This is a 2005 first official release of a 1962 recording that Dave Van Ronk helped record which had been a bootleg for decades.
Now, I have nothing against Dylan making money where he can. But does anyone agree that putting “The Times They Are A-Changing” in a bank commercial, as he agreed to do for Bank of Montreal in the last decade constituted good product placement and promotion of the “Dylan” brand? Do you want that message to be given to you by a folk singer or your bank?
This album was recorded by Dylan before he became well-known. It is done in the packaging which Starbucks approved of for their 6-month exclusive 2005 deal for which he once again became infamous as a sellout. Much ink and electrons have been spilled on this topic, and I won’t venture there. More interestingly, he was also reviled by record/CD retailers such as HMV for doing this. After all, HMV feels (somewhat rightly) that they shouldn’t be competing against a coffee shop to sell CDs.
Give Dylan a break. First of all, “Live at The Gaslight” is a bootleg, and what better way to stick it to the bootleggers than having your own authorized relase? And coffee shops are where common, ordinary, grass-roots people meet, isn’t it? That is, common people who commonly order $5 lattes and $3 biscottis in fake Italian. Near where I live, such common folk walk their 3″ tall toy poodles and wear Florsheims. These customers take about 3 minutes to say the order in a nearly operatic key; then the server takes another 3 minutes to repeat the order in-tempo to another server who works the espresso machine. Who will sing their songs? Who will sing about the time that the chashier, who has a nose ring and a Master’s degree in Anthro for his thesis on “The Impact of the Roncesvalles Streetcar Terminal on Popular Culture in Toronto”, thought he nearly got skin cancer by scanning so many fifty-dollar bills under the UV? And after the customer pays an inflated price for coffee, he leaves out that tip jar. Now, that takes real guts. And no one sings their pain like Dylan.
Here’s one way to really “stick it to the man”: Go to Starbucks, and order “instant”. That ought to throw a monkey wrench in the system. I guarantee you that because most of these people are from a generation that hasn’t heard of “instant” and don’t know how to cook their own meals, no one will know how to handle the order, but everyone will feel that they absolutely must or fear getting fired. For one thing, it’s not fake Italian, and it doesn’t take 3 minutes to say.
This is also believed to be a bootleg. Now I am beginning to believe that if Leonard Nimoy can be bootleged, anyone can. Wonder what price bootleggers were getting for this album?
Two late ’60s standards are on this single. One is Peter, Paul and Mary’s “If I Had A Hammer”, and the other is Bobby Hebb’s jazz standard “Sunny”, which quickly got covered by Ella Fitzgerald, Pat Martino, James Brown, Dusty Springfield, and just about every lounge lizard act with a pulse. My father had a James Last LP with Sunny on it. Boney M even put out a disco version of Sunny.
In case you were not alive during the 60s, I started scratching around for a You Tube video to show you. The original Bobby Hebb versions are out there, but you have to go to You Tube directly to view them. Instead, I have a double-bill: a duet with Tom Jones and Ella Fitzgerald from 1970, more than likely on Tom Jones’ own variety show: