But the guys in The Hawks…eighteen months before they moved to Woodstock they’d been playing the same kind of shitholes around Toronto that me and my friends had played in, cranking out “High Heel Sneakers” and “Walkin’ the Dog” for drunken assholes on a Saturday night.I’d heard bits and pieces of the music they’d been making with Dylan down in their basement all that summer.There was this perfect chord rundown and it was finished, the last notes on the woody piano and organ hanging in the air, fading like glory. After a moment I said, “How could I not have heard that song before? It blew my mind apart that these guys we knew – guys who lived down the road from us, who were much the same age as us, who were really a bunch of backing musicians – were capable of writing songs like that.
It sounded to me like nothing on earth and, at the same time, like it’d been recorded a hundred years ago and dug up out of the ground.
The mix was kind of muddy and rough and the vocals a little swamped, but you could catch the odd chunk of lyric and when I heard Rick sing I shut my eyes and felt my skin scrunching and puckering up in all the places it did when music was this good. “You are fuckin’ kidding me,” I whispered, not knowing whether to laugh or cry. She was already rewinding the tape, getting ready to play it again.