In 2009 a collector named Jeff Gold found a tape box with the faint pencil scribble of ‘Dylan Brandeis’ upon it. It belonged to the late critic Ralph. J Gleason and, despite forty six years in storage, contained a remarkably clear, professional recording that captures Bob at a mere twenty one years old.
His debut album has been released and ‘Freewheelin’’ has been recorded, and Bob here plays a set that barely touches either as much as one would think. The album starts mid-way through Honey Just Allow Me One More Chance as though somebody had forgot to hit the record button at the start. This is Bob low down on a bill at a university folk festival, travelling from show to show, a relative unknown with a commercial dud of a debut album behind him. It does, however, capture a significant moment in Bob’s career - just before the dam burst and he got big.
He is good-humoured and playful throughout the performance, and his youth radiates from every phrase he delivers. Paradoxically, his words also ooze maturity and depth way beyond his twenty one years, and give a flash bulb-pop glimpse into the raging genius bubbling within. What must have been one of the earliest recordings of Masters Of War is a frightening testament to this - the slow and burning acoustic guitar solemnly strums while Bob is seething but remarkably soft in his delivery. It’s almost as though we are witnessing the growth and development of his voice captured on tape. One can only presume that Bob’s sets at this point simply reflect his mood on that day, and the playful finishing couplet of ‘Bob Dylan’s Dream’ and ‘Talking Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues’ serve to reinforce his spirited demeanour on this occasion.
The album only clocks in at seven songs, so, whilst brief, it’s a snapshot of a man doing his day job at this point in his life. We witness a new arising, and a man at quite possibly the most pivotal moment in his career.