PREMESSA: LA SUPERIORITA’ DELLA MUSICA SU VINILE E’ ANCOR OGGI SANCITA, NOTORIA ED EVIDENTE. NON TANTO DA UN PUNTO DI VISTA DI RESA, QUALITA’ E PULIZIA DEL SUONO, TANTOMENO DA QUELLO DEL RIMPIANTO RETROSPETTIVO E NOSTALGICO , MA SOPRATTUTTO DA QUELLO PIU’ PALPABILE ED INOPPUGNABILE DELL’ ESSENZA, DELL’ ANIMA E DELLA SUBLIMAZIONE CREATIVA. IL DISCO IN VINILE HA PULSAZIONE ARTISTICA, PASSIONE ARMONICA E SPLENDORE GRAFICO , E’ PIACEVOLE DA OSSERVARE E DA TENERE IN MANO, RISPLENDE, PROFUMA E VIBRA DI VITA, DI EMOZIONE E DI SENSIBILITA’. E’ TUTTO QUELLO CHE NON E’ E NON POTRA’ MAI ESSERE IL CD, CHE AL CONTRARIO E’ SOLO UN OGGETTO MERAMENTE COMMERCIALE, POVERO, ARIDO, CINICO, STERILE ED ORWELLIANO, UNA DEGENERAZIONE INDUSTRIALE SCHIZOFRENICA E NECROFILA, LA DESOLANTE SOLUZIONE FINALE DELL’ AVIDITA’ DEL MERCATO E DELL’ ARROGANZA DEI DISCOGRAFICI .
another side of Bob Dylan
Disco LP 33 giri , CBS , CBS 32034 , 1964, this is mid 80’s reissue, holland
ECCELLENTI CONDIZIONI, vinyl ex++/NM , cover ex++/NM
Another Side of Bob Dylan è il titolo del quarto album ufficiale della discografia di Bob Dylan.
Prodotto da Tom Wilson, fu pubblicato nel 1964 e vide per la prima volta il compositore e cantante di Duluth cantare accompagnandosi in alcuni brani al pianoforte.
The album deviates from the more socially conscious style which Dylan had developed with his previous LP, The Times They Are A-Changin’. The change prompted criticism from some influential figures in the folk community – Sing Out! editor Irwin Silber complained that Dylan had “somehow lost touch with people” and was caught up in “the paraphernalia of fame”.
Despite the album’s thematic shift, Dylan performed the entirety of Another Side of Bob Dylan
as he had previous records – solo. In addition to his usual acoustic
guitar and harmonica, Dylan provides piano on one selection, “Black Crow
Blues”. Another Side of Bob Dylan reached #43 in the US (although it eventually went gold), and peaked at #8 on the UK charts in 1965.
Catalogo: CBS 32034
Data di pubblicazione: 1985
Matrici: B S-62429-1 01-62429-1A1 / S-62429-2
- Supporto:vinile 33 giri
- Tipo audio: stereo
- Dimensioni: 30 cm.
- Facciate: 2
- Red orange label, poems on back cover, cbs nice price catalogue inner sleeve
All songs written by Bob Dylan.
- “All I Really Want to Do” – 4:02
- “Black Crow Blues” – 3:12
- “Spanish Harlem Incident” – 2:22
- “Chimes of Freedom” – 7:09
- “I Shall Be Free No. 10” – 4:45
- “To Ramona” – 3:50
- “Motorpsycho Nitemare” – 4:31
- “My Back Pages” – 4:20
- “I Don’t Believe You” – 4:20
- “Ballad in Plain D” – 8:15
- “It Ain’t Me Babe” – 3:30
Il disco uscì nello stesso anno di The Times They Are A-Changin’, ed è successivo alle prime opere giovanili di Dylan, l’album del debutto che porta il suo nome (Bob Dylan, del 1962) e The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, del 1963.
Alla base di questo disco – anch’esso composto da brani tutti
esclusivamente scritti dal cantante – c’è, secondo la ricostruzione
fatta dai cultori del fenomeno Dylan, un suo lungo viaggio giovanile in automobile, stile on the road, attraverso gli Stati Uniti d’America.
Il pretesto sarebbe stato fornito da una serie di concerti: in realtà
Dylan intendeva conoscere e vedere con i propri occhi (per carpirne gli
umori) l’America del suo tempo, quella per la quale avrebbe poi scritto
molte canzoni. Partito da New York arriverà, attraverso quel viaggio, fino in California.
Ed è sulla costa occidentale degli USA che inizia probabilmente l’attrazione di Dylan verso la musica dei Beatles, da poco in auge: le radio passavano in continuazione i singoli dei quattro di Liverpool: da questa attrazione nascerà un mutuo scambio di idee musicali fra il menestrello e, in particolare, il chitarrista dei Beatles John Lennon; una sorta di sodalizio non dichiarato destinato a segnare la musica rock degli anni sessanta.
Secondo alcuni, nacque durante questo viaggio l’idea di Mr. Tambourine Man, canzone poi ripresa dai Byrds, decisamente il brano più significativo ed importante del successivo album, Bringing It All Back Home, pubblicato nel 1965. Gli stessi Byrds avrebbero restituito in forma folk–rock anche due brani contenuti nell’album Another Side: All I Really Want to Do e Chimes of Freedom.
Tornato a New York, Dylan vede la rottura della sua relazione sentimentale con Suze Rotolo (che rievocherà a suo modo nella lunghissima, oltre otto minuti di durata, Ballad In Plain D). Questo influirà sulla vena poetica dell’intero disco.
Dopo la parentesi in Gran Bretagna, si concesse una vacanza europea che prevedeva, dopo Parigi e Berlino, tappe in Grecia (dove sarebbero stati composti i brani Chimes Of Freedom e It Ain’t Me Babe). Tornato negli Stati Uniti, Dylan si chiuse in studio per incidere i brani di Another Side Of Bob Dylan (nome scelto dal produttore Tom Wilson).
Il disco è composto da motivi liricamente significativi, molti dei quali musicalmente influenzati, con giri di accordi in minore, dalla fine del suo rapporto con Suze. La distinzione tra i brani – tra ballate bluesy
e folk prettamente acustico – è notevole: ad unire il tutto pare
tuttavia fare da sottofondo il ritmo sincopato (quasi spezzato) del rock’n’roll che si mescola con le influenze blues e beat dei nascenti gruppi musicali british, Beatles in testa.
Il titolo dell’album (in lingua italiana traducibile con Un’altra parte di Bob Dylan)
può essere frainteso: in effetti Dylan ha sempre precisato che questa
collezione di canzoni non andava assolutamente considerata né come una
rottura né come una negazione rispetto al passato (evidentemente in
termini non solo musicali ma anche poetici).
Nel retro copertina è presente una lunghissima poesia-poema (o meglio, una raccolta di poesie) dello stesso Dylan intitolata Some other kinds of songs ... (Un altro genere di canzoni ...):
in essa il cantante-poeta ribadisce come [il pubblico] non dovrebbe
contare su di lui per future battaglie sociali; d’altronde, si tratta
appunto di un altro tipo di canzoni quelle che escono da Another Side.
Il testo scritto e non musicato è ricco di citazioni colte e riferimenti a personaggi biblici e non o a situazioni dell’epoca (l’eco della Guerra fredda non si era ancora sopito): fra Michelangelo e Cenerentola, Living Theatre e il profeta Giosuè, scrive ad esempio nel passaggio dedicato a Françoise Hardy (cantante francese in voga all’epoca):
|« per françoise hardy
|« Rocco e i suoi fratelli
Pochi anni dopo (e dopo un misterioso incidente motociclistico) Dylan
si ritirerà dalle scene per diverso tempo rifugiandosi nella pace dei boschi delle colline fuori New York, dove troverà – con il contributo di The Band
(suo gruppo storico) quella che secondo molti critici si rivelerà poi
la formula musicale più brillante della storia del rock, la commistione
tra folk e rock appunto, seconda solo – in termini di impatto sui gusti
giovanili – a quella avuta dalla musica di Elvis Presley.
È da notare, infine, che l’album contiene una canzone, My Back Pages (Le mie pagine passate), ripresa poi dal gruppo californiano dei Byrds e, in anni recenti, in esibizioni live dei Traveling Wilburys in formazione allargata ad Eric Clapton e Neil Young. In sei lunghe e cadenzate strofe, accompagnandosi unicamente con la chitarra, Dylan afferma – poeticamente, ed in maniera curiosa per un giovane (allora) di ventitré anni – di sentirsi giovane più di ieri (Younger than yesterday). Il passato è alle spalle, lascia capire.
Senza considerare che – fra pregiudizi stracciati a metà e sogni di romantici fatti di moschettieri) – sostenere che la vita è bianca e nera è solo una bugia.
Throughout 1963, Dylan worked on a novel and a play. A number of
publishers were interested in signing Dylan to a contract, and at one
point, City Lights
(a small but prestigious company specializing in poetry) was strongly
considered. However, as Dylan worked on his book at a casual pace, his
manager, Albert Grossman, decided to make a deal with a major publisher.
Macmillan’s senior editor, Bob Markel, said, “We gave [Dylan] an
advance for an untitled book of writings…The publisher was taking a
risk on a young, untested potential phenomenon.” When Markel met with
Dylan for the first time, “there was no book at the time…The material
at that point was hazy, sketchy. The poetry editor called it
‘inaccessible.’ The symbolism was not easily understood, but on the
other hand it was earthy, filled with obscure but marvelous imagery…I
felt it had a lot of value and was very different from Dylan’s output
till then. [But] it was not a book.”
It would be years before Dylan finished his book, but the free form
poetry experiments that came from it eventually influenced his
songwriting. The most notable example came in a six-line coda to a poem
responding to President John F. Kennedy‘s assassination (which took place on November 22, 1963):
the colors of Friday were dull / as cathedral bells were gently
burnin / strikin for the gentle / strikin for the kind / strikin for the
crippled ones / an strikin for the blind
This refrain would soon appear in a very important composition,
“Chimes of Freedom”, and, as biographer Clinton Heylin writes, “with
this sad refrain, Dylan would pass from topical troubadour to poet of
In February 1964, Dylan embarked on a twenty-day trip across the
United States. Riding in a station wagon with a few friends (Paul
Clayton, Victor Maymudes, and Pete Karman), Dylan began the trip in New
York, taking numerous detours through many states before ending the trip
in California. (At one point, Dylan reportedly paid a visit to poet Carl Sandburg.) “We talked to people in bars, miners,” Dylan would later say. “Talking to people – that’s where it’s at, man.”
According to Heylin, “the primary motivation for this trip was to
find enough inspiration to step beyond the folk-song form, if not in the
bars, or from the miners, then by peering deep into himself.” Dylan
spent much time in the back of the station wagon, working on songs and
possibly poetry on a typewriter. It was during this trip that Dylan
composed “Chimes of Freedom”, finishing it in time to premiere at a
Denver concert on the 15th. “Mr. Tambourine Man” was also composed during this trip.
It was also during this trip that The Beatles
arrived in America. Their first visit to the United States remains a
touchstone in American culture. Maymudes recalled how Dylan “nearly
jumped out the car” when “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” came on the radio and his comments: “Did you hear that?..that was fuckin’ great! Oh man..” and how Dylan seemed lost in thought replaying the record over in his head.
Dylan, however, had already been following The Beatles since 1963.
There have been different accounts regarding Dylan’s attitude towards
The Beatles at this time, but it’s known that Suze Rotolo
and Al Aronowitz immediately took to them and championed their music to
Dylan. Aronowitz later claimed that Dylan dismissed them as
“bubblegum”, but in an interview in 1971, Dylan recalls being impressed
by their music. “We were driving through Colorado, we had the radio on,
and eight of the Top 10 songs were Beatles songs…’I Wanna Hold Your
Hand,’ all those early ones. They were doing things nobody was doing.
Their chords were outrageous, just outrageous, and their harmonies made
it all valid…I knew they were pointing the direction of where music
had to go.”
When Dylan returned to New York in March, he rented an electric
guitar. In January, The Beatles were in France, playing a week’s worth
of concerts. During their stay in France, George Harrison came back to the hotel with an album titled En Roue Libre, better known as The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. According to Harrison, “we just played it, just wore it [out]. The content of the song lyrics and just the attitude!” (While The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan was released in the UK in August 1963, the French edition En Roue Libre was not released until May 1965 so it was likely the UK release).
As The Beatles began to influence Dylan and vice versa, Dylan’s
personal life was undergoing a number of significant changes. Though
their stage appearances together began to dwindle, Dylan continued his
romance with folksinger Joan Baez.
Dylan’s girlfriend Suze Rotolo apparently had had enough of the affair.
Soon after Dylan returned to New York, the two had an argument. At the
time, Suze was staying with her sister Carla, and when Carla intervened,
Dylan began screaming at Carla. Carla ordered Dylan to leave, but he
refused to go. Carla Rotolo pushed Dylan, and he pushed her back. The
two of them were soon practically fighting. Friends were called and
Dylan had to be forcibly removed, effectively ending his relationship
with Suze Rotolo.
In a 1966 interview, Dylan admitted that after their relationship
ended, “I got very, very strung out for a while. I mean, really, very
One account of Dylan’s first experience with hallucinogens places it
in April 1964; producer Paul Rothchild told Bob Spitz that he was
present when Dylan took his first hit of LSD. By February 1964, Dylan was already telling his friends that “Rimbaud‘s
where it’s at. That’s the kind of stuff means something. That’s the
kind of writing I’m gonna do.” A legendary poet, Rimbaud once wrote to
his mentor Georges Izambard
that “the poet makes himself a seer by a long, prodigious and rational
disordering of the senses…He reaches [for] the unknown and even if,
crazed, he ends up by losing the understanding of his visions, at least
he has seen them.” (Dated May 1871) Dylan’s early experimentation with
hallucinogens has often been connected with the dramatic development his
songwriting would soon take, but Dylan himself has denied any
Dylan later left for Europe, completing a few performances in England
before traveling to Paris where he was introduced to a German model,
Christa Paffgen, who went by the name of Nico.
After treating Dylan to a meal at her flat, Nico accompanied Dylan
across Europe, a trip that passed through Germany before ending in
Vernilya, a small village outside of Athens,
Greece. Dylan stayed at Vernilya for more than a week, finishing many
of the songs that would appear on his fourth and upcoming album. Nine
songs of these would be recorded upon his return to New York: “All I
Really Want to Do”, “Spanish Harlem Incident”, “To Ramona”, “I Shall Be
Free No. 10”, “Ballad in Plain D”, “It Ain’t Me, Babe”, “Mama You Been
On My Mind”, “Denise Denise”, and “Black Crow Blues.” Dylan also completed another song called “I’ll Keep It With Mine“,
which, according to Nico, was “about me and my little baby”. Dylan gave
the song to Nico, who would eventually record it for her own album, Chelsea Girl, released in 1967.
With Dylan’s commercial profile on the rise, Columbia was now urging
Dylan to release a steady stream of recordings. Upon Dylan’s return to
New York, studio time was quickly scheduled, with Tom Wilson back as producer.
The first (and only) session was held on June 9 at Columbia’s Studio A
in New York. According to Heylin, “while polishing off a couple of
bottles of Beaujolais“,
Dylan recorded fourteen original compositions that night, eleven of
which were chosen for the final album. The three that were ultimately
rejected were “Denise Denise”, “Mr. Tambourine Man“, and “Mama You Been On My Mind”.
Ramblin’ Jack Elliott
was present during part of this session, and Dylan asked him to perform
on “Mr. Tambourine Man”. “He invited me to sing on it with him,”
recalls Elliott, “but I didn’t know the words ‘cept for the chorus, so I
just harmonized with him on the chorus.” Only one complete take was
recorded, with Dylan stumbling on some of the lyrics. Though the recording was ultimately rejected, Dylan would return to the song for his next album.
By the time Dylan recorded what was ultimately the master take of “My
Back Pages”, it was 1:30 in the morning. Master takes were selected,
and after some minor editing, a final album was soon sequenced.
As Dylan told Nat Hentoff in The New Yorker, “there aren’t any finger-pointin’ songs” on Another Side of Bob Dylan, which was a significant step in a new direction.
“As a set, the songs constitute a decisive act of noncommitment to
issue-bound protest, to tradition-bound folk music and the possessive
bonds of its audience,” writes NPR‘s
Tim Riley. “The love songs open up into indeterminate statements about
the emotional orbits lovers take, and the topical themes pass over
artificial moral boundaries and leap into wide-ranging social
“Chimes of Freedom” can be traced to “Lay Down Your Weary Tune“, an outtake from The Times They Are A-Changin’.
“Its sense of the power of nature…closely mirrors ‘Lay Down Your
Weary Tune,'” writes Clinton Heylin. “Unashamedly apocalyptic…the
composition of ‘Chimes of Freedom’ represented a leap in form that
permitted even more intensely poetic songs to burst forth.”
“The compassion that laces all the complaints in ‘All I Really Want
to Do’ and ‘It Ain’t Me, Babe’ is round with idealism and humor,” writes
Riley. “That [both songs] work off a pure Jimmie Rodgers
yodel only makes their ties to wide-open American optimism that much
more enticing (even though they are both essentially reluctant
“It Ain’t Me, Babe” also reworks the same “Scarborough Fair” arrangement that was written into Dylan’s earlier compositions, “Girl from the North Country” and “Boots of Spanish Leather.” Johnny Cash would record his own hit version of this song soon after Another Side of Bob Dylan was released, while The Turtles‘ version would chart even higher.
Riley describes “My Back Pages” as “a thorough X-ray of Dylan’s former social proselytizing…Dylan renounces his former over-serious messianic perch, and disowns false insights.” (“I was so much older then / I’m younger than that now.”)
According to Heylin, “Ballad in Plain D” takes its melody and refrain (“my friends say unto me…”) from the Scottish folk song, “I Once Loved A Lass (The False Bride)”.
“The song graphically details the night of his breakup with Suze,”
writes Heylin. “Dylan’s portrayal of Carla as the ‘parasite sister’
remains a cruel and inaccurate portrait of a woman who had started out
as one of [Dylan’s] biggest fans, and changed only as she came to see
the degrees of emotional blackmail
he subjected her younger sister to.” Asked in 1985 if there were any
songs he regretted writing, Dylan singled out “Ballad in Plain D”,
saying “I look back at that particular one and say…maybe I could have
left that alone.”
“‘Spanish Harlem Incident‘
is a new romance that pretends to be short and sweet,” writes Riley,
“but it’s an example of how Dylan begins using uncommon word couplings
to evoke the mysteries of intimacy…her ‘rattling drums’ play off his
‘restless palms’; her ‘pearly eyes’ and ‘flashing diamond teeth’ off his
Described by Heylin as “the most realized song on Another Side“,
“To Ramona” is one of the most celebrated songs on the album. A soft,
tender waltz, Riley writes that the song “extends the romance from
ideals of emotional honesty out into issues of conditioned conformity
(‘From fixtures and forces and friends / That you gotta be just like
them’)…in ‘Spanish Harlem Incident,’ [Dylan’s] using flattery as a
front for the singer’s own weak self-image; in ‘To Ramona,’ he’s trying
to save his lover from herself if only because he knows he may soon need
the same comfort he’s giving her.”
Described by Riley as “the unalloyed sting of a romantic perfidy”,
“I Don’t Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met)” would be
dramatically rearranged for a full-electric rock band during Dylan’s
famous 1966 tour with The Hawks.
Four songs from Another Side of Bob Dylan were eventually recorded by The Byrds:
“Chimes of Freedom”, “My Back Pages”, “Spanish Harlem Incident”, and
“All I Really Want to Do”. In addition, they were introduced to their
breakthrough hit single “Mr. Tamborine Man” through a copy of Dylan’s
unreleased recording from the June 9, 1964 album session. All received
their share of critical acclaim.
A complete take of “Mama, You Been On My Mind” was recorded for the
album, but for reasons unknown, it was rejected. Described by Tim Riley
as “the echo of a left-behind affair that rebounds off a couple of
self-aware curves (‘I am not askin’ you to say words like ‘yes’ or ‘no,’
/ …I’m just breathin’ to myself, pretendin’ not that I don’t know),”
the song was soon covered by Joan Baez, who had a considerable amount of commercial success with it. Dylan’s version would not see released until The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961-1991 in 1991. However, Dylan would periodically perform the song in concert, occasionally with Baez as his duet partner. Rod Stewart would later cover the song for his critically acclaimed album, Never a Dull Moment, and a version by Jeff Buckley appears as an out-take on the 2004 re-issue of Grace. Johnny Cash covered the song on his album Orange Blossom Special. It was covered by Linda Ronstadt on her 1969 album Hand Sown … Home Grown with altered lyrics as “Baby, You’ve Been On My Mind”. The Israeli musician Shlomi Shaban recorded a version of this song translated into Hebrew, which appeared on his 2007 album Ir (עיר, City). Keren Ann covered this song on her “101” tour in 2011 (following the advice of Sahban, her friend).
Though “Mr. Tambourine Man” would be re-recorded for Dylan’s next album, Sony released the complete take recorded for Another Side of Bob Dylan on The Bootleg Series Vol. 7: No Direction Home: The Soundtrack in 2005. Unlike the familiar version recorded for Bringing It All Back Home, this early version has a harmonica intro as well as Ramblin’ Jack Elliott
singing harmony vocals on the chorus. It was an acetate copy of this
version of the song that found its way to the newly formed Byrds in late 1964, leading to their breakthrough electrified recording of the song in advance of its first release by Dylan.
Dylan also recorded two additional songs that did not make the album.
The first is “Denise”, a song which uses the same music as “Black Crow
Blues” but with different lyrics. The second is “California”, which
again uses “Black Crow Blues”‘s music as the basic structure of the
song. A small section of the “California” lyrics were reused in “Outlaw
Blues”, a song that appeared on Dylan’s next album, Bringing It All Back Home. Both outtakes are circulating.
As Another Side of Bob Dylan was prepared for release, Dylan premiered his new songs at the Newport Folk Festival in July 1964. The festival also marked Dylan’s first meeting with country legend Johnny Cash; Dylan was already an admirer of Cash’s music, and vice versa. The two spent a night jamming together in Joan Baez‘s
room at the Viking Motor Inn. According to Cash, “we were so happy to
[finally] meet each other that we were jumping on the beds like kids.”
The next day, Cash would perform Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All
Right” as part of his set, telling the audience that “we’ve been doing
it on our shows all over the country, trying to tell the folks about
Bob, that we think he’s the best songwriter of the age since Pete
Though the audience at Newport seemed to enjoy Dylan’s new material, the folk press did not. Irwin Silber of Sing Out
and David Horowitz criticized Dylan’s direction and accused Dylan of
succumbing to the pressures/temptations of fame. In an open letter to
Dylan published in the November issue of Sing Out, Silber wrote
“your new songs seem to be all inner-directed now, inner-probing,
self-conscious” and, based on what he saw at Newport, “that some of the
paraphernalia of fame [was] getting in your way.” Horowitz called the
songs an “unqualified failure of taste and self-critical awareness.”
The album was a step back commercially, failing to make the Top 40,
indicating that record consumers may have had a problem as well.
Dylan would soon defend his work, writing that “the songs are
insanely honest, not meanin t twist any heads an written only for the
reason that i myself me alone wanted and needed t write them.”
Dylan would concede in 1978 that the album title was not to his
liking. “I thought it was just too corny,” he said, “I just felt trouble
coming when they titled it that.” However, it’s worth noting that the
original manuscripts to the album make two references to the eventual
album title: an early draft of “I Shall Be Free No. 10” has the line
“You’re on another side” while the only line occupying one final page
says “there is no other side of bob dylan.”
Years later, mixed reactions over Another Side of Bob Dylan
would remain but not for the same reasons. Critics would later view it
as a ‘transitional’ album. Clinton Heylin would claim that “Dylan was
simply too close to the experiences he was drawing upon to translate
them into art. He was also still experimenting with the imagery found on
‘Chimes of Freedom’ and ‘Mr. Tambourine Man.’ ‘My Back Pages,’ the
least successful example of the new style, was replete with bizarre
compound images (‘corpse evangelists,’ ‘confusion boats,’ etc.).” Salon.com
critic Bill Wyman would dismiss it as “a lesser, ‘relationship’ album”,
but conceded that “Chimes of Freedom” was a “lovely hymn to the
‘countless confused, accused, misused, strung-out ones an’ worse’.”
Tim Riley would call it “a bridge between folkie rhetoric (albeit
superior) and his troika of electric rants…a rock album without
electric guitars, a folk archetype that punches through the hardy,
plainspoken mold. Built on repeated riffs and coaxed by the controlled
anxiety of Dylan’s voice, the songs work off one another with
intellectually charged élan. It’s a transition album with a mind of its
The other side of Bob Dylan
referred to in the title is presumably his romantic, absurdist, and
whimsical one — anything that wasn’t featured on the staunchly folky,
protest-heavy Times They Are a-Changin’, really. Because of this, Another Side of Bob Dylan is a more varied record and it’s more successful, too, since it captures Dylan
expanding his music, turning in imaginative, poetic performances on
love songs and protest tunes alike. This has an equal number of classics
to its predecessor, actually, with “All I Really Want to Do,” “Chimes
of Freedom,” “My Back Pages,” “I Don’t’ Believe You,” and “It Ain’t Me
Babe” standing among his standards, but the key to the record’s success
is the album tracks, which are graceful, poetic, and layered. Both the
lyrics and music have gotten deeper and Dylan‘s
trying more things — this, in its construction and attitude, is hardly
strictly folk, as it encompasses far more than that. The result is one
of his very best records, a lovely intimate affair.
Bob Dylan’s influence on popular music is incalculable. As a
songwriter, he pioneered several different schools of pop songwriting,
from confessional singer/songwriter to winding, hallucinatory,
stream-of-conscious narratives. As a vocalist, he broke down the
notions that in order to perform, a singer had to have a conventionally
good voice, thereby redefining the role of vocalist in popular music.
As a musician, he sparked several genres of pop music, including
electrified folk-rock and country-rock. And that just touches on the
tip of his achievements. Dylan’s force was evident during his height of
popularity in the ’60s — the Beatles’ shift toward introspective
songwriting in the mid-’60s never would have happened without him —
but his influence echoed throughout several subsequent generations.
Many of his songs became popular standards, and his best albums were
undisputed classics of the rock roll canon. Dylan’s influence
throughout folk music was equally powerful, and he marks a pivotal
turning point in its 20th century evolution, signifying when the genre
moved away from traditional songs and toward personal songwriting. Even
when his sales declined in the ’80s and ’90s, Dylan’s presence was
For a figure of such substantial influence, Dylan
came from humble beginnings. Born in Duluth, MN, Bob Dylan (b. Robert
Allen Zimmerman, May 24, 1941) was raised in Hibbing, MN, from the age
of six. As a child he learned how to play guitar and harmonica, forming
a rock roll band called the Golden Chords when he was in high school.
Following his graduation in 1959, he began studying art at the
University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. While at college, he began
performing folk songs at coffeehouses under the name Bob Dylan, taking
his last name from the poet Dylan Thomas. Already inspired by Hank
Williams and Woody Guthrie, Dylan began listening to blues while at
college, and the genre weaved its way into his music. Dylan spent the
summer of 1960 in Denver, where he met bluesman Jesse Fuller, the
inspiration behind the songwriter’s signature harmonica rack and
guitar. By the time he returned to Minneapolis in the fall, he had
grown substantially as a performer and was determined to become a
Dylan made his way to New York City in
January of 1961, immediately making a substantial impression on the
folk community of Greenwich Village. He began visiting his idol Guthrie
in the hospital, where he was slowly dying from Huntington’s chorea.
Dylan also began performing in coffeehouses, and his rough charisma won
him a significant following. In April, he opened for John Lee Hooker at
~Gerde’s Folk City. Five months later, Dylan performed another concert
at the venue, which was reviewed positively by Robert Shelton in the
York Times. Columbia AR man John Hammond sought out Dylan on the
strength of the review, and signed the songwriter in the fall of 1961.
Hammond produced Dylan’s eponymous debut album (released in March
1962), a collection of folk and blues standards that boasted only two
original songs. Over the course of 1962, Dylan began to write a large
batch of original songs, many of which were political protest songs in
the vein of his Greenwich contemporaries. These songs were showcased on
his second album, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. Before its release,
Freewheelin’ went through several incarnations. Dylan had recorded a
rock roll single, “Mixed Up Confusion,” at the end of 1962, but his
manager, Albert Grossman, made sure the record was deleted because he
wanted to present Dylan as an acoustic folky. Similarly, several tracks
with a full backing band that were recorded for Freewheelin’ were
scrapped before the album’s release. Furthermore, several tracks
recorded for the album — including “Talking John Birch Society Blues”
— were eliminated from the album before its release.
entirely of original songs, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan made a huge
impact in the U.S. folk community, and many performers began covering
songs from the album. Of these, the most significant were Peter, Paul
Mary, who made “Blowin’ in the Wind” into a huge pop hit in the summer
of 1963 and thereby made Bob Dylan into a recognizable household name.
On the strength of Peter, Paul Mary’s cover and his opening gigs for
popular folky Joan Baez, Freewheelin’ became a hit in the fall of 1963,
climbing to number 23 on the charts. By that point, Baez and Dylan had
become romantically involved, and she was beginning to record his songs
frequently. Dylan was writing just as fast, and was performing hundreds
of concerts a year.
By the time The Times They Are A-Changin’
was released in early 1964, Dylan’s songwriting had developed far
beyond that of his New York peers. Heavily inspired by poets like
Arthur Rimbaud and John Keats, his writing took on a more literate and
evocative quality. Around the same time, he began to expand his musical
boundaries, adding more blues and RB influences to his songs. Released
in the summer of 1964, Another Side of Bob Dylan made these changes
evident. However, Dylan was moving faster than his records could
indicate. By the end of 1964, he had ended his romantic relationship
with Baez and had begun dating a former model named Sara Lowndes, whom
he subsequently married. Simultaneously, he gave the Byrds “Mr.
Tambourine Man” to record for their debut album. the Byrds gave the
song a ringing, electric arrangement, but by the time the single became
a hit, Dylan was already exploring his own brand of folk-rock. Inspired
by the British Invasion, particularly the Animals’ version of “House of
the Rising Sun,” Dylan recorded a set of original songs backed by a
loud rock roll band for his next album. While Bringing It All Back Home
(March 1965) still had a side of acoustic material, it made clear that
Dylan had turned his back on folk music. For the folk audience, the
true breaking point arrived a few months after the album’s release,
when he played ~the Newport Folk Festival supported by the Paul
Butterfield Blues Band. The audience greeted him with vicious derision,
but he had already been accepted by the growing rock roll community.
Dylan’s spring tour of Britain was the basis for D.A. Pennebaker’s
documentary Don’t Look Back, a film that captures the songwriter’s edgy
charisma and charm.
Dylan made his breakthrough to the pop
audience in the summer of 1965, when “Like a Rolling Stone” became a
number two hit. Driven by a circular organ riff and a steady beat, the
six-minute single broke the barrier of the three-minute pop single.
Dylan became the subject of innumerable articles, and his lyrics became
the subject of literary analyses across the U.S. and U.K. Well over 100
artists covered his songs between 1964 and 1966; the Byrds and the
Turtles, in particular, had big hits with his compositions. Highway 61
Revisited, his first full-fledged rock roll album, became a Top Ten hit
shortly after its summer 1965 release. “Positively 4th Street” and
“Rainy Day Women 12 35” became Top Ten hits in the fall of 1965 and
spring of 1966, respectively. Following the May 1966 release of the
double-album Blonde on Blonde, he had sold over ten million records
around the world.
During the fall of 1965, Dylan hired the Hawks,
formerly Ronnie Hawkins’ backing group, as his touring band. the Hawks,
who changed their name to the Band in 1968, would become Dylan’s most
famous backing band, primarily because of their intuitive chemistry and
“wild, thin mercury sound,” but also because of their British tour in
the spring of 1966. The tour was the first time Britain had heard the
electric Dylan, and their reaction was disagreeable and violent. At the
tour’s Royal Albert Hall concert, generally acknowledged to have
occurred in Manchester, an audience member called Dylan “Judas,”
inspiring a positively vicious version of “Like a Rolling Stone” from
the Band. The performance was immortalized on countless bootleg albums
(an official release finally surfaced in 1998), and it indicates the
intensity of Dylan in the middle of 1966. He had assumed control of
Pennebaker’s second Dylan documentary, Eat the Document, and was under
deadline to complete his book -Tarantula, as well as record a new
record. Following the British tour, he returned to America.
July 29, 1966, he was injured in a motorcycle accident outside of his
home in Woodstock, NY, suffering injuries to his neck vertebrae and a
concussion. Details of the accident remain elusive — he was reportedly
in critical condition for a week and had amnesia — and some
biographers have questioned its severity, but the event was a pivotal
turning point in his career. After the accident, Dylan became a
recluse, disappearing into his home in Woodstock and raising his family
with his wife, Sara. After a few months, he retreated with the Band to
a rented house, subsequently dubbed Big Pink, in West Saugerties to
record a number of demos. For several months, Dylan and the Band
recorded an enormous amount of material, ranging from old folk,
country, and blues songs to newly written originals. The songs
indicated that Dylan’s songwriting had undergone a metamorphosis,
becoming streamlined and more direct. Similarly, his music had changed,
owing less to traditional rock roll, and demonstrating heavy country,
blues, and traditional folk influences. None of the Big Pink recordings
were intended to be released, but tapes from the sessions were
circulated by Dylan’s music publisher with the intent of generating
cover versions. Copies of these tapes, as well as other songs, were
available on illegal bootleg albums by the end of the ’60s; it was the
first time that bootleg copies of unreleased recordings became widely
circulated. Portions of the tapes were officially released in 1975 as
the double-album The Basement Tapes.
While Dylan was in
seclusion, rock roll had become heavier and artier in the wake of the
psychedelic revolution. When Dylan returned with John Wesley Harding in
December of 1967, its quiet, country ambience was a surprise to the
general public, but it was a significant hit, peaking at number two in
the U.S. and number one in the U.K. Furthermore, the record arguably
became the first significant country-rock record to be released,
setting the stage for efforts by the Byrds and the Flying Burrito
Brothers later in 1969. Dylan followed his country inclinations on his
next album, 1969’s Nashville Skyline, which was recorded in Nashville
with several of the country industry’s top session men. While the album
was a hit, spawning the Top Ten single “Lay Lady Lay,” it was
criticized in some quarters for uneven material. The mixed reception
was the beginning of a full-blown backlash that arrived with the
double-album Self Portrait. Released early in June of 1970, the album
was a hodgepodge of covers, live tracks, re-interpretations, and new
songs greeted with negative reviews from all quarters of the press.
Dylan followed the album quickly with New Morning, which was hailed as
Following the release of New Morning, Dylan began to
wander restlessly. In 1969 or 1970, he moved back to Greenwich Village,
published -Tarantula for the first time in November of 1970, and
performed at ~the Concert for Bangladesh. During 1972, he began his
acting career by playing Alias in Sam Peckinpah’s Pat Garrett and Billy
the Kid, which was released in 1973. He also wrote the soundtrack for
the film, which featured “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” his biggest hit
since “Lay Lady Lay.” The Pat Garrett soundtrack was the final record
released under his Columbia contract before he moved to David Geffen’s
fledgling Asylum Records. As retaliation, Columbia assembled Dylan, a
collection of Self Portrait outtakes, for release at the end of 1973.
Dylan only recorded two albums — including 1974’s Planet Waves,
coincidentally his first number one album — before he moved back to
Columbia. the Band supported Dylan on Planet Waves and its accompanying
tour, which became the most successful tour in rock roll history; it
was captured on 1974’s double-live album Before the Flood.
1974 tour was the beginning of a comeback culminated by 1975’s Blood on
the Tracks. Largely inspired by the disintegration of his marriage,
Blood on the Tracks was hailed as a return to form by critics and it
became his second number one album. After jamming with folkies in
Greenwich Village, Dylan decided to launch a gigantic tour, loosely
based on traveling medicine shows. Lining up an extensive list of
supporting musicians — including Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Rambling
Jack Elliott, Arlo Guthrie, Mick Ronson, Roger McGuinn, and poet Allen
Ginsberg — Dylan dubbed the tour ~the Rolling Thunder Revue and set
out on the road in the fall of 1975. For the next year, ~the Rolling
Thunder Revue toured on and off, with Dylan filming many of the
concerts for a future film. During the tour, Desire was released to
considerable acclaim and success, spending five weeks on the top of the
charts. Throughout ~the Rolling Thunder Revue, Dylan showcased
“Hurricane,” a protest song he had written about boxer Rubin Carter,
who had been unjustly imprisoned for murder. The live album Hard Rain
was released at the end of the tour. Dylan released Renaldo and Clara,
a four-hour film based on the ~Rolling Thunder tour, to poor reviews in
Early in 1978, Dylan set out on another extensive
tour, this time backed by a band that resembled a Las Vegas lounge
band. The group was featured on the 1978 album Street Legal and the
1979 live album At Budokan. At the conclusion of the tour in late 1978,
Dylan announced that he was a born-again Christian, and he launched a
series of Christian albums that following summer with Slow Train
Coming. Though the reviews were mixed, the album was a success, peaking
at number three and going platinum. His supporting tour for Slow Train
Coming featured only his new religious material, much to the bafflement
of his long-term fans. Two other religious albums — Saved (1980) and
Shot of Love (1981) — followed, both to poor reviews. In 1982, Dylan
traveled to Israel, sparking rumors that his conversion to Christianity
was short-lived. He returned to secular recording with 1983’s Infidels,
which was greeted with favorable reviews.
Dylan returned to
performing in 1984, releasing the live album Real Live at the end of
the year. Empire Burlesque followed in 1985, but its odd mix of dance
tracks and rock roll won few fans. However, the five-album/triple-disc
retrospective box set Biograph appeared that same year to great
acclaim. In 1986, Dylan hit the road with Tom Petty the Heartbreakers
for a successful and acclaimed tour, but his album that year, Knocked
Out Loaded, was received poorly. The following year, he toured with the
Grateful Dead as his backing band; two years later, the souvenir album
Dylan the Dead appeared.
In 1988, Dylan embarked on what became
known as “The Never-Ending Tour” — a constant stream of shows that ran
on and off into the late ’90s. That same year, he released Down in the
Groove, an album largely comprised of covers. The Never-Ending Tour
received far stronger reviews than Down in the Groove, but 1989’s Oh
Mercy was his most acclaimed album since 1974’s Blood on the Tracks.
However, his 1990 follow-up, Under the Red Sky, was received poorly,
especially when compared to the enthusiastic reception for the 1991 box
set The Bootleg Series, Vols. 1-3 (Rare Unreleased), a collection of
previously unreleased outtakes and rarities.
For the remainder of
the ’90s, Dylan divided his time between live concerts and painting. In
1992, he returned to recording with Good As I Been to You, an acoustic
collection of traditional folk songs. It was followed in 1993 by
another folk album, World Gone Wrong, which won the Grammy for Best
Traditional Folk Album. After the release of World Gone Wrong, Dylan
released a greatest-hits album and a live record.
Time Out of Mind, his first album of original material in seven years,
in the fall of 1997. Time Out of Mind received his strongest reviews in
years and unexpectedly debuted in the Top Ten. Its success sparked a
revival of interest in Dylan — he appeared on the cover of Newsweek
and his concerts became sell-outs. Early in 1998, Time Out of Mind
received three Grammy Awards — Album of the Year, Best Contemporary
Folk Album and Best Male Rock Vocal. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All
m Series, 1973, New Y