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Million Dollar Bash: Bob Dylan, The Band and the Basement Tapes. Revised and updated edition

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It's 1967, the Summer of Love, and Bob Dylan is holed up in Woodstock with a group of musicians once known as The Hawks, laying down a set of recordings that will soon turn the music world on its head. These recordings - the Basement Tapes - would not be released commercially by Dylan at first, but would emerge in the form of cover versions by acts such as The Byrds, Manfr It's 1967, the Summer of Love, and Bob Dylan is holed up in Woodstock with a group of musicians once known as The Hawks, laying down a set of recordings that will soon turn the music world on its head. These recordings - the Basement Tapes - would not be released commercially by Dylan at first, but would emerge in the form of cover versions by acts such as The Byrds, Manfred Mann, and Peter Paul & Mary. Together, they would inspire a homespun, back-to-basics approach in the work of The Beatles, the Stones, the Grateful Dead, and many others, while also kick-starting the entire Americana genre. It's 2014, the summer of the ice-bucket challenge, and author and musician Sid Griffin is holed up in the Dylan office in New York City, where he has been invited to listen to hours of never-before-heard Basement Tapes recordings. The result is this fully revised and expanded edition of Million Dollar Bash - published to coincide with the release of dozens of those recordings as part of the Bootleg Series, for which the author contributed liner notes, plus Lost Songs: The Basement Tapes Continued, a major new documentary about the period, and the new T Bone Burnettâ??produced Lost On The River album - in which Griffin shines even greater light on this pivotal yet often misunderstood moment in popular music history.


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It's 1967, the Summer of Love, and Bob Dylan is holed up in Woodstock with a group of musicians once known as The Hawks, laying down a set of recordings that will soon turn the music world on its head. These recordings - the Basement Tapes - would not be released commercially by Dylan at first, but would emerge in the form of cover versions by acts such as The Byrds, Manfr It's 1967, the Summer of Love, and Bob Dylan is holed up in Woodstock with a group of musicians once known as The Hawks, laying down a set of recordings that will soon turn the music world on its head. These recordings - the Basement Tapes - would not be released commercially by Dylan at first, but would emerge in the form of cover versions by acts such as The Byrds, Manfred Mann, and Peter Paul & Mary. Together, they would inspire a homespun, back-to-basics approach in the work of The Beatles, the Stones, the Grateful Dead, and many others, while also kick-starting the entire Americana genre. It's 2014, the summer of the ice-bucket challenge, and author and musician Sid Griffin is holed up in the Dylan office in New York City, where he has been invited to listen to hours of never-before-heard Basement Tapes recordings. The result is this fully revised and expanded edition of Million Dollar Bash - published to coincide with the release of dozens of those recordings as part of the Bootleg Series, for which the author contributed liner notes, plus Lost Songs: The Basement Tapes Continued, a major new documentary about the period, and the new T Bone Burnettâ??produced Lost On The River album - in which Griffin shines even greater light on this pivotal yet often misunderstood moment in popular music history.

30 review for Million Dollar Bash: Bob Dylan, The Band and the Basement Tapes. Revised and updated edition

  1. 4 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    Bob Dylan is probably only of interest to middle aged white guys so if you’re not in that demographic, move right along, nothing to see here. When I look at the music book section in the big ass bookshops I go to there’s always 50 books on Dylan, 30 on the Beatles and one each on everyone else. This probably means that only middle aged white guys read music books. Also, that only middle aged white guys write music books. This is my music bookcase: https://www.goodreads.com/photo/user/... There's ab Bob Dylan is probably only of interest to middle aged white guys so if you’re not in that demographic, move right along, nothing to see here. When I look at the music book section in the big ass bookshops I go to there’s always 50 books on Dylan, 30 on the Beatles and one each on everyone else. This probably means that only middle aged white guys read music books. Also, that only middle aged white guys write music books. This is my music bookcase: https://www.goodreads.com/photo/user/... There's about three in there written by women. Wow, writing about music is a real boy's club. I wouldn't have thought it was, but it really is. So now I'm umming and ahing about whether to buy the updated edition of this very good guide to all things basement. It was just updated because of the new version of the basement tapes issued recently. This was the old version and this is the new version: not to be confused with this: but that's not by Bob - well... I mean... it... er...aw it's too complicated to explain. So wondering whether to get an updated edition of a book about some homemade demos from 1967 which I've already listened to and read everything else about them too - if you were looking for the definition of a first world problem, that's a good one right there.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lonesome Suzie

    As I’m obsessed with The Band, I enjoy reading everything I can find about them. And you have to be a real fan of The Band and Bob Dylan to read that book. The making of The Basement Tapes is kind of a mystery, and the author can’t tell us exactly who played on some tracks. It could be Richard on drums on Apple Suckling Tree, or it could be Robbie nobody knows for sure. And it’s the case for so many songs. Still, if you love The Band & Dylan, it’s great to read about that brief period of happine As I’m obsessed with The Band, I enjoy reading everything I can find about them. And you have to be a real fan of The Band and Bob Dylan to read that book. The making of The Basement Tapes is kind of a mystery, and the author can’t tell us exactly who played on some tracks. It could be Richard on drums on Apple Suckling Tree, or it could be Robbie nobody knows for sure. And it’s the case for so many songs. Still, if you love The Band & Dylan, it’s great to read about that brief period of happiness before everything went wrong for the guys of The Band.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Justin

    Highly enjoyable, although somewhat lightweight. The bulk of the book is a song-by-song analysis where Griffin, through a complex process, makes educated guesses as to who played which instrument on which track (this is harder than it sounds, especially to someone unfamiliar with The Band). This information is interesting, but at the end of the day, does it matter if Dylan or Manuel played piano on (insert title here). The more interesting part, for me at least, was the discussions of how the pro Highly enjoyable, although somewhat lightweight. The bulk of the book is a song-by-song analysis where Griffin, through a complex process, makes educated guesses as to who played which instrument on which track (this is harder than it sounds, especially to someone unfamiliar with The Band). This information is interesting, but at the end of the day, does it matter if Dylan or Manuel played piano on (insert title here). The more interesting part, for me at least, was the discussions of how the process by which The Basement Tapes were recorded (and it turns out that Robbie Robertson's definition of The Basement Tapes is all about the process, not geography) prefigures the revolution in alternate recording that has occurred over the past 20-30 years. This isn't to say that there wouldn't be a Beat Happening or Sebadoh or The Streets or any number of MySpace "bands" without The Basement Tapes, but it does show how Dylan was always in the future even while he was trying to be in the past.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    This is a frustratingly-written book. BUT, it is full of great information, it's always fun to read about the Basement Tapes. There is a ton of hypothetical information, including an entire chapter about what "might" have happened when Dylan got in his motorcycle crash (angle of the sun, type of skid his bike would have made on the road, etc), and even though it seems so stupid, it's really fun to engage with this kind of crap if you already know something about it. But almost entirely useless u This is a frustratingly-written book. BUT, it is full of great information, it's always fun to read about the Basement Tapes. There is a ton of hypothetical information, including an entire chapter about what "might" have happened when Dylan got in his motorcycle crash (angle of the sun, type of skid his bike would have made on the road, etc), and even though it seems so stupid, it's really fun to engage with this kind of crap if you already know something about it. But almost entirely useless unless you have the complete tapes to compare it to. Luckily, I did...

  5. 4 out of 5

    Gary

    Great rapid fire read. I learned a lot about the time of the motorcycle accident (which is still a mystery), and it is told in an interesting way. I would say it is information dense, which is a good thing, you won't be bored. Especially if you don't know much about the details of the Basement Tapes. I was in that category. Being a fan for all these years it is one recording I never listened too. I'm thankful to the book for getting me to listen. What a treat and revelation it was. This book just Great rapid fire read. I learned a lot about the time of the motorcycle accident (which is still a mystery), and it is told in an interesting way. I would say it is information dense, which is a good thing, you won't be bored. Especially if you don't know much about the details of the Basement Tapes. I was in that category. Being a fan for all these years it is one recording I never listened too. I'm thankful to the book for getting me to listen. What a treat and revelation it was. This book just made the experience that much deeper, in that it goes over each cut. Highly recommended.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Allan Heron

    A book for the commited Dylan fan, Griffin's book (updated to reflect the Lost On The River project but only speculating on the Official release that followed - although Griffin did write the sleeve notes for this) provides all the history and analysis you need to have at hand for the historic recording made in Woodstock during 1967. A book for the commited Dylan fan, Griffin's book (updated to reflect the Lost On The River project but only speculating on the Official release that followed - although Griffin did write the sleeve notes for this) provides all the history and analysis you need to have at hand for the historic recording made in Woodstock during 1967.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Steve Gillway

    A very well-researched piece of work, written with a real love of the subject. It is amazing that something back in 1967 can still tweak the interest. Dylan is unforthcoming in a truly magnificent way, a riposte to the all knowing times of today.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Todd Stockslager

    Navel-gazing homage to the master. Griffin provides brief historical setting for the Basement Tapes, no more is needed because everyone who will approach this book is likely to know the basic bones of the story-meteoric folk career deflected by plugged-in mayhem with various backing groups, settling on the Hawks for the amphetamine- and electro-angst-driven '66 British tour, then the motorcycle crash while drying out and decompressing in bucolic Woodstock. Then Griffin gets serious, documenting ( Navel-gazing homage to the master. Griffin provides brief historical setting for the Basement Tapes, no more is needed because everyone who will approach this book is likely to know the basic bones of the story-meteoric folk career deflected by plugged-in mayhem with various backing groups, settling on the Hawks for the amphetamine- and electro-angst-driven '66 British tour, then the motorcycle crash while drying out and decompressing in bucolic Woodstock. Then Griffin gets serious, documenting (as best as anyone is likely to be able to ever do, unless The Dylan himself speaks, which he seems unlikely to do this far down the road) the physical settings for the recordings, the recording equipment used to capture the gutbucket Americana sound, the typical comings and goings of the musical suspects, and the sequence and locations of the recordings--locations plural, because as Griffin's detailed document makes clear, the "Basement" was actually at least three separate locations in Woodstock, with possibly some before and later additions to the tape mix. With the stage now thoroughly set, Griffin steps through the known and named songs on the Tapes (many more have never been made public either officially or bootlegged), attempting to reconstruct the sequence of recording and the performers on each recording. These recordings were not studio pristine in technology and documentation, since at least initially they were not intended for public consumption, so Griffin's work consists of lots of assumptions, guesswork, detective work, and logical deductions not backed up by known documentation. The navel comes into view here. Regardless of the purpose of the recordings (some were used as demos for copyrighting and distribution to other bands to cover, others appear to be rehearsal work, others to be drunken jams) and the technical quality of recordings and the music, the artistic value of the music was apparent then and now, so why do we need to establish academic-level standards of documentation? The music stands on its own. Let it stand. Put it on the iPOD. Crank it up. Don't put it in a museum case. Still, Griffin provides a valuable service in documenting the redirection of Dylan as a songwriter of ever-greater strength, depth and introspection, and the birth of The Band's Americana sound from the Hawks bar-band blues and R&B, both with and without Dylan during the Basement sessions. And he writes with as much good sense and good humor as you'll find among Dylanologists, so the Bash is worth a place beside the iPOD.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Griffith

    Let me get the negative things out first. This was written (and updated) before the Sony robber barons brought out their six disc "complete" Basement Tapes collection (at a huge price considering they absorbed no production studio costs for this other than subsidizing the musicians who became The Band while working with Dylan) and this makes it clear that Sony left some stuff out. So Griffin got hold of everything somehow and it's very frustrating trying to find songs which aren't there. This is Let me get the negative things out first. This was written (and updated) before the Sony robber barons brought out their six disc "complete" Basement Tapes collection (at a huge price considering they absorbed no production studio costs for this other than subsidizing the musicians who became The Band while working with Dylan) and this makes it clear that Sony left some stuff out. So Griffin got hold of everything somehow and it's very frustrating trying to find songs which aren't there. This isn't Griffin's fault per se but this has been updated to include commentary on a prior release of lyrics by Dylan at the time that were never played by Dylan or The Band but T Bone Burnette assembled a group, including Elvis Costello, called The New Basement Tapes to put music to them and released a cd called Lost on the River. And a song is missing from that. Second there are a couple times that Griffin, a musician, gets the instrumentation wrong, assuming that he was listening to what I was. And the lengths of the versions of the songs were different. So it was a logistical nightmare trying to read and listen with any coherence (not to mention that the CDs were in different track orders to the text). Those caveats aside, this was a masterful work in terms of capturing everything surrounding this music. I've read the Greil Marcus book, which used to be called Invisible Republic but then inexplicably changed it to something more pedestrianly descriptive, and found this much more useful although, in fairness, they're different kind of books except they share trying to capture the essence of the music. Plus Griffin lays out the story within the story of why this music came out piecemeal with no sense of urgency or interest on the part of the musicians. I felt when I was finished it that there is nothing more for me to explore on the subject, which is the highest compliment I can give a book like this.

  10. 5 out of 5

    James

    This book was quite different from what I normally read, and quite fascinating. Dylan, having in many ways spearheaded the civil rights and protest movements of the 1960's took a step back, long before the rest of the country did. The Basement Tapes music and this book show his attraction to domesticity, his American roots and the roots of American music. He teemed together with mostly Canadian musicians and retreated from the electric music and psychodelia then popular with most of the audience This book was quite different from what I normally read, and quite fascinating. Dylan, having in many ways spearheaded the civil rights and protest movements of the 1960's took a step back, long before the rest of the country did. The Basement Tapes music and this book show his attraction to domesticity, his American roots and the roots of American music. He teemed together with mostly Canadian musicians and retreated from the electric music and psychodelia then popular with most of the audience. Other forward-looking musicians such as Eric Clapton admired and joined this move. The book will have an appeal mostly to Band or Dylan cognocenti. I read it both as a lover of those groups and a history buff.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    I've had this one on the self for several years and never read it. Since we're going to get an official release of this marvelous music, I've been listening to A Tree With Roots a lot, and sat down with this book. It does an excellent job of telling the story of the music's recording, and as many details as were available when it was written. It's fun to go through these songs one at a time, and Griffin is really detailed in his descriptions. It'll be interesting to see how the music changes whe I've had this one on the self for several years and never read it. Since we're going to get an official release of this marvelous music, I've been listening to A Tree With Roots a lot, and sat down with this book. It does an excellent job of telling the story of the music's recording, and as many details as were available when it was written. It's fun to go through these songs one at a time, and Griffin is really detailed in his descriptions. It'll be interesting to see how the music changes when it's released, properly produced. Good reading, and I hope it gets more attention when the music is released.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    I read this because I splurged and bought myself The complete Basement Tapes and wanted to read along as I listened. Nergasmic. The prose is woolly, though sometimes very very funny but the individual song entries are interesting and I liked Griffin's ideas about the impact the tapes made on other artists. His heart is definitely in the right place. I read this because I splurged and bought myself The complete Basement Tapes and wanted to read along as I listened. Nergasmic. The prose is woolly, though sometimes very very funny but the individual song entries are interesting and I liked Griffin's ideas about the impact the tapes made on other artists. His heart is definitely in the right place.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Doris Raines

    A. Fantastic. Story.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Russell

    I was given this by a rep at Mountains & Plains. It's one of an ever growing pile... I was given this by a rep at Mountains & Plains. It's one of an ever growing pile...

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kaya

    Every time I think about seeing I'm Not There, I pee a little. This book is pretty much the opposite of that feeling. Every time I think about seeing I'm Not There, I pee a little. This book is pretty much the opposite of that feeling.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Hugh

    Not a whole bunch of new info but still pretty good.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    Interesting topic, dull book. I would have liked more real information (not conjecture) about what Dylan's life was like during his convalescence in 1967. Interesting topic, dull book. I would have liked more real information (not conjecture) about what Dylan's life was like during his convalescence in 1967.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Ingate

  19. 5 out of 5

    P

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ken Zingman

  21. 5 out of 5

    David

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly

  23. 4 out of 5

    Bruce Hatton

  24. 5 out of 5

    Eric

  25. 5 out of 5

    Justin Baer

  26. 5 out of 5

    PETER REEVES

  27. 4 out of 5

    Scott Fendley

  28. 5 out of 5

    Luc

  29. 4 out of 5

    Terry Wheeler

  30. 4 out of 5

    Dean Porter

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