Following the opening of the Bob Dylan Center in Tulsa this month, we learn that Dylan is planning his first studio re-recording of one of his most iconic songs, “Blowin’ in the Wind,” to introduce a new music format. recording in the world.
Dylan’s re-recording of the song is said to be his first in the studio since he first recorded the track in 1962 for release in 1963 on his second album, “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan”. Dylan was only 21 when he wrote the song.
Now, Dylan’s studio re-recording of “Blowin’ in the Wind” is billed as the first release from musician T-Bone Burnett’s new label and recording format called Iconic Original. The label is expected to produce “one-of-a-kind aluminum discs” painted with lacquer, featuring a “spiral engraved on them by the music,” according to a statement regarding the new format.
It is advertised as having better sound than vinyl, cassettes, CDs or any other electronic music streaming device. Little information has been given on how the aluminum discs will play or what special equipment is needed, if any.
It’s also billed as the first major new music format in 70 years, dating back to when vinyl records replaced older 78 rpm shellac records. The vocals on the new recording are billed as benefiting from Dylan’s years of experience in music and in life. Dylan, who turned 81 on May 24, recently wrapped up his last tour with performances in Tulsa and Oklahoma City, then quickly announced plans for another tour.
“Blowin’ in the Wind” is Dylan’s song that asks a number of musical questions, before concluding that the answer is in the wind.
Don’t start queuing up to buy the new disc though. Plans are to produce a single copy and then auction it on July 7 at Christie’s Auction House in London, where it is expected to sell for between £600,000 and one million. For Americans who want to save their money to participate in the auction, this amounts to between $756,714 and $1,261,150 in US dollars, depending on exchange rate fluctuations.
It’s unclear if whoever buys the record will get the rights to reproduce it, but I’d be surprised if that’s the case.
Dylan sold the rights to his songwriting catalog to Universal Music for an estimated $300 million in 2020. Then, in January 2022, he sold his recorded music catalog to Sony Music Entertainment for an estimated $300 million. between 150 and 200 million dollars.
So it seems the winning bidder at Christie’s auction house is likely to be a collector buying a one-of-a-kind record to be heard by the buyer and his friends.
Although this is billed as Dylan’s first studio re-recording of the song since the first he made in a New York City Columbia Records studio at the age of 21, the key words here are “studio recording “.
While it’s true that Dylan has never released another studio recording of “Blowin’ in the Wind” since he recorded the first version, he has since recorded and released several live performances.
A live recording of “Blowin’ in the Wind” is among the songs Dylan performed during his set on “The Concert for Bangladesh”, the first large-scale rock concert staged by George Harrison, who also performed with others old Beatles. Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Leon Russell of Tulsa and others. Dylan’s delivered a set considered a return to form, having not toured in years following a reported motorcycle accident on a country road near Woodstock, New York, in 1966.
The accident is shrouded in mystery, as no one ever got an official accident report. Whether Dylan suffered serious and debilitating injuries or used the accident to get out of the grueling touring schedule he was on at the time, has since been a matter of debate and has never been resolved.
When Dylan sang “Blowin’ in the Wind” at the concert for Bangladesh in New York’s Madison Square Garden, a sparse but all-star band backed him up, which included Harrison on lead guitar. Russell came out from behind his grand piano and played bass, with Ringo on tambourine.
It’s one of my favorite versions of the song, with Dylan delivering a heartfelt and moving performance at the concert to benefit Bangladeshi refugees, at the request of Harrison’s friend, master sitarist Ravi Shankar, who also performed at the concert.
Four years later, Dylan released another live version of “Blowin’ in the Wind”, this time an electric version backed by The Band on their acclaimed 1974 tour, featured on their joint album, “Before the Flood”.
Another live recording of Dylan performing “Blowin’ in the Wind” has surfaced in Joan Baez’s “Rare, Live and Classic” box set. Going through the liner notes, I felt thrilled to see the duet performance recorded by Dylan and Baez and included on the album, which I was able to witness at a concert in Texas, with seats in the center of the third row. Dylan and Baez shared the same microphone for the performance, which showed that they still shared the same musical chemistry from previous years.
Among the army of guitarists who supported Dylan during his band performances at that gig was one tall, lanky guy who I would later learn was T-Bone Burnett.
So this version of “Freewheelin'” is by no means Dylan’s only recording of “Blowin’ in the Wind” – but yes, it’s his only studio recording – and it’s still my favorite.
I still remember when I was around 14, looking to buy a Dylan album and trying to figure out which one to buy. I finally narrowed it down to two: “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” and “Highway 61 Revisited”. The only song I had ever heard on either album was “Like a Rolling Stone” on the “Highway 61” album – an all time favorite.
I had already figured out that the choice came down to the acoustic folk style of “Freewheelin'” to the full-fledged rockers I thought were on “Highway 61”.
Something about “Freewheelin'” intrigued me though, especially the song titles: “Girl of the North Country”, “Masters of War”, “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”, “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right”. and yes, “Blowin’ in the Wind.”
Even the album cover intrigued me — showing a young Dylan, snuggled up and cuddled with his girlfriend, a girl with long blonde hair. I will learn later that her name was Suze Rotolo, a personality and an artist in her own right.
I finally made the selection, picked up the copy of “Freewheelin’” and went home to listen to it. I had never even heard the opening track before; yes, “Blowin’ in the Wind.”
I felt captivated from the opening notes, Dylan strumming his acoustic guitar and singing the opening lines: “How many roads does a man have to travel before he’s called a man?”
‘The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan’ was released on May 27, 1963, just three days after Dylan turned 22
He later said he wrote “Blowin’ in the Wind” in a cafe in New York’s Greenwich Village in about 10 minutes. He performed the song for the first time later that evening at Gerde’s Folk City, a club in the village where many budding folks gathered at that time. He even had the lyrics of the songs published in folk music magazines of the time, such as Sing Out! before recording the song itself.
Despite its inauspicious debut, “Blowin’ in the Wind” became an American standard. It has been covered by over 300 artists, in a variety of genres, ranging from folk and rock to soul, jazz, country and bluegrass.
Dylan didn’t even get the first hit with it. A version recorded by his friends Peter, Paul and Mary went all the way to number 2 in 1963. No worries for Dylan though. After performing the song with them at the Newport Folk Festival later that year, the media found out, leading to stories about the then little-known artist known as Bob Dylan.
“Blowin’ in the Wind” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999. “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” is among the first group of recordings inducted into the Library of Congress’s National Register in its opening year in 2002.
I’m a little amused looking at the “Freewheein’ Bob Dylan” album cover. Who would dream that all these decades later, a single re-recording of the album’s opening track would fetch around $1 million at auction?
Surely not this young boy snuggled up with his girlfriend on the cover of the album “The Freewheelin'”.
Contact Janes Beaty at [email protected]