Bob Dylan: Gates of Eden in 1965, 1988 (2 versions), and 1992

November 16, 2006

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“Gates of Eden” is a great early Dylan song and one I’ve always loved to play. I was interested to hear the four very different versions of this song, all sung by Dylan. Folk music changes over time, as much music that is passed down aurally is. But Dylan puts his music through some filter that has it come out differently every time. I haven’t read his recent book, so I’m ignorant to his aesthetic point for doing this is, unless it’s do wake up the meaning of the text for the person who know it.

Of interest in the first version in this outtake from Dylan’s film DON’T LOOK BACK (this is an incomplete performance, the film apparently ran out) are the variations in the guitar accompaniment. They are already more interesting than the version he recorded on the 1965 LP, “Bringing it all back Home.”

In the first 1988 version, I’m hearing Dylan influencing The Byrds influencing Dylan in his gorgeous guitar accompaniment. Although I love the original, the 1988 solo guitar accompaniment is far more poignant. I prefer his voice in 1965, but we are all stuck in our ways through no fault of the artist.

The second 1988 is one with Neil Young in Berkeley. Here we have a whole new set of chords. In wonder whether they were Neil’s contribution. (I love the way he “conducts” with his body, and especially the stomping left leg. It’s amazing he hasn’t had to have a hip replacement.) (And by the way, I’ll have whatever the drummer’s having.) The rhythm of the “melody” is vaguely similar, but the melody has gone through the Dylan-Morph, where is loses its original melodic identity.

The weirdest of them all is the 1992 version in Binghamton, NY where the melody is compressed into an Annie Lennox like 2-note bore with the original chords thumping dutifully in the background.

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