The Karen Moynihan (ne Wallace) Tapes

Karen Wallace's Apartment

St. Paul, MN May 1960


The Songs

Gotta Travel On; Doney Gal; I'm A Rovin' Gambler; Go Down You Murderers; Bay Of Mexico; The Two Sisters; Go Way From My Window; This Land Is Your Land; Go Tell It To The Mountain; Fare Thee Well; Pastures Of Plenty; Saro Jane; Take This Hammer; Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out; The Great Historical Bum; Mary Ann; Every Night When The Sun Goes In; Sinner Man; Delia's Gone; Wope de Alano; Who's Gonna Shoe Your Pretty Little Feet?; Abner Young; 500 Miles; Blues Yodel No 8 (Muleskinner Blues); One Eyed Jacks; Columbus Stockade Blues; Payday At Coal Creek

The Excerpts Tape - This Land Is Your Land; Saro Jane; Nobody Wants You When You're Down And Out; The Great Historical Bum; Mary Ann; Sinner Man; Abner Young; Blues Yodel No 8 (Muleskinner Blues); One Eyed Jacks
This was apparently the first or second of at least three (Clinton Heylin ["Bob Dylan The Recording Sessions 1960-1994", p. 3] writes that another tape in the hands of "a British collector contains just four songs, "The Two Sisters," "Pastures Of Plenty,"Muleskinner Blues," and "Payday At Coal Creek.") "teaser" tapes of excerpts taken, by the then Karen Wallace, from a more extensive recording that she made at the behest of a young Dylan and her even younger sister, Terri. Apparently, in the late seventies Mrs. Moynihan was attempting to peddle the original tape and started circulating the excerpts to potential buyers. The tape being offered was reportedly recorded in May of 1960 and the asking price was $10,000. Some have questioned that the performer is Dylan and postulate that it is most likely another folk singer of the period - perhaps Paul Clayton. The Excerpts Tape consists of one, two, or three snippets from each of the selected songs. Each of the snippets is separated by a few dead seconds. It sounds like a line recording and is, by far, the most clean of the recordings offered here.

The Demo Tape - The Two Sisters; Fare Thee Well, Pastures Of Plenty; 500 Miles; Blues Yodel No 8 (Muleskinner Blues); Payday At Coal Creek; Bay Of Mexico; Go Way from My Window
This is likely is likely the last of the "teaser" tapes, as Mrs. Moynihan makes mention of an excerpts tape during Blues Yodel No 8. This time the snippets are continuous, but none of the songs are complete. The recording was taken from speaker output by microphone. I am unable to explain the presence of the fragments of Bay Of Mexico and Go Way from My Window (probably the fifth and seventh song on the original tape) after the end of the tape. As the tapes are otherwise consecutive, she would have had to rewind the tape to record them.

The Terri Wallace Ellison Interview finds Mrs. Moynihan interviewing (in the late seventies?) her younger sister, Terri, about her relationship with Mr. Dylan and the circumstances surrounding the original recording.

The Armpit Tape - Gotta Travel On; Roving Gambler; Bay Of Mexico; The Two Sisters; Go Way from My Window; This Land Is Your Land; Pastures Of Plenty; Saro Jane; Take This Hammer; Nobody Wants You When You're Down And Out; The Great Historical Bum; Mary Ann; Every Night When The Sun Goes In; Sinner Man; Abner Young; 500 Miles; Blues Yodel No 8 (Muleskinner Blues); One Eyed Jacks; Columbus Stockade Blues; Payday At Coal Creek; Wop Da Alono
The most complete of the recordings, The Armpit Tape has become part of Dylan folk lore. The story goes that Brian Stibal borrowed a tape recorder from Richard Weddle and, with his friend Paul, surreptitious recorded the tape when played for them by Mrs. Moynihan. The microphone is said to have been secreted in Mr. Stibal's arm pit - hence the moniker, "The Arm Pit Tape." The muffled sound, abrupt stops and starts, and overlying banter by Karen, Brian, and Paul lend some credence to the assertion.

The above was written in June (The eleventh, to be precise.) of 2000 after a telephone conversation with Mr. Weddle. A couple of days ago (That would be 05/05/04.) I got a call from Brian Stibal, now Bryan Styble - a neoconservative, morning radio talk show jock in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Amongst other tid bits of Dylan lore Bryan shared, he clarified and elaborated on the circumstances surrounding the surreptitious recording of the Moynihan tape. According to Bryan's recollection, his companion that day, and the the person that made the recording was a fellow named Bill. No one named Paul was present. He further asserts that it was Bill's tape recorder and not Richard Weddle's (Bryan refers to him as Jerry Weddle.). He lends credence to his assertion by pointing out that the recording was made in January of 1980 and he did not meet Jerry (Or Richard.) Weddle until June of that year. Brian also unequivocally states that Bill secreted the tape recorder in his jacket pocket! Alas, one can hardly escape the implication. Though "The Arm Pit Tape" unquestionably has a certain poetic ring, henceforth, the recording should probably be referred to as "The Jacket Pocket Tape" in the interest of historic accuracy.

Not for the timid! The poor sound quality and the considerable background noise make for a rather rough listen. The frequent stops and starts result in clipped songs and some are represented by barely recognizable fragments. The last fragment has been attributed to Wop Da Alono, with which I am not conversant. I hear "... iana, Louisiana, break, break, ..." and it seems most familiar. Dubbed 03/27/00. 90 min. Request 6005001.

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