Happy Traum Email Interview

© Happy Traum & Manfred Helfert, Feb 1996

Questions asked and answers received from Happy Traum happyt@aol.com (HappyT), Feb 22, 1996:

Dear Happy, I really liked the opportunity to get your Email address to thank you for an extremely enjoyable concert with you and band at Rudolstadt, Germany, a few years back (1992 or 1993? - time is flying). I especially liked the Dylanesque version of "Bessie Smith" and my questions to you concern Bob Dylan and I wonder if you could clarify some details as to the following sessions/tapes (any personal recollections that come to mind):

Are Heylin (on p. 85 of his latest book, The Recording Sessions) or Krogsgaard (The Telegraph 53, pp. 116-117) correct about the following songs being recorded during the Sep 24, 1971 session?

  • 2 takes (both complete) of "Down In The Flood" (Take 2 being the officially released track); Krogsgaard: either take 1 or 2
  • 4 complete takes of "I Shall Be Released" (Take 4 being the officially released track according to Krogsgaard)

    Do you recall any other songs being recorded during that session?

    Dear Manfred, glad you liked our performances at Rudolstadt.
    I can't answer all your questions accurately, as there is much I can't remember from so long ago. However, maybe these will help:

    I only remember two (or maybe three?) complete takes of this, but none of them were very good in our (Bob's and mine) opinion.

    There were only two complete takes of this that I remember, and we used the second one.

    Sounds right.

    I only remember one take of this. There were no other songs recorded that day.

    QUESTIONS No. 2: Do you recall the Broadside session of Jan or Feb 1963, where you recorded "Let Me Die In My Footsteps" with Dylan on guitar/backing vocals? Were any other songs recorded by Dylan and yourself during that session?

    There were no other songs recorded by Bob and I during the Broadside sessions.

    QUESTIONS No. 3: The (in)famous "Banjo Tape": Where was that tape recorded?

    In "Stolen Moments", Heylin quotes Stefan Grossman and attributes the tape to Feb 8, 1963, recorded in the basement of "Gerde's Folk City" (which would make this the first of Dylan's "Basement Tapes" :-) Krogsgaard attributes this tape to late Jan 1963 and the home of Gil Turner. Which version is true, as far as you recall?

    At Gil Turner's apartment in the East Village, NYC, not Gerde's Folk City basement.

    QUESTIONS No. 4: Who came up with the different songs ("Lonesome River Edge", "Back Door Blues", "You Can Get Her", "Keep Your Hands Off Her", "Honey Babe", "Stealin'" or "Goin' Back To Rome")? What is the "instrumental" (between "Masters..." and "Keep your Hands...")?

    HAPPY TRAUM: These are mostly traditional songs that we were just singing at the time. "Keep Your Hands Off Her" and "Stealing" were in the New World Singers' repertoire, and we recorded them later that year for Atlantic.

    QUESTIONS No. 5: Were the Dylan "originals" ("Masters Of War", "Bob Dylan's Dream", "Farewell" and "All Over You") already familiar to you (possibly from Broadside sessions or Witmark & Sons demos)?


    QUESTIONS No. 6: Is the circulating tape complete to your knowledge?

    I assume so -- I really have no idea.

    Happy Traum

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