Saturday, January 10, 2015

Alberta #1

Bob would pay this girl
To let down her long, long hair
And improve his mood.

This is an old Leadbelly standard, and he liked it enough to record it four times. It's a fun little song, considering that all the singer wants is for Alberta to let her hair down, to the extent that he will pay her to do it (more gold, in fact, than her apron can hold). Not only that, Alberta keeps the singer worried and bothered and apparently treats him unkindly. I suppose you could read some innuendo into lines like that, especially as one of Leadbelly's versions asks Alberta to "take him down" into her rocking chair, and I suspect that rocking chairs aren't always rocking chairs.

Dylan recorded this as "Alberta #1" and "Alberta #2" for the 1970 album "Self Portrait," which is genius or a disaster, depending on how you look at it. It's from the period in which he was playing with Nashville session men and women, and I have written here before about how I like the warm, sweet sound of these times. The same goes for "Self Portrait," which for whatever else you might think of it, is erratic. There also is an "Alberta #3," but that didn't surface until the release of "The Bootleg Series, Vol. 10: Another Self Portrait (1969-1971)," which contains many outtakes from the "Self Portrait" and "New Morning" sessions.

Here's a strange, but charming cover of the song that I found on YouTube by someone called Eric Frostic.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Robert, Yes the song has its roots with Leadbelly but it is a different song from that or Snooks Eaglin (or Eric Clapton) so join us inside Bob Dylan's Music Box and listen to every version of every song composed or performed by Bob Dylan.