Bob Dylan & The Hawks - Syria Mosque, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, February 6, 1966
Our Live 66 journey continues …
Tyler: One day after White Plains, Dylan and the Hawks rolled into Pittsburgh, and fortunately for us, a taper was again on hand to capture at least some of the show. It might be the best 66 audience recording? The crowd isn’t quite as present as on White Plains, but there’s a lot of giggling.
Ryan: Bless their souls. It is such a gift to hear these audience reactions. It’s 1966 and people are laughing to lines like “… geez I can’t find my knees.” I love it. And yeah, this is an excellent audience tape. It’s geeky, I know, but I wish we knew more about how it was recorded. Was it recorded on the newly-invented audio cassette or did someone sneak in a Nagra ¼-inch reel-to-reel tape recorder? I’d love to know the story behind how they recorded this and who it is that’s giggling at all the right moments.
T: I think this is the last we’ll hear “To Ramona” on this tour, right? It sounds great — he throws kind of an interesting chord progression into the end of “Ramona.” Also worth noting in terms of rarities … the harmonica solos that drift through “Love Minus Zero” are gorgeous.
R: I checked some earlier live versions of “Ramona” and (please correct me if I’m wrong) he doesn’t do that very nice additional melancholy chord progression at the end. I wonder where that eventually showed up. But it seems like it may have made its last appearance in 1966. Not to harp on this one little detail, but it really hits me hard in these two live recordings. It’s a strange song to begin with: both loving and critical and a little patronizing. And the B-minor (or A-minor with the capo) downward progression adds a sadness that kind of gives me a Blood on the Tracks feeling.
T: Yes, you’re totally right about the Blood on the Tracks vibe there … interesting! So Dylan is still announcing “Visions of Johanna” as “Freeze Out” here. Do you think he ever actually considered calling it this on Blonde on Blonde? Would the world be a different place if he did? Probably. He’s also still singing the “nightingale’s code” line there at the end! Is this its last appearance? I kind of like that line — makes me think of daybreak after the nocturnal wanderings that come before it. Anyway, about a week later, he laid down the perfect BoB studio version in Nashville, and there was no nightingale to be found.
R: I really love your “nightingale code” interpretation. It is a such a nighttime song and so a bird chirping at the end is a fitting coda. And yeah, it’s crazy how productive this guy was at this time: recording Blonde on Blonde and putting together and gigging with a live band. I wonder how Robbie and the gang felt since they had tried so hard to nail “Visions” in the studio but never quite made it, and then at every show Dylan is doing it solo.
T: It’s too bad we only get a snippet of the electric set, it sounds totally powerful. Is this the best live “Positively 4th Street”? Maybe! Really swings, but hits hard at the same time. I was reading that Dylan didn’t think Konikoff hit hard enough, but he’s on fire here and on “Rolling Stone.”
R: Hell yeah. If there ever is a time travel machine I know where I’m gonna be in 1966. The two electric songs we get here are jaunty and toe-tappy. As we will find out that’s apparently not what Dylan was envisioning. Perhaps with Konikoff on drums was it just too catchy? I wonder if the European reception would have been more hospitable had he not been replaced by the more aggressive Mickey Jones. No disrespect to Sandy Konikoff who performed a great service to his country, but I’m grateful that Dylan added Jones to complete his arsenal for the remainder of the tour. It’s about to get wild!
Baier opted not to pursue an acting or singing career, and eventually moved to America, where she concentrated on bringing up a family.
The songs that went on to make up her album Colour Green were home reel-to-reel tape recordings Baier had made in Germany between 1970 and 1973. Some 30 years later, her son Robby compiled a CD from these recordings to give to family members as presents. He also gave a copy to Dinosaur Jr’s J Mascis, who in turn passed it along to the Orange Twin label. Orange Twin released the album in February 2006. She is expected to release a second studio album.