While we realize a couple sheets of rare Bob Dylan lyrics made history at Sotheby’s just last week, Wondering Sound would be remiss not to mention yet another key piece of Dylan memorabilia that popped up last weekend. According to a Record Mecca post, music historian Jeff Gold recently stumbled upon quite a discovery at a Greenwich Village apartment building several blocks away from Dylan’s old place: 149 rare acetate records, carefully stored away for more than 40 years and simply marked “Old Records.”
“When I opened the boxes and took a quick look at the contents, I was blown away,” Gold wrote. “They were indeed all by Dylan, all were in excellent condition, and many had handwritten notes on the sleeves. They all dated from the sessions for Dylan’s albums Nashville Skyline, Self Portrait and New Morning, about equally split between 10” discs with a single song and 12” discs with multiple songs. Though I couldn’t listen to them on site, I knew this was a major discovery, and made an offer for the collection more than double what I had expected to pay. The executor was thrilled and we quickly made a deal. He told me he’d found the boxes on his fourth (and final) pass through the building, in a small closet in a loft above the bedroom, which he hadn’t noticed before. We took a moment to contemplate what might have happened if he hadn’t found them. The building would have sold, the new owners would have hired a crew to gut and renovate the place, and the boxes tossed into a dumpster from a third floor window. Phew.”
No kidding; the “well preserved” collection isn’t showing any signs of deteriorating from repeated test plays either, which means a few lucky fans will be able to score previously unreleased songs from the same period as last year’s official Another Self Portrait bootleg. “Many of the acetates were unreleased versions of songs,” Gold explained, “in some cases with different overdubs, sometimes without any overdubs, many with different mixes, different edits and in a few cases completely unreleased and unknown versions. There are outtakes too, including electric versions of Johnny Cash’s ‘Ring of Fire’ and ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ recorded during the Self Portrait sessions, and a gospel tinged version of ‘Tomorrow is Such a Long Time’ recorded during the New Morning sessions.
He continued, “These 149 acetates provide a remarkable look into Dylan’s working process at the time. Dylan recorded Nashville Skyline in Nashville; Self Portrait in Nashville and New York and New Morning almost entirely in New York. Dylan’s producer at the time, Bob Johnston, worked out of Columbia Records’ Nashville studios. These acetates were for the most part cut in Nashville and sent by Johnston to Dylan in New York for his comments and approval.”
Here are some close-up shots of Gold’s serious haul…