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Bob Dylan Highway 61 Revisited

Bob Dylan Highway 61 Revisited

Released August 30, 1965

Bob Dylan Highway 61 Revisited

Once upon a time you dressed so fine
Threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn’t you?
People call say ‘beware doll, you’re bound to fall’
You thought they were all kidding you
You used to laugh about
Everybody that was hanging out
Now you don’t talk so loud
Now you don’t seem so proud
About having to be scrounging your next meal

Fourth greatest?

Rolling Stone magazine calls it the fourth greatest album of all time. I'm not much for top ten lists and such, but this is certainly a great album. If Bringing It All Back Home (released only five months earlier on March 22) had sounded the death knell of an acoustic folk Dylan, Highway 61 Revisited is the clarion call.

Albums have 12 songs. Highway 61 Revisited has 10.  Singles are two and a half to 3 minutes long. Like a Rolling Stone is 6 minutes 13 seconds. 

The album's shortest song is From a Buick 6: 3:19.  The album closes with Desolation Row at 11:21 and the album's only acoustic cut.

Acoustic English tour

Though Dylan had already released his "half-electric" Back Home album before his April-May 1965 England tour, the eight shows were all acoustic. He held off his public electrocution until the Newport Folk Festival  on July 25. 

He was tired and somewhat disenchanted following that spring tour. Writing Like a Rolling Stone cleansed him.  

Clean and in the studio

June 15 and 16 (1965) were the first two days of recording the album in Columbia Records Studio A in NYC, but it was June 16 in particular that is noteworthy. Although Dylan and the other musicians had worked a bit on Like a Rolling Stone the day before, it was June 16 that produced the version embedded in us. 

An organ riff heard 'round the world

The rim shot followed by Al Kooper's Hammond organ riff. Al Kooper. 21. Already a musical success as a guitarist with the Royal Teens and their hit single, "Short Shorts." About the help start the ground-breaking Blues Project and then the Blood, Sweat and Tears.

But on June 16, 1965 he was just a guest sitting in. Sitting in not as in playing, but literally sitting in to watch as a guest of Columbia producer Tom Wilson. Kooper had never played the organ before!

After those two sessions, Dylan continued to write, electrified Newport, and returned to the studio on July 29 and July 30. 

A weekend in Woodstock, NY writing and a return to the studio on August 2.  All he needed was one more day, August 4.

Six days to record the fourth greatest rock album. Nice work, Bob.

Reception

According to Wikipedia,  "New Musical Express critic Allen Evans wrote: "Another set of message songs and story songs sung in that monotonous and tuneless way by Dylan which becomes quite arresting as you listen." The Melody Maker LP review section, by an anonymous critic, commented: "Bob Dylan's sixth LP, like all others, is fairly incomprehensible but nevertheless an absolute knock-out."The English poet Philip Larkin, reviewing the album for The Daily Telegraph, wrote that he found himself "well rewarded" by the record: "Dylan's cawing, derisive voice is probably well suited to his material ... and his guitar adapts itself to rock ('Highway 61') and ballad ('Queen Jane'). There is a marathon 'Desolation Row' which has an enchanting tune and mysterious, possibly half-baked words."

In September 1965, the US trade journal Billboard also praised the album, and predicted big sales for it: "Based upon his singles hit 'Like a Rolling Stone', Dylan has a top-of-the-chart-winner in this package of his off-beat, commercial material."  The album peaked at number three on the US Billboard 200 chart of top albums, and number four on the UK albums charts.

Coda

Joe Levy in Rolling Stone has a more recent article about the album which fully praises the work. In it Levy quotes Dylan:  "I like the sound – I like what I'm doing now," Dylan told Nora Ephron and Susan Edmiston at the time of Highway 61 Revisited's August 30th release. "They can boo until the end of time. I know that the music is real, more real than the boos."   

Bob Dylan Highway 61 Revisited

But something is happening here and you don't know what it is. 

Do you, Mr Jones?

Bob Dylan Highway 61 Revisited, Bob Dylan Highway 61 Revisited, Bob Dylan Highway 61 Revisited, Bob Dylan Highway 61 Revisited, Bob Dylan Highway 61 Revisited, 

 

 

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New Year New Music

New Year New Music

The 1960s was a great decade for January music

New Year New Music

in January 1960: John Coltrane released “Giant Steps” album, considered a classic jazz album and one that saxophonists still measure themselves by today. Linsey Planer at AllMusic.com writes: History will undoubtedly enshrine this disc as a watershed the likes of which may never truly be appreciated. Giant Steps bore the double-edged sword of furthering the cause of the music as well as delivering it to an increasingly mainstream audience." (full article...Allmusic)

New Year New Music

in January 1961: Two Steps from the Blues album by Bobby “Blue” Bland released. Bland was an original member of the Beale Streeters and was sometimes referred to as the "Lion of the Blues". Along with such artists as Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, and Junior Parker, Bland developed a sound that mixed gospel with the blues and R&B. An imitator of Frank Sinatra, he was also known as the “Sinatra of the blues”, his music being influenced by Nat King Cole. Bland was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1981, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, and received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997.

in January 1962, Bob Dylan: Dylan wrote  “Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues
Well, I was feelin’ sad and feelin’ blue
I didn’t know what in the world I wus gonna do
Them Communists they wus comin’ around
They wus in the air
They wus on the ground
They wouldn’t gimme no peace . . . So I run down most hurriedly
And joined up with the John Birch Society
I got me a secret membership card
And started off a-walkin’ down the road
Yee-hoo, I’m a real John Bircher now!
Look out you Commies! Now we all agree with Hitler’s views
Although he killed six million Jews
It don’t matter too much that he was a Fascist
At least you can’t say he was a Communist!
That’s to say like if you got a cold you take a shot of malaria Well, I wus lookin’ everywhere for them gol-darned Reds
I got up in the mornin’ ’n’ looked under my bed
Looked in the sink, behind the door
Looked in the glove compartment of my car
Couldn’t find ’em . . . I wus lookin’ high an’ low for them Reds everywhere
I wus lookin’ in the sink an’ underneath the chair
I looked way up my chimney hole
I even looked deep down inside my toilet bowl
They got away . . .
Well, I wus sittin’ home alone an’ started to sweat
Figured they wus in my T.V. set
Peeked behind the picture frame
Got a shock from my feet, hittin’ right up in the brain
Them Reds caused it!
I know they did . . . them hard-core ones Well, I quit my job so I could work all alone
Then I changed my name to Sherlock Holmes
Followed some clues from my detective bag
And discovered they wus red stripes on the American flag!
Ol’ Betsy Ross . . . Well, I investigated all the books in the library
Ninety percent of ’em gotta be throwed away
I investigated all the people that I knowed
Ninety-eight percent of them gotta go
The other two percent are fellow Birchers . . . just like me Now Eisenhower, he’s a Russian spy
Lincoln, Jefferson and that Roosevelt guy
To my knowledge there’s just one man
That’s really a true American: George Lincoln Rockwell
I know for a fact he hates Commies cus he picketed the movie Exodus Well, I fin’ly started thinkin’ straight
When I run outa things to investigate
Couldn’t imagine doin’ anything else
So now I’m sittin’ home investigatin’ myself!
Hope I don’t find out nothing . . . good God!

January 1, 1962, The Beatles before their US appearance: The Beatles and Brian Poole and the Tremeloes both auditioned at Decca Records, a company which has the option of signing one group only. Decca told The Beatles that "guitar groups" were on the way out and did not offer them a contract and signed The Tremeloes instead. Other record companies turned the Beatles down as well. One of the songs the Beatles sang was Hello Little Girl, the first song written by John Lennon (in 1957).

January 1, 1963, The Beatles began a concert tour of Scotland.

New Year New Music

January 1 – 7, 1966: “The Sounds of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. (see Wednesday Morning 3am)

New Year New Music
Roots of Rock
January 1, 1967: FM stations were no longer allowed to simply simulcast their AM counterpart. Birth of “underground “ rock radio.

New Year New Music, New Year New Music, New Year New Music, 

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Bob Dylan Introduces the Beatles

Bob Dylan Introduces the Beatles

August 28, 1964

Bob Dylan Introduces the Beatles

She Loves You

The Beatles initial successes were great pop songs that many youth fell in love with at the same time they themselves were looking to fall in love. She Loves You, I Want to Hold Your Hand, Please Please Me, I Feel Fine, She's a Woman, and We Can Work It Out are all loves songs. Some happier than others. Someone once told me, if it's a happy Beatle song, Paul wrote it; a sad one, John. While a generalization, it's more often true than not.

Maggie’s Farm

When I first heard Bob Dylan's "I Ain't Gonna' Work on Maggie's Farm No More" I was only a touch less confused about its lyrics than "Gates of Eden," a song I had no idea what was happening other than Dylan was trying to harmonize with songs the lonesome sparrow sings.

Maggie's Farm? Well there's a guy obviously praying for rain, getting terribly underpaid, and whose boss is putting out his cigar on the guy's face. I'd quit too.

Of course, that's not what Dylan was saying. He was saying he wasn't going to be the acoustic-folk-protest song-singer too many expected him to permanently be. Quitting. He was going  electric. And on July 25, 1965 he did just that at the Newport Folk Festival. 

Many were displeased.

August 28, 1964

The Beatles had begun their first full American tour on August 18 at the San Francisco Cow Palace. Ten days later they played for 16,000 fans at the Forest Hills Stadium in Queens, New York City. They would do the same the next night.

It was what happened in between that changed history.

Bob Dylan Introduces the Beatles

August 28, 1964

Al Aronowitz was a writer who knew Bob Dylan and arranged for him to meet the Beatles at their hotel the night after that first concert. Aronowitz later wrote: "The Beatles' magic was in their sound,...Bob's magic was in his words. After they met, the Beatles' words got grittier, and Bob invented folk-rock."

Cannabis may have been the source of all that musical cross pollination at that meeting. Beatles supposed unfamiliarity with the herb apparently surprised the already familiar Mr Dylan. [The four had tried it in Germany, but it did not impress them.]

Evidently, Ringo was unfamiliar with the not-Bogarting-that-joint protocol and kept things to himself. John, Paul, and George soon learned the etiquette.

1965

  • March 27,  Dylan released Bringing It All Back Home on which “Maggie’s Farm” appears.
  • The Byrds’ covering of Dylan, particularly “Mr Tambourine Man” opened the door for folk-rock.
  • July 25, 1965 Dylan played Newport Folk Festival. Many in audience booed his performance for playing electric set with The Paul Butterfield Blues Band.
  • August 30, 1965,  Dylan released Highway 61 Revisited. More electric.
  • August 28, 1965 Dylan played at NYC’s Forest Hills Tennis Stadium. More boos during his electric set. 
  • December 3, 1965 the Beatles released Rubber Soul. The course of pop music changed.

Bob Dylan Introduces the Beatles, Bob Dylan Introduces the Beatles, Bob Dylan Introduces the Beatles, Bob Dylan Introduces the Beatles, Bob Dylan Introduces the Beatles, Bob Dylan Introduces the Beatles, Bob Dylan Introduces the Beatles, 

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