On Monday (August 2), Bob Dylan announced plans to release “Blind Willie McTell” on a new seven-inch vinyl. Issued via Third Man Records, the release will include two previously unreleased takes of the song, originally written during sessions for Dylan’s 1983 studio album Infidels.
Eight years after those sessions, an acoustic piano/guitar version, performed with Mark Knopfler on the very last day of studio time, found its way onto a 1991 release called The Bootleg Series Volumes 1 – 3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961–1991. The upcoming single released will feature full-band takes performed with Mick Taylor, Sly Dunbar, and Robbie Shakespeare, as well as Knopfler.
Side A (“take 1”) will be made only available on the vinyl release, whereas Side B (“take 5”) will also feature on the forthcoming Springtime In New York: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 16 (1980-1985).
Dylan once reportedly told Rolling Stone, in the September 2006 issue, how he began playing the song live in the ’90s after hearing The Band use it in their concerts. “I started playing it live because I heard the Band doing it. Most likely it was a demo, probably showing the musicians how it should go. It was never developed fully, I never got around to completing it,” he said. “There wouldn’t have been any other reason for leaving it off the record. It’s like taking a painting by Monet or Picasso—goin’ to his house and lookin’ at a half-finished painting and grabbing it and selling it to people who are ‘Picasso fans.'”
The vinyl, arriving August 20, will be made available through indie record stores and the Third Man Records online store. Pre-order here.