2 min read


That my relationship with Bob Dylan's music is stressed has been demonstrated by how long the I had a draft post titled "Dylan." I've always sort of passively enjoyed Dylan, but I think more so I've marveled at his longevity, legacy, impact, etc. "Who he is" stood out more than the music, for me.

A few times I've tried to "get into Bob" with very little success. Of course there are a pile of songs that have weaseled into my brain over my life - songs like "The Man in Me" that I associate with a movie, or covers like Pearl Jam doing "Masters of War." Regardless, I know a lot of people that have deep connections with many and particular pieces of his music and whether or not it ever really clicks I'll keep listening.

Anyway, to the matter at hand - Highway 61 Revisited is his second album in 1965, but the first one I listened to. In 1965, he sparked a kerfuffle worthy of one of the best titled Wikipedia articles - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_Dylan_controversy. I wasn't a die-hard edgy folk fan in the early 60s, so aside from historical amusement I give little shit about it. In fact, I'm already a fan of The Band, so I'm all-on-board for electric Dylan. Much to my surprise, I've listened to this album more times in the past few weeks than I expected to. I liked the ballads more than the chaotic circus freak songs, and so maybe if I'm lucky this will follow the same path I followed with Tom Waits, where his more accessible music led to a very broad and fulfilling appreciation. The willful homages to deep south blues are interesting (and fun?) to listen to, but are not quite as natural for me to enjoy as some of the others.

I think most people associate Dylan with his lyrical prowess, and perhaps that's why I never really fell in love. I've always had a lot of trouble paying attention to lyrics without many repeat listens, and his can be very dense. It's full of references to society, art, literature, scripture, history - including some that's very "of that time". It's a mind-full. "Ballad of a Thin Man" is of particular note and will probably see a lot of repeat play, though, because despite a lot of meat, I felt like I "got it" (which is ironic given the content of the song; basically telling off an un-hip capitalist that won't ever get it).

This went better than expected, so I'm looking forward to Part 2 (and as I breeze through the next two decades, many more parts).