Song of the Day #644: ‘Hazel’ – Bob Dylan

Planet Waves is the first album I’ve played of the five I bought in preparation for these Dylan Weekends and I hope its quality is indicative of what I can expect of the rest. It’s fun to hear “new” music from an artist I’ve been listening to for more than 20 years.

Planet Waves certainly doesn’t crack my top tier of Dylan albums, and it would probably struggle to find a spot in the tier just below that, but it already sits comfortably alongside a group of albums in the good-to-great category (assume the top tier are “classics” and the second tier are “great to excellent”… yes, I’ll eventually get around to ranking all of these albums in order… and yes, I’m a total nerd… let’s move on).

It’s interesting to look at Planet Waves in the context of the album that would follow it a year later, Blood on the Tracks. While the latter is one of the most raw and poignant break-up albums ever recorded, Planet Waves is quite tender and romantic. In ‘Wedding Song,’ Dylan professes his love so effusively that it borders on schmaltz:

Ever since you walked right in, the circle’s been complete,
I’ve said goodbye to haunted rooms and faces in the street,
To the courtyard of the jester which is hidden from the sun,
I love you more than ever and I haven’t yet begun.

In ‘You Angel You,’ he crosses that border:

You know I can’t sleep at night for trying,
Never did feel this way before.
I get up at night and walk the floor.
If this is love then gimme more
And more and more and more and more.

It’s fascinating that the man who wrote and recorded these songs was writing and recording Blood on the Tracks just a few months later. And somehow that makes Planet Waves all the more poignant.

‘Hazel’ is the song on this album that struck me first. It’s a beauty of a track that I’d never heard before in my life, which made it feel like a little discovered treasure.

Hazel, dirty-blonde hair
I wouldn’t be ashamed to be seen with you anywhere
You got something I want plenty of
Ooh, a little touch of your love.

Hazel, stardust in your eye
You’re goin’ somewhere and so am I.
I’d give you the sky high above
Ooh, for a little touch of your love.

Oh no, I don’t need any reminder
To know how much I really care
But it’s just making me blinder and blinder
Because I’m up on a hill and still you’re not there.

Hazel, you called and I came,
Now don’t make me play this waiting game.
You’ve got something I want plenty of
Ooh, a little touch of your love.

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7 thoughts on “Song of the Day #644: ‘Hazel’ – Bob Dylan

  1. It’s interesting how you note Dylan’s move from what may be considered schmaltzy to the more “raw and poignant break up’ album that followed.

    However, there are many tender moments on “Blood” as well. “You’re A Big Girl Now” and “Simple Twist of fate” would be fine examples.

    Also, Bob led us into the beginnings of his next album’s sentiments, at least as expressed most forcefully by “Idiot Wind”, with what I consider a masterpiece from Planet Waves, “Dirge”.

    Thanks for the topic and commentary.

  2. Clay says:

    I agree that musically those Blood On the Tracks songs are tender, but the lyrics are certainly raw and full of pain.

    Great point about ‘Dirge,’ which does serve as a nice bridge from Planet Waves to Blood On the Tracks. This lyric could have easily fit onto the latter album: “I hate myself for lovin’ you, but I should get over that.”

  3. Dana says:

    This is good stuff. Musically, I hear some of what would follow on Blood on the Tracks. Can’t wait for you to showcase that masterpiece next week:)

  4. Clay says:

    Nah, I think I’m skipping that one… have to get to the born-again Christian stuff! 😉

  5. bird says:

    the version of Hazel from The Last Waltz is much better… incredible vocal

  6. save says:

    Was’nt ‘Going Going Gone’ on Planet Waves? IMHO no discussion of PW should take
    place without an in depth look at GGG, perhaps the best, least acknowledged tune ever penned by Sir Bob?

  7. Clay says:

    I agree, that’s a great one. The more I listen to Planet Waves, the more I consider it among his best albums.

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