On My Record Player Part 3

Bob Dylan – Highway 61 Revisited (1965)

So many Bob Dylan fans will ask others, “Where did it all begin?” I remember driving around in Dan Brown’s Toyota Camry that he bought from laura Gunlicks between 2000-2002 and he would occasionally play Bob Dylan and I didn’t quit get it yet then, but I could tell it was cool. Fast forward to December 2003 and Rolling Stone came out with an issue of the greatest 500 albums of all time and Bob Dylan’s Highweay Revisited was ranked #4. I quickly began to research as much I could on Dylan and began checking out more songs and slowly growing a greater appreciation. I remember seeing the image of his Blonde on Blonde record and being mesmerized. My friend Nathan Hale was getting into him pretty big on his own, I cant remember exactly how, but I remember getting him a 3 disc copy of some of Dylan’s bootleg for Christmas of 2004 when his mom and him invited me to Europe for that holiday. I had a burned copy of Blonde on Blonde that I brought with me and I have great memory of us listening to that in our room in Nathan’s mom house in Germany. Bob Dylan music is cool. I began really collecting vinyl records at the beginning of 2005 after just wanting an excuse to use the turntables at the station in my college radio station as well a s discovering the mars volta who releases the exclusive vinyl recording of the song “Frances the Mute” with “The Widow (acoustic live performance 2004). This begun my obsession with collecting records and I noticed all those great albums featured on Rolling Stones 500 greatest albums of all time were not too difficult to find and I think I found my copy of Highway 61 Revisited at Relative Theory records in Norfolk, VA where I bought a lot of my first records and bought much of my favorite “underground/indie/less-know pop music of the past 30 years.” I really became focused and a fan of Bob Dylan when I first saw Martin Scorcese’s documentary about Bob Dylan during the summer of 2005 on PBS. I bought the DVD and I would watch it over and over again. His story is just so incredible and a journey I would dream to experience if I had the talent, ambition, and focus at such a young age like he did. This was special for me, being 22 and seeing him accomplish these things and be recognized at such an age, knowing he had the energy and passion and revolutionary ideas that only a person in their early 20’s really feels. He just so happen to live and achieve success during the Kennedy administartion, Beatlemania, and the onset of the Vietnam war. I like Bob Dylan most seeing him in these early videos, for his attitude, sense of humor, and watching him create ideas and work on his craft, and I guess most especially the very unique way he expressed himself through the 60’s on stage as he evolved drastically. Highway 61 Revisited is considered his masterpiece, which he wrote most of and recorded in just 6 days. It is really great to hear this on Vinyl in loud volume. Bob Dylan is cool!

Rolling Stone – 5 stars out of 5 stars

Bruce Springsteen has described the beginning of “Like a Rolling Stone,” the opening song on Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited, as the “snare shot that sounded like somebody’d kicked open the door to your mind.” The response of folk singer Phil Ochs to the entire album was even more rhapsodic. “It’s impossibly good. . . .” he said. “How can a human mind do this?”

Recorded in a mind-boggling six days and released in August 1965,Highway 61 Revisited — named after the road that runs from Dylan’s home state of Minnesota down through the Mississippi Delta — is one of those albums that, quite simply, changed everything. In and of itself, “Like a Rolling Stone,” which was rumored to be about Andy Warhol acolyte Edie Sedgwick, forever altered the landscape of popular music — its “vomitific” lyrics (in Dylan’s memorable term), literary ambition and sheer length (6:13) shattered limitations of every kind. But that was literally only the beginning. “Ballad of a Thin Man” delivered the definitive Sixties comment on the splintering hip/ straight fault line: “Something is happening here, but you don’t know what it is/Do you, Mr. Jones?” If anyone questioned whether or not Dylan had truly “gone electric,” the roaring rock & roll of “From a Buick 6” and “Tombstone Blues” — both powered by legendary guitarist Mike Bloomfield — left absolutely no doubt.

The album ends with “Desolation Row,” a swirling eleven-minute surrealist night journey of indescribable power. Confronted with the dilemma of providing an ending to an album so bursting with ideas, Dylan evokes a Hieronymus Bosch-like season in hell that, in retrospect, seems to foretell all the Sixties cataclysms to come. “The Titanic sails at dawn,” he sings wearily near the song’s end. “Everybody is shouting, ‘Which side are you on?’ ” That “Desolation Row” is an all-acoustic track — a last-minute decision on Dylan’s part — is one final stroke of genius: a spellbinding new vision of folk music to close the album that, for the time being at least, destroyed folk music. The gesture was simultaneously touching and a devastating “Fuck you!”

Not that Dylan wasn’t having fun all the while as well. The toy siren that opens the album’s title track was keyboardist’s Al Kooper’s playful way of policing the sessions for Highway 61 Revisited. “If anybody started using drugs anywhere,” he explained, “I’d walk into the opposite corner of the room and just go whooooooooo.”


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