dylan previewed his set of new songs to a handful of friends, including Mike Bloomfield, Shel Silverstein, Jerry Garcia, Stephen Stills and Tim Drummond. One such lucky one-man audience for a preview was Peter Rowan. Dylan had written the songs that would appear on the album on his trusted Martin guitar, only for it to be stolen from his van before the recording. Bob turned up at Rowan’s place looking to find a replacement Martin, and while he was there, treated Rowan to a performance of the new songs. In this extract from Clinton Heylin’s monograph No One Else Could Play That Tune, Rowan recounts his amusement of the occasion.

[Dylan] was already sequencing the songs in his head while continuing to preview them for friends and other strangers. One such lucky soul was country picker Peter Rowan, who first met Dylan at Newport back in 1965, when he was a member of Bill Monroe and his Bluegrass Boys. Club 47 owner Betsy Siggins had done her best to persuade Rowan to ‘hang out, [insisting] that Bob was a friendly sort, but I was intimidated by the invisible wall that seemed to surround him’.

The next time their paths crossed, Dylan was in Nashville’s famous Columbia Studio A, recording the last few songs for Blonde On Blonde. Rowan remembered it well enough, but it is unlikely Dylan did, which is why Rowan was as stunned as Bloomfield when he got a call from the man himself, eight and a half years down the line:

Peter Rowan: I had moved to Stinson Beach on the coast, north of San Francisco, where I was reunited with Earth Opera partner David Grisman. David was producing my two younger brothers, Christopher and Lorin, for Columbia Records. Dave and I were starting to jam with Jerry Garcia in what became the bluegrass band, Old & In The Way. I got a call from Seatrain lyricist, Jim Roberts, over in Bolinas. Bob Dylan had shown up at his door. [He] must have been on a walkabout from life as a rock and roller! Jim said that Bob was looking to replace his favourite guitar, which had been stolen. I had my treasured 1936 Martin 000 Sunburst guitar and [he wanted to know] did I maybe want to sell it to Bob? Well, Bob got on the line and we talked. But I still thought it was a hoax, a prank, a joke on me. I gave Bob directions how to find my place, Old Sheriff Selmer’s barn-workshop-home. ‘Yeah, ya just follow the Bolinas Lagoon south and turn at the first unpaved road that heads towards the ocean, Stinson Beach. Call from the phone booth right there.’ So he called. ‘Okay, ya see that wooden tower just to your right? Drive up and park in front of it, the big yellow barn. Calle del Ribera. That’s me upstairs in the window!’ I watched the blue van pull up. Out stepped a man in brown corduroy clothes and cap. I watched him find his way and listened to his footsteps on the wooden stairs. In the room was my partner Leslie, and Milan and Mimi Melvin (aka Fariña), just returned from Tibet. We were used to visits from various world travellers and alias members of the Free Mexican Airforce. We waited. Only Bob’s nose entered the doorway, sensing like radar the vibes! I went to greet him, he seemed taller than expected, wearing shades. ‘Someplace we can go?’ he asked quietly. We went downstairs to the empty front room with ocean light filling it. We both were wearing Ray-Ban shades against the glare of the wave-tossed sea outside. I took the old Martin 000 out of the case and handed it to him. He strummed it gently and hummed a melody. He handed it back and said, ‘Here, you play it.’ Really? So I sang him one of my songs, and asked him for one. He took the guitar and started to sing all the material from the unreleased Blood On The Tracks. We sat there for hours trading songs. The ocean outside with wild-horse waves, the glinting afternoon light reflecting on the old wooden walls of the room. It grew dark, and still the songs came! My brother [Lorin] showed up. It was dark and the candle lit, and still he wore his shades, so I kept mine on! Upstairs was silent, not a shoe scrape. ‘Hey, ya know where Jerry Garcia lives?’ And he went on his way in the blue van … Late the next day I went up to Garcia’s house and his wife Caroline – [the] ‘Mountain Girl’ – and I were talking. I tapped an ash into a full ashtray and she said, ‘Careful, those butts are Dylan’s cigarettes!’

Rowan had crossed Dylan’s radar again because of his association with Grisman, with whom Dylan had recently started taking mandolin lessons. The loss of his favourite Martin, meanwhile, would resonate throughout the rest of 1974.

As Ellen recalls, ‘The guitar was stolen from his van when it was parked in front of my house in Mill Valley … We went around town putting up notes asking people to call if they knew anything about the whereabouts of the guitar that I believe David Bromberg had given him … He was truly upset to lose the guitar.’

The loss of the guitar on which he had written this extraordinary body of songs was something Dylan would come to interpret as one more cruel twist of fate, even as he euphemistically informed John Mankiewicz in 1978 that he’d ‘left it behind. I’d squeezed it dry.’ In truth, he was still trying to replace it when he turned up at Sound 80 studios in Minneapolis two days after Christmas, hoping to reproduce the vibe the songs had when he still had his trusted Martin.

No One Else Could Play That Tune: The Making and Unmaking of Bob Dylan’s Masterpiece is a limted edition mongraph available exclusively from Route. Get your copy here.

Other Titles By Clinton Heylin
Trouble In Mind: Bob Dylan’s Gospel Years – What Really Happened
JUDAS! From Forest Hills to The Free Trade Hall, A Historical View of The Big Boo
What We Did Instead of Holidays: A History of Fairport Convention and Its Extended Folk-Rock Family
Anarchy in the Year Zero: The Sex Pistols, The Clash and the ’Class of 76

Clinton Heylin Talks Blood on the Tracks

A podcast of Clinton Heylin’s presentation at Durham Book Festival 2018. Clinton reads from his monograph No One Else Could Play That Tune, plays two tracks from the New York recording sessions for Bob Dylan’s album Blood on the Tracks and takes questions from the floor. Running time is 49 minutes. Recorded at City Theatre, Durham, 13th October 2018. Click play above to listen.

No One Else Could Play That Tune is a session by session and track by track account of the New York recording sessions for Blood on the Tracks, and is the prefect guide to the Bootleg Series release More Blood, More Tracks. It is a limited edition hardback available exclusively from Route. Click here to order a copy.

Iain Matthews Radio Interview With Jonti Willis

Iain Matthews in an hour long interview with Jonti Willis on the Sine FM Roots & Acoustic show recorded in October 2018. Iain talks about his life, music and book in between the playing of selected songs. Click play above to listen.

Click here for more detail on Iain’s memoir Thro’ My Eyes.

What’s The Beer Book About?

A blog post by Ian Clayton on his new book It’s The Beer Talking: Adventures in Public Houses.

I’ve always written close to home. When I first started writing, everybody I asked said that I should write about what I know about. I’ve stuck to that ever since, so all of what I write takes place were I’m from. Wherever I have lived, I have never been more than a stone’s throw from a local pub. My new book It’s The Beer Talking: Adventures in Public Houses comes out at the end of October. I suppose the title tells you most of what you need to know about what is inside its covers. Yes it’s about beer and pubs and because it’s a memoir, it’s about what I’ve got up to in ale houses over the years. I hope it’s funny. I wanted to write a comedy, so it would be a bit of a bugger if it didn’t make folk laugh. There’s one or two sad bits in it as well, because even in pubs, life isn’t always funny ha ha. Like my other writing, it is based on memories and emotions and characters I have known. Most of it is true, some bits are made up and the rest, well, if it isn’t true, it ought to be!

I’ve written a lot of books, but I’m not always sure what to say when people ask me what my books are about. Perhaps my best known book is Bringing it all Back Home. It’s about music. All sorts of music, from music hall to the blues and pop. Then again it’s not really about music at all, it’s about where music has taken me and how it shapes me. Another more recent book is Song for My Father. I generally say that one is a book about my dad. Yet I didn’t know my dad for most of my life, so it’s a book about looking for him, what happened in the few months after we were reunited and mostly about what happened when we weren’t in each others lives. It’s The Beer Talking follows a similar template. There’s plenty of beer in it, a lot of laughter, one or two tears and now and again a bit of bawdy banter. It’s just a book of stories that take place against a backdrop of the public house. These stories are about the joy of joining in, celebrating who we are and the quest to find the perfect pint. There are journeys here and discovery, but because our favourite pubs are usually in our own back yard, it’s a book that takes place near home. In many ways it’s a book that takes delight in localness, the simple pleasure of where we are from, wherever that might be.

The book starts with my first taste of beer, in a smoke-filled working men’s club, then rattles like a boxful of dominoes through more than half a century of backstreet boozing all over the world in that rare old haunt we call the public house. In a time when local pubs are closing down at an alarming rate, the book is a bit of a call to treasure them. I say this because I believe that pubs are like libraries. More than any other buildings near where we live, they are storehouses of our communal knowledge. At times snapshots of our neighbourhood, at other times a refuge from what’s going on outside, but always somewhere familiar and welcoming. I love the pub most of all, because that is where over the years I have found a lot of friendship. Come to think of it, It’s The Beer Talking is a book about friendship. As a matter of fact, all of my books are about friendship. If you like books about beer, pubs, fun and friendship, you might want to give it a try.

Be amongst the first to read It’s The Beer Talking. Advance copies can be ordered now. Click here.

A launch event will take place on Thursday 25th October, 7:30pm at The Junction, 109 Carlton Street, Castleford. All welcome. Details here.

Iain Matthews Book Launch | Stories, Songs & Celebration

Video: Iain Matthews performing in the Tap & Barrel theatre room

Thro’ My Eyes Book Launch: Stories, Songs and Celebration
Sunday 28th October 2018, 7:30pm
The CAT Club, Tap & Barrel, Pontefract

Route welcomes Iain Matthews back to Pontefract for the launch of his memoir Thro’ My Eyes. Iain will be joined by his co-writer Ian Clayton for an evening of stories, songs and celebration. In the intimate settings of the Tap & Barrel theatre room, Iain and Ian bring will the book to life in front of our eyes.

Iain’s book shows us what a fifty-year career in music looks like from the inside. From hearing something magical in vocal harmonies at Sunday School in Barton-Upon-Humber, music takes hold of Iain and never lets him go. It becomes his gateway to something else. It is music that drives him to the bright lights of London, and it will drive him on again and again throughout his life – to Los Angeles, to Seattle, Texas, the Netherlands. When everything comes crashing down, it drags him through to the other side, starting out again on his path, moreoften stronger and fresher.

Iain doesn’t shy away from the personal price of a musician’s life. He is forced to up sticks and relocate numerous times in his life and the stories unfold to reveal him slowly coming to terms with who he is, the cards he is dealt and what it is that drives him, all the while working, working, working. The stories take you back to the music with a fresh pair of ears.

We’re blessed to be hosting this special launch event that will combine stories from the book with the music that goes alongside it in such an intimate setting. If you’d like to join us, you can. Click here

Click here for more details on Iain’s memoir Thro’ My Eyes. A Deluxe Edition is signed and comes complete with a double CD of Iain’s songs.

Matthews Southern Comfort Autumn Tour

Iain will be joining us in the middle of a short UK tour with Matthews Southern Comfort. On Friday 26th October he will be taking to the stage at Kirton in Lindsey Town Hall, just a stone’s throw from where he worked as an apprentice in the sign writing shop of J.D. Tighe’s, singing along to pop music on the radio, prompting his workmate Derek Cottam to tell him that he ought to join a band because ‘you’re better than that twaddle’. And so it came to pass.

The current Matthews Southern Comfort sees Iain joined by three Dutch musicians: BJ Baartmans; Bart de Win and Eric Devries. It’s a mesmerizing show, the level of musicianship is breathtaking. The set is a mix of old songs and new, with the trademark vocal harmonies throughout, anchored by a singer who is a master of his craft. If you have even the slightest chance to make one of the shows, we’d recommend that you take it. Follow this link for more information on dates across the north of England and Midlands.

Fri. 26th. Kirton Lindsey – Town Hall
Sun. 28th. Pontefract – Iain Matthews book launch
Mon. 29th. Pontefract – Matthews Southern Comfort gig.
Tue. 30th. Bilston – Robin 2. UK (w/ Magna Carta)