Bob Dylan and The New Morning Sessions
Ron Cornelius, author of The Guitar Behind Dylan and Cohen, had long dreamed of playing with Bob Dylan. When Bob Johnston invited him to come to New York City for The New Morning Sessions, he didn’t hesitate. By the time the sessions finished, Ron received the best gift ever.
If you are wondering, yes, this is the same trip to NYC with the broken escort service and the time Ron nearly got Charlie Daniels shot. In fact, The New Morning Sessions began the day after Ron and Charlie’s run-in with the guns.
It’s a good thing their run-in turned out the way it did because they were about to make music history.
Working With Bob
Ron quickly discovered that working with Dylan wasn’t the same as working with other musicians. His unconventional style required the musicians to improvise constantly, stay focused, and be ready to change everything at a moment’s notice.
From the first time Ron heard it, he felt a deep connection with the song, New Morning. Unlike some of the other songs, he didn’t have to fight to keep pace with Dylan’s evolving approach. The music flowed almost effortlessly; Dylan took notice.
“Hey man,” Dylan said to Ron after the song, “I can tell you’re really giving me 110%. If there’s anything I can do for you, let me know.”
Ron wasn’t sure how to respond. He asked for some time to think about it and Dylan agreed.
The Best Gift
With only a couple of days left with Bob Dylan and The New Morning sessions, Ron decided to make the ask. He took Bob aside. “After the last session on Friday, when everyone is gone, stay and hang out, just you and me.”
Bob gave him a quizzical look. It was a strange request but Bob agreed.
When everyone had left the studio that Friday night, Bob and Ron were finally alone. “Okay,” Bob said, “what do you want?”
“I want,” Ron said, fully aware that the request he was about to make was even more unusual than the first, “you to sit at the piano while I lay beside it on the floor. I’ll call out a song title and I want you to sing it. Then, when I’m ready for another song, I’ll call out that title and I want you to sing that, too.”
Bob chuckled and then, much to Ron’s surprise, sat down at the piano.
And so it was that Ron’s best gift ever was a private concert by Bob Dylan. Ron treasures the memory to this day.
To hear the story in Ron’s own words, here’s a clip from an interview at The Country Music Hall of Fame.
To hear more interviews like this one, be sure to check out Gateway Entertainment’s YouTube Channel. If you’d like to have a collection of this and other great stories from Ron, you can pick up an exclusive autographed copy of his book The Guitar Behind Dylan and Cohen, available only on the Gateway Entertainment website.