When we open our ears – and it may take a dozen listenings before we stop hearing this album in terms of what we expect these songs to sound like, or, for the fans, in terms of the performances we think should have been included – the rewards and surprises of Hard Rain are nearly inexhaustible.
~Paul Williams (Bob Dylan: Performing Artist, Vol 2: The Middle Years 1974-1986)
Hindsight shows that this album introduces the ragged, postmodern Bob Dylan, right from the grungy instrumental ground-pawing ahead of the start of the first number. Moreover the running order now seems surprisingly well thought out. It represents, too, the late phase of the historic Rolling Thunder Revue tour and captures the distinctive, bare-wired sound of Dylan’s existential gypsy band. Stand-out track is ‘Idiot Wind’, which, as Dylan grows ever more engaged, bursts open and pours out its brilliant venom.
~Michael Gray (The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia)
The 3 best all time (from any artist) officially released concert albums are obviously “Hard Rain”, “Bob Dylan Live 1966, The “Royal Albert Hall” Concert” & “Bob Dylan Live 1975, The Rolling Thunder Revue”. They are all brilliant. Today “Hard Rain” is the best of the lot.
The album received an awful lot bad criticism upon its release, and surprisingly still does. To my ears it has always sounded amazing. Listening to other bootlegs from Rolling thunder 2 & watching the Hard Rain movie (and outtakes), one could easily wish that more songs had been included, and he’d put out a double album. But it is what it is, and it’s incredible. It is also (as noted by Paul Williams) inexhaustible, it still sounds fresh & wonderful today.
I just try to be poetically and musically straight. I think of myself as more than a musician, more than a poet. The real self is something other than that. Writing and performing is what I do in this life and in this country. But I could be happy being a blacksmith. I would still write and sing. I can’t imagine not doing that. You do what you’re geared for.
-Bob Dylan (Neil Hickey Interview, Malibu, California – 11 September 1976)
First of Dylan made a guest appearance @ a Roger Miller & Larry Gatlin concert on January 23 @ The Troubadour, West Hollywood, Los Angeles, California. Then came The Carter Benefit Show on January 25 @ Houston Astrodrome, Houston, Texas.
Rolling Thunder Revue II – April 18 – May 25.
Last he also played:
Winterland, San Francisco, California – November 25 – The Last Waltz
18 April 1976
If You See Here, Say Hello
If you see her say hello, she might be in North Saigon
She left here in a hurry; I don’t know what she was on
You might say that I’m in disarray and for me time’s standing still
Oh I’ve never gotten over her, I don’t think I ever will
Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot becomes prime minister (and virtual dictator) of Cambodia after Prince Sihanouk steps down (April 2).
Israeli airborne commandos attack Uganda’s Entebbe Airport and free 103 hostages held by pro-Palestinian hijackers of Air France plane; one Israeli and several Ugandan soldiers killed in raid (July 4).
19-month civil war ends in Lebanon after threatening to escalate to global level (Nov.).
US: US Supreme Court rules that blacks and other minorities are entitled to retroactive job seniority (March 24).
US: US Supreme Court rules that death penalty is not inherently cruel or unusual and is a constitutionally acceptable form of punishment (July 3).
US: Jimmy Carter elected US President (Nov. 2).
Movies: Rocky, Taxi Driver, Network, All the President’s Men
Deaths: Agatha Christie, Andre Malraux
Only one song per artist/group
The song must be released that specific year
Songs from live albums not allowed
Restricted to only 20 songs
As usual.. a lot of wonderful music was released in 1976, again hard to pick only 20.
Isis – Bob Dylan
Released on the album “Desire” – Jan 5, 1976. It was written by Bob Dylan in collaboration with Jacques Levy.
– I married Isis on the fifth day of May But I could not hold on to her very long So I cut off my hair and I rode straight away For the wild unknown country where I could not go wrong
Here is a great live version from 1976: