But when a CBS executive feared a libel suit from the John Birch Society and asked Bob to perform something else, Dylan walked out.
American audiences never saw Dylan’s satirical song performed on the popular Sunday-night variety show on May 12, 1963. However, a previously unknown recording of that song from two days before is the centerpiece of “In Concert: Brandeis University.” The source recording, a seven-inch reel, was recently discovered of the concert that occurred two weeks prior to the release of “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” studio album.
The paranoid talking blues censored from both the CBS show and the “Freewheelin’” album told of communist “reds” and ends with the song’s narrator investigating himself: “Well, I quit my job so I could work all alone, and I changed my name to Sherlock Holmes / Following some clues from my detective bag, I discovered there were red stripes in the American flag.”
The release is a must-have for Dylan collectors. The intimate recording documents a 21-year-old Dylan in full protest-song mode, methodically strumming his acoustic guitar and singing in a gruffly deviant voice on “Masters of War” and “Ballad of Hollis Brown.” Listeners are transported back in time to the Cold War when John F. Kennedy was president. —Rob Collins