Song of the Day #1,461: ‘I Shall Be Free’ – Bob Dylan

Best Albums of the 60s – #2
The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan – Bob Dylan (1963)

Before he went electric; before the motorcycle accident; before “Judas!,” The Band and The Dead; before he found Jesus, Mark Knopfler and Alicia Keys… Bob Dylan put out his first album of original material.

The 22-year-old had released his self-titled debut a year earlier, but that album featured only two originals among a slew of folk and blues covers. 1963’s The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan was its mirror image — two covers and eleven originals by a new voice that would revolutionize folk music.

This album has everything: protest anthems (‘Blowin’ in the Wind,’ ‘Masters of War,’ ‘A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall’), heartbreak ballads (‘Girl From the North Country,’ ‘Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right’) and hilarious talking blues tracks (‘Talking World War III Blues,’ ‘I Shall Be Free’). It’s amazing how fully formed Dylan’s worldview and command of his songcraft were right out of the gate.

I chose this album as my highest Dylan record on this list because it is such a lovely snapshot of what Bob Dylan was in the beginning, but it also seems to hint at everything he would become in the end.

Fifty years later, he’s still catching hell from somebody…

Well, I took me a woman late last night
I’s three-fourths drunk she looked all right
‘Til she started peelin’ off her onion gook
She took off her wig, said, “How do I look” ?
I’s high flyin’, bare naked …Out the window.

Well, sometimes I might get drunk
Walk like a duck and smell like a skunk
Don’t hurt me none, don’t hurt my pride
‘Cause I got my little lady right by my side
(She’s a tryin’ a hide pretendin’
She don’t know me).

I’s out there paintin’ on the old wood shed
When a can a black paint it fell on my head
I went down to scrub and rub
But I had to sit in back of the tub
(Cost a quarter
Half price).

Well, my telephone rang it would not stop
It’s President Kennedy callin’ me up
He said, “My friend, Bob, what do we need to make the country grow” ?
I said, “My friend, John, “Brigitte Bardot,
Anita Ekberg
Sophia Loren”
Country’ll grow.

Well, I got a woman five feet short
She yells and hollers and squeals and snorts
She tickles my nose pats me on the head
Blows me over and kicks me out of bed
(She’s a man eater
Meat grinder
Bad loser).

Oh, there ain’t no use in me workin’ alla time
I got a woman who works herself blind
Works up to her britches, up to her neck
Write me letters and sends me checks
(She’s a humdinger
Folk singer).

Late one day in the middle of the week
Eyes were closed I was half asleep
I chased me a woman up the hill
Right in the middle of an air drill
(I jumped a fallout shelter
I jumped the string bean
I jumped the TV dinner
I jumped the shot gun).

Now, the man on the stand he wants my vote
He’s a-runnin’ for office on the ballot note
He’s out there preachin’ in front of the steeple
Tellin’ me he loves all kinds-a people
(He’s eatin’ bagels
He’s eatin’ pizza
He’s eatin’ chitlins).

Oh, set me down on a television floor
I’ll flip the channel to number four
Out of the shower comes a football man
With a bottle of oil in his hand
(Greasy kid stuff
What I want to know, Mr. Football Man, is
What do you do about Willy Mays
Martin Luther King
Olatunji).

Well, the funniest woman I ever seen
Was the great-granddaughter of Mr. Clean
She takes about fifteen baths a day
Wants me to grow a moustache on my face
(She’s insane).

Well, ask me why I’m drunk alla time
It levels my head and eases my mind
I just walk along and stroll and sing
I see better days and I do better things
(I catch dinosaurs
I make love to Elizabeth Taylor …
Catch hell from Richard Burton !).

One thought on “Song of the Day #1,461: ‘I Shall Be Free’ – Bob Dylan

  1. Dana says:

    Hmmm…so now I’m guessing A Hard Day’s Night will claim your top spot?:)

    Anyway, I again have no qualms with this selection. Such a great album and I’ve always loved the feel of today’s song. Whenever I hear it, I feel as though I could be in some small folk club with about 20 people and some young no-name future legend comes on the stage and starts to play. It’s that intimate, and that good.

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