Monday, August 17, 2015

Beneath A Diamond Sky: Unreleased Acoustic Recordings, 1989

Beneath A Diamond Sky
Acoustic 1989

She Belongs To Me - Live - Rochester Hills - July 6, 1989
Girl From The North Country - Live - Chicago - July 2, 1989
Baby Let Me Follow You Down - Live - Berkeley - September 3, 1989
Mr. Tambourine Man - Live - Boston - October 24, 1989
Lakes Of Pontchartrain - Live - Frejus - June 13, 1989
Every Grain Of Sand - Live - Athens - June 28, 1989
Love Minus Zero/No Limit - Live - Chicago - October 31, 1989
In The Pines - Live - Milwaukee - July 3, 1989
It Ain't Me Babe - Live - Glasgow - June 6, 1989
Forever Young - Live - Barcelona - June 16, 1989


This collection is not quite the revelatory set that the two other Thousand Highways Collection 1989 compilations are, but it is interesting nonetheless.

The songs consist entirely of acoustic performances from 1989. This is right in the heart of one of Dylan's most fertile periods for performing acoustic songs, alongside 1961-1966, 1975, 1995, and 1999-2002. The songs aren't as strong as those played the preceding year, but offer more intriguing renditions of the singer's own catalog; while 1988's acoustic sets were strongest when representing traditional songs, 1989's are at their best in the presentation of original material.

The summer tours make up the bulk of this set, due largely to Dylan's more limited vocal range in the Fall, and clearer tapes. The electric songs from the Fall Tour are loud enough to make it across the hiss of tape, but the acoustic songs fared less well. Even so, missing "Mr. Tambourine Man" from the Fall Tour would be a shame, so a performance from Boston graces this collection.

Notable inclusions are a very rare outing for "Baby Let Me Follow You Down," the only live acoustic performance of "Every Grain of Sand," one of only three live performances of "In The Pines," and a very beautiful "Forever Young." Note that "Every Grain of Sand" had appeared on another Thousand Highways compilation, but I thought it too good not to include here. It is, perhaps, the defining acoustic performance of the year.

"In The Pines" is intriguing, as it is said to be based on a version of the old song made popular by Bill Monroe, rather than the more familiar variant popularized by Leadbelly. I've not heard the Bill Monroe version, so I can't comment on whether this is true or not.

"It Ain't Me Babe" is the performance mentioned in Andrew Muir's One More Night, in which the singer messes around with the audience's capacity to sing along. "Lakes of Pontchartrain" is, as ever, utterly beautiful, and should be in everyone's collection. This is the performance that originally brought the song to my attention some years ago. I wish Dylan had recorded a studio cut of this at some point, but there is no evidence to suggest that he did.

The guitar work is pretty great throughout, owing to the combined efforts of the singer and the guitarist G. E. Smith, who played lead guitar in the year's electric sets. It really comes across in "Girl From The North Country," "Lakes of Pontchartrain," and "It Ain't Me Babe," but is quite pleasant throughout. Smith is one of the best accompanists that has played with Bob Dylan so far, and his talents are well-represented here.

As always, I hope you enjoy this pleasant collection. Next month will bring the Fall 1991 tour to this website. It's not one of Bob Dylan's more popular touring years, but I think a listen to this compilation might just push you into the fan camp. It's sure to be an interesting listen!

Until then, keep yourself healthy and listen to some good tunes.



  1. Sweet! Thanks again for another TH compilation. I know it'll be great. Looking forward to that '91 set too. I'm a recent convert to 1988-92 era Live Bob. Looking forward to hearing your picks. Speaking of In The Pines, there's a fine old version by the Louvin Brothers, also likely based on the Monroe version -- but the most lovely performance of that song I've heard. The Louvins were something special. A lot of folk and bluegrass chord patterns but with electric guitar courtesy of Chet Atkins in the early days, and harmonies that sound like a precursor to the Everly Brothers.They're their own style, and don't fit neatly into categories like bluegrass or country. Another great one is their take on the old murder ballad Knoxville Girl. One of the coolest things I've ever heard. Anyways. Thanks again for all you do!

  2. Thank you - looks like an intriguing selection.

  3. Thank you again for this labor of love that benefits so many of us

  4. Oooo, this is a great selection. I mean, he very often sounds like he;s falling apart, like an 'artist on the edge' as you have put put before, but there's a rawness and desperation here that's really appealing. You can tell he's searching for something.

  5. Thank you so much! I just discovered A Thousand Highways a few days ago, and still need to catch up, but I'm so impressed by what I've heard so far.

  6. Many thanks for this, and all the other recordings you share.

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