TCBDS MEETINGS   TCBDS ARCHIVE   FREEWHEELIN-ON-LINE

 
freewheelin-on-line
 
 


SCARLET RIVERA
Interviewed by Masato Kato

The Two Riders



This is the full version only available in part elsewhere.

Q Is the story in this book true (Stolen Moments p156 - June 30, 1975) about your first encounter with Bob Dylan? If it is true, did you have to cancel the previous engagement with somebody else?
A Yes, a condensed version but, yes.

Q You were walking along the street in New York City where did you intend going?
A I was going directly across the street and would probably have been out of his sight in 30 seconds.

Q You had your previous engagement which you had to cancel?
A Yes, I did. It wasnít so important compared with this, which I know absolutely. Destiny cut me off!

Q What did you do before you met Bob Dylan?
A Oh, you know, ermÖ I was trying experiments with the violin. To make a new statement and do something original. I was experimenting with a little jazz, little rock a little Latin music. It didnít find a really good fit yet. So then it found a really great fit with Bob Dylan. In a very huge and significant way that affected rock history for good as I was the first women he ever hired in the band. It established a woman in a band and a woman on a unique instrument he never had before and almost nobody had used before in a rock setting.

Q Did you have a formal training on violin?
A Absolutely. Started orchestra and private lessons when I was five years old and I studied all of the classics.

Q Who is your favourite composer?
A I love Debussy because itís very dreamy and itís not about flash. Heís like a painter in music. He paints amazing imaginary places and I try to that with my own original music.

Q One of the things that make the Desire album great is your violin. Do you agree?
A Itís on every track!

Q Desire appears to be the least professional album as the rhythm is not accurate throughout.
A He wanted it that way. He had Eric Clapton and Kokomo on the album but he didnít use any of the tracks. He kept Howie Wyeth on drums and that was his deliberate choice. Also if you made a mistake he went "too bad you donít do it again". He didnít want perfection, he wanted spontaneous play.

Q This is the session sheet of the Desire album and this must be the first night of the recording.
A It ended up being an outtake, and extra track. It came out many years later. Yeah, Rita Mae didnít end up on the original album but I remember playing on that.

Q This was the b-side of a single.
A Yes, thatís correct. Again all very spontaneous these recordings some had two or three takes tops and one take was One More Cup Of Coffee For The Road (sic).

Q Is it true? According to this you tried One More Cup Of Coffee on this night in one take. You did it again July 30th and this made it onto the Desire album but the first session you did one take.
A Yes.

Q In the session you did Romance In Durango with Eric Clapton. You did six takes and the second is the album version. Is that one better than the others?
A I think that Bob was looking for something that was very unpredictable. Even though he had somebody as incredible as Eric Clapton on the record that he made a decision later not to put it out. I think that it was to do with making a new statement for him. He had more unknown players and more spontaneity. As Bob Dylan he did need to add a big name to his ablum. You know, he didnít consult me as to why he made that choice. But thatís my assumption, he wanted what we brought because it was quite fresh and very unpremeditated. We learned right in the studio, we did not learn weeks ahead of time with charts and tapes, we learned right there and then you played immediately.

Q Do you have any song that you think could have been done better if Bob had allowed one more take?
A Yes, I do Sara, for one. I made a mistake in Sara but he would not let me re-do it. It was like "oh, please", "no"!

Q Did Sara Like the song?
A Yes, she did.

Q Do you remember the song called Money Blues?
A I was not on Money Blues. I know of it but I did not play on it.

Q Are these session sheets correct?
A Yes.

Q I talked to Fred Tacket and he said that the session sheets werenít correct because the sheets were written after the session.
A I think that Columbiaís producer would have something to do with the accuracy of the sheets. I mentioned one song I thought that I could do better on but there were so many others that I was very happy with. They stand the test of time. Like Hurricane, Mozambique and Isis.

Q You were one of the first to join the Rolling Thunder Revue. How did Bob get so many people together?
A Well I didnít know his process. I know how I was found but I didnít know if he previously knew Howie or Rob Stoner, T-Bone Burnette. I think he must have known of some of these people. I donít think everybodyís was as amazing a story as mine. Really out of the blue and meeting him like that. Probably he was introduced to them or heard them at a bar or recommended.

Q Is it true that T-Bone Burnette was into fundamentalist Christianity in the Rolling Thunder era?
A He didnít make it obvious to me, no he never pushed that onto me.

Q The Rolling Thunder tour is reminiscent of the Joe Cocker and Leon Russell, Mad Dogs and Englishmen Tour.
A Yes, much. Just a wild collection of people. Like Mick Ronson, how does he fit into this. Why so many guitars on stage? I donít know!

Q Did you listen to the Rolling Thunder Revue album released in 2002?
A Yes, it is wonderful. I was so happy that it finally came out as a live concert as they were very special. I bet there was a lot of careful selections. There were so many versions to chose from. I donít know how the version of Isis was picked but Iím sure it was a long process.

Q Do you have any tapes of the tour?
A On me here? No, I donít usually carry it around.

Q Which show was the most memorable for you?
A I think my first show, Plymouth. It was really amazing and many others but Plymouth was being my first introduction and it was a big test a trial by fire and a great success.

Q Is it true that you only played Like A Rolling Stone once at Niagra Falls 15 November 1975?
A To my knowledge I think I did. I donít know why I didnít play it again but he made up different sets every night. Usually I played on the same songs. But I also played on some other songs like Just Like A Woman and Tangled Up In Blue.

Q One of the greatest mysteries of the Rolling Thunder Revue tour is Salt Lake City, 25 May 1976 the last show of the tour. We donít know exactly what you played. All we know is this track listing. (Stolen Moments p178)
A Four and a half hours!

Q Is it true?
A I know they were very long, very long. One concert was in some kind of big hall with a tin roof. It sounded like thunder! I donít know of any more songs. I canít go back and remember what we played that night. I would have had to take lots of notes and keep them, which I didnít do. But this makes sense, Black Diamond Bay!

Q You did it?
A I donít think I did. But Romance in DurangoÖ

Q What about Lily, Rosemary And The Jack Of Hearts, did you do it?
A No, I wasnít on that.

Q Did you feel that there was any difference between the 1975 and 1976 Rolling Thunder tours?
A Yes, it is hard to put into words. I think that the band chemistry changed which shifted the atmosphere.

Q There was some criticism of playing big venues.
A Bob could have just played big venues but he did play many small ones too. If he hadnít played big venues many people wouldnít have seen the shows, so I think that it was a compromise. Classic old small theatres like Cambridge, Massachusetts and then inter mixed with the big house. But he loved the small too. I doubt that his record company would like him doing only small halls!

Q Now many people think that Rolling Thunder was one of the best tours. Is it correct that many of the places werenít sold out?
A I wasnít aware of that. Only one place I really remembered wasnít but that was because it rained all day. But to me I saw solid walls of people when I looked out. I feel that it was sold out everywhere. He was at the apex of his career and that was the thing to see.

Q Do you still keep in touch with anybody from the Rolling Thunder Band?
A Once in a while I see Bob. Over the years Iíve seen him many places. Minneapolis, where he came from, his home town. Many friends of his from childhood became friends of mine. I sometimes do a small concert in Minneapolis with the old friends and he would come and quietly sit in the audience to see his old friends play.

Q When did you last meet him?
A I last saw him at the last concert in Los Angeles, very briefly. There were so many people there so many stars so there was no time to sit and talk.

Q Was it last year?
A Yes, four or five months ago.

Q What have you been doing since the Rolling Thunder Revue tour?
A Iíve done many solo albums and continue to do so. They are in many different styles World Music and Celtic.

Q You have done Disco music?
A No, on my very first record my producer pushed me into doing a song like that and I hate the song. I donít like the record now! He took advantage of me and I have learned from that. I now know who that artist is!

Q How did you join the Rituals?
A Some were on one of my albums and we all became friends and they came to my house and we did music together and still do.

Q I heard that you had cancer but you look very healthy now. Are you fully recovered?
A Yes, I am fine now.

Q During the Rolling Thunder Revue tour you had great makeup on your face and Bob painted his face white, why not black?
A As I recall it was me who started this. It wasnít theatrical it was an inner thing. It wasnít staged it was spontaneous and I never repeated I only did it once and never again. I think Bob was very struck by me doing this. I think that the white that he picked had something to do with seeing the mask. This is the mask but see the symbols behind the mask. I loved that!

Q Did you receive a phone call from Bob Dylan when he was preparing the Rolling Thunder album?
A Yes, I did.

Q Did you have any input on the album?
A No. He did call me at home to tell me to show up at Columbia as "in two days from now we are starting the record". It was a great, great personal call.

Q One disappointing aspect of the album is that it doesnít include When I Paint My Masterpiece. Do you know why?
A I donít know why he didnít choose that for the record as he played it many, many times on tour.

Q Could it be because the versions were thought to be sloppy?
A I donít know.

Q Did they record the whole show or just the Bob parts?
A Probably only Bobís, as they werenít all signed to Columbia records.

Q It would be great to hear a whole show.
A I have some bootleg cassettes from that period but they arenít very good quality and I have some interviews too.

Q Did Richie Havens have a solo part?
A I think that he just visited I donít recall him playing a solo part. Many people joined us for Knockiní On Heavenís Door, Arlo Guthrie was one. It was THE tour everybody wanted to come on. We have many visitors including Mohammed Ali at Madison Square Garden.


Restless Farewell for now.

Mike and John

 

freewheelin-on-line

Scarlet Rivera
 
BACK TO CONTENTS

TCBDS MEETINGS   TCBDS ARCHIVE   FREEWHEELIN-ON-LINE