Saturday, August 18, 2012

Bob Dylan on Columbia Records

Rolling Stone, 10 February 1977, pp. 68, 70

Backstage at the Creation

By Al Kooper with Ben Edmonds

[In this excerpt from Kooper's memoir, Backstage Passes (Stein & Day, 1977), he recounts an incident that occurred during Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde recording sessions.]

I was sitting in the control booth while Dylan was in the studio unmoving, writing again. Al Grossman had made a habit of pitching quarters into the soundproofed ceiling, and now everyone was doing it. I just knew when we left town, some engineer was gonna turn up a bass track all the way and all them fuckin' quarters was gonna rain down on the control room like a Las Vegas jackpot.

Anyway, me and Grossman and Johnston are pitchin' quarters, and this local newspaperman had somehow got in. He was in there about an hour and a half just staring at the motionless Dylan through the glass when he finally said, "Damn! What's he on, anyhow?"

Grossman, not wanting the facts to get distorted in this guy's potential scoop, tells him, "Columbia Records, sir." The guy is ushered out shortly thereafter.

[In Kooper's liner notes to No Direction Home (Columbia Records, 2005), a collection of Dylan outtakes, demos, and live versions, he claims the obtuse journalist made two visits:]

Bob would arrive, go to the piano in the studio and start changing a lyric. Sometimes he would be in there for four or five hour stretches. The band took it in good humor and played pool and ping pong, watched TV and catnapped. One night a journalist somehow slipped in with a friend and was asked to come back later as Bob was writing. He returned four hours later and Bob appeared to be in the exact same position at the piano as when the journalist was originally expelled.

"Man...what is he ON?" the reporter asked no one in particular in a loud voice.

"Columbia Records," Albert Grossman, Bob's manager, replied as he showed the gentleman to the door (p. 42).