Category Archives: Bob Dylan

Another Side Bob Dylan

Another Side Bob Dylan

Recorded in one sessionJune 9, 1964
Released on August 8, 1964

Another Side Bob Dylan

Another Side Bob Dylan

Bob’s other side

By 1964, Columbia realized that Bob Dylan was a star. Although his first album, the eponymous Bob Dylan, had barely sold in it’s first year (2,500 copies), Dylan’s song writing skills and reputation among fellow folk artists grew quickly.

Another Side of Bob Dylan was his fourth album and each one had been a step further in his development. That first album was not really “his” album, he having written only two of the thirteen songs.

This album was all his.

Another Side Bob Dylan

The tracks

Side one

  1. All I Really Want to Do
  2. Black Crow Blues
  3. Spanish Harlem Incident
  4. Chimes of Freedom
  5. I Shall Be Free No. 10
  6. To Romona

Side two

  1. Motorpsycho Nitemare
  2. My Back Pages
  3. I Don’t Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met)
  4. Ballad in Plain D
  5. It Ain’t Me Babe

Dylan was changing his tone. He said of this album that “there aren’t any finger-pointing songs.” His style was more poetic than previous works.

He served as pop music’s turn signal. A musician could be much more personal.

Another Side Bob Dylan

Maggie’s Farm

It will be at the 1965 Newport Folk that Dylan will take his public step away from folk-protest and go electric. The Paul Butterfield Blues Band will accompany him as well as the Newport boos.

He “…ain’t gonna’ work on Maggie’s Farm no more.”

And I thought the song was about some guy tired of farm work.

Another Side Bob Dylan

1965

Think of 1965. By December the Beatles will have released Rubber Soul and when the Beatles changed, bands and record companies followed. The bands perhaps as much as in self-expression as their search for success; the record companies in search of a better bottom line.

1964 Another Side Bob Dylan

To Ramona

When Dylan sang “To Ramona” at Newport in 1965 he introduced the song, he said, “This is called ‘To Ramona.’ Ramona. It’s just a name.”

Today we realize its much more than “just a name.”

Dylan’s relationship with New York City girlfriend and political muse Suzy Rotolo (see Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan) had ended with a 1963 abortion. His ongoing relationship with Joan Baez, who had brought him to the attention of the Newport crowd in 1963, was fading was fading and she was much more than “just a name.”

All Music said the album was, “…one of his very best records, a lovely intimate affair.”

Everything passes

Everything changes

Just do what you think you should do

And someday, maybe

Who knows, baby

I’ll come and be cryin’ to you.

Another Side Bob Dylan
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Only a Pawn In Their Game

Only a Pawn In Their Game

1963 status quo

The American summer of 1963 was typical in many ways. For some, that was fine. Schools closed. Summer vacation. Ice cream. Iced tea. Pools. Beaches. Tanning. Bikinis. Bulging muscles.

For others, typical was not fine. The status quo meant field work. Starvation. Mistreatment. Jim Crow terrorism. The denial of an education and the right to vote.

The struggle for civil rights continued and folk singer Bob Dylan often wrote songs about the downtrodden. His Times They Are a’Changin’ album had a plethora of such songs: “The Times They Are a’Changin’,” “Balled of Hollis Brown,” “With God on Our Side,” and “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll.”

Only a Pawn In Their Game

Dirty work

It would be difficult to pick the most powerful one among them, but it was in July 1963 that Dylan first sang “Only a Pawn in Their Game.” Writing about the June 12, 1963 assassination of Medgar Evers might be an obvious contemporary theme, but pointing out that the assassin was doing the work of the White Establishment, that the White Establishment also kept poor whites  poor, and that the White Establishment used the poor whites to do its dirty work? Such a realization is why the song remains so powerful.

As Princeton University historian Sean Wilentz said in a 2013 NPR interview:  “The whole point is, the killer is guilty, yes, but he’s not the person to blame, There’s rather a much larger system that’s out there, and that’s what the song is really about.”

To write any more about Dylan’s lyrics is superfluous. His own lyrics  say more than any essay:

Only a Pawn In Their Game

A bullet…

A bullet from the back of a bush took Medgar Evers’ blood
A finger fired the trigger to his name
A handle hid out in the dark
A hand set the spark
Two eyes took the aim
Behind a man’s brain
But he can’t be blamed
He’s only a pawn in their game
A South politician preaches to the poor white man
“You got more than the blacks, don’t complain.
You’re better than them, you been born with white skin,” they explain.
And the Negro’s name
Is used it is plain
For the politician’s gain
As he rises to fame
And the poor white remains
On the caboose of the train
But it ain’t him to blame
He’s only a pawn in their game
The deputy sheriffs, the soldiers, the governors get paid
And the marshals and cops get the same
But the poor white man’s used in the hands of them all like a tool
He’s taught in his school
From the start by the rule
That the laws are with him
To protect his white skin
To keep up his hate
So he never thinks straight
’Bout the shape that he’s in
But it ain’t him to blame
He’s only a pawn in their game
From the poverty shacks, he looks from the cracks to the tracks
And the hoofbeats pound in his brain
And he’s taught how to walk in a pack
Shoot in the back
With his fist in a clinch
To hang and to lynch
To hide ’neath the hood
To kill with no pain
Like a dog on a chain
He ain’t got no name
But it ain’t him to blame
He’s only a pawn in their game.
Today, Medgar Evers was buried from the bullet he caught
They lowered him down as a king
But when the shadowy sun sets on the one
That fired the gun
He’ll see by his grave
On the stone that remains
Carved next to his name
His epitaph plain:
Only a pawn in their game
Copyright © 1963, 1964 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1991, 1996 by Special Rider Music

 

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Freewheelin Bob Dylan

Freewheelin Bob Dylan

Released May 27, 1963
Freewheelin Bob Dylan
photo by Don Hunstein
“I’ll let you be in my dream, if you let me be in yours.”

Now we all know Bob Dylan. We have heard the songs on his first album, Bob Dylan. We may know that he only wrote two of that album’s 13 songs: “Talkin’ New York” and “Song to Woody.”  His premier album an iconic moment in American history

We didn’t realize it at the time. We probably didn’t buy it either. The album sold about 2,500 copies its first year.

Freewheelin Bob Dylan

Times Changed

The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan changed that story. Other than “Corina Corina,” Dylan wrote all its songs and as funny as “Talkin’ New York” may have been and as touching “Song to Woody” was,  Freewheelin’  showed Dylan’s genius blooming.

The album, produced by John H Hammond, has a minimalist sound that concentrates our listening to Dylan’s lyrics. To note the personnel is important nonetheless:

  • Bob Dylan – guitar, harmonica, keyboards, vocals
  • Howie Collins – guitar
  • Leonard Gaskin – bass guitar
  • Bruce Langhorne – guitar
  • Herb Lovelle – drums
  • Dick Wellstood – piano

Each of these musicians deserve separate recognition. A personal favorite is Bruce Langhorne, the inspiration for Dylan’s “Mr Tambourine Man.”  (follow above link)

Freewheelin Bob Dylan

Tracks

Side One

  1. Blowin’ In the Wind
  2. Girl from the North Country
  3. Masters of War
  4. Down the Highway
  5. Bob Dyan’s Blues
  6. A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall
Side 2

  1. Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right
  2. Bob Dylan’s Dream
  3. Oxford Town
  4. Talkin’ World War III Blues
  5. Corrina, Corrina
  6. Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance
  7. I Shall Be Free
Freewheelin Bob Dylan

Don Hunstein

As memorable as each of the album’s songs is, Don Hunstein‘s cover photo is equally so. Hunstein first began as an amateur photographer while in the Air Force and stationed in Europe. His interest became a hobby and after returning to the US and living in New York City, his hobby became a profession. As with so much in life, his timing was serendipitous.

Rock and roll was in a growth spurt and Hunstein landed a job at Columbia Records. Also lucky for Hunstein, Columbia recognized Hunstein’s talent and had him take pictures not just for albums, but of artists while recording. In their casual most human moments.

That is what he re-created for The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. Though posed, the photo presents Dylan and Suze Rotolo, his then girlfriend, as if in a candid moment.

Freewheelin Bob Dylan
another photo that same day also by Don Hunstein
Freewheelin Bob Dylan

Suze’s Take

In a 2008 NY Times article, Rotolo said of the photo, “He wore a very thin jacket, because image was all. Our apartment was always cold, so I had a sweater on, plus I borrowed one of his big, bulky sweaters. On top of that I put a coat. So I felt like an Italian sausage. Every time I look at that picture, I think I look fat.”

Freewheelin Bob Dylan
photos by Don Hunstein
Freewheelin Bob Dylan

Temporary change

Freewheelin’ was more than a moment. It was a prediction. Dylan would record two more albums in its style before going rogue in 1965 and quitting work on Maggie’s farm. That choice changed the American music scene as much as any single event in the history of American music and in many cases, 20th century Western civilization.

Though Dylan may have been referring to the human tendency toward violence when he sang…

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?

Freewheelin Bob Dylan
Pro and Con

The words turned out to be a prediction of Dylan’s change of artistic direction. Many fans hated 1965 because of that change.

Decades later, we can list dozens of songs we’d not have with us if it weren’t for that change and Dylan’s freewheelin’ attitude.

As Stephen Thomas Eriwine writes in his All Music reviewIt’s hard to overestimate the importance of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, the record that firmly established Dylan as an unparalleled songwriter, one of considerable skill, imagination, and vision. 

Freewheelin Bob Dylan
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