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Bob Dylan: Folksinger’s Choice

Promising postcards from a young man.

The first official release of this much-bootlegged rarity from Dylan’s back pages crackles with musical and biographical invention.

Early in 1962, the still-obscure 20-year-old played and chatted on Cynthia Gooding’s New York radio show, testing his own dustbowl ballads and finger-picking folk-blues laments alongside tunes by Hank Williams, Woody Guthrie and others.

His voice is not quite yet the scornful sandpaper rasp that will define him, but there are clear hints of the greatness to come, especially in the withering anti-racist tirade The Death of Emmet Till and the sublime semi-yodelling refrain of Roll On, John. The studio banter is also a delight, as Dylan was already constructing the slippery personal mythology that later became an all-concealing mask, brazenly fabricating a colourful itinerant childhood spent in travelling carnivals and circus freakshows.

His sign-off line is richly ironic, giggling as he tells Gooding “I’m never gonna be rich and famous.” Arf!