"They were just songs we had done for the publishing company," Bob Dylan once said of the music he recorded with The Band (some of it in his living room, some of it in their basement) over six months in 1967. Whatever else those sessions might have been -- an exploration of the bent history of American song; a way of recovering from injuries both psychic and physical sustained while speeding his way through the first seven years of the 1960s; a way to kill time as the grass grew in the Catskills -- The Basement Tapes were just that.

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