Down the Dylan Rabbit Hole with 'The Cutting Edge 1965-1966: The Bootleg Series Volume 12'

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Bob Dylan plays harmonica and acoustic guitar while singing in to a microphone to record his album 'Bringing It All Back Home' on January 13th, 1965 in Columbia's Studio A in New York City, New York.

The Columbia Records/Legacy Recordings set is due out on Nov. 6.

How much of the Bob Dylan canon is there left to mine? No doubt that was on the mind of the eight or so journalists invited to preview the latest Bootleg Series, being released on Nov. 6.

There have been 11 such volumes of bootleg releases over 25 years, but this is a big one: The Cutting Edge 1965-1966: The Bootleg Series Volume 12 includes outtakes and alternate recordings of material used for the seminal albums Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde On Blonde. A collector’s edition planned for 5,000 copies ups the ante: every note played in the studio between 1965 and 1966 is present on an 18-disc set. In short (or long): it’s a Dylanologist’s dream.

But diving that deep down the Dylan rabbit hole requires a certain tolerance level, one built and boosted over years of hanging out with music nerds of a certain age: the ones who can tell you in a nano-second whether “Ballad of a Thin Man” was pre- or post-electric Newport, who played guitar on “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands” and what Dylan was thinking when he wrote “It's All Over Now Baby Blue,” among many other insider details and expert-level trivia birthed decades ago.

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And this particular listening session at a Hollywood recording studio on Sept. 16 was not for the novices among us. Offering a guided tour of the new set was a Sherpa of all things Dylan, who preferred to remain anonymous but explained in relatable terms how these three records were all done in a 14-month period; how “She Belongs to Me” came together on day one of recording and the giggles of “Rainy Day Women 12 & 35” hit the tape at 4 a.m.; how “Subterranean Homesick Blues” was originally acoustic and “Visions of Johanna” was a rollicking rocker; and how the musicians experimented with “Mr. Tambourine Man,” one version adding a pounding rhythm that prompted Dylan to squeal into the microphone, “those drums are driving me mad!”

My fellow journalists practically fell out of their chairs with that off-the-cuff remark. Otherwise, they sat with mouths agape as they took in every twist and nonsensical turn of a young Dylan's thin, wild mercurial sound.

We got to hear isolated instrument takes, like Dylan’s vocal on “Just Like a Woman,” recorded live to four-track where you can very faintly make out the beat buried in the back. Dylan’s voice, as noted by our tour guide, never sounded stronger, yet you could tell it took some effort to get there. After all, these songs are not easy to sing!

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Guitarist Mike Bloomfield, on the other hand, had a natural confidence, even a swagger, to his playing. Years ahead of country-rock, Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty and the sort of sonic nods you’d hear on a Wilco deep album cut, he took a crunchy guitar lead and made it iconic in “Like a Rolling Stone.” Like Al Kooper’s famous organ melody, it was somewhat accidental.

Experiments were the order of the day and there were plenty of them: one jam features every instrument (purposely) being played out of tune, another is an attempt at a waltz, others feature Dylan riffing lyrics. But when it came to the final product, only minimal edits were employed. What you hear on those classic Dylan records is precisely what he gave back in 1965 and 1966, and with this 12th volume of the Bootleg Series releases, you can hear exactly how he got there -- blind alleys, wrong turns, laughs and all.

See the track listing for the 6-CD Deluxe edition of The Cutting Edge 1965-1966: The Bootleg Series Vol. 12 below:

DISC 1:

1. Love Minus Zero/No Limit - Take 1 (1/13/1965) acoustic, incomplete
2. Love Minus Zero/No Limit - Take 2 (1/13/1965) acoustic 
3. Love Minus Zero/No Limit - Take 3 remake (1/13/1965) acoustic
4. Love Minus Zero/No Limit - Take 1 remake (1/14/1965) electric
5. I’ll Keep It with Mine - Take 1 (1/13/1965) piano demo, previously released on Biograph, 1985
6. It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue - Take 1 (1/13/1965) solo acoustic, previously released on The Bootleg Series, Vol. 7, 2005
7. Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream - Take 1 (1/13/1965) acoustic, incomplete
8. Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream - Take 2 (1/13/1965) acoustic
9. She Belongs to Me - Take 1 (1/13/1965) solo acoustic
10. She Belongs to Me - Take 2 Remake (1/13/1965) acoustic
11. She Belongs to Me - Take 1 Remake (1/14/1965) electric
12. Subterranean Homesick Blues - Take 1 (1/13/1965) solo acoustic, previously released on The Bootleg Series, Vol. 1-3, 1991
13. Subterranean Homesick Blues - Take 1 remake (1/14/1965) electric
14. Outlaw Blues - Take 1 (1/13/1965) solo acoustic
15. Outlaw Blues - Take 2 Remake (1/13/1965) electric
16. On the Road Again - Take 1 (1/13/1965) solo acoustic
17. On the Road Again - Take 4 (1/14/1965) electric
18. On the Road Again - Take 1 remake (1/15/1965) electric
19. On the Road Again - Take 7 remake (1/15/1965) electric
20. Farewell, Angelina - Take 1 (1/13/1965) solo acoustic, previously released The Bootleg Series, Vol. 1-3, 1991
21. If You Gotta Go, Go Now - Take 1 (1/13/1965) solo acoustic
22. If You Gotta Go, Go Now - Take 2 (1/15/1965) electric
23. You Don’t Have to Do That - Take 1 (1/13/1965) solo acoustic, incomplete

DISC 2:

1. California - Take 1 (1/13/1965) solo acoustic
2. It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding) - Take 1 (1/15/1965) acoustic, demo
3. Mr. Tambourine Man - Takes 1 - 2 (1/15/1965) incomplete, with band
4. Mr. Tambourine Man - Take 3 (1/15/1965) incomplete, with band
5. It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry - Take 1 (6/15/1965) 
6. It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry - Take 8 (6/15/1965) 
7. It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry - Take 3 (7/29/1965)
8. It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry - Take 3 remake (7/29/65)
9. Sitting on a Barbed Wire Fence - Take 2 (6/15/1965)
10. Tombstone Blues - Take 1 (7/29/1965)
11. Tombstone Blues - Take 9 (7/29/1965) previously released on The Bootleg Series, Vol. 7, 2005
12. Positively 4th Street - Takes 1-3 (7/29/1965) 
13. Positively 4th Street - Take 4 (7/29/1965)
14. Positively 4th Street - Take 5 (7/29/1965)
15. Desolation Row - Take 1 (8/4/1965) 
16. Desolation Row - Take 2 (8/4/1965) piano demo
17. Desolation Row - Take 5 remake (8/2/1965) 
18. From a Buick 6 - Take 1 (7/30/1965)
19. From a Buick 6 - Take 4 (7/30/1965) released in error on first pressing of Highway 61 Revisited, 1965

DISC 3:

1. Like a Rolling Stone - Take 1-3 (6/15/1965) 
2. Like a Rolling Stone - Take 4 (6/15/1965) 
3. Like a Rolling Stone - Take 5 (6/15/1965) 
4. Like a Rolling Stone - Rehearsal (6/16/1965) 
5. Like a Rolling Stone - Take 1 (6/16/1965) 
6. Like a Rolling Stone - Takes 2-3 (6/16/1965)
7. Like a Rolling Stone - Take 4 (6/16/1965) released on Highway 61 Revisited, 1965
8. Like a Rolling Stone - Take 5 (6/16/1965)
9. Like a Rolling Stone - Take 6 (6/16/1965)
10. Like a Rolling Stone -Take 8 (6/16/1965)
11. Like a Rolling Stone - Takes 9-10 (6/16/1965)
12. Like a Rolling Stone - Take 11 (6/16/1965)
13. Like a Rolling Stone - Take 12 (6/16/1965)
14. Like a Rolling Stone - Take 13 (6/16/1965)
15. Like a Rolling Stone - Take 14 (6/16/1965)
16. Like a Rolling Stone - Take 15 (6/16/1965)
17. Like a Rolling Stone - Master take - lead guitar isolated track
18. Like a Rolling Stone - Master take - vocal and guitar isolated track
19. Like a Rolling Stone - Mast take - drums and organ isolated track
20. Like a Rolling Stone - Master take - piano and bass isolated track

DISC 4:

1. Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window - Take 1 (7/30/1965)
2. Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window - Take 17 (7/30/1965 released in error on the first     pressing of Positively 4th Street single
3. Highway 61 Revisited - Take 3 (8/2/1965)
4. Highway 61 Revisited - Take 5 (8/2/1965)
5. Highway 61 Revisited - Take 7 (8/2/1965)
6. Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues - Take 1 (8/2/1965)
7. Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues - Take 3 (8/2/1965)
8. Just Like Tom Thumb’s blues - Take 13 (8/2/1965)
9. Queen Jane Approximately - Take 2 (8/2/1965)
10. Queen Jane Approximately - Take 5 (8/2/1965)
11. Ballad of a Thin Man - Take 2 (8/2/1965) incomplete
12. Medicine Sunday - Take 1 (10/5/1965)
13. Jet Pilot - Take 1 (10/5/1965) Previously released on Biograph, 1985
14. I Wanna Be Your Lover - Take 1 (10/5/1965)
15. I Wanna Be Your Lover - Take 6 (10/5/1965)
16. Unknown Instrumental - Take 2 (10/5/1965)
17. Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window - Takes 5-6 (11/30/1965)
18. Visions of Johanna - Take 1 (11/30/1965)
19. Visions of Johanna - Take 5 (11/30/1965)

DISC 5:

1. Visions of Johanna - Take 7 (11/30/1965)
2. Visions of Johanna - Take 8 (11/30/1965) previously released on The Bootleg Series, Vol. 7, 2005
3. Visions of Johanna - Take 14 (11/30/1965) 
4. She’s Your Lover Now - Take 1 (1/21/1966)
5. She’s Your Lover Now - Take 6 (1/21/1966) 
6. She’s Your Lover Now - Take 15 (1/21/1966) previously released on The Bootleg Series, Vol. 1-3, 1991
7. She’s Your Lover Now - Take 16 (1/21/1966) solo piano
8. One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later) - Take 2 (1/25/1966)
9. One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later) - Take 4 (1/25/1966)
10. One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later) - Take 19 (1/25/1966)
11. Lunatic Princess - Take 1 (1/27/1966)
12. Fourth Time Around - Take 11 (2/14/1966)
13. Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat - Take 3 (2/14/1966) 
14. Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat - Take 8 (2/14/1966)

DISC 6:

1. Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again - Take 1 (2/17/1966)
2. Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again - Rehearsal (2/17/1966)
3. Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again - Take 5 (2/17/1966) previously released on The Bootleg Series, Vol. 7, 2005
4. Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again - Take 13 (2/17/1966)
5. Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again - Take 14 (2/17/1966)
6. Absolutely Sweet Marie - Take 1 (3/7/1966)
7. Just Like a Woman - Take 1 (3/8/1966)
8. Just Like a Woman - Take 4 (3/8/1966)
9. Just Like a Woman - Take 8 (3/8/1966)
10. Pledging My Time - Take 1 (3/8/1966)
11. Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I’ll Go Mine) - Take 1 (3/9/1966)
12. Temporary Like Achilles - Take 3 (3/9/1966)
13. Obviously 5 Believers - Take 3 (3/10/1966)
14. I Want You - Take 4 (3/10/1966)
15. Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands - Take 1 - (2/16/1966)