Tag Archives: Bob Dylan

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
Bob Dylan Highway 61 Revisited

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.

Bob Dylan Highway 61 Revisited

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.

 

Bob Dylan Highway 61 Revisited

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.

Bob Dylan Highway 61 Revisited

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.

Bob Dylan Highway 61 Revisited

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.”   

Mr Jones

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

Do you, Mr Jones?
Bob Dylan Highway 61 Revisited
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June 5 Music et al

June 5 Music et al

 Elvis Presley

June 5, 1956:  Elvis Presley’s second appearance on The Milton Berle Show when he set his guitar aside and put every part of his being into a blistering, scandalous performance of “Hound Dog.” Elvis had already made six appearances on Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey’s Stage Show, and on April 3, he appeared for the first time with Uncle Miltie. But every one of those appearances featured Elvis either in close-up singing a slow ballad, or full body but with his movements somewhat restricted by the acoustic guitar he was playing. It was on his second Milton Berle Show appearance that he put the guitar aside and America witnessed, for the very first time, the 21-year-old Elvis Presley from head to toe, gyrating his soon-to-be-famous (or infamous) pelvis.

Reaction to Elvis’ performance in the mainstream media was almost uniformly negative. “Mr. Presley has no discernible singing ability….For the ear, he is an unutterable bore,” wrote critic Jack Gould in the next day’s New York Times. “His one specialty is an accented movement of the body that heretofore has been primarily identified with the repertoire of the blonde bombshells of the burlesque runway. The gyration never had anything to do with the world of popular music and still doesn’t.” In the New York Daily News, Ben Gross described Presley’s performance as “tinged with the kind of animalism that should be confined to dives and bordellos,” while the New York Journal-American’s Jack O’Brien said that Elvis “makes up for vocal shortcomings with the weirdest and plainly suggestive animation short of an aborigine’s mating dance.” Meanwhile, the Catholic weekly America got right to the point in its headline: “Beware of Elvis Presley.”

June 5 Music et al

see William French for more

June 5, 1961: a grand jury cleared William French of charges associated with the April 30 Washington  Square demonstration.

June 5 Music et al

Running Scared

June 5 – 18, 1961, “Running Scared” by Roy Orbison #1 Billboard Hot 100. The song is unusual in that it has no chorus, but simply builds to a vocal climax.


June 5 Music et al

Rolling Stones

June 5, 1964, the Rolling Stones started their first US tour. (see Oct 25) Keith Richards quote from From Time Is On Our Side site: Actually (our first ever American) gig was in San Bernardino. It was a straight gas, man. They all knew the songs and they were all bopping. It was like being back home. Ah, love these Americans and Route 66 mentioned San Bernardino, so everybody was into it… 

June 5 Music et al
Mississippi River Festival

June – July 1969: the Mississippi River Festival at Southern Illinois University had a variety of performers many  of whom would later play at Woodstock in August. (see Mississippi for expanded story)

June 5 Music et al

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January Music et al

January Music et al

The 1960s was a great decade for January music

John Coltrane’s Giant Steps

In January 1960: John Coltrane released his “Giant Steps” album, considered a classic jazz album and one that saxophonists still measure themselves by today. Linsey Planer at AllMusic.com writesHistory 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.”

Take a listen to this amazing music!

January Music et al

Two Steps from the Blues Bobby “Blue” Bland


In January 1961: Bobby Blue Bland released Two Steps from the Blues album. 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.


January Music et al

Bob Dylan and John Birch

In January 1962 Bob 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 Music et al

Beatles audition

January 1, 1962: 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 Music et al

Beatles tour Scotland

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

Happy New Year Happy New Music

January Music et al

Albert Ayler

January Music et al

In January 1965: Albert Ayler’s Spiritual Unity album released. “Ayler was among the most primal of the free jazz musicians of the 1960s; critic John Litweiler wrote that ‘never before or since has there been such naked aggression in jazz.’ He possessed a deep blistering tone—achieved by using the stiff plastic Fibrecane no. 4 reeds on his tenor saxophone—and used a broad, pathos-filled vibrato.” (AllMusic Review by Steve Huey)

January Music et al

Sounds of Silence

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

January Music et al

Roots of Rock


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

January Music et al

John Lennon/FBI

Happy New Year Happy New Music

In January 1972: the Federal Bureau of Investigation opened a file on John Lennon and Yoko Ono fearing they would organize the youth vote and prevent a second term for President Richard Nixon. (see Feb 4)

January Music et al

John and Yoko

Happy New Year Happy New Music

In January 1975: John and Yoko reunited after 18 month separation—the so-called “Lost Weekend.” (see Jan 9)

January Music et al

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

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