Hear Bob Dylan Perform ‘He Was a Friend of Mine’ in Previously Unreleased Recording From 1961

The Bob Dylan Center teased its newly acquired trove of early Dylan recordings with a previously unreleased live rendition of “He Was a Friend of Mine.”

The performance comes from Dylan’s first major solo gig, Nov. 4, 1961 at Carnegie Chapter Hall in New York City. The gig was organized by Izzy Young, owner of the Folklore Center in Greenwich Village, and it took place not long after Dylan inked his record deal with Columbia. 

The rendition of “He Was a Friend of Mine” Dylan performed at that Carnegie Chapter Hall show boasts a slightly different arrangement from the version he would record while making his 1962 self-titled debut (the song was bootlegged, but not officially released until it appeared on volume one of Dylan’s Bootleg Series, issued in 1991).

The complete Carnegie Chapter Hall concert tape — which boasts seven songs — was one of several new recordings acquired by the Bob Dylan Center, all of which offer new glimpses of the artist as a young man.

There’s also “The Madison Tapes,” two open-reel audio tapes recorded in the winter of 1960 and 1961 at the apartment of folk and blues musician Danny Kalb in Madison, Wisconsin. The first tape finds the 19-year-old Dylan performing over 20 songs (including tunes by Woody Guthrie, Jimmie Rodgers, Pete Seeger and more), while the second reel, the so-called “Madison Party Tape,” features Dylan and friends performing folk songs at a social gathering.

“The Bailey Tapes,” meanwhile, comprise over a half-dozen open-reel tapes recorded in New York City between 1961 and 1962 by Mell and Lillian Bailey, two key figures in the Greenwich folk scene. The tapes include the earliest known renditions of Dylan songs like “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” and “Oxford Town.”

Along with the new tape acquisitions, the Bob Dylan Center has also acquired a 4,200-piece collection of books, LPs, journals and pamphlets owned by Harry Smith, the mythic folk figurehead whose 1952 compilation, The Anthology of American Folk Music, became a seminal album for folk revivalists like Dylan. The Harry Smith Library acquisition includes an array of literature on every subject from music, art and folklore to astrology, the occult and religion, while the album collection covers an equally broad array of genres. 

These latest acquisitions come as the Bob Dylan Center prepares to finally open its doors in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on May 10, 2022. 

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