Bob Dylan and the Band found a murky mirthful musical expression in the great white wonder of this underground classic. The whirlwind tour that followed 'Blonde on Blonde' had left Dylan exhausted and overextended. When he returned from Europe, pressures mounted with dozens more American dates added and a book deal. On June 29, 1966 he crashed his 500cc Triumph Tiger 100 motorcycle near his home in Woodstock, New York: "I had been in a motorcycle accident and I'd been hurt, but I recovered. Truth was that I wanted to get out of the rat race ... It happened one morning, after I’d been up for three days ... I probably would have died, if I had kept on going the way I had been ... Until the accident, I was living music twenty-four hours a day.”
In 1967, when he was well enough, he began recording demos with his touring band The Hawks at their nearby house "Big Pink". The sessions produced over one hundred songs including some that became hits for other artists. The music drew from old blues, folks, and country; but there was something transcendent in the loose and lively interactions Dylan would express: "That's really the way to do a recording—in a peaceful, relaxed setting—in somebody's basement. With the windows open ... and a dog lying on the floor ... I didn't know how to record the way other people were recording, and I didn't want to. The Beatles had just released Sgt. Pepper which I didn't like at all. I thought that was a very indulgent album, though the songs on it were real good. I didn't think all that production was necessary."
The music remained unreleased for years except on the first ever bootleg 'Great White Wonder'. In 1975, a double album official release 'The Basement Tapes' came out that added eight songs by The Band. The tracks had been cleaned up and overdubs added at their Shangri-La ranch in Malibu, California with engineer Rob Fraboni. The album features Bob Dylan on acoustic guitar, piano, and vocals; Rick Danko on bass guitar, mandolin, and vocals; Levon Helm on drums, mandolin, bass guitar, and vocals; Garth Hudson on organ, clavinet, accordion, tenor saxophone, and piano; Richard Manuel on piano, drums, harmonica, and vocals; and Robbie Robertson on electric guitar, acoustic guitar, drums, and vocals.
'The Basement Tapes' climbed to number thirteen in Australia, eight in the UK, and seven in the US. It wasn't until 2014 that the entirety of the session would be released as 'The Bootleg Series Vol. 11: The Basement Tapes Complete'.
The Basement Tapes - The Legendary Tale
'The Basement Tapes'
All songs written by Bob Dylan, except where noted.
1. "Odds and Ends" 1:47
2. "Orange Juice Blues (Blues for Breakfast)" (Richard Manuel) 3:39
3. "Million Dollar Bash" 2:32
4. "Yazoo Street Scandal" (Robbie Robertson) 3:29
5. "Goin' to Acapulco" 5:27
6. "Katie's Been Gone" (Manuel, Robertson) 2:46
1. "Lo and Behold" 2:46
2. "Bessie Smith" (Rick Danko, Robertson) 4:18
3. "Clothes Line Saga" 2:58
4. "Apple Suckling Tree" 2:48
5. "Please, Mrs. Henry" 2:33
6. "Tears of Rage" (Dylan, Manuel) 4:15
1. "Too Much of Nothing" 3:04
2. "Yea! Heavy and a Bottle of Bread" 2:15
3. "Ain't No More Cane" (Traditional) 3:58
4. "Crash on the Levee (Down in the Flood)" 2:04
5. "Ruben Remus" (Manuel, Robertson) 3:16
6. "Tiny Montgomery" 2:47
1. "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" 2:42
2. "Don't Ya Tell Henry" 3:13
3. "Nothing Was Delivered" 4:23
4. "Open the Door, Homer" 2:49
5. "Long Distance Operator" 3:39
6. "This Wheel's on Fire" (Danko, Dylan) 3:52
'Great White Wonder'