Writer: Bob Dylan
Mark Bittner: vocal, acoustic rhythm guitar
Katelyn Lawson: vocal
Peter Lacques: harmonica
Bruce Kaphan: acoustic lead guitar
Bruce Gordon: piano
Joe Kyle Jr: acoustic bass
I first heard The Freewheeling Bob Dylan when I was 16, five years after its release. I was already listening to and liking his electric work, but then fell in love with his previous “folk” stuff. I loved the romantic image of the lone troubadour traveling the backroads with his guitar, learning life’s hard lessons. I wanted to be that, and immediately after graduating from high school, I left for Europe with my guitar. It was the beginning of my belief in the road and the street as the sources of enlightenment. Dylan never recorded “Farewell.” I found it in a songbook—a transcription of a demo he’d done. “Farewell” paints the image better than any other song he wrote in that vein.
I think “Farewell” was the first song we recorded. Like “Poppa John,” it’s a quiet song that I used to finger pick. For the recording, I worked out a simple flat-picking arrangement and raised the key. But I wasn’t happy with it. I thought the song needed something more. Bruce Kaphan suggested a “schoolhouse-on-the-prairie” piano part, which I thought was a great idea. I brought in Bruce Gordon, a monster accordion player, piano player, and organist, who improvised a part that, while not being exactly “prairie schoolhouse,” does have that element along with some others, and is wonderfully creative. Later, we added upright bass, harmonica, and Katelyn’s harmony vocals on the refrains.