Tag Archives: The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan

Rocks In The Attic #528: Bob Dylan – ‘Highway 61 Revisited’ (1965)

rita528This was the first Dylan album I ever bought – I think because out of all of his classic singles, I liked the singalong ‘…Then You!…’ bits in Like A Rolling Stone. It really is a great song – although, like nearly all Dylan songs, I have no idea what it all means. My lyric-blindness prevents me from caring about the words too much, and it’s a blissful kind of ignorance. Perhaps if I knew what the lyrics meant, I’d like the song less, like seeing a card trick standing behind the magician.

I’d probably have listened to a lot more Dylan in my youth, if I’d started with another album – perhaps The Freewheelin’ from 1962. I still find 1965’s Highway 61 Revisited a bit of a heavy trip. Man.

This week it was announced that Bob has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”. I’m sure this has made a whole load of highbrow people really angry, and I like the nomination for that establishment outrage, as much as I like it for Bob’s achievement at being awarded something nice.

Rolling Stone magazine says he deserves it – not ‘for making it through all of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s books’, a nice reference to a lyric from this record’s Ballad Of A Thin Man, but for ‘for inventing ways to make songs do what they hadn’t done before’. It’s a long time since Rolling Stone said anything against the grain though so it’s not surprising. Perhaps if this announcement would have come thirty or forty years ago, they might have taken a difference stance. Rolling Stone, like Dylan himself, once was very much the embodiment of the counter-culture. They haven’t exactly become the establishment since; instead the establishment has shifted in the intervening years, to stand behind people like Dylan.

What do I know though? I don’t even understand what he’s saying half the time.

Hit: Like A Rolling Stone

Hidden Gem: Tombstone Blues

Rocks In The Attic #211: Bob Dylan – ‘John Wesley Harding’ (1967)

RITA#211This is fast becoming my second favourite Bob Dylan album – after 1963’s The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. I’m not usually the sort of listener who would favour acoustic guitar over electric, but I think Dylan sounds better here, stepping away from the heady mix of the his last couple of electric albums.

John Wesley Harding is very laid back, with a similar minimalist country feel that Neil Young would later employ on Harvest, and I think that’s what I like best about it.  It’s a very nice album just to listen to, without having to think about deciphering his lyrics. He sounds much more comfortable here, stepping out of the spotlight and away from his duties as the voice of a generation.

George Harrison must have been a fan of side-two opener Dear Landlord – his Old Brown Shoe (b-side to The Ballad Of John And Yoko) borrows more than a little of the progression in Dylan’s song.

Hit: I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight

Hidden Gem: I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine