Best Albums of the 60s – #7
Bringing It All Back Home – Bob Dylan (1965)
I discovered Bob Dylan during my sophomore year of high school. I’d heard of him before, and was familiar with his greatest hits through my parents (when I was a kid, they’d played that album on a reel-to-reel player — the iPod of its day), but I’d never listened to any of his albums in full.
I started my collection on vinyl, buying whichever records I could find for a good price at the Tower Records in nearby Washington, D.C. And of those records, it was Bringing it all Back Home that truly opened my mind to Dylan’s genius.
Bringing It All Back Home is, of course, another of those six albums I consider Bob Dylan’s absolute finest. Not only did it signal a groundbreaking, eye-opening new direction for Dylan, folk music, rock music, music in general… it’s also chock full of some of the most amazing songs ever committed to tape.
Yesterday’s track, ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues,’ kicks everything off in classic style but look at some of what follows: ‘She Belongs To Me,’ ‘Maggie’s Farm,’ ‘Tambourine Man,’ ‘Gates of Eden,’ ‘It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding),’ and ‘It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue,’ to name just a few. I’ve said it before and I’ll no doubt say it again… Bob Dylan could have ended his career five years after it started and he’d still go down as one of the greatest musical artists in history.
Volumes have been written about the shock waves created when Bob Dylan “went electric.” My favorite depiction of the occasion comes in Todd Hayne’s extraordinary Dylan biopic I’m Not There, in which Dylan and his band take the stage at the Newport Folk Festival, open their guitar cases, pull out machine guns and begin firing on the crowd. Then a quick cut to them tearing into ‘Maggie’s Farm,’ with about the same effect on the audience.
As an aside, if you’re any sort of Dylan fan (or movie fan) you should make a point to watch I’m Not There. It’s an “art film,” no doubt — it does, after all, include portrayals of Dylan by both a young black boy and Cate Blanchett, among others — but it comes closer to capturing the spirit and wonder of Bob Dylan than anything else I’ve ever seen.