The Basement Tapes

Since winning the Nobel Prize for Literature, Bob Dylan’s been showing up a lot more.

In my social feeds.  On the radio.  And, this past weekend I ended up watching a documentary on his Basement Tapes.

I like Dylan, but I’ve never studied him or dug too deep into his music, so I didn’t know about the Basement Tapes.  A collection of songs he and his band recorded in the basement of “Big Pink.”  A pink house Dylan rented in Woodstock, NY in 1967.

The band apparently came to Big Pink with no plans.  No drafts.  They just showed up.  Read the newspaper.  Walked in the woods.  Threw the football in the yard.  Drank.  Smoked.  And played.  And whatever they played, they recorded.

Eight years  later what came out of that basement ended up being released by Columbia Records.  The Basement Tapes gained major critical and commercial success, and apparently musicians, labels, and producers have been attempting to recreate the genius that was born out of that musty underground in upstate New York ever since.

The latest attempt, The New Basement Tapes was the focus of the documentary I was watching, and one of the featured artists, Rhiannon Middens said something that’s been haunting me:

“It’s supposed to be the Basement Tapes, but it’s not.  When those guys went in, they never expected anyone to hear what came out.  They were just free.  To create.”

Expectations are tricky.  At least for me.  I tent to expect a lot.

I expect for my work to support my family, my health, and my home.  I expect my creativity to support my work.  I expect those closest to me to tolerate the stress manifested from the relationship between my many expectations.  And, I expect to keep trying…harder.

But, maybe what makes it at least feel a bit easier, is to simply play (write, work, share) like no one is listening…even when they are.




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