A Song-By-Song Guide to Bob Dylan's FRAGMENTS Outtakes (BS: 17)
Guest Post By: Jeremy D. Goodwin (Twitter @jeremydgoodwin) (website). Jeremy is Arts and Culture Senior Correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio, and has reported on the arts extensively for other venues including NPR, The New York Times and The Boston Globe.
The basic shape of the “Time Out Of Mind” sessions, a story many fans of the album are familiar with, is that they began in Daniel Lanois’ theater-cum-studio, Teatro, located in Oxnard, California in late 1996. It was a small group: Bob Dylan, producer/multi-instrumentalist Lanois, drummer/percussionist Tony Mangurian, and perhaps later, bassist Tony Garnier. The session proper was preceded by some work Lanois and Mangurian did in the latter’s basic studio on Spring St. in New York City, crafting drum loops. The very earliest idea for the album was to build it around drum loops that musicians would play over, inspired vaguely by Beck.
That concept didn’t advance very far. But with a small band in place, Teatro apparently offered an enjoyably moody vibe. The photo on the album’s cover was taken there. But it didn’t suit the boss. After some months, Dylan announced that he needed to record further away from the distractions and obligations of his home in Malibu. The process moved to the reportedly sterile but efficient Criteria Studios in Miami. The band personnel also swelled there, with the basic instrumentation including drummers Brian Blade and Jim Keltner … though at one contentious point Dylan commanded that “that hip hop drummer” (Mangurian) and several others be sent home.
Personnel and recording dates:
The public’s understanding of the album sessions was widened considerably with the 2008 release of “Tell Tale Signs,” a bootleg volume that in its fullest iteration offered three CDs of material sourced from the “Oh Mercy” sessions through two 2005 recordings.
That set did not include track-by-track personnel, and session dates were given incompletely. The original “Time Out Of Mind” notes are more helpful: They make no mention of recording dates, but do break down the tracks that each musician appears on — though not the particular instrument on each track, and most of the band play a few different instruments across the record.
The big breakthrough with “Fragments” is that it lists precise recording dates for almost every song. (One is identified just by month and year.) This allows us to hear each cut as a product of either the Oxnard or Criteria sessions, without doing audio detective work first.
Crucially, this new information also allows us to arrange all of the available outtakes in chronological order, so we can consider them in the order they were recorded and better trace the evolution of the song. We have far from exhaustive documentation of the “Time Out of Mind” songs — two officially circulating outtakes of most tracks, plus four for “Can’t Wait,” and multiple takes of songs that didn’t make the record — but we now can trace the songs’ evolution in a way previously impossible without a scholar’s access to the archive at the Bob Dylan Center.
The best-represented song from the “Time Out Of Mind” sessions is one that didn’t make the record. “Mississippi” famously didn’t work out in these sessions and would wait for “Love and Theft” to find full flower as a highlight of the oeuvre. “Tell Tale Signs” gave us three outtakes of the song; “Fragments” ups the tally to five.
If you’d like to track the evolution of each song from these sessions, I made a “Time Out Of Mind” playlist with each song organized in chronological recording order, which you can access on Apple Music or Spotify.
Neither “Tell Tale Signs” nor “Fragments” identifies recordings by take number — just the rather unhelpful designation of version 1, version 2, et al.
Now that “Fragments” includes all of the relevant “Tell Tale Signs” material, we are left with a mess of song titles. There’s newly released “Can’t Wait” version 1 on disc 2, and the now re-released “Can’t Wait (Outtake from “Time Out Of Mind” sessions — version 1)” on disc 5, and so on.
I’m using the filenames as song headings, and just the words Version 1 or whatnot within the body of the notes.
Each song entry is written to be understandable on its own, so there’s a lot of talk about a song “presented on disc 2 as Version 1,” and so on. If you don’t happen to be very keyed in to the chronology of the takes, feel free to push your eyes swiftly past those bits.
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Track Reviews: Disc 2 (Outtakes and Alternates)
The Water Is Wide
This Oxnard take is the earliest recording of any song yet released to the public under the aegis of “Time Out Of Mind” sessions. The next recording with a specific date is “Red River Shore,” Version 1, which Dylan and collaborators cut on Sept. 26, 1997. (The first “Mississippi” outtake from “Tell Tale Times” is listed as simply September of 1997.)
So was there a month-plus of recordings between this “The Water Is Wide” and those? Did Dylan lead the Oxnard sessions band through other traditional numbers before easing into his new compositions?
I don’t know. But this version of the song —which is of Scottish origin, and featured in the setlist of the first part of the Rolling Thunder Review as an acoustic duet between Dylan and Joan Baez — sounds like more than a throwaway or warm-up. It sounds finished and ready to go. To go on what, I don’t know. Did Dylan have a film soundtrack in mind?
His deadly earnest vocal is affecting, and this recording would receive a lot of affection if it were heard widely.
Perhaps it was indeed just an easy way to build initial musical rapport. On that account, this gem of a recording certainly seems to succeed.
A big thank you to @dagbraathan for a pointer to documentation that Dylan recorded “The Water Is Wide” for a Pete Seeger tribute compilation, but wasn’t satisfied with the track. It took a minute for us to get to hear it, but I’m glad we have it now!
Dreamin’ of You
One of the true revelations of “Tell Tale Signs” was “Dreamin’ of You,” a recording I’ll happily name as one of my very favorite Dylan cuts of the era. The hook is the piercingly slinky drum pattern, cycling endlessly as if to mirror the narrator’s internal loop of obsessions.
I’d love to know who plays it.
Larry “Ratso” Sloman liner notes for “Tell Tale Signs” state that the song was recorded during the January 1997 Criteria Studios sessions, so it would be Brian Blade or Jim Keltner playing that killer beat. For years I’d wondered if maybe it’s actually a Tony Mangurian drum loop from the earlier sessions at Teatro in Oxnard, California— perhaps that members of the Miami ensemble played over, later.
Well, then comes “Fragments” and it reorders our understanding of how this song was recorded. It identifies the recording date for the “Tell Tale Signs” version as Oct. 1, 1996 … not the “January 1997” stated in the 2008 liner notes!
So it’s Mangurian on drums indeed, playing probably the sickest beat yet to be captured on a Bob Dylan record.
The ghostly keyboard does sound a lot more like what we hear from Augie Mysers and Jim Dickinson on the album, and some organ, ostensibly from Lanois; playing found on some other Oxnard tracks. If it happened to be an earlier recording that the Criteria Studio band augmented later — and that’s indeed a practice that happened — it could explain why Rizzo was given information saying that “Dreamin’ of You” was recorded in January 1997.
Anyway: The “Tell Tale Signs” version of “Dreamin’ of You” is a highlight of the era.
Start with that central, cycling drum figure, add the woozy, gauzy organ and its overall sense of delirious, humid obsession, and I think it is the sound of Daniel Lanois’ vision for the “Time Out of Mind” material succeeding, and doing so mightily.
It turns out the “Tell Tale Times” liner notes contain another error about the song: Rizzo notes that version is “the only take ever recorded.” Happily, we now learn that this is not so!
The “Fragments” version seems to be a very early take, and sounds more like a demo than the LP-ready recording on “Tell Tale Signs.” Dylan feels things out on piano, Tony Mangurian plays a drum part that is game but not yet the unconquerable beat found on the alternate version, and Daniel Lanois offers his calling-card guitar shadings. I don’t hear any bass from Tony Garnier.
It comes complete with second verse that would be cut by the time the group made the later recording:
“Come fill up to the brim
Got all the trimmins, nothing to trim
Well your love is my link to the outside world
And always it will remain
Dreamin’ of you is all I do and it’s drivin’ me insane”
Much of the lyrics to “Dreamin’ of You” wound up repurposed in other songs, but not the striking admission: “Your love is my link to the outside world.” It really resonates with the “Time Out Of Mind” narrator’s sense of dislocation amid a suddenly blurry world, where it’s hard to see or hear anything too clearly, and stars turn the color of blood.
I won’t detail every lyrical variation throughout “Fragments,” but this too is notable: Instead of “For years they had me locked in a cage/ then they threw me onto the stage,” in this earlier version Dylan sings “I squandered the years of my youth/ It’s a scary thing, the truth.”
The edit he’ll later make is an improvement, but this earlier version underlines the fact that the writer is peering into his autobiography … for this particular thought, at least.
The road that our cracked hero trudges along 10 miles outside of the city, or in a steamy city neighborhood gone eerily silent, is perhaps the very road traveled by a troubadour with an umbrella for a cane, placing an unfilled order for boiled eggs, who soon enough would display an Academy Award atop his amplifier.
Red River Shore (Version 1)
Would the “Fragments” yield a lost, definitive take of “Red River Shore”? Nah.
But it does give us a deeper look into the eventually-abandoned process of recording this beguiling song, a composition that many listeners found to be a highlight of “Tell Tale Signs” and pine for as a lost classic. It’s found there in two takes from the Criteria Studios sessions in Jan. 1997.
This take is now the earliest to be released, dating to Oxnard. (Chronologically, this set’s Version 2, found on disc 3, comes after the two “Tell Tale Signs” takes from January.) It seems to feature both Dylan and Daniel Lanois on guitar, and I’m not sure if Tony Mangurian played a really spare drum kit and then overdubbed hand percussion (or vice versa), or what.
This stripped-down take is a welcome addition to the literature, but doesn’t feature the ghostly charm the musicians would find later in the recording process.
Love Sick (Version 1)
“Fragments” gives us two takes of “Love Sick,” both recorded on Jan. 14, 1997. The one identified as Version 1 indeed seems fairly early, with some in the band sounding like they’re wondering when it’s OK to start playing. But the song is essentially there already.
If the “Time Out of Mind” version propels itself forward with the metronomic sense of footsteps, as the narrator drags his weary self through those dead streets, this one has a bit of stasis to it.
‘Till I Fell In Love With You (Version 1)
Previously there’d been no official releases of additional takes of this song; “Fragments” gives us three. Version 1 is from Oxnard. It has this fun opening couplet:
“Well my head’s out of order, not takin’ any calls
If you got any messages, put’em on the wall”
Dylan and company are still figuring out what to do with this song. There are some nicely sharp lead guitar lines, and Lanois’ rather colorless organ parts; one seems likely an overdub. It has some definite energy, but Tony Mangurian’s game drumming hasn’t found the funky groove the song would eventually inhabit. Dylan’s vocals seem to want a rowdier, roadhousey accompaniment that is not present.
Not Dark Yet (Version 1)
The first big moment of “Fragments.” A higher-tempo “Not Dark Yet,” in a different key.
It’s got a rather easy-going, loping feeling to it — not the stately, elegiac doom cloud of the definitive recording. This is a very pleasant recording that would have been fine on the album if we didn’t know any better, but Dylan and company did the right thing by slowing things down.
It includes a good number of different lyrics from the album version, including: “Just to be in the same country as her is makin’ me blue.”
More significantly, in the last verse Dylan sings “I’ve gone too far down life’s beaten track/ And I’m praying the Master will guide me back.” Before he was done with the song, of course, he’d instead be observing that he “can’t even hear the murmur of a prayer.” And between those two lyrics is the difference between the two takes.
Seth Rogovoy, who has written authoritatively about Dylan’s engagement with Judaism in his work, hears this song as a reference to all-day Yom Kippur services, which end when the sun sets. I think that’s fascinating.
The lost lyrics in this take, though, remind us of the “Master” Dylan invoked in “Every Grain of Sand,” a song rooted in the Gospel of Luke. But he could very well have explored different thoughts in different incarnations of the song.
Can’t Wait (Version 1)
“Can’t Wait” is now the best-documented song from “Time Out of Mind.”
“Tell Tale Signs” included two takes — one from the Oxnard sessions, another recorded on Jan. 5 at Criteria Studios — and now “Fragments” gives us two more from later that month in Miami. Of the four takes now publicly released, this is the latest one recorded. The band cut it a week after the Jan. 14 recording of Version 2, found on disc 3.
The story here is of “Can’t Wait” starting very slow and inching up in tempo. The tempo on this take is just about where it’ll be on “Time Out of Mind,” but the drummers haven’t quite discovered the woozy groove that will really unlock the song. The soundscape is also less dense — less of that much-observed Lanois swampiness — than on the album or even the 2022 remix.
Dylan’s vocal is pretty strong here, and he pushes himself a bit hoarse in the last verse.
On the album this song will become a slithering, electric snake; right now it’s a hungry leviathan, gliding just beneath the waves of a dark sea. As is the case with the best stuff found on “Fragments,” if this was the version of the song we first heard in 1997, we would have counted it a triumph.
Dirt Road Blues (Version 1)
Another surprise! I’ve always heard the album version as the weakest moment on the LP. It sounds thin to me and sits awkwardly among its company, aside from the lyrical theme of a narrator who is endlessly on the road.
This fully satisfying performance is slower, meatier, and —crucially— does not feature the compression Lanois put on the vocal for the album.
Musically, it anticipates moments on “Love and Theft” and “Modern Times.” In fact, Dylan sounds here like he’s having too much fun for “Time Out Of Mind.” To make this song fit among its brethren, he’d have to dial up the exasperation.
Mississippi (Version 1)
Ok, this is why we’re here, right? Another “Mississippi”! It’s very fair to consider the “Love And Theft” version to be Dylan’s greatest recording of the era, and among the best in his oeuvre. Three outtakes of the song, all from the “Time Out Of Mind” sessions, were perhaps the spine of the full, three-disc iteration of “Tell Tale Signs.”
Now “Fragments” gives us two more.
According to the dates published with “Fragments,” the version presented on Disc 2 as Version 1 is the second of those five outtakes to be recorded. That surprises me, because the three “Tell Tale Signs” versions sound much closer to each other than to this one. But it wouldn’t be strange if the song’s full recording process included an evolution to a full-band, faster tempo approach before Dylan and Lanois stripped things back down again.
This is a special piece of Dylanalia to finally enter the public realm.
The band takes the song at approximately the same tempo as what will wind up on “Love And Theft.” An acoustic guitar is at the center of things, and Augie Myers’ accordion is particularly prominent.
The instrumentation feels closer to that of the definitive version than anything we heard on “Tell Tale Signs.” But the sound is nowhere near the stately apocalypse of the album version. Critic Paul Sinclair (writing for Super Deluxe Edition) describes the delightfully off-kilter take as “kind of honky-tonk-funk-meets-Cajun,” which is fair enough.
It sounds like a song learned from a back-stoop jug-band in some dusty fantasy of Americana, where Tiny Montgomery cheats at dice and the Richard Gere “Dylan” of Todd Haynes’ “I’m Not There” eyes the meat dealer warily.
This performance doesn’t possess the majesty of the definitive recording, but it is a hell of a lot of fun. (Purely as an enjoyable listen, this is instantly my second-favorite rendition of “Mississippi.” And that ain’t nothin’!)
Only one take in public circulation (found on "Fragments" as disc 5, Version 3) includes an alternate opening verse:
"I'm standin' in the shadows with an aching heart
I'm lookin' at the world tear itself apart
Minutes turn to hours, hours turn to days
I'm still lovin' you in a million ways"
‘Till I Fell In Love With You (Version 2)
A lot has changed since the October recording of this in Oxnard: The signature Lanois Swamp sound has arrived. It makes for a very pleasant listen, and I appreciate the added prominence of Tony Mangurian’s hand percussion compared to the master version.
But the song here is a smokey, riverside ramble — not yet the coiled, electric spring it will become after some more work.
Standing In The Doorway (Version 1)
A mid-tempo “Standing In The Doorway”! With a rock and roll wrinkle in each verse that would get dropped from the arrangement but adds a ton of energy to the proceedings here.
The familiar album version is a hypnotic dirge. This has a stately gait to it, with a vocal that is very strong, as rock ballads go. But Dylan’s voice doesn’t have the otherworldly weight of centuries to it, as it does on the masterful “Time Out Of Mind” performance. (And it’s not just the difference made by less post-recording processing; it’s the performance.)
The small group in Oxnard gave this a good go, and this is a fantastic curio — a highlight of the box. But compared to the album recording, it’s essentially ordinary. The song would take on a whole lot more drama and pathos.
Tryin’ to Get to Heaven (Version 1)
And the hits keep coming! This is a gorgeous recording of one of the 1997 album’s masterpieces. It’s closer to where it’s going than is the previous track on this set, but “Tryin,’” too, is going to take on even more patina before it’s finished weathering.
Crucially, this take is missing the piano that would figure prominently on the master take. And as with “Standing,” Dylan and company would successfully bring the tempo down for the definitive version.
Dylan’s vocal grows in strength throughout this take, and he adds some different shadings to many lines (compared to the album version) that are a joy to hear.
Cold Irons Bound
This song was represented on “Tell Tale Signs” with a live version, and on this box with one studio outtake, which sounds much like the recording found on “Time Out Of Mind,” albeit with some bits of alternate lyrics. This leads me to suppose there aren’t any substantially different approaches to this song found in the vault… or at least none that the Dylan Camp feel is worth sharing with the public.
Track Reviews: Disc 3 (Outtakes and Alternates)
Love Sick (Version 2)
This is much the same arrangement as Version 1 and the album version. I’m choosing to guess this was recorded first, as it’s a bit slower than the others — and I think these songs tend to creep into shape — and has lyrics that were cut by the time the others were recorded. But the band sounds more confident on this one and they’re getting closer to the sound that would wind up on the LP, so who knows.
Among the previously lost lyrics:
“Below me, desolation in every direction
Below me, nothin’s makin’ any connection
I’m driving, [unintelligble] struggling, striving
I wonder if he was setting up an “above me .. below me” dichotomy and mis-sang. I also wonder if the second “below me” line is a sly bit of bawdiness.
Dirt Road Blues (Version 2)
We’re back at a faster tempo now than the delightful Version 1, closer to that of the album version. We’re also getting closer to “filler” status with this number as it sheds the tasty weirdness of the earlier take. As with the other take in this set, it anticipates some of the sounds of “Love and Theft” and “Modern Times,” which is interesting to hear.
The vocals are a pleasure and worth a careful listen, even If still not as desperate as they need to be for full effect. Happily, they come to us in their fullness rather than in the clipped aural presentation of “Time Out Of Mind.”
Can’t Wait (Version 2)
Chronologically, this recording comes after the two outtakes of the song originally available on “Tell Tale Signs” and before the one presented on disc 2 of “Fragments” as Version 1.
The tempo has crept up again, though this take and the next one preserve the device of having the band mostly hang back until halfway through the first verse. On the album cut, the whole band rumbles into position before the first vocals. But the pieces of this song are all coming together.
Dylan’s vocal is more wounded than wizened, and this is a very compelling delivery of the lyrics. (He really makes a full meal of the “I’m trying to land on my own two feet … everybody that I meet” lines.)
This is a very credible recording of the song, but evidently the powers that be weren’t considering it seriously as a potential master; rather than letting the band cook a bit on the instrumental outro, Dylan says “OK, let’s go listen to it,” and they cut.
Red River Shore (Version 2)
The Oxnard recording of this song presented on Disc 2 as Version 1 sounds like a warm-up. This one can vie for best-version bragging rights with the two later recordings first published on “Tell Tale Times.”
This take sounds like it’s heading toward what we hear in the other version dated to Jan 19, the “Tell Tale Signs” version present on disc 5 of “Fragments” as Version 1. (It’s maybe best remembered as the one from that set without the prominent accordion.) So I’d wager this one was recorded first.
The later (according to me) version is a bit more together, a bit more lively, just a stronger take than Version 2.
Marchin’ to The City
Well, whataya know? “Fragments” delivers the most approachable take of a song that was introduced to us, through two versions, on “Tell Tale Signs.”
This was recorded on the same day as the takepresented on “Fragments” disc 5 as Version 1. By the sound of it, that slower version came first, then this more confident one. And the next day they recorded the “Tell Tale Signs” version presented on “Fragments” as disc 5, version 2.
The tempo is increased here from the earlier take, though they’ll squeeze in a few more beats-per-minute in the very similar take the next day. This just hits my ear as incredibly pleasant, even if it lacks the guttural force of the earlier take. It’s a smoother ride than the one recorded on 1/6/97, but is very similar.
I wonder if there isn’t much more to show to document the development of this song during the sessions, or perhaps the “Fragment” producers just chose to give us two takes that each could have vied equally for placement on “Time Out Of Mind.”
Make You Feel My Love (Take 1)
Well whatta ya know, Part 2: A version of “Make You Feel My Love” that I kind-of like. It’s a little less assured than the saccharine album version, and Dylan’s vocal has a not-quite-finished feeling to it that is more interesting to the ear. (Well, to my ear.)
Mississippi (Version 2)
Both of the newly released “Mississippi” takes on “Fragments” were recorded on the same day. Your guess is as good as mine as far as what order they originally came in. I’m choosing to figure that this one came second, because the tempo is jacked up a bit and the songs in these sessions tended to get faster …. except for when they got slower. Yeah.
Cindy Cashdollar’s slide guitar is way out in front, and sounds great. This performance is again a lot of fun, but I’d say it’s gotten much less weird and not as attractive. So maybe they did hit a dead end with the more upbeat approach, and stripped things back down again for the “Tell Tale Signs” versions.
And then when recording “Love and Theft” they filled out the band again and created something incredibly beautiful.
Standing In The Doorway (Version 2)
The tempo is dialed down a bit from Version 1 and is getting closer to what we’ll hear on “Time Out Of Mind.” But the overall effect does not achieve the sublime melancholy of the album rendition.
If we didn’t know from the definitive version of the song that Dylan has one of the most otherworldly lead vocals of his oeuvre yet to come, you could think his performance on this version is nearly master-level, aside from a couple notes that sour a bit too strongly.
But in his cadence, in the depth of feeling he’s wringing from that throat that sounds packed with American dirt, he is getting to be right there. Creating the vocal sound of a whole-ass era. Right here.
It still has that kinda awkward line about riding a horse that could-but-didn’t throw him, the one about silver spoons and salty wounds, and this great nugget, delivered to an actual or intended lover: “Give me liberty or let me die.” Patrick Henry lovesick, mayhaps.
‘Till I Fell In Love With You (Version 3)
And there it is. The group has seemingly done a lot of work since the take presented as Version 2. The tempo gets a boost here and the hypnotic spring of guitar familiar from “Time Out Of Mine” arrives on the song’s first beat.
It’s still a lumbering, junkyard lion, and gloriously so. The master take will take on a few more beats per minute and generally feel a bit tighter and less woozy.
Not Dark Yet (Version 2)
This is getting much closer to the album version, including the prominent snare drum part. Version 1 was faster than the “Time Out Of Mind Version,” this one might be just a tad slower.
Unlike some of the recordings in the “Bootleg Series” sets, the beauty of this is not in hearing different avenues the song may have gone down, but in simply enjoying a Dylan vocal performance that is strong enough to have gone on the album. As he does throughout the stuff on “Fragments,” Dylan sings with a confidence and panache that was fit to be immortalized on the record, but then just … wasn’t.
If it’s possible, the line “I can’t remember what it is I came here to get away from” sounds even more weary here than on the master take.
Tryin To Get To Heaven (Version 2)
This was recorded six days before the take presented on disc 2 as Version 1. But it sounds more like the finished take than does that one. I wonder if the master take actually came in-between them.
This is well on its way to what we’ll hear on “Time Out Of Mind.” We still don’t have the crucial piano figure; the instrumentation isn’t 100% there, but the band has its grasp on the song and is closing in on it. That wizened majesty just ain’t fully there yet.
As with “Not Dark Yet.” version 2,” I think the beauty of this take is listening to a nearly master-take-level vocal from Dylan. He doesn’t curl around his phrases with the delicacy he’ll achieve in on the album take. But it’s a great performance.
There’s an over-busy—for this recording ethos, in which there are next to zero instrumental solos — drum fill at 2:20 on the track. I can’t help but think either Mr. Blade or Mr. Keltner received a stern look from the boss; nothing like it makes its way to the album.
For the last verse, Dylan glides into a deeper level on his vocal, and by the time he makes it down to the parlor I think you can hear a crackling band start to think that maybe they’re in the stretch run of the master take. Or maybe it’s just that over-excited drummer.
I’ll be honest, going into this I thought the “Highlands” outtake might wind up a one-time listen. But it’s a delight.
It’s taken at a quicker tempo — a plus, in my opinion — which helps cut two minutes off the length of the 16-minute album version. Unfortunately, some of that time is also represented by the lack of the crucial line that references Erica Jong.
Dylan’s vocal veers closer to bemused here, rather than the exhausted, cosmic dislocation of the master cut.
Overall, this take is an easier listen to my ears, but I think you do have to nod to the “Time Out Of Mind” finale as the more affecting rendition.
Let’s take a moment to talk about the big bunch of musicians who play on all these tracks.
As mentioned above, the lack of track-by-track musician credits for much of the material is frustrating. Yes, we at least have a chunk of that for the original “Time Out Of Mind” album and the 2022 remix — musicians are credited by track. But with songs recorded and re-recorded weeks apart from each other, the published personnel for the album version doesn’t indicate who we’re hearing on each of these outtakes. And what about for a song like “Mississippi,” that isn’t even on “Time Out Of Mind”?
So let’s do a deep dive into one track, and try to build out a personnel list: the newly released “Mississippi” version 2. A little mild detective work will help. It was recorded on 1/11/97. The only other recording on “Fragments” — and that includes the “Tell Tale Signs” material — to be recorded that day is the alternate “Not Dark Yet.”
If, as it seems (as discussed above), “Not Dark Yet” was dispatched with efficiently, in perhaps just one day, it’s reasonable to suppose that the band present for that recording is also at least available for these two newly released “Mississippi” outtakes.
Beyond the “all songs” folks in the credits (Dylan, Daniel Lanois, Tony Garnier, Augie Meyers), the personnel for the “Time Out Of Mind” version of “Not Dark Yet” is:
͎Bucky Baxter on acoustic guitar and/or pedal steel — Yup, he’s on this “Mississippi.”
Robert Britt on Martin acoustic and/or Fender Stratocaster — Let’s put him down for acoustic.
Cindy Cashdollar— Yup, and she’s prominent on this recording.
Jim Dickinson on keyboards, Wurlitzer and/or pump organ—Since Auggie Meyers ostensibly plays the accordion we hear on Version 1, let’s figure it’s he who has switched to organ for Version 2. I can’t determine if there’s two different organs, but otherwise, maybe Dickinson is laying out. But on much of “Time Out Of Mind,” the two seem to double on keys.
Jim Keltner and Brian Blade on drums — Who knows, so let’s say sure.
Winston Watson on drums on Dirt Road Blues, & David Kemper on Drums on Cold Irons Bound.
But, we don’t know. With the sessions’ admirably free-floating nature, I would bet exact personnel for each track, including specific instrumentation, doesn’t actually exist.
The Dylan camp could clarify things, of course, by giving us the option to dump even more of our money into a completist set like the 18-cd iteration of “The Cutting Edge”!
Actually, now that I mention it…. Please let us do that.
The scholar-level access to sessions offered by the full “The Cutting Edge” has given us a taste for it. For many listeners, a pleasant consumer product like “Fragments” doesn’t cut it anymore!
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We also have a YouTube Channel full of great clips and live Dylan.
Thanks for putting this together. I enjoyed reading it. I tip my hat to your willingness to survey the two discs of alt takes at this stage: for me it is way too early, I have yet to assimilate.
"Start with that central, cycling drum figure, add the woozy, gauzy organ and its overall sense of delirious, humid obsession, and I think it is the sound of Daniel Lanois’ vision for the “Time Out of Mind” material succeeding, and doing so mightily. "
...I think you are spot on: that song is indeed Daniel Lanois's vision writ large and I thank the Lord the did not achieve it. I prefer the take we now have on Fragments to the TTS one, which always seemed contrived and over-cooked to me.
Thanks for this. I've downloaded the Apple Music playlist... it has 'Water is Wide' last, yet it was recorded first. Is this a bug in the playlist? Is the playlist actually in chronological order?