Turn On the Basement Lights

Rock writer/Dylan freak Sid Griffin attempts to crack one of music's great mysteries

It's interesting how you argue that Dylan and the Band's informal home-recording process, as if it's just a bunch of friends jamming, is a major influence on not just modern rock, but indie music as well.

I think the lo-fi quality sound of all the bootlegs out there has inspired the indie approach. And, of course, now we have U2, Daniel Lanois, and his crowd recording in his house. Neil Young records things in a barn on his ranch. These folks are all inspired by Dylan and the Band. The Beatles, too, for their Get Back sessions [in 1969].

The original master tapes sound much better than the bootlegs and the 1975 LP, right?

People who have heard the very original tapes—some of Neil Young's crowd—say Garth [Hudson, keyboardist for the Band] did a wonderful job of engineering. It's not the primitive sound that all of us have heard.

Any chance of an officially expanded release one of these days?

Well, Dylan didn't make himself available for my book, but I know for a fact that Dylan knows of it. I've been lobbying for an expanded version of The Basement Tapes. I'm hoping one day they'll go for it in Dylan's Bootleg Series. You could easily do a three-CD remastered collection.

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