'Pretty Saro' is only the first single from Dylan's forthcoming album.
After 43 years gathering dust, Bob Dylan’s Pretty Saro will finally see the light of day on his compilation Another Self Portrait, due August 27th. The collection will feature previously unheard recordings for Dylan’s 1970 Self Portrait. 'Pretty Saro' is yet another one of those tracks – a rendition of an old English folk song, made all the more personal by Dylan’s calm, familiar vocals and accompanied by his chilled out strumming. The song went through six iterations, before Dylan was satisfied with the current version, however it didn’t make the final cut for the album.
Almost half a century later, the song sounds like a voice from another time. It works with the video, created by filmmaker Jennifer Lebeau out of vintage photos from the Farm Security Administration stored at the Library of Congress, to evoke that vague feeling of nostalgia that seems to drive the song itself. The filmmaker is a longtime collaborator of Dylan’s, having worked with him on his 1994 MTV Unplugged video, as well his unreleased 1993 show at the Supper Club, so she was familiar with the songwriter’s visual style. Of the 1,200 images she went through, Lebeau selected only a handful to tell a specific narrative.
Dylan is introducing the portrait motif throughout his work in 2013.
"It literally goes from women on farms with wagons to Rosie the Riveter," she said in an interview with Rolling Stone. "They were doing laundry and tilling the land, and at the end, they're building planes and really in charge of everything at the work place. We wanted to include as many of these magnificent faces as we could, and tell this story across the years."
As for the song itself, it will be available on Another Self Portrait, along with 35 other previously unheard tracks from the recording sessions for Nashville Skyline, Self Portrait and New Morning.
Later this month, a collection of portraits by Dylan will go on show at the National Portrait Gallery.