Exclusive: Unreleased Bob Dylan song from 1967, ‘Ain’t No More Cane (Take 2)’

In July of 1966, riding on the crest of a four-year run that had made him a fresh-faced American icon, Bob Dylan crashed his motorcycle, taking him out of the public eye for the first time in years. He retreated to a house in West Saugerties, New York, to recover from his injuries, and invited a band to play in the basement. The house would be dubbed “Big Pink,” and the group—which would become known as Bob Dylan and The Band—would produce a series of recordings in the summer of 1967.

The recordings included Dylan arrangements of American traditionals as well as new originals in the Dylan canon. Rumors of the unreleased recordings began circulating in 1969 and “The Basement Tapes” were finally released in 1975. Though the record charted in the top 10, it contained only a sample of the recordings—a trove of material was left on the shelf.

Finally, on November 4, the full “Basements Tapes” are being released, with all salvageable material from the sessions. Below, we’re premiering an exclusive stream of “Ain’t No More Cane (Take 2),” heard here for the first time.

Commentary from the forthcoming “Basement Tapes” gives some historical context:

Here’s another example of the many traditional folk songs that were played in the basement. This song was an early part of Dylan’s repertoire and has been bootlegged widely from recordings made in October 1962 at The Gaslight Café. A prison work song popular in the American South, it was collected by folklorist Alan Lomax and published in his seminal work, American Ballads and Folksongs. Both of the versions here were considered too rough for the official Basement Tapes release in 1975. That album has a completely different version of the song with Levon Helm on vocal and Garth Hudson providing atmospheric accordion.

Also, check out more unreleased Dylan at Spin, Stereogum and Brooklyn Vegan. Bob Dylan will be touring throughout the fall. Check his site for details.

Photo by Elliott Landy