Sunday, September 30, 2012

#71: Bob Dylan - The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan (1963)

I get it. I get why people love Dylan, I also get why some people can't get past his voice. However, lyrically in his time he added a level that no one had ever heard before. I've had the pleasure of listening to many of the greatest albums that came before him and I can say that nothing had come anything close to him lyrically. The man isn't afraid to talk about any subject. Maybe it's premature to say, but I believe what the Beatles did for music, Bob Dylan did for lyrics. I may not know (without research) exactly what Dylan was talking about. And while I do not know the context of the social and political atmosphere there's no question that these are topics that no one else touched before Dylan.

A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall
Maybe it's because I've been drinking on a beach at night all by myself with a beautiful sky on top of me for the last few hours, but I must say that this is a vacation. Bob Dylan is amazing. He may not have the pop appeal that the Beatles had and he may not have the musicality that others may have had. However, what he has is very honest, very real and I totally understand why he is one of the biggest icons in American music. This song will forever objectify this moment and for that, I am grateful.

Don't Think Twice it's Alright
You know, I chose this song because it doesn't matter what I choose. Every track on this album has a similar feel. Contextually and historically it's amazing to consider what Dylan did. I take it all back. I don't get why some people can't get past his voice, I think it's amazing. It's not Ray Charles, it's not Frank Sinatra - but really - why does it have to be? Why do you have to be perfect in so many ways in order to be commercially successful? This is an amazing song and it appeals to the very root of what it means to be human, regardless of the beauty of the packaging that it comes in.

Oxford Town
This song sings about the injustice towards African Americans in the times of Dylan. I get why Elvis is the King and I know that Dylan gets plenty of credit for being an incredible songwriter. However, I think that this type of song takes a lot more courage to put on a record. Considering when this was released, I'm not sure if this was the popular belief, but regardless - this is a social statement about the current political climate. Dylan is clearly stating that racism is bullshit and needs to be fixed. That's the easiest way to sum it all up and I think it's incredible.

All in all, I'll end just like I began - I get it. It's honestly a sad, sad concept to think that this is the first full Bob Dylan album I've ever listened to. While my motor skills are lacking, clearly my ears are working. I'm sure I'll revisit this at some point, but really - I'm more excited at the prospect of hearing more Dylan. He's got a voice that completely appeals to me, but really it's his honesty and the lack of fear in his voice to talk about things that (in its time) shouldn't be discussed that truly appeals to me. There's no "She loves you, yeah yeah yeah" in his catalogue. The closest this album comes to social conformities is the song which features a twelve bar blues, and it only conforms in the sense of musicality. Bob Dylan sings exactly what he wants and thinks and that's something I can get 100% behind.

Tomorrow's album: Rilo Kiley's Under the Blacklight.

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