Serious Dylan fans know: Behind the blistering political critiques and gnomic pronouncements, there has always been a jokester stifling his boyish grin through sunglasses, the sort of writer who creates off-the-cuff mad libs from store signs and coins absurd one-liners to disarm reporters. On a newly-released alternate cut of “Lo and Behold!” from the upcoming The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11, Dylan breezes through a rollicking, light-hearted song before breaking into uncontrollable giggles. (Yes, giggles.) It’s the kind of laugh that emerges after days spent hammering out songs in the studio—and a typical moment from American music’s jester prince.
You can listen to the track, which premiered exclusively at Noisey, here.
A bit of background on The Basement Tapes Complete for the uninitiated: In 1967, following a motorcycle accident, Dylan retreated to a house dubbed Big Pink with the musicians who would become The Band. They recorded enough songs—until now never officially released in full—to tantalize fans for half a century. The lush box set to be released next month will be the culmination of decades of dedicated bootlegging—most of which occurred before the Internet made sharing rare tracks so easy. What we’ve heard so far promises a portrait of the playful artist behind the scenes, sometimes even goofing off with friends.