Archive | Feb 17, 2015

Certain Songs #109: Bob Dylan – “Cold Irons Bound (Bonnaroo 2004)”


Album: The Bootleg Series Vol. 8.

Year: 2004.

On Time Out of Mind, “Cold Irons Bound” didn’t so much play out as it slowly unfurled. Buried in the swampy Lanoispherics of the rest of the record, it was as if someone decided to stick a Tom Waits tune (it kinda reminds me of Waits’ amazing interpretation of the “Dwarves Marching Song (Heigh Ho)” from Stay Awake) in the middle of a Bob Dylan album. No one would ever mistake it for a lively dance song.

However, live, “Cold Irons Bound,” as represented by this performance recorded at the Bonnaroo Festival in 2004 (and stuck onto the super-expensive 3rd disc of The Bootleg Series Vol. 8), it takes on a whole new life. 

With drummer George Receli playing an inverted Bo Diddely beat, and the guitars crashing in as if they’re trying knock that beat to kingdom come, the whole thing sounds like Louis Jordan filtered through the early Who.

And when Bob Dylan slurs out the chorus

I’m 20 miles out of town in collllllld irons bound
20 miles out of town

while the drums steadily build out of that beat only to get slammed back into it by the guitars, and all of the guitars start battling with each other, it’s utterly thrilling. Simultaneously light as a feather and heavy as a freight train, this version of “Cold Irons Bound” inspires me to dance around in my living room, which is something I’ve never really said about any other Dylan song since … well,  ever.

Naturally, I couldn’t find that specific performance on Spotify or YouTube, but this video, from the highly underrated Masked and Anonymous, will do. It isn’t quite as great as the version as I’m describing, but it’s 95% of the way there, which damn straight is good enough, and a fucking awesome way to end all of the Dylan posts.

Video of “Cold Irons Bound” from Masked and Anonymous

My Certain Songs Spotify Playlist:

Every “Certain Song” Ever