“Another Self Portrait” Is Bob Dylan’s Latest Tribute to His Musical Influences

Dylan in Toronto, 1980.<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bob_Dylan_in_Toronto2.jpg">Jean-Luc Ourlin/Wikipedia Commons</a>

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


Bob Dylan
Another Self Portrait: 
The Bootleg Series, Vol. 10
Columbia

Bob Dylan’s 1970 double album Self Portrait shocked and dismayed some of the faithful at the time of release, confusing audiences looking for another mind-boggling classic. Dominated by traditional songs and cover versions (“Blue Moon,” “Let It Be Me,” etc.) performed in a seemingly lackadaisical manner, it came off as a determined attempt to defy expectations and shed the pressure of being a messiah. In retrospect, Self Portrait makes more sense, being Dylan’s salute to music that helped make him who he is (hence the title), while sustaining the down-home vibe of John Wesley Harding and Nashville Skyline, though the cluttered arrangements are still distracting.

The mostly excellent Bootleg Series has allowed Dylan to explain himself more fully, something he never would have deigned to do so directly four decades ago, and the two-disc Another Self Portrait is especially useful in that regard. Drawing on sessions for Nashville Skyline and New Morning, as well as Self Portrait, it offers alternate takes, undubbed versions and revelatory outtakes, depicting a Dylan more interested in revisiting his folk beginnings than trying to exasperate the fans. The previously unheard “Pretty Saro” and “Annie’s Going to Sing Her Song” recall the young Woody Guthrie disciple, while “Belle Isle” and “Little Sadie” improve dramatically in their stripped-down settings.

After 10 editions, The Bootleg Series continues to surprise with fresh perspectives on the greatest songwriter of the rock’n’roll era, which is no mean feat. Completists will opt for the four-disc set, which adds the original Self Portrait and Dylan’s spirited 1969 concert with The Band at the Isle of Wight festival
.

LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

payment methods

LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate