Grossman Pushes Dylan To Get More Hits Out

Hits, that’s what we’re talking about. Hits, we’ve got to get more hits out.

By Stephen Pate – Garth Hudson, keyboardist extraordinaire and sound technician for The Basement Tapes, has an odd twist on what went down planning the sessions.

Whether it was Bob Dylan or Albert Grossman, Garth recollects they were supposed to pump out hits for #1 charting artists like Peter Paul and Mary.

That’s exactly what they did with the demo tapes. Albert Grossman, manager for Bob Dylan and The Band, sent the demo tapes to various artists who then recorded hits. Songwriting has always produced a high percentage of Bob Dylan’s income from the #1 hit song “Blowin’ In The Wind” sung by Peter Paul and Mary.

In this  interview Garth Hudson fondly remembers working with Bob Dylan in the basement of a house in West Saugerties to create songs that would chart.

47 years later those wild and wacky demo sessions are the  legendary recordings The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11.

Churn out some hits

“I think that it was Bob’s idea to get together in a workshop situation and trade ideas and do what had to be done to demonstrate your skills.

But, let’s say that didn’t come from Bob. I don’t know.

I would say, initially, that Bob had something in mind. He wanted to do funny stuff. He admired country artists like Flat and Scruggs and Johnny Cash.

A demo was put together of 10 songs that he sent out to those people and various others.

But suppose it was not him that said, “I’ve got these demos of mine.” Suppose it was Albert Grossman.

Albert might say, “Well, you’ve got these guys together. Let’s get them part of Peter, Paul and Mary’s sound system. The mixer, whatever we can find.”

Hits, that’s what we’re talking about. Hits, we’ve got to get more hits out.

Those groups (like Peter Paul and Mary) you mentioned are hit groups. You know, they’re top groups. We need more on the market.

These guys are here and they’re all talented and you get along with them.

Why don’t you go in and do the demos and they’re staying in this $125 dollar house in Saugerties. We’ll get them some equipment.

I would say, initially, that Bob had something in mind. He wanted to do funny stuff. He admired country artists like Flat and Scruggs and Johnny Cash.

A demo was put together of 10 songs that he sent out to those people and various others.

But suppose it was not him that said, “I’ve got these demos of mine.” Suppose it was Albert Grossman.

Albert might say, “Well, you’ve got these guys together. Let’s get them part of Peter, Paul and Mary’s sound system. The mixer, whatever we can find.”

Hits, that’s what we’re talking about. Hits, we’ve got to get more hits out.

Those groups (like Peter Paul and Mary) you mentioned are hit groups. You know, they’re top groups. We need more on the market.

These guys are here and they’re all talented and you get along with them.

Why don’t you go in and do the demos and they’re staying in this $125 dollar house in Saugerties. We’ll get them some equipment.

There was the mixers right, and the mixer and microphones from Peter, Paul and Mary’s sound system.

Somehow, an Ampex quarter track machine showed up. I think the price on that would be $400 and something dollars at that time. A quarter track is where you have 2 going one way on the side of the half tape and 2 going the other way.

You turn the tape over so you have 2 stereo 7 1/2 inch reels. They would fit on an it. So that’s more than likely how I made the demo that was sent out.

The 10 to 14 songs for special people Bob admired and that had a sense of humor.”
—–

And that’s how they made The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11, 139 songs including practice songs and multiple takes of those Dylan potential hit songs.

If you are less than the most rabid Dylan fan, you might enjoy the “best of the Basement Tapes” at 38 songs on the 2 CD  The Basement Tapes Raw: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 for $19.98, a $100 saving over the complete box set – $9.99 in Canada.

That being said you will miss out on the Deluxe Box Set swag like the 120 page bound book which has liner notes, photographs and memorabilia.

Discography of Basement Tapes Covers

“Peter, Paul and Mary, managed by Grossman, had the first hit with a basement song when their cover of “Too Much of Nothing” reached # 35 on the Billboard chart in late 1967.

Ian & Sylvia, also managed by Grossman, recorded “Tears of Rage“, “Quinn the Eskimo” and “This Wheel’s on Fire” – Ian & Sylvia – Greatest Hits.

In January 1968, Manfred Mann reached #1 on the UK pop chart with “The Mighty Quinn” – Manfred Mann – Greatest Hits 1964-69.

“This Wheel’s on Fire“, recorded by Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger and the Trinity, hit #5 on the UK chart –this wheel’s on fire / a kind of love-in.

“You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” by The Byrds was issued as a single. Along with “Nothing Was Delivered“, it appeared on their country-rock album Sweetheart of the Rodeo.

The Hawks, officially renamed The Band, recorded “This Wheel’s on Fire“, “I Shall Be Released” and “Tears of Rage” for their debut album, Music From Big Pink, released in July 1968.

Fairport Convention covered “Million Dollar Bash” on their 1969 album Unhalfbricking.” Source – Wikipedia

Other memories of The Basement Tapes by The Band

For more details on the Basement Taps – see Wikipedia. The article is interesting and balanced.

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The video clip is copyright Prism Films UK. In the United States, use of the copyright video is Fair Use under Section 107 of the US Code.

By Stephen Pate, NJN Network

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