New Morning


New Morning
New Morning
Studio album by Bob Dylan
Released October 19, 1970
Recorded June – August 1970 at Studio B and Studio E, Columbia Studio Building, 49 East 52nd Street, New York City[1][2]
Genre Rock, country rock, country
Length 35:21
Label Columbia
Producer Bob Johnston
Bob Dylan chronology
Self Portrait
(1970)
New Morning
(1970)
Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits Vol. II
(1971)
Singles from New Morning
  1. "If Not for You"
    Released: 1970 (1970)

New Morning is singer-songwriter Bob Dylan's 11th studio album, released by Columbia Records in October 1970.

Coming only four months after the controversial Self Portrait, the more concise and immediate New Morning won a much warmer reception from fans and critics. Most welcome was the return of Dylan's familiar, nasal singing voice. While he has a slightly nasal tone to his voice on "Alberta #1" from Self Portrait this was the first full album with his familiar voice since John Wesley Harding in 1967: he had taken on a country croon since then. In retrospect, the album has come to be viewed as one of the artist's lesser successes, especially following the release of Blood on the Tracks in 1975, often seen as a fuller return-to-form.

It reached #7 in the US, quickly going gold, and gave Dylan his sixth UK number 1 album. The album's most successful song from a commercial perspective is probably "If Not For You", which was covered by George Harrison, who had played guitar on a version of the song not released until 1991's Bootleg Series Volume 2, and was also an international hit for Olivia Newton-John in 1971. Bryan Ferry also included the song on Dylanesque.

Contents

Details

Dylan discusses the recording of New Morning at length in one chapter of his autobiography, Chronicles, Vol. 1. Several alternate, preliminary forms of the album have been documented, including tracks which later appeared on the 1973 Dylan. He has played only four of the album's twelve songs in concert; one, "If Dogs Run Free", made its live debut on October 1, 2000, within days of the 30th anniversary of the album's original release.

Recording sessions

New Morning was released four months after Self Portrait and there was some speculation that it was recorded hastily and rushed out as an immediate response to the scathing criticism that surrounded Self Portrait. In fact, much of New Morning was already complete when Self Portrait was officially released.

"I didn't say, 'Oh my God, they don't like this, let me do another one,'" Dylan said in 1975. "It wasn't like that. It just happened coincidentally that one came out and then the other one did as soon as it did. The Self Portrait LP laid around for I think a year. We were working on New Morning when the Self Portrait album got put together."

During the March sessions that yielded most of Self Portrait, Dylan recorded three songs that he later used for New Morning: "Went to See the Gypsy" (featuring an electric piano), "Time Passes Slowly", and "If Not For You." A number of performances were recorded, but none to his satisfaction.

After work on Self Portrait was virtually completed, Dylan held more sessions at Columbia's recording studios in the Columbia Studio Building at 49 East 52nd Street in New York, beginning May 1, 1970.[1][2] Held in Studio B, the first session was accompanied by George Harrison, bassist Charlie Daniels, and drummer Russ Kunkel. A large number of covers and old compositions were recorded in addition to several new compositions. The master take for "Went to See the Gypsy" was recorded at this session and eventually included on New Morning, but most of the results were rejected.

Sometime in the spring of 1970, Dylan became involved with a new play by poet Archibald MacLeish. A musical version of The Devil and Daniel Webster was titled Scratch. "New Morning", "Time Passes Slowly" and "Father of Night" were all written for the production. Though Dylan enjoyed talking with MacLeish, he was never confident about writing songs for the play. "Archie's play was so heavy, so full of midnight murder, there was no way I could make its purpose mine," he would later write.

Eventually, a conflict with the producer over "Father of Night" prompted Dylan to leave the production, withdrawing his songs in the process. Al Kooper, who is credited as co-producer of New Morning, would later say that these three songs were "pretty much the fulcrum for [New Morning]... That got him writing a little more."

The next session for New Morning would not be held until June 1. By this time, Dylan had written several new songs, including "Three Angels", "If Dogs Run Free", "Winterlude", and "The Man in Me".

Dylan vacated Studio B and moved into Studio E, both of which were in the Columbia Studio Building, where he stayed for the remaining sessions.[1][2] For five straight days, ending on June 5, Dylan recorded most of New Morning; he even recorded a number of covers with the intention of including a few on New Morning. The June 1 session was devoted entirely to covers, but Peter La Farge's "Ballad of Ira Hayes" was the only one given any serious consideration for inclusion. The June 2 session produced a solo piano rendition of "Spanish Is the Loving Tongue"; Al Kooper felt it was a strong candidate for New Morning, but it was ultimately set aside. Jerry Jeff Walker's "Mr. Bojangles" and the traditional "Mary Ann" were also recorded on June 2, with "Mr. Bojangles" receiving serious consideration for inclusion.

On June 9, several days after those initial June sessions, Dylan accepted an honorary doctorate in music from Princeton University. Dylan did not enjoy the experience, and it inspired him to write a new song, "Day of the Locusts".

Weeks later, a session held on June 30 was dedicated to recording new versions of "Blowin' in the Wind," but those recordings were left on the shelf.

Bob Johnston was still credited with production, but by July he was absent and would not return. Instead, Dylan and Kooper created the preliminary sequence for New Morning. The process was wrought with frustration, possibly the result of the negative criticism over Self Portrait. The first sequence of New Morning included a few covers as well as a new version of "Tomorrow is a Long Time," an original composition dating back to 1962.

Meanwhile, Kooper convinced Dylan to record string overdubs for "Sign on the Window". An overdub session was held on July 13, but Dylan left those overdubs out of the final mix. Kooper then convinced Dylan to record overdubs for a June 2 recording of "Spanish Is the Loving Tongue" and the March recordings of "If Not For You" and "Went to See the Gypsy". That overdub session was held on July 23, but Dylan would ultimately reject these recordings.

"When I finished that album I never wanted to speak to him again," Kooper said. "I was cheesed off at how difficult [the whole thing was]...He just changed his mind every three seconds so I just ended up doing the work of three albums...We'd get a side order and we'd go in and master it and he'd say, 'No, no, no. I want to do this.' And then, 'No, let's go in and cut this.'... There was another version of 'Went to See the Gypsy' that was really good... It was the first time I went in and had an arrangement idea for it and I said, 'Let me go in and cut this track and then you can sing over it.' So I cut this track and it was really good... and he came in and pretended like he didn't understand where to sing on it."

Dylan ultimately decided to re-record "If Not for You" and "Time Passes Slowly", holding one final session on August 12. During that session, he also recorded "Day of the Locusts," which by now had been finished.

For the album's final sequence, the three August 12 recordings were placed at the beginning of New Morning, while covers of "Ballad of Ira Hayes" and "Mr. Bojangles" were dropped.

Songs

The album opens with "If Not For You," which was also covered on George Harrison's All Things Must Pass. A sincere, sentimental love song with modest ambitions, it was Dylan's first and only single from New Morning.

"Day Of The Locusts" is a cynical piece of work inspired by his June experience at Princeton University. David Crosby was present, and later commented: "Sara was trying to get Bob to go to Princeton University, where he was being presented with an honorary doctorate. Bob did not want to go. I said, 'C'mon, Bob it's an honor!' Sara and I both worked on him for a long time. Finally, he agreed. I had a car outside, a big limousine. That was the first thing he didn't like. We smoked another joint on the way and I noticed Dylan getting really quite paranoid about it. When we arrived at Princeton, they took us to a little room and Bob was asked to wear a cap and gown. He refused outright. They said, 'We won't give you the degree if you don't wear this.' Dylan said, 'Fine. I didn't ask for it in the first place.'...Finally we convinced him to wear the cap and gown." The lyrics refer to the 17-year cicada infestation covering Princeton at the time:[citation needed]

"Sure was glad to get out of there alive.
And the locusts sang such a sweet melody.
and the locusts sang with a high whinin’ trill,
Yeah, the locusts sang and they was singing for me..."

It is often assumed that Dylan wrote "Went To See The Gypsy" after meeting Elvis Presley,[3] as the song mentions visiting with a mysterious and important man in a hotel. The song also contains the line, "A pretty dancing girl was there, and she began to shout... 'He did it in Las Vegas, and he can do it here.'" This lyric was seen by some as a reference to Elvis' regular concerts in Las Vegas. However, in a 2009 interview with Rolling Stone's Douglas Brinkley, he stated, "I never met Elvis, because I didn't want to meet Elvis... I know The Beatles went to see him, and he just played with their heads."[4] The "Gypsy" could also possibly be Jimi Hendrix, whose backup group was "Band of Gypsies". Strangely, the song was recorded a few months before Jimi's death in September 1970. In the final lines of the song, there is also a mention of a "little Minnesota town," a rare instance where Dylan references his childhood in Hibbing.

"Winterlude" verges on satirical, a humorous love song directed at a girl named Winterlude, and includes the chorus, "Winterlude, this dude thinks you're fine". The song was featured in The Comic Strip 1998 special "Four Men In A Car".

It is immediately followed by "If Dogs Run Free", a scatting beatnik send-up, featuring Maeretha Stewart as a guest vocalist and Al Kooper on piano.

The title track of New Morning is another one of the lighter tracks, a wry take on country life.

"Sign On The Window" expands on the joyous sentiments found in "New Morning", applying it to domestic bliss. "Beginning hesitantly, the last verse of 'Sign On The Window' builds towards its repeated last line not as a forced projection of false hope but as simple, matter-of-fact acceptance of middle-age sentiment," writes NPR's Tim Riley. "[These words] offer a way of redefining one's values that doesn't mean copping out or giving up. The antithesis of the family man, at thirty a father of four, begins broaching homeliness without irony - and still convinces you not to hear it as strict autobiography."

Guitarist Ron Cornelius recalls, "Dylan had a pretty bad cold that week. You can hear it on ['Sign On The Window'], y'know, that bit about 'Brighton girls are like the moon,' where his voice really cracks up. But it sure suits the song. His piano playing's weird...because his hands start at opposite ends of the keyboard and then sorta collide in the middle - he does that all the time - but the way he plays just knocks me out."

In "The Man in Me", "Dylan surrenders to the person he sees when his lover looks through him," writes Riley. "He's not trying to impress this lover, so the title hook resonates enough to carry things... 'Take a woman like you to get through/To the man in me' is so direct in its expression of the unflinching cues of intimacy, you forgive him the occasional forced rhyme." The song was later featured during several scenes in the 1998 Coen Brothers film The Big Lebowski.

"Three Angels" is gospel-tinged track that documents the sights on an urban street, including "a man with a badge", a "U-Haul trailer", and "three fellas crawling their way back to work".[5] The final song, "Father of Night", is Dylan's interpretation of the Jewish prayer Amidah.

Outtakes

Written by Charles Badger Clark, "Spanish Is The Loving Tongue" is a mournful love song featuring Dylan alone at the piano. The master take from June 2, 1970 was issued as the B-side to "Watching The River Flow" on June 3, 1971.

Dylan originally planned to include a few covers, and he recorded a significant amount during the sessions. Several of these covers were later issued on Dylan in December 1973.

Dylan recorded a large number of outtakes for New Morning. The outtakes consisted of new recordings of his older material, some original material and a large number of reworked tunes with George Harrison accompanying him.

The following songs were recorded at the first New Morning session with Harrison. While the majority of these songs are re-recorded versions, these sessions yielded the original song "Working on a Guru", which is still unreleased. Notable songs from this session are the aforementioned "Guru", "Telephone Wire", "Song to Woody", and a complete version of Dylan covering The Beatles' famous song "Yesterday". Many of these recordings, 19 in total, are found in a bootleg known as Almost Went to See Elvis, which has not been publicly released as of yet.[6]

  • "Working on a Guru" (titled "Working On The Guhry" on the tape box)
  • "Song To Woody"
  • "Mama, You Been On My Mind"
  • "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" (Instrumental)
  • "Yesterday" (John Lennon, Paul McCartney)
  • "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues"
  • "I Met Him On A Sunday" (Da Doo Ron Ron) (Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, Phil Spector)
  • "One Too Many Mornings" (Instrumental)
  • "One Too Many Mornings"
  • "Ghost Riders In The Sky" (Jones)
  • "Cupid" (Sam Cooke)
  • "All I Have To Do Is Dream" (Boudleaux Bryant)
  • "Gates Of Eden"
  • "I Threw It All Away"
  • "I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met)"
  • "Matchbox" (Carl Perkins)
  • "Your True Love" (Carl Perkins)
  • "Telephone Wire" (titled "Wonder When My Swamp’s Gonna Catch On Fire?" on the tape box) (original song to these sessions)
  • "Fishin' Blues" (Henry Thomas)
  • "Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance" (Henry Thomas)
  • "Rainy Day Women # 12 & 35"
  • "It Ain't Me, Babe"

There were six main recording sessions for the album, Harrison only being present at the first. The following songs were recorded during the remaining five sessions. Multiple takes were recorded of all the songs listed here, with the sole exception of "Ahoooah". In 1973, Columbia raided the vaults to release the album Dylan, which consisted of seven of these tracks supplemented with two outtakes from New Morning's predecessor album, Self Portrait.

  • Ahoooah (Owau) (Instrumental)
  • Alligator Man
  • The Ballad of Ira Hayes (released on Dylan)
  • Big Yellow Taxi (Joni Mitchell) (released on Dylan)
  • Blowing in the Wind
  • Bring Me Water
  • Can't Help Falling in Love (released on Dylan)
  • I Forgot To Remember To Forget (S. Kesler, Charlie Feathers) (the take that appears on Dylan is from the Self Portrait sessions, with the New Morning recording unreleased.
  • Jamaica Farewell (Burgess)
  • Long Black Veil (Danny Dill, Marijohn Wilkin)
  • Lily Of The West (trad. arr. E. Davies, J. Peterson) (released on Dylan)
  • Mary Anne (released on Dylan)
  • Mr. Bojangles (released on Dylan)
  • Oh Lonesome Me (Don Gibson)
  • Sarah Jane (released on Dylan)
  • Spanish in the Loving Tongue (released as a B-side in 1970, a much different recording than the version that appeared on Dylan)
  • Spanish is the Loving Tongue (released on Dylan)
  • Tomorrow Is A Long Time

Aftermath

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars link
Entertainment Weekly (B) link
Robert Christgau (A-)
Rolling Stone 5/5 stars link

Critics were quick to praise New Morning upon its release. Ralph Gleason's Rolling Stone review reflected most sentiments, proclaiming "WE'VE GOT DYLAN BACK AGAIN." Few placed it alongside his masterworks from the 1960s, but it was considered a substantial improvement over its predecessor. It was only four months since Self Portrait, and many reviewers did not resist comparing the two.

"In case you were wondering how definitive that self-portrait was, here comes its mirror image four months later," wrote Robert Christgau, before giving it an A-. "Call it love on the rebound. This time he's writing the pop (and folk) genre experiments himself, and thus saying more about true romance than is the pop (or folk) norm."

While New Morning neared completion, Dylan and his manager, Albert Grossman, formally dissolved their business relationship on July 17, 1970. Grossman retained certain rights from previous agreements, including royalties on work produced under his management, but their publishing company, Big Sky Music, would be replaced by Ram's Horn Music before the end of 1971, putting an end to any joint ownership in publishing. Dylan would gain complete control over his personal management and his own music publishing. Another tense contract negotiation awaited in 1972, this time with CBS. Until then, there would be little musical activity as Dylan entered the quietest period of his career.

Track listing

All songs written by Bob Dylan.

  1. "If Not for You" – 2:39
  2. "Day of the Locusts" – 3:57
  3. "Time Passes Slowly" – 2:33
  4. "Went to See the Gypsy" – 2:49
  5. "Winterlude" – 2:21
  6. "If Dogs Run Free" – 3:37
  7. "New Morning" – 3:56
  8. "Sign on the Window" – 3:39
  9. "One More Weekend" – 3:09
  10. "The Man in Me" – 3:07
  11. "Three Angels" – 2:07
  12. "Father of Night" – 1:27

Chart positions

Chart Year Peak
position
UK Albums Chart[7] 1970 1
Preceded by
Led Zeppelin III by Led Zeppelin
UK Albums Chart number-one album
28 November 1970 - 5 December 1970
Succeeded by
Andy Williams' Greatest Hits
by Andy Williams

Personnel

References

  1. ^ a b c Heylin, Clinton, Bob Dylan: The Recording Sessions 1960-94. Penguin. UK; St Martin’s Press, US, 1995. ISBN 0312134398. Cf. p.84 on use of Studio B and Studio E in New York City in 1970 which were at the Columbia Studio Building.
  2. ^ a b c Bjoerner, Olof, "Still On The Road: 1970 Recording SESSIONS"
  3. ^ "Bono versus Elvis: the poem". The Daily Telegraph (London). May 7, 2009. http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/neil_mccormick/blog/2009/05/07/bono_versus_elvis_the_poem. 
  4. ^ Brinkley, Douglas (5-14-2009) Rolling Stone issue #1078, pp. 48
  5. ^ http://www.bobdylan.com/#/songs/three-angels
  6. ^ http://www.last.fm/music/Bob+Dylan/Almost+Went+to+See+Elvis
  7. ^ "Number 1 Albums – 1970s". The Official Charts Company. Archived from the original on 9 February 2008. http://web.archive.org/web/20080209095720/http://www.theofficialcharts.com/all_the_no1_albums.php?show=3. Retrieved 9 June 2011. 

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