In the summer of 1967, Dylan ensconced himself, along with Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel, Garth Hudson and, later, Levon Helm, in the basement of a small house, dubbed “Big Pink” by the group, in West Saugerties, New York, out of the public eye for the first time in years. This is familiar history to Dylanologists, the stuff of legend, with the songs recorded there the subject of intense scrutiny.
The basement just keeps on giving.
The recent discovery and restoration of early gems — like ghostly forest apparitions straight out of a Washington Irving story — collected in last month’s release of The Basement Tapes Complete, The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 in a 6-CD box set, followed by the Elvis Costello/TBone Burnett project (Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes) which set stunning music to unrecorded Dylan lyrics from that long-ago summer, have bolstered this enchanting legend.
For those of you who just can’t get enough — if you need more than mere music, perhaps a travelogue narrated by Jeff Bridges? — now you have this:
Available exclusively on Bob Dylan’s Facebook Page and bobdylan.com, From The Village to The Basement compresses more than 12,000+ photographs into an extended time-lapse tracking shot, opening on the sidewalk in front of the Washington Square Hotel in Greenwich Village, moving northward through upstate New York, and finally pulling into the driveway of Big Pink, where the Basement Tapes were famously recorded in 1967.
Following the route traveled by Dylan and The Band from Manhattan to the West Saugerties on their way to Big Pink, From The Village to The Basement is a virtual road trip with narrator Jeff Bridges serving as tour guide, recounting the history and mystery of The Basement Tapes, their influence on American music and the bootleg culture these recordings launched.
So what’s next? An album of Sinatra covers? Oh yeah, that’s already in the works: Shadows in the Night.