Last weekend Julie and I spend a few days around Woodstock, New York. I’d never been in this area, and we visited the towns of Woodstock, Phoenicia, and Saugerties. I loved it. Beautiful place, and you can’t believe you’re a 100-minute train ride from Penn Station. As we were driving out of Saugerties, I had a thought: you know, we’re here, I’d really like to see if we can find Big Pink, the house where the Band lived and recorded The Basement Tapes with Bob Dylan. I had remembered reading about it online somewhere and I thought maybe it was a museum now, or something. So I googled the address on my phone and got that into maps and we started driving through the hills in West Saugerties. They were winding streets, there was no signal on my phone but somehow, the GPS can still sort of work even when that is not the case? Not sure what the deal is. But the phone was guiding us as we drove up through the hills and finally we saw the turn with the road that the house is on. But oddly, it was a dirt road, and it was through the woods, it looked like it was barely used. And as we were driving down this dirt road through the woods, we saw signs on the trees that said “Private Road: No Trespassing”. And I suggested to Julie that maybe we should turn around but she said we came all this way, let’s see what is here. So the dirt road came out into a clearing and there was a guy working on his car in front of a house that was not Big Pink. We rolled down the window as he walked over and we were prepared to say that we were lost, or something, and the first thing he said was, “Big Pink?” We said yeah, that we didn’t realize it was not a public thing, and he pointed further down this private road and said “It’s right over there, go ahead, they’re out of town.” So we drove 80 or 90 yards and parked and got out and there it was.
I took this photograph. I really wanted to walk up to the window and look in the basement, but that didn’t seem appropriate for a private house even though the owners weren’t home. But standing in front of the house that I’d seen as a photograph on the Band’s Music From Big Pink LP sleeve felt pretty amazing. It was a beautiful day. It’s obviously all in my head because this is just a building on a mountain but my mind goes to this place and I start looking around and imagining Bob Dylan walking into that door with his guitar case and he’s just written “I Shall Be Released”, and wants to show it to the guys. I could picture it.
And then, two days later, I come into work and I see that after many years Dylan’s finally going to be releasing the complete Basement Tapes sessions, the holy grail of his unreleased music, and the fact that the announcement came two days after I was standing outside this building was something.