Bob Dylan’s back pages: the truth behind the Basement Tapes

Bob Dylan retreats to the country

The Basement Tapes have never before been heard in their entirety. Now, with the official release of all 138 songs, Dylan expert Clinton Heylin examines the myth and the reality of one of rock’s seminal long-lost masterpieces.

In June 1975, between Blood on the Tracks and Desire, Bob Dylan approved the release of the most famous publishing demos in pop. The Basement Tapes, recorded off the radar in the summer of 1967, in the garage of the Band’s rented house in West Saugerties in upstate New York (which a previous owner had painted a gaudy pink), are seen as the missing link between the expansive Blonde on Blonde and the pared-down simplicity of John Wesley Harding. They were also the first music Dylan made as he recovered from a serious motorcycle accident on 29 July 1966, even as the dust of rumour conspired to cover him.

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