Writer: Bob Dylan
Mark Bittner: vocal, acoustic rhythm guitar
Peter Lacques: harmonica
Bruce Kaphan: acoustic lead guitar
Bruce Gordon: piano
Joe Kyle Jr: acoustic bass
Trying to find my place in the new religion of music, I entered the pre-electric Dylan universe. I played a little electric guitar and I’d been in a band. But after discovering The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan I switched to “folk music.” I loved his image as the lone troubadour traveling along the back roads, passing through small towns, falling in love, but constantly moving on in his quest for Truth. I assumed Dylan had actually done this! But it was just an image, although I didn’t know that for years. (I was in my mid-teens when I latched onto it.) In any case, I was determined to do this myself as soon as I graduated from high school, and started learning the songs that depicted this way of life. One of the songs I loved most was called “Farewell,” a song he’d never released on an album, but I’d found in a Dylan songbook. A friend of mine was a good sight reader on piano and I had her play it for me. I took my own version from that one hearing. It differs musically from Dylan’s, but not much.
Bruce and I originally recorded it with just me on acoustic guitar and vocal, but I didn’t find it very interesting. So we added a bit of genre-appropriate harmonica, played by my friend Peter Lacques, and some acoustic lead guitar, played by Bruce. I still found the recording lacking though, and Bruce suggested adding an upright piano, a “schoolhouse on the prairie” sound, which I thought was a brilliant idea. Bruce Gordon supplied the part, which is musically marvelous—part school house, part Midwestern drawing room, part saloon. At that point I thought the track was fine, but later, during a session with Joe Kyle Jr. who was playing acoustic bass on a different song, I thought, “why not?” and asked him to play on “Farewell” too.