This Historic Day In Music: November 20, 1961, Columbia Records’ Studio A, N.Y., N.Y.

The recording session started at 2:00 pm.

The 20-year-old Folk singer/guitarist/harmonica player/songwriter was Columbia Records producer John Hammond’s latest find. As the session progressed, Hammond must have had second thoughts. He found the young musician to be: “In a word… terrible. I’d never worked with someone so undisciplined before.”

The young musician had brought a wide repertoire of songs to record. As he told Hammond, they were “some stuff I’ve written, some stuff I’ve discovered, some I’ve stole.” The first song recorded was “You’re No Good”  from Blues singer/multi-instrumentalist Jesse Fuller. Other songs recorded this day were “Fixin’ To Die,” “Baby, Let Me Follow You Down” and “In My Time Of Dyin’.”

Two original songs were recorded today, the only two that would appear on the released album, and they were: “Talkin’ New York” and “Song To Woody.” As was the preference of the young musician, all songs were given no more than three takes, many, like “Song To Woody,” were done in only one.

In what seems to have been one of several spur-of-the-moment song-choice decisions of the session, the fifth song recorded this day was “House of the Rising Sun.” The young musician performed a passionate rendition of the song in a minor key, 6/8-time arrangement borrowed from (without permission, and eventually released, despite a request not to, by) Greenwich Village Folk singer/guitarist Dave Van Ronk.

The session ended at 5:00 pm with seven songs finished. A second and final 3-hour session was held two days later and resulted in the other six tracks needed to complete the album. 

The album, “Bob Dylan,” was released on March 19, 1962.

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One Response to This Historic Day In Music: November 20, 1961, Columbia Records’ Studio A, N.Y., N.Y.

  1. Pax Tecum says:

    How often do the small seeds of talent chance to grow into trees of fame while others simply blow in the wind…….

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