Bob Dylan recorded his 14th album – “Planet Waves” in Studio A during the fall of ’73. The album was recorded over the course of four marathon sessions held between the 5th and 14th of November. The sessions saw Dylan and The Band move through multiple takes of potential album cuts before arriving at what would become the final 11 track LP.
Interestingly – the version of “Forever Young” that closes out Side A was almost not included on the album. It was Producer/Engineer Rob Fraboni that convinced Dylan to include the take – which Rob described as being “so riveting, it was so powerful, so immediate, I couldn’t get over it”.
Why was Dylan originally opposed to using this take? According to Fraboni it was a result of a childhood friend!
“during the recording…[Dylan’s childhood friend] Lou Kemp and this girl came by and she had made a crack to him, ‘C’mon, Bob, what! Are you getting mushy in your old age?’ It was based on her comment that he wanted to leave [that version] off the record.”
Though Dylan relented and put that version on the album – the back and forth in his mind would continue over what the best arrangement for the song would be. Speaking on the state of “Forever Young” during the albums third session on November 9th – Dylan told Fraboni – “I been carrying this song around in my head for five years and I never wrote it down and now I come to record it I just can’t decide how to do it.” As a result – during the final session on November 14th – another variation was recorded. It was this final attempt that would go on to open Side B of the album. As it stands – it is arguably one of the “best case” outcomes of indecisiveness in music history!
“Planet Waves” – complete with a hand drawn cover by Dylan himself – was released on January 17th 1974 after a last minute delay had seen the albums name changed from planned title “Ceremonies of the Horsemen”. The LP would go on to reach Number 1 on the US Billboard chart.