|Highway 61 Revisited
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Dylan was virtually gushing great songs when this masterpiece arrived in the summer of 1965. From the epochal opening of "Like a Rolling Stone" through the absurdly apocalyptic closer, "Desolation Row," his command of surrealistic language was daring and amazing. As a vocalist, he was rewriting the rules of the game. Jimi Hendrix made note of Mr. Z's technically suspect pitch and decided that he too was a singer. And the backing, though ragged, is precisely right. Is this the essential Dylan album? It's certainly one of them. --Steven Stolder
- just buy it
just buy it. it is worth it. the first song is worth the cost of the entire album. you almost forget to listen the rest cause you just keep repeating the first song. then you hear the rest and you just have to sit down or pull off to the side of the road so you can reclaim your mind. ...more info
- The Best Rock and Roll Record of All Time
Wow, from the very first note, you know there is something different about this record. It is a rocker through and through. A rock 'em, sock 'em rock and roll record, maybe the best rock and roll record of all time. BLONDE ON BLONDE and The Beatles' WHITE ALBUM come close, but this is the one, the record I believe all rock albums have to be measured by. "Like a Rolling Stone," is a song that's been stamped into everybody's psyche. I don't think I've every met anybody, young or old who doesn't sing along with this one when the hear it on the radio or anywhere for that matter. And the rest of the record, right up to "Desolation Row" build on that song to make this the great record that it is....more info
- Quite Possibly The Best Album Ever Made
This is it. The best record ever. IMO nothing can stand next to it. Its simply the best one out there. The ultra-beautiful ultra-sinister poetry of classics like Ballad Of A Thin Man and Desolation Row are undeniable. But the greats dont stop there, powerful rockers like Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues and the title track are also here, not to mention subtle brilliance like Queen Jane Approximetly and From A Buick 6. However, everthing on here in pale in comparison to the ultimate mastpiece of rock n' roll, Like A Rolling Stone.
But It, its the best....more info
- CLASSIC MUST HAVE
THIS IS BOB'S NUMBER 1 CLASSIC ALBUM OF ALL TIMES! This is THE 1960's Bob Dylan classic that EVERYONE SHOULD HAVE for a decent collection of Bob Dylan's earlier songs--AND THE PRICE IS PHENOMENAL!!! This is the ultimate favorite among most Dylan fans, and it ranks the same for me. Please don't skip this one if you are starting out. Even Bob Dylan said back then he would never make another album like this one.
Some suggestions:(You might want to add the book the "Legendary Sessions: Highway 61 Revisited".) I highly suggest "Bringing It All Back Home" which he recorded just before this one that includes his masterpiece "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)", and is just ABOUT as good as "Highway 61 Revisited", "Blonde On Blonde" and the two BOOTLEG series (1-3 and 7) to make a good beginner's collection along with "The Essential Bob Dylan" 2 CD set. You can get all his early albums which is NEVER a mistake (1962-1964), but "The Essential Bob Dylan" is a VERY GOOD START. Bob WROTE SO MANY LYRICS and cut so many records that it's dazzling!!! He wrote "Blowin' in the Wind" in just MINUTES and "When the Ship Comes In" in one evening!!! If you are a newcomer, you might want to eventually get ALL his classics from the beginning UP until 1969 and then SKIP some to get "Blood on the Tracks". THEN if you want MORE, I HIGHLY suggest "TIME OUT OF MIND"--AN AWARD WINNING EPOCH ALBUM, "Desire" for at least "Isis", "Hurricane" and "Sara", "Oh Mercy" is a super MUST BUY and "Slow Train Coming" is REALLY super which were done later--see my reviews!!! "Slow Train Coming" is his version of Christian Gospel--DYLAN STYLE, but don't miss this one even if you don't agree with his evangelizing or if you are not Christian (he is culturally Jewish).
TRUST ME ON THESE SUGGESTIONS because I edited this review after I went thru many more of his albums!!...more info
- Tales Of Desolation Row, Riches To Rags, and Hysterical Brides in Penny Arcades!
So much has been written about Bob Dylan, but what's really so great about Bob Dylan is in the listen, really (greatness is in the ear of the beholder! ha ha). After listening to this, my beholder is impressed.
To tell you the truth, I haven't been this fascinated by lyrics in a long time. Dylan's lyrics on here are cryptic, funny, biting, surreal, literal, and have the capability of telling a story like a poet. Name dropping is always intact And his smokey (ocassionaly monotonous) tone of voice is timeless, of course. It's in top form here, where he sneers, tells, soars, sounds beat down, and adds excitement. Like any great voice should, it is the sound of Bob Dylan, and nothing else.
Although you deservedly hear lyrics here, lyrics there when this album is discussed, one thing that also strikes me so: The music behind the voice. One thing that struck me from the beginning of my many listens is the loose, sometimes lo-fi playing, dirty and untrained yet lushly preformed. It's an excellent evolution and the real reason why switching to electric was a good idea after all (we all know he switched to electric because he WANTED TO TRY SOMETHING NEW INSTEAD OF THE SAME THING). Organs, pianos, jangly guitars, ramshackle drums, ripping blues guitar solos, elegant gorgeous Spanish Guitars, tin whistles, and a bluesy harmonica where you can often feel the lips touch the metallic taste of the harmonica's body and blow (which occasionaly goes overboard, but that's not exactly a bad thing). And don't expect the same type of music, they are extremely varied. It's one of the reasons why this album is so damn great. It can't be beat.
Wildly consistent for fifty one minutes, this album is eclectic and varied. It is bubbling with classic songs, and I consider them classic songs being this is a person who wasn't exactly there when his songs were first made (they say sometimes you just had to be there to appreciate Dylan even more). Even with that in mind, I absolutely love this album. Here is my track listing
1. Like A Rolling Stone-Between the sparkly piano intro, the howling lyrics, rolling tambourine tinged drums, and the intertwining guitars, it all comes together. This is hands down one of the most famous Dylan songs, and for good reason.
2. Tombstone Blues-An extremely awesome, ramshackle driven, garage rock song. The short guitar solos blaze, the drums pound away with swagger, the acoustic guitar is harrowingly good, and The lyrics are wildly awesome. Dylan's lyrics are surreal, funny, there is some downright brilliant song lyrics in this one. In my mind, this is the best song on the album.
3. It Takes Alot to Laugh...-A standard Dylan blues song. Dylan's lyrics and voice are worn down here, and there is a classic harmonica solo as well.
4. From A Buick 6-Showing off one of his new features (an electric band), this is a funny cool rock and roll song. The bassline is excellent and follows the music like butter.
5. Ballad Of A Thin Man-This dirge of a song is my least favorite, but it's still cryptic as hell, with it's dirge piano slam and the floating organ. I love the piano slamming. The camel metaphor is just creepy.
6. Queen Jane Approximately-The Piano is quite gorgeous. My favorite little part is the open strum that appears in the song, and the organ.
7. Highway 61 Revisited-At the start of a penny whistle, the runnin' blues of Highway 61 Revisited kicks off. Dylan spins five absurd tales of people going to Highway 61 to have their problems solved. Just what Doctor Dylan (DD! B____!) ordered.
8. Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues-A lazy, free floating song, with an excellent honky-tonk feel. A pretty silly story, and there is fantastic playing to back it up. Dylan sounds all tired as hell here, like he singing recalling a past story of his lifetime.
9. Desolation Row-Ah yes, the epic eleven minute tune. Dylan's cryptic lyrics drop references as much as any later Bloodhound Gang song did. Oh, the music is fantastic. It never falters for it's time and never turns dull. Consisting of Dylan's dirty guitar strumming (at one point it turns pretty) and beautiful flamenco-esque soloing. Believe the hype, this song rules.
I'm not a huge fan of Bob Dylan, but this is simply an album without a single bad track. Buy it please, or else....more info
- the proof....even Dylan can't escape the evidence (but oh, how he tries...lol)
The best and most important Rock and Roll album ever? Yeah, definitely. Blonde on Blonde may have come after, but for me this album was always a distillation of Blonde on Blonde...other people see that album as filling out the ideas on Highway 61, but to me it's just the opposite. I've owned one LP, 2 cassettes and am now on my second CD of this album. Buy it, steal it,...but definitely get it....more info
- Classic Dylan
A hundred years from now, this album - in all its ragged glory - will be held up along with the Dead's American Beauty as an example of what American rock music was all about. Pure poetry, pure Dylan....more info
- How does it feel?
If there is one album which everyone should have, whether you're a music aficionado or an anthropologist, it may be Bob Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited." The opening snare shot was the sound of a bomb being dropped upon a generation, and that sound has echoed with the same mind-opening ferocity through the annals of time. In our day and age, it's hard to recognize just how incomparably alien the album seemed when it was released. More than an album, "Highway 61 Revisited" was an alarm clock of the most magically boisterous manner, a powerful awakening to the fact that rock could be more than rhyming verses about your high school crush. Through unfathomably deep lyrics and tenacious, bluesy arrangements, Bob Dylan irrevocably changed the face of rock music.
Dylan was probably the first artist to bring folk-rock to the public eye, but on "Bringing It All Back Home," released in early `65, he alluded to a
possible conversion to electric rock. He followed through with "Highway 61." Dylan crafted a chariot of musical fire, breaking down the walls with crashing drums and thrusting a stinging guitar at the past of rock music. At times, Dylan played with such relentless force that one could make a feasible claim that he invented punk rock. There's no question he had something to say, and nobody could have said it better. In his slimey "Ballad of a Thin Man," Dylan snarled a wake-up call to his generation, flawlessly encapsulating the 1960s: "Something is happening here, but you don't know what it is - do you, Mister Jones?"
On his previous album, Dylan had taken a brief dip into surrealism with the epically-silly "Bob Dylan's 115th Dream," but he dived in head-first on "Highway 61." With unparalleled versatility, Dylan effortlessly fluctuated between nonsensical absurdist wit and trenchantly observant criticisms. On "Tombstone Blues," he observes, deadpan, "The sun's not yellow - it's chicken." One track earlier, on "Like a Rolling Stone," he sang with disarming sincerity and unrestrained hostility. "Like a Rolling Stone" is a grand 6-minute opus that is, quite simply, what rock is all about. Though it may be rather biased, Rolling Stone magazine voted it the greatest song of all time when they compiled their "500 Greatest Songs of All Time" list a few years back. With its grounded yet soaring melodies, "vomitific" lyrics (as described by Dylan), and sheer ambitiousness, it very well may be.
If anyone will dispute the quality of this album - though no human being has been bold and/or foolish enough as of yet - there is no denying its historical importance. Folk artist Phil Ochs declared the album "impossibly good," adding, "How can a human mind do this?" Even the Beatles, who were, at the time, the biggest band in the world, admitted to being intimidated by and in awe of Bob Dylan. (They attempted to top "Highway 61" with their 1966 record "Revolver.") Perhaps most astonishingly, the album was recorded over six days, a miraculous feat. And though it may not sound as alarmingly fresh and new as it did upon its release, it remains every bit as powerful, ferocious, and bold as it did way back in `65. If it isn't the best album ever recorded, it's right up there, and there's no disputing that "Highway 61 Revisited" is a required record.
Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums of All Time: #4
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Definitive 200: #8
- Revisited for the first time.
Only recently, more than four decades after its debut have I discovered this amazing album by Bob Dylan. The only song familiar to me is "Like a Rolling Stone", which I remember from the radio when I was a kid. It must sound incredible to longtime Dylan fans that someone who appreciates this music could have remained unaware of it for so long, but such things happen. And truthfully, at my age, it's importance in my life is going to be limited. But I have to say I was blown away by the originality, intelligence, and latent ideas contained in the lyrics of these songs. I think they are definitely poetry, many of them dream-images with symbolism to be pondered. There is something jarring rather than soothing about this poetry, but rather than being jarred into irritation, I felt as though I was being jarred into a more comprehensive and perceptive state of mind. The music which Dylan devised to go with these unique lyrics seems to serve the same purpose of prompting, not too gently, a state of mind receptive to some sort of unconscious communication. These are the impressions I experienced when I first listened to this album. Besides "Like a Rolling Stone", my other favorites were "Desolation Row", with its incredible cryptic lyrics which never seemed to end(but which I didn't want to end), and "Ballad of a Thin Man", a strange, strange little song which seemed to invade my psyche and take up residence. All this interest in Dylan was prompted by a more or less random curiosity which led me to watch the documentary, "No Direction Home". I'm not sure how I feel about Dylan as a person. Some web research I've done leads me to believe some of these songs were inspired by the desire to exact vengeance on those who have offended him. One of my favorites on this album, "Ballad of a Thin Man", is said to be a put-down of a newspaper interviewer who irritated Dylan with foolish questions. If so,I find that a little disappointing. But how I feel about such matters as that is not really pertinent to the quality of the songs and music, however they were inspired, except maybe as a caution against going overboard with reading meaning into them. Whether he was inspired by visionary insights or more mundane causes, he was very adroit at adapting these inspirations into imagery that leaves a strong mental impression on the listener. Dylan refused to let his fans force him into a niche, and quite rightly so, in my opinion. If, as has been said, he has constantly invented himself, then this album was one of his outstanding inventions....more info
- As Great as Everybody Says it is.
I giggled a little bit when I saw that the 5 star to 4 star ratio for this record was 29 to 1 with no negative ratings whatsoever. Well, there's a very good reason for this imbalance; the perceptions of my fellow critics are totally correct. Yes, Highway 61 revisited is every bit as wonderful as everyone says it is. I'm not sure if I'm qualified to speak about it though as I've only listened to it 123,343 times over a two decade period. I do agree though that in life one quickly discovers that many things are overrated--but not this CD. It is unknown how one could improve on it very much. There's not much better out there unless it's Blonde on Blonde and even then it's close. The tracks here are absolutely seamless and the lyrical brilliance (at the time) was without precedent. If we rate songs on a scale from 1 to 100 I'd have to say that not one of these tunes would merit anything below a 90. Had Dylan only released this CD he would still have been remembered as a genius. The making of Highway was something unknown to me until I saw Martin Scorsese's No Direction Home in which Al Kooper tells the story of the recording sessions, and the interview with him became one of my favorite parts of the documentary. I won't spoil it for you but, for the Dylan fan, you must at least rent it. Hearing about the way Kooper stumbled into immortality is worth five bucks or more. Well, I'll stop raving now but these tracks are Olympian in their proportion. ...more info
- My Favorite Dylan
Someone mentioned that this is Dylan's first electric album. I didn't realize that. His acoustic albums seem pretty darn electric too.
I like Dylan's long complex songs and this album has two of the best: "Ballad of a Thin Man" and "Desolation Row." These songs are practically like novels in their depth. I still get lost in them and marvel at Dylan's genius on each hearing....more info
- What Else Is There To Say?
I was all of 12 when this record came out. I didn't really get to hear the whole thing until much later, when I was 15 or 16, but of course "Like A Rolling Stone" was all over the radio that year and everyone was abuzz about "folk rock"--which in the popular press included everyone from the Byrds to Sonny & Cher. It was an exciting time. As David Crosby once said, it was rock'n'roll with literate lyrics. And by '65, it felt like high time too.
When I finally did get around to listening to the complete album much of the controversy around it had diminished. Dylan going electric? Of course, it had to happen. Dylan abandoning the overtly socio-political lyrics of "Blowin' In the Wind" etc. in favor of surreal, druggy and depressive lyrics like "Desolation Row." It was a necessary artistic development, looking back at it all a few years later. The times were a-changin' and Dylan changed along with them. Or ahead of them.
It's easy to see why electric Dylan alienated many folk traditionalists. But he knew exactly what he was doing and where he was going. He assembled a superlative back-up band featuring blues rockers Bloomfield and Kooper and developed a sound so rich and textured that it now can only be viewed as inevitable. "Like A Rolling Stone" has been in a generation's bloodstream for so long now, it's hard to remember how revolutionary a sound that was. The swelling keyboards, the rambling harmonica, it was all very bold in '65. Forty one years later, it still sounds great.
There will always be some controversy as to just what Dylan's masterpiece is. But this album was a breakthrough, and it's no surprise that it's the favorite of many fans. This or BLONDE ON BLONDE? BLOOD ON THE TRACKS? Pointless arguments really. They're all essential, all great. And each captures the Zeitgeist of its era perfectly. Or perhaps it's more accurate to say he defined it.
- 1 of 2 THAT REALLY, REALLY, MATTER
Highway 61 and Sgt. Pepper.
If you were there, you know.
If you weren't there, you'll never know.
- One of the Top Releases Ever
This is one of the great albums of all time. Dylan wails against his newly found electric backing band, showcasing a different style from the protest folk tunes made him famous. Rockers like "Tombstone Blues", "From a Buick 6", and the title song with its dialogue between God and Abraham are classic rock standards that stand the test of time. "Ballad Of a Thin Man" is a slow ballad with heavy handed piano where Dylan laughs joyously at his command of illiteration. "It's a Lot to Laugh/It Takes a Train to Cry" is a great song with another unusual title. "Queen Jane Approximately" follows suit with Dylan's songwriting style at that time. Dylan stays true to his roots with the closer, "Desolation Row", which paints a bleak picture with protest song elements. This is a wonderful release....more info
this is probably my all time favorite album. its right up there with sgt pepper. the way it is with most dylan cds is i will like half the songs and the other half is just okay...highway 61 revisited...every song is just the best. when i first heard "it takes a lot to laugh, it takes a train to cry" i put my ipod on loop and just listened to that song over and over. ...more info
- Bob Dylan's First All-Electric Album Changed The World
HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED, Bob Dylan's first all-electric album, was one of several that changed the music world in the 1960s. The opening song, "Like A Rolling Stone", expresses anger and dissatisfaction with the world in a way that it had never been done before, and the title cut was inspired by the Old Testament itself. Other great songs here include "Tombstone Blues" and "Ballad Of A Thin Man." Dylan's belief that Indonesia's 2005 drug-smuggling conviction of a young Australian tourist was trumped-up and unjust makes this CD an essential purchase for both your ears AND your conscience....more info
- La Di Da, La Di Da
What an great album this is. And so you've been told, but what has amazed me is the complete originality of almost all the songs. From Like a Rolling Stone to Desolation Row, which seem to go on and on, but never gets dull. I believe this was the first Dylan album I ever purchased when I was a teenager and have been hooked ever since. So please just blow off all those best of, greatest, essentials, why don't you and just start here. ...more info
- no Bob, the sun is NOT chicken, it's a chicken egg
Album way over-rated by the worshippers. This guy breaks wind and the sycophants can't wait to praise it to the sky.
Want to buy a great album by this singer/songwriter? Get THE ESSENTIAL BOB DYLAN. Want to read something truly terrific by him? Get CHRONICLES, Volume One....more info
- A Stunning Masterpiece
If there's ever been a better album made in the rock era, I have not heard it. It opens with the landmark "Like a Rolling Stone" and sustains that high level all the way through. Combines various genres of music: rock, folk, blues, Tex Mex, country and the effect is mesmerizing. It's nice to hear Dylan when he could actually carry a tune, and his rich, raspy voice serves the material well. The musicianship is first rate. Especially noteworthy is the blend of organ, guitar and harmonica on several songs. Dylan kept raising the bar with his albums and it never rose higher than w/ this incredible album. Check it out....more info
- there is bob dylan and then there is everybody else
this is the absolute TRUTH on REALITY. bob dylan mixes up surrealism, symbolism (from rimbaud)and good old fashioned rock 'n roll to make on of the seminal albums of the lifetime of rock 'n roll. he mixes up a tremendous lyrical beat, wild frenzy and articulated truth in his lyrics to make a classic that will stand the test of time for as long as time goes on. along with blonde on blonde, and bringing it all back home, he reached the absolute pinnacle of describing real reality in poetical terms. in all his later albums, he would never attain this wild greatness again....more info
- Another Dylan classic - this is the album that launched him into stardom (thanks to "Like A Rolling Stone")! You NEED this album
"Highway 61 Revisited" may not be as consistently catchy as "Blonde On Blonde", but it's still one of the best albums ever recorded. With its first single, "Like A Rolling Stone", Dylan was launched into stardom as the world's greatest singer/songwriter. This album essentially made folk-rock a credible subgenre as most people turned their heads to Dylan at the time (they were used to the slow and more delicate folk albums by the likes of The Kingston Trio, for instance). Though not every song here is as catchy as this hit, they're all great songs with incredible lyrics (that's the main reason to buy a Dylan album, anyway). This is another extremely quotable and deep album by the master himself. If all you've been listening to your whole life is MTV bands, do yourself a favor and by this album to have your life renewed! Absolutely recommended!
the entire album!...more info
- Highway 61 Revisited
No one will agree on which Bob Dylan album is his best. He created such a vast number of songs in so many varying styles, some of which may appeal to someone more than others, that it is hard to lay down the judgment, "This Is Best."
That said, for me, this is Dylan's best electronic work. For the uninitiated, let me briefly give a little history: Dylan had started out as a folk singer/song-writer doing topical songs, "protest songs" as some called them. Whatever you want to call them, they were social in matter and perspective. (See, "Blowin in the Wind").
Ah, but wait. Dylan wanted a change. Around 1964-65 he began to write music you might say is a bit freer than his earlier material. In several interviews from the time, he says he was getting bored doing the whole solo guitar gig thing and wanted to work with a group, he wanted a different sound.
Alright, so he did an album called "Bringing it All Back Home," which is sort of half and half. Eleven songs on the album, seven are the new electronic sound--famously, "Maggie's Farm" and "Subterranean Homesick Blues"--and four are in the "old" style--"Mr. Tambourine Man," "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue."
Great music, it's a really fun album, but because it mixes styles, it doesn't exactly feel even. Still a gas to listen to.
But, later in 65, Dylan released this album, "Highway 61 Revisited." This album is pretty damn near perfect. Unlike its predecessor, it doesn't mix styles, but fully explores the electronic music Dylan had adopted. Moreover, it is not as long as its successor, "Blonde on Blonde," (which many people consider Dylan's best, and the third most important rock album of the era). "Highway 61 Revisited" thus gains a sort of balance which allows you, while listening, to absorb the music a bit more completely.
Now, my reasons for preferring this album are contained in what I have more or less described. Listening to this album is not just enjoyable, enlightening, almost spiritual, its easy--at least as easy as Dylan gets. Don't mistake me, I don't mean to say easy as in, not difficult, I mean easy as in, the album is smooth, its length manageable, its music potent while being well constructed--it flows well. One can become intimate with this album in ways I don't think it is possible to be with "Blonde on Blonde" (although I do love that album as well). This is a good album to get if you're interested in this particular style Dylan worked with. I only know a bit about the folk and pretty much nothing about his later work after "Blonde on Blonde," so for any info on that, you'll have to hunt it up yourself. But, if the electronic music is your scene, this is a great place to start.
I think I should add that I'm just a fan of Bob Dylan, and that any criticism of his work is out of my own meager brains. I don't presume to tell you what Bob Dylan thinks, or what you should think. I do hope that you'll enjoy the music....more info
- The Whole Album is a Rocker Extrodinaire
I just love the lead guitar work on "Desolation Row." That lead guitar punches up Dylan's voice and those surreal lyrics to make this song like no other. I shudder for the whole eleven minutes every time my husband plays this song and he plays it a lot. You can never get tired of this. Mr. Dylan really raised the bar with this one. "Like a Rolling Stone" is a rocker extrodinaire and it goes on for six minutes, which was a big deal when it came out, because most hit records never when over something like three minutes, ten seconds. Dylan really broke the mold with "Stone", opened up the scene for others to record long songs. This is a super CD. One you just have to own....more info
- The Sound of the World Changing
Smack in the center of the two-dozen-or-so albums of the 1960s that changed and redefined both rock `n' roll and Western culture, are the three albums whipped off by Bob Dylan right after he "went electric." Bringing It All Back Home (1965), Highway 61 Revisited (1965) and Blonde on Blonde (1966) form an escalating trilogy of realization, transformation and power that are simply unmatched anywhere else in the music. If you do not have all three of these mind-blowing epics, you are simply doomed not to understand the conceptual genesis and limits of late twentieth-century art, nor do you have an adequate standard by which to make judgements, even up to this day.
While the palm usually goes to Blonde on Blonde for being the most extreme statement a popular artist has ever made, Highway 61 Revisited probably packs the most awesome, powerful wallop. It is the most dynamic and viscerally relentless of the three. It begins with Dylan's most dizzying, category-changing shot of his career, "Like a Rolling Stone," arguably the greatest rock song ever written, and then proceeds to become strangely more intense as it goes along.
"Strangeness" is a wonderful but inadequate word for this music. Dylan digs deeply into the collective unconsciousness of folk music and applies it directly to a new electric form that applies precisely to the moment of its creation. Miraculously, by doing so, he radically alters it and defines it. That "strangeness" is embodied perfectly in the magnificently taunting "Ballad of a Thin Man," where Dylan challenges his listeners to rise up and attempt to comprehend the implications of what they are hearing.
By metaphorically shifting ordinary categories of thought into a hard-blown, electric, apocalyptic vision, this music manages to be both honestly descriptive as well as transformative. As Dylan recreates himself - and music - right before our eyes and ears, we are, in a large sense, recreated ourselves. Once the extraordinary vision of this music captures your imagination and spirit, you become permanently transformed. It doesn't work for everyone, but if you want to know why Bob Dylan is so damned important, this is precisely the place to come to find out.
Ultimately, this is why Dylan has the reputation of being the "spokesman for his generation" - since so many people who heard this got their consciousness permanently altered, including the Beatles and the Stones. As much as Dylan needed the early `60s rock explosion to ignite his flame, I promise you there would not have been a late-60's counterculture had it not been for Bob Dylan.
Even placing this music in its proper historical and cultural context is too limiting to define it. The playing, the lyrics, the singing on this album is timeless and awe inspiring. This is music older than the hills, yet futuristic beyond comprehension. Highway 61 is a marker, a monument - an unshakable reference point for measuring the maturity of all popular music, both before or since. This is why Sgt. Pepper became necessary for the Beatles to remain valid. This is why punk rock had to happen. This is the reason that Frank Zappa had a place to enter popular culture on any level whatsoever. And it goes without saying that this is why anything else Dylan himself has done matters so much - or even at all.
Throughout his eighteen-month creative explosion, Dylan tore down all the walls, rewrote all the rules and gave a new meaning to the idea of conceptual reality through music and the genius of his unflinching vision. This album still has that same power to transform - and it steamrolls the listener like a prophetic force of nature....more info
- The album to begin with for electric Dylan
This is Dylan's best album. "Like a Rolling Stone" is the most celebrated single here, for good reason, but similarly arranged, lyrically sweeping stream-of-consciousness songs such as "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues," "Ballad of a Thin Man," could have become the defining single of its era had it been released in place of "Like a Rolling Stone." The album also includes ragged blues rock such as "Highway 61 Revisted," "From a Buick Six," and "Tombstone Blues" - all driven by Mike Bloomfield's searing guitar work (Bloomfield was probably the most gifted rock guitarist of the pre-Hendrix era). Slower numbers like "Queen Jane Approximately," with its cascading keyboard flourishes, and "Desolation Row" the epic-length closer, round out the album....more info