Hear the Never-Before-Released Bob Dylan Song “Pretty Saro” (1970)

I recent­ly read an arti­cle in which a music crit­ic argued for Bob Dylan’s 1970 dou­ble album Self Por­trait as his best. This pro­voked so much deri­sion and out­rage in the com­ments that I almost felt sor­ry for the author. But this is not unusu­al. Rolling Stone’s Greil Mar­cus opened his review of the record with a surly “What is this shit?” Dylan him­self explained in a 1984 inter­view with the mag­a­zine that the record was inten­tion­al­ly bad, a “screw you” to his less dis­cern­ing fans. And why not? Bob Dylan can do what­ev­er he wants.

Well, the album The Onion’s AV Club calls “almost uni­ver­sal­ly loathed” is being reis­sued in a four-disc set that includes out­takes and bootlegs, as well as alter­nates and demo takes from Nashville Sky­line and 1970’s New Morn­ing. You’ll find the full track­list of what will be released on August 27 as Anoth­er Self Por­trait here. (The album itself can be pre-ordered here.) For a pre­view, watch the video above of “Pret­ty Saro,” an 18th cen­tu­ry Eng­lish folk tune Dylan record­ed for Self Por­trait but nev­er released. As with Mar­cus’ review and Dylan’s explana­to­ry inter­view, this comes to us via the stal­wart Rolling Stone.

Film­mak­er Jen­nifer Lebeau made the video, which con­sists of care­ful­ly select­ed pho­tos from the Farm Secu­ri­ty Admin­is­tra­tion and which Lebeau says “lit­er­al­ly goes from women on farms with wag­ons to Rosie the Riv­et­er.” It’s a cool con­cept and a beau­ti­ful song. Might it per­suade you to re-eval­u­ate Self Por­trait? If you nev­er loathed it but defend­ed it, does this out­take enhance your appre­ci­a­tion of its genius? Maybe you’re in need of a refresh­er on the con­fused, amused, and infu­ri­at­ed reac­tions that this record gen­er­ates. If so, you may wish to vis­it this site for “24 min­utes of footage of peo­ple talk­ing about Bob Dylan’s puz­zling” 1970 album.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Bob Dylan and The Grate­ful Dead Rehearse Togeth­er in Sum­mer 1987. Lis­ten to 74 Tracks.

Two Leg­ends Togeth­er: A Young Bob Dylan Talks and Plays on The Studs Terkel Pro­gram, 1963

Andy Warhol Shoots “Screen Tests” of Bob Dylan, Nico & Sal­vador Dalí

Bob Dylan and Van Mor­ri­son Sing Togeth­er in Athens, on His­toric Hill Over­look­ing the Acrop­o­lis

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Wash­ing­ton, DC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

by | Permalink | Comments (4) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (4)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  • Droy says:

    Who’s the idiot who says it’s one of his best??? Must be the only Dylan record they’ve heard.

  • Adam says:

    So far as I can tell, this is a par­tic­u­lar­ly Amer­i­can (not Eng­lish) folk song, found through­out the south­ern Appalachians/ South­east and not in Eng­land. And I don’t know that I would agree with the ascribed 18th cen­tu­ry date either. See the Roud index for more infor­ma­tion about where it was col­lect­ed: it is Roud nr. 417

    I would imag­ine Dylan learned it from the singing of Jean Ritchie in the ear­ly 60’s.

  • vincent says:

    “Rosie the Riv­et­er” of the icon­ic poster quit after a few days because she did­n’t want to hurt her hand. She want­ed to play the cel­lo. But they all “had to quit” _forced_by da dun, dun dunnn.. PATRIARCHY! (Que Screams of the inno­cent vic­tims.

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.