Chapter 12
It Wasn’t Bruce
A Musical Whodunnit (Don’t Think Twice (1962)

Case 1962-77002: People vs. Langhorne
Courtroom of Honor
Judge Paul N. de Disgavel


We now come to case seven-seven-o-o-two, the People vs. Bruce Langhorne, concerning the guitar playing on a certain track, ‘Don’t Think Twice’, recorded in Columbia Studio A, New York, in the afternoon of November 14, 1962. The People holds and has always held that the guitar which accompanies Bob Dylan’s singing on this track is played by Bruce Langhorne. Against this, Dr. Eyolf Østrem contends that the guitar is in fact played by someone entirely different.

I ask District Attorney William Gully to step forward and present the evidence on behalf of the people.


Thank you, Your Honor. In addition to written evidence directly connected with the case, I will present testimonials from esteemed witnesses whose judgement is generally trusted and which should be weighed heavily.

Let me start with Exhibit A: the album sleeve of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, where the song was first released. They were written by Nat Hentoff, a person very close to Dylan at the time. The People call Mr. Hentoff to the bench to explain the facts.

Nat Hentoff

There really isn’t much to explain:

Dylan’s accompaniment on this track includes Bruce Langhorne (guitar), George Barnes (bass guitar), Dick Wellstood (piano), Gene Ramey (bass) and Herb Lovelle (drums).1


Thank you, Mr Hentoff. I’m tempted to say, ‘Case closed’ already, but if the defense wants to go through according to procedure, it’s your witness.

We certainly do, Thank you.

Mr Hentoff, may I ask you: what happened to Misters Barnes, Wellstood, and Lovelle? According to your testimony, they all played on this track, but I can’t hear them anywhere. Did they play very quietly? That is hard to believe, especially after hearing the track they had just spent fifteen takes on during the previous hours, ‘Mixed up Confusion’. Am I right to assume that the notes you wrote are in fact referring to another take of ‘Don’t Think Twice’, recorded on the same occasion but never released?


I’m sorry, I can’t answer that question – it’s too long ago now. You might perhaps consult the documentation of the recording session.

That’s a good idea. Meanwhile, I motion to disregard Exhibit A, the liner notes to Freewheelin’, as inconclusive and irrelevant for the case.



Mr Gully – Bill, was it?


I prefer to leave the first names out of this thank you very much. The session documentation, yes. The People would like to call as our next witness Mr. Olof Björner, distinguished and well-respected chronologer and sessionologist, who will bring the details.


This is what I know about that recording session:

Studio A
Columbia Recording Studios
New York City, New York
14 November 1962
The 6th Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan session, produced by John Hammond.

1. Mixed-Up Confusion

2. Mixed-Up Confusion

3. Mixed-Up Confusion

4. Mixed-Up Confusion

5. Mixed-Up Confusion

6. Mixed-Up Confusion

7. Mixed-Up Confusion

8. Mixed-Up Confusion

9. Mixed-Up Confusion

10. Mixed-Up Confusion

11. Mixed-Up Confusion

12. Mixed-Up Confusion

13. Mixed-Up Confusion

14. Mixed-Up Confusion

15. Mixed-Up Confusion

16. Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right

17. Ballad Of Hollis Brown

18. Ballad Of Hollis Brown

19. Kingsport Town

20. Kingsport Town

21. Whatcha Gonna Do

Bob Dylan (guitar, harmonica, vocal).
1-15 George Barnes (guitar), Bruce Langhorne (guitar), Dick Wellstood (piano), Gene Ramey (bass) and Herb Lovelle (drums).
16-21 Bruce Langhorne (guitar).


Recorded 3-5 pm.

Clinton Heylin mentions an electric Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right and a Dixieland version of Mixed-Up Confusion as rumoured takes.

13 overdubbed by unidentified musicians 8 December 1964.

Ø Only 10, 13, 16, 18, 20, and 21 are in circulation.

Ø 2–5, 14, and 17 are fragments only.

Ø 6, 12, 19 are incomplete takes.


Clinton Heylin: Bob Dylan. The Recording Sessions [1960 – 1994]. St. Martin’s Press December 1995, pp. 13–18.

Glen Dundas: Tangled Up In Tapes. A Recording History of Bob Dylan. SMA Services 1999, page 10.2

Mr. Björner, let me first commend you on your outstanding work, which I’ve myself perused extensively. Even on this occasion – although I dispute one little detail in it – your summary of the session in question is an excellent opportunity to recreate the events of that day. I ask you to go through it with me.

They started, I can see, with fifteen takes – fifteen takes – of ‘Mixed up Confusion’, where Dylan was backed by the musicians that Mr Hentoff has just mentioned. There certainly seems to have been a fair amount of confusion there, that’s for sure. Then, according to your survey, three of them left and only Bruce Langhorne remained in the studio, to play backup guitar on four more tracks: ‘Don’t Think Twice’, ‘Ballad of Hollis Brown’, ‘Kingsport Town’, and ‘Whatcha Gonna Do’. Is that correct?


To the best of my knowledge, yes.

You also indicate the possibility of two more tracks recorded that afternoon: an electric version of ‘Don’t Think Twice’, and a Dixieland version – God forbid – of ‘Mixed up Confusion’. That’s a whole lot to cram into two hours of recording, wouldn’t you say? There wouldn’t be much time to rehearse and go through the songs on beforehand, would there?


It certainly sounds like a lot, but I’m a sessionologist, not a session musician, so I wouldn’t know.

But as a sessionologist, would you say that it was possible?


I suppose so. There are plenty of other examples in Dylan’s recording history where things have gone quickly.

With rehearsals and all?


Probably not. That would usually not have been the case. Dylan is notorious for not rehearsing but rather working things out in the studio, while recording. But he certainly was able to record a lot in a short time.

Let us go through these songs. ‘Mixed up Confusion’ – fifteen takes. Then we have a single take of ‘Don’t Think Twice’. Then a fragment of ‘Hollis Brown’ followed by a full take. The same was the case with ‘Kingsport Town’ – a fragment and a full, single take, and finally there was a single take of ‘Whatcha Gonna Do’.

Now, on the last three, we can clearly hear two guitars. One is Dylan’s own, hammering rhythmically and restlessly on ‘Hollis Brown’, strumming calmly on ‘Kingsport Town’, and mainly marking the rhythm on ‘Whatcha Gonna Do’. The other, then, is Langhorne, who embellishes the skeletal accompaniment laid down by Dylan. Would you agree that while ‘Mixed up Confusion’ is an attempt at working out an arrangement of a song, the last three songs are more to be considered as Dylan-with-flourishes, songs which might as well have been recorded by Dylan solo, but now that there was an accomplished guitarist there . . . ?


That sounds reasonable.

I will come back to this point later on. Let me just ask you one more thing: where have you got all this information? You refer to Clinton Heylin and Glen Dundas – what about direct documentation of the session, isn’t it common that such things are written down?


That is correct. For most of Dylan’s session from the 1960s we have such documentation, but

Recording sheets from this session is missing, the info is taken from Dundas.3

Thank you. I have nothing further.


The people now calls Clinton Heylin, a famous Dylan biographer and sessionologist, who has also studied this case thoroughly. Mr Heylin, are you of the opinion that the guitar on ‘Don’t Think Twice’ was played by Bruce Langhorne?

Clinton Heylin

I definitely am,

With all the musicians, save Langhorne, paid scale and sent packing, Dylan got back on the program with a gorgeous rendition of ‘Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right’ that might just have illustrated how good a guitarist Dylan had become, save that it’s Langhorne who provides the faultless accompaniment. Whatever ‘very interesting things with guitar’ Dylan was coming up with, they were evidently best expressed by a virtuoso like Langhorne.4


Very well. I think that settles it, don’t you think? Defense?

Mr Heylin, if we leave the quippant bathos aside for a moment, let me come back to the question: how do you know this? Have you had direct access to source material the rest of us don’t know?

Clinton Heylin

Unfortunately, no. The session records are, as Mr Björner stated, missing. But I have worked with Sony’s archives in New York, and produced

by far the most complete and accurate record of Dylan’s Columbia recordings to date. [. . . ] With just a couple of dozen CO numbers [the numbers assigned to each recorded song] and access to Sony’s overfull cardex system, I could at last begin to reconstruct session after session. As the CO numbers multiplied, so the gaps began to be plugged.5

Does that mean that you have plugged this particular gap too?

Clinton Heylin

Uh, no, not this one. Because of Dylan’s

profound distaste for those who attempt to document his work,6

and the obstinacy of Dylan’s people and their fear of a real critic like myself, they have not let me in to study the tape boxes themselves. Instead,

the ostensible overseer of Dylan’s archive, Jeff Rosen, has finally put one lesser Dylan authority to work on his behalf, rummaging through the very same vaults [. . . ] [This l.D.a., Michael Krogsgaard,] has published two articles on Dylan’s Columbia sessions. Largely because he is a discographer, not a critic, and therefore no ‘threat’ to Dylan’s carefully constructed mystique (nor to Rosen), Krogsgaard has been given access to the tape-boxes themselves, that Danish sonofabitch ...7

Sorry, say that again?

Clinton Heylin

Oh, nothing.

Oh . . . Well, whatever. So not even you have firm evidence that it is in fact Bruce Langhorne playing on ‘Don’t Think Twice’?

Clinton Heylin

Well, I should perhaps qualify my initial statement and instead say that

It is presumably also Langhorne who contributes the tasteful guitar fills that embellish the last three songs recorded at the November 14, 1962, session. If Dylan did leave in a huff after the Dixieland ‘Mixed Up Confusion’, he evidently returned in a minute, and a huff. Four songs – all acoustic – were recorded after the Freewheelin’ band packed up their instruments and left Studio A. I say four but, if Nat Hentoff’s liner notes to Freewheelin’ are to be believed, ‘Don’t Think Twice, it’s All Right’ was actually recorded with the November 14 band and an electric version was assigned to the album. Even more mysteriously, according to Columbia’s files, the released version of ‘Don’t Think Twice’ was a first take [. . . ]. Could it be that the released version was recorded with the session musicians, who were then subsequently removed from the mix? It seems inconceivable – a band rip-roaring through the same rendition as on the album? I think not. yet, as of 1995 the mystery (and the liner notes) remains.8

Do I understand you correctly – that the quality of the playing is an important element in your verdict that this is Langhorne playing? You use words like ‘tasteful fills’, ‘faultless accompaniment’, and you call Langhorne a ‘virtuoso’.


That might be an element, yes.

Oh, not only an element, if I may: it appears to be the main element, the last straw to a stack of indices: Nat Hentoff’s liner notes, the presence of a renowned guitarist like Langhorne on the previous and following takes . . . aren’t those the only ‘facts’ that substantiate the claim that Langhorne is the man?


. . . well . . . if you put it like that . . . perhaps . . .

One last question, Mr Heylin. Are you a musicologist, or do you have any other training in music analysis?


No, sir. But I’m very . . .

Then I have nothing further, at this point.

The defense now calls Mr Michael Krogsgaard.

Mr Krogsgaard, you are the ‘lesser Dylan authority’ that Mr Heylin referred to, is that correct?


I would prefer to use other words, but I am the person who was allowed to study the materials in Columbia’s archives, yes.

So, did you find concrete evidence about this particular session, then?



Unfortunately the tapes (and recording sheets) for the next session were not available.9

What are the implications of that? Can you explain to us what exactly is contained in the recording sheets?


Recording Sheets are lists made during each session and put into each tape box. The sheet records the date, the studio, the artist, which tracks were recorded and the CO number (Columbia’s own reference number) for each composition (of which, more later). Each recorded take is marked as complete (C), with a short false start (b) or a long false start (B). It is indicated on these sheet which takes are removed to other tapes for further use.

The Tape Boxes themselves also usually contain information about each take and which takes are removed for further use.10

But in this case, even the tape boxes are missing?



And those two source types are the only place where exact information about who played on what take would be recorded, is that correct?



What is your conclusion about who played what, then?


Columbia Recording Studio
New York City, New York
November 14, 1962, 3-6 pm

Produced by John Hammond.
Engineers: Knuerr and Dauria.

1. Mixed Up Confusion CO76982
2. Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right CO77002
3. Ballad of Hollis Brown CO77003
4. Kingsport Town (trad.) CO77004
5. Whatcha Gonna Do CO77005

1 overdubbed at Columbia Recording Studios, December 8, 1964.

Backing undocumented, but probably same backing as November 1 for track 1 and Bruce Langhorne on guitar on tracks 3–5.11

And track 2 – ‘Don’t Think Twice’?


I have no clear opinion about that, sir.

Thank you very much. I have nothing further.

I do have two more witnesses. Would Mr Langhorne please come in?

[disorder in the audience]

Mr Langhorne, could you tell us a little bit about your playing during that November session in 1962?

Bruce Langhorne

I remember doing a version of ‘Corrine Corrina’ with Bob that was acoustic, and I played acoustic. I think it was acoustic. I don’t really remember the session that you’re talking about, though. It might have been overdubbed, or something. [. . . ] Don’t really know. I really can’t remember.12

What about ‘Don’t think twice’?

Bruce Langhorne

I’m pushing the edges of memory here. If I remember correctly, he [Dylan] did play the guitar. I didn’t play anything but ornaments. The bulk of the guitar playing is himself on that tune.13

Ornaments, you say. Personally I find it difficult to hear more than one guitar there; could it be that Dylan played that song all by himself?


As I said, if I remember correctly, Dylan played the guitar. I can’t remember. This was – when? some time in the sixties? If you can remember the sixties, you weren’t there. I was there.

Thank you very much, mr Langhorne. By the way, what’s that with your hand?


Oh, it’s nothing. I was dabbling in rocket science when I was a kid, lost three fingers. Django and me, you know.

That’s on your picking hand too – how has that affected your playing style?


Quite a lot –

Since I have fingers missing, some styles of guitar playing were forever unreachable for me. Like, I couldn’t really play good flamenco. Classical was difficult for me, though I did play some classical. But since I couldn’t develop technique to the point where I could just play the entire repertoire of guitar music, I had to develop a technique based on my own aesthetics. Because I had to listen to everything and say, okay, this sounds okay with three voices. Because I had pretty good control of three voices on guitar. I could control four-note voicing, but it was only with extra physical effort. Because it would mean, since I played basically with three fingers, it would mean that I would have to play two notes with one finger on a six-string instrument, or I would have to strum. So I developed a style and a technique that was based partially on classical music, because I separated voices. I used each of my fingers to generate a line, a polyphonic line, or I would play, which is why I say I really needed someone who had a thread going to really do my job. Because then they could generate a couple of lines of polyphony, or a rhythmic structure. And then I could enhance that.14

From what you are saying, I take it you would primarily play the kind of fills and ornaments we can hear on tracks like ‘Corrina, Corrina’ and ‘Love Minus Zero/No Limit’, and not the kind of plain – if also exquisit – accompaniment we hear on ‘Don’t Think Twice’?


Definitely, yes.

Thank you very much, Mr Langhorne.

My very last witness cannot be present in person, but he will be with us on a satellite connection from somewhere in the world, where he is on tour. So, once our fine technician has plugged in everything . . .

[waiting while the court technicians set up a video screen and a beamer]

. . . we are ready to welcome – Columbia recording artist Bob Dylan. Mr Dylan, as you know, we are here to discuss a certain performance on one of your albums – the Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. Can you tell us a little bit about it – what it was like making it?

Bob Dylan

Well, I felt real good about doing an album with my own material, and I picked a little bit on it. ‘Don’t think twice.’ Got a chance to do some of that. Got a chance to play in open tuning . . . ‘Oxford Town,’ I belive that’s on that album. That’s open tuning. I got a chance to do talking blues. I got a chance to do ballads, like ‘Girl from the North Country.’ It’s just because it had more variety. I felt good about that.15

You mentioned ‘Don’t Think Twice’ – did you play on that?


Yeah, isn’t that what I said?

Actually, no. You mentioned it, and then said you got a chance to do some picking on that album. We would appreciate an even clearer answer. There are some who maintain that the guitar on that track is not by you, mr Dylan, but by Bruce Langhorne, who was also present at that session. Do you have anytyhing to say to that?


People are entitled to their own opinion.

But you ought to be the first to know, first hand, so to speak – can you tell us: is that guitar played by you or by Bruce Langhorne? Did he play at all on that track?


Bruce? Yeah, he was there. He . . . [screeches and white noise from the video screen as the connection is lost]

Mr Dylan? Can you hear us? Hello?

We appear to have lost him. What a shame.

But I don’t think we need it. Your Honor, Members of the Jury. Let us gather together what we know by now: The recording sheets are missing. The tape boxes are missing. All we have are some liner notes – which in any case are wrong, stating that ‘Don’t Think Twice’ was backed by a full band – and an assumption that since there was a tasteful, faultless virtuoso present that day, he must be responsible for the fine playing on this track too.

The first point would easily be accounted for if we accept Heylin’s assumption that a full-band version was recorded – with Langhorne on guitar – and scheduled for the album at least seriously and long enough for Hentoff to have based his liner notes on it. But that there was also another version, which eventually ended up on the album.

And who played there?

It is time to look up from the recording sheets and the tape boxes, and actually listen to the song itself – that we have, even though the rest is gone.

Three songs from that session have Langhorne on a second guitar. ‘The Ballad of Hollis Brown’ – on first hearing, one doesn’t notice that there are two guitars there. When Dylan played this on his own, it used to go like this:

  :   .   .   .      :   .   .   .  
|---------0------3-|-0-------0-----3-| etc.  

This playing style is pervasive throughout the two shows at the Gaslight Cafe, which were given just a couple of weeks before this recording session. An important element in this playing style is the frequent variations in the thumb pattern. Usually these go downwards, like here, in ‘Motherless Children’:

  :   .   .   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .  
  hard   road ... mother... dead  
 :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .   .   .   .   .     :  
-3-------2-------|-0-------------------------------|-0---- etc  

Langhorne’s playing on ‘Hollis Brown’ uses the same kinds of patterns, but takes advantage of all the six strings, and plays figurations upwards too. That is what he does: he adds to what Dylan is already doing.

In ‘Whatcha Gonna Do’, his contribution is a series of blues licks which certainly sets the song off from the urgently straightforward strumming in the version which was recorded in December, but again, it is very obvious an addition to something that’s there already.

‘Kingsport Town’. Again, Dylan plays through the song as he would have done if he were all alone in the studio. Langhorne adds another kind of figurations to that: a sweet, gentle melody line frequently in parallel sixths high up on the guitar neck, the same style we can hear him use on two other tracks he recorded with Dylan: ‘Corrina, Corrina’, also from Freewheelin’ and ‘Love Minus Zero/No Limit’ from Bringing it All Back Home.

Here, it is even more clear that he is adding to what Dylan is already doing: he is bringing in something from his own bag of licks and tricks and placing that alongside, around, within what Dylan plays. He enjoys the freedom that a soloing sideman has: he knows the basic stuff is taken care of, so he can concentrate on embellishment and arabesque, he can vary his licks as the song proceeds – try out a dissonance here and an interval there.

In the company of lyric arabesques like these, the guitar part on ‘Don’t Think Twice’ sounds like . . . yes, it sounds like it was played by an entirely different musician. This is a musician who doesn’t worry about a rough edge here and an inadvertently muted string there (such as in the first bars of the intro) – in sharp contrast to Langhorne’s impeccable style; a player who is entirely fluent in this particular style of fingerpicking – unlike Langhorne, whose mutilated hand forced him to develop a distinct playing style, not particularly suited for laying down a basic accompaniment, but rather based on listening and entering into an interplay with someone else who supplies that kind of structure; a musician, furthermore, who drives forward at an insistent, nervous speed – in contrast to Langhorne’s lyrical lines; and who plays a remarkably stable accompaniment during the verses and saves for the short interludes whatever embellishment there is of the main pattern – nothing at all like the varied solos on the other tracks Langhorne played on.

The guitar playing on the track uses an advanced version of fingerpicking, but it doesn’t take a specially trained studio musician to play it – it’s not that hard. It depends on one extra technique in addition to the basic fingerpicking skills: the ‘limping’ anticipation of the highest tone of a new chord, played on the last eigth note of the previous measure and hammered on to the first beat of the next chord, simultaneously with the thumb stroke on the bass string:

   C                 G7                Am      C/g       F  
   :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .  
   C/g               G7                C/g  
   :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .  

Even a ‘lesser’ guitarist like Dylan – although he was otherwise incapable of expressing what he had come up with, if we are to believe Mr Heylin – could manage that. Here is what he plays on ‘Suze’, recorded a year later (when his guitar skills were, if anything, declining):

     C                                   F  
     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .  
  D7/f#             C/g     G         Am      /g        F       G  
  :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .  

And by the way, the guitar playing on ‘Don’t Think Twice’ from the Langhorne session sounds suspiciously like the version that was recorded as a Witmark demo in March 1963, at a session where even Heylin lists Dylan as the only musician present: a little more polished here, a little blunter there, but essentially the same arrangement, the same playing.

I’ve saved my weightiest proof until last. The harmonica interludes.

Between the verses, Dylan plays the first line of the verses again, on harmonica. Only, he deviates slightly from the chord pattern that is used elsewhere in the song, in a way which would be virtually impossible to coordinate between two musicians without overdubs, especially on a first take. Here is what is played between the first two verses – the vertical bars indicate the ‘harmonica parts’:

C . | C G Am . F . C . . . |

Second to third verse:

C | C G Am . F . C . . |

And between the last two verses:

C | C G Am . F . C G7 C . . . |

The differences are subtle but significant: in the second interlude, he jumps in with the C G Am part one measure earlier than the first time around. The rushed entry is reflected – as if of one mind – in the extra emphasis on the first tone of the harmonica. He also begins the following verse one measure earlier.

In the last interlude, he throws in a G7 at the end, followed by four full measures of C.

Now, Langhorne may be an excellent guitarist and session musician, but show me the musician who can, on the spot, interact that closely with Dylan, pick up his little variations, without the slightest indication on the recording of any surprise or hesitation.

Also during the verses, the interaction between the guitarist and the singer is perfect – too perfect to be accomplished without former preparation.

The only possible way this could have been done in an interaction between two musicians is if they had rehearsed it: decided on beforehand that ‘second time, we cut one measure here and add a G7 there’. Then the shift to G could come earlier one time, later the next. But why would Dylan – the man because of whom Joan Baez dedicated a song ‘to some rehearsal time’ – do something like that? How would he remember between the instances – ‘second time: now we cut here and here . . . or was it . . . nah . . .’ – and still accomplish a perfect and coherent first take? And when would they have had time to sit down and work out such an arrangment? Fifteen wretched takes of Confusion, a frustrated departure in a huff, six more takes of four different songs – and on top of that a chit-chat about details in the arrangement?

The last tones of the harp solo are the final nail in the coffin of the Langhorne hypothesis. Listen to the perfect synchronization between the two instruments in the final turn to F and the last guitar strum, followed by a little dut on the harmonica, and tell me if that isn’tall done by the same person.

No, Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the guy who plays guitar here knows when the chords are going to change. And the only man who could have possibly known that, is Dylan himself.