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Days Before Hard Rain
(Clearwater Song Review)
by CD Pinkerton

Source: 1976 Clearwater rehearsals
        Bellevue Biltmore Hotel Rehearsals
         Clearwater, FL  April 1976       Except:
      * Colorado Hotel rehearsals
         Fort Collins, CO May 23, 1976

Rolling Thunder '75 had ended with with the December 8, 1975 'Night of the Hurricane' at New York's Madison Square Garden. On January 25, 1976, 'Night of the Hurricane II' was performed at The Astrodome in Houston, Texas. The Revue took the winter off, and didn't reconvene for four months. Spring of 1976 saw the troupe converge in The Starlight Ballroom of the Bellevue Biltmore Hotel in Clearwater, Florida; for a new beginning. 'Desire' had been released the first of the year, and Dylan was ready to add some new songs to the tour. Fortunately, most of this tour was documented by soundboard recordings and film. This Clearwater recording represents the first rehearsals for the new tour.

I Threw It All Away
This is a new song for the RTR. It wasn't performed on RTR I. It was debuted at Houston, and worked well. Bob wanted to add it to the repertoire, and it would end up being performed nine times in the beginning of the tour. This is a laid back blues version with some nice dobro work by Dave Mansfield, and too cool bass runs by Rob Stoner.

Going Going Gone
This is one of the new songs that Steve Soles asks Bob to go over. This seven minute version is slowed to an anthem. The band really gels on this one. The lead guitar tries to rush right out of the gate, but is held in check. The song is restarted with a much more majestic result. Stoner's bass is well represented, faltering only slightly at the first chorus modulation. The trashy china boy cymbal of 'Desire' fame is put to good use here by Howie Wyeth.  There's a breakdown in the middle of the song reminiscent of Grand Funk Railroad's breakdown in 'I'm Your Captain' (Closer to Home). The live GFR LP 'Caught In The Act' had just come out a few months earlier, and was likely an inspiration.

One More Cup Of Coffee
Even though it's only a minute and a half refresher, There's still plenty of time to hear the magic of Scarlet Rivera's violin weaving in and out in an encore of her 'Desire' work of inspiration. This song is a veteran of the first tour. It evidently was growing tired. It appeared at two early Florida venues, but no more in the tour to follow.

Tomorrow Is A Long Time
This is a rare song. It was never performed on either RTR tour. This rehearsal is the only known version performed by the Revue. Perhaps there was talk of adding it to the 1976 repertoire, or perhaps it was just one of those "Lets try this one for fun" efforts. It's not bad at all. Dylan forgets the words, but it has a nice easy going RTR feel to it. It would have been refreshing to have heard it along the tour somewhere.

This is one of the new songs from the 'Desire' LP to be added to the second tour. It will end up being a tour staple, replacing 'One More Cup Of Coffee'. Most of the mechanics are down by this point. Recorded are just two 1 minute teasers to establish the fact that everyone had been studying over the winter break

Lay Lady Lay
Another new song for the Revue. This would tie 'Maggie's Farm' to become the most performed song of the upcoming tour. The Revue weaves their own blend of loose RTR magic throughout, although it doesn't have quite the sparkle of the other material.

Idiot Blues
Thirty seconds of easy blues jamming. Only a babbling of incoherent lyrics.

Maggie's Farm
The RTR was many things. Drugged, mystical, magical, free flowing, and free loving. One thing that it wasn't .... angry. Try as they might, they can't quite produce the angst required by Maggie,... and the result is the castration of the farm animals. This did become a tour favorite none the less, and tied 'Lay Lady Lay' for the most performances of any song of the tour.

One Too Many Mornings
Yet another new addition to the Revue song line-up. As with 'Maggie's Farm', and 'Lay Lady Lay', it was debuted at the Houston Astrodome for the 'Night of the Hurricane II'. It's another one of those magical type of songs that the Revue was good at drawing out. While it would become a crowd pleaser in the upcoming tour, the magic isn't quite with it in this rehearsal. It's good.. it's very good. That's all, though. A very good song. No magic yet.

Seven Days
Here is an odd bit of history. Evidently, Dylan had just penned this song, and was excited enough about it to throw it into the line-up. It was only performed 4 or 5 times, and only in Florida. The Tampa show of April, 21 is the recording that would much latter be officially released on 'The Bootleg Series 1-3'.

Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues
Here is another one of those things that leave you scratching your head. This song wasn't performed on the 1975 tour. The Clearwater rehearsal is it's debut. Mysteriously, it would be performed at only two Florida venues, and then discarded. This is a drug-like, slide-heavy, laid back three and a half minute, eyes closed, cigarette lighter over your head, party that should have invited more people.

It Takes A Lot To Laugh
Another veteran of the first tour, this three minute refresher proves to be fairly tight. Again, however, it would only see the light of day two times.

You Angel You
One last rarity on the Clearwater tape is this up tempo, feel good version of a song that was never performed on either leg of the RTR. Heavy bass, tambourine, and 'Desire'-like percussion make for what could have been a great addition to the tour.

Just Like A Woman *
One of two songs that were actually from a later rehearsal. This is from the Colorado Hotel Fort Collins, Colorado on May 23, 1976. The most performed song of the previous year gets a bit of reworking. No matter, though. It was performed at St. Pete the previous month, but other than that it will not make another appearance on the tour. Dylan keeps trying to initiate a musical retard on the chorus that never quite happens. Perhaps he has just tired of this one. It is run through over a dozen times in rehearsal. This recording is presumably one of those attempts. One nicety is that the vocals are a bit crisper here than on the Clearwater tape. This evening, the  performance at Colorado State University's Hughes Stadium at Fort Collins was recorded for the Hard Rain Live album and TV special, but Dylan didn't even attempt the song. There was one more show of the tour. The Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, Utah saw the final performance of this song on May 25 1976. There is no known recording of this final show.

Tangled Up In Blue *
Performed 8 times the previous year, Dylan attempts a radical rework of this classic. A somewhat straight forward rock-n-roll version affords him the retard in the chorus that he couldn't draw out of 'Just Like A Woman'. The song then morphs into a blues number and then tries to crawl back into the rock version. The song has some very interesting moments, and a lot could have been done with it. It is practiced eight or ten times in rehearsal. This recording is presumably one of those attempts. This evening, the  performance at Colorado State University's Hughes Stadium at Fort Collins was recorded for the Hard Rain Live album and TV special. The song was recorded, but never released. This shows Dylan's dissatisfaction with the results.

The Sun Is Shining
Elmore James' classic blues number is covered quite nicely by the Revue. Dylan puts his heart into it. This is one of those fun things that musicians do for diversion. They divert here for three and a half minutes. It's a great song, but of course, it never found it's way into the tour.

Seven Days
Another version from the Florida venue. The song is not known to have been recorded by Dylan in the studio, or to have been performed by him again. The demo that was given to Ron Wood before recording the song on his 1979 LP "Gimme Some Neck" was quite possibly this version.

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