Album #36 – The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan
I was so excited to see this album on the list!! This was the album that introduced many to Dylan. It is his second album and it is his first to have mostly all original songs. The album is a mix of serious, consciously political songs, love songs and partly spoken blues songs. The album really showcases Dylan’s song writing and lyrical style. The one song in particular that achieves this is “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”. Listening to this song I have heard so many times before made me realize how great Dylan is with words. The lines from the song are so unique and complex that the lyrics of the song are comparable to poetry. “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” is up there, lyrically, with Like A Rolling Stone, Subterranean Homesick Blues and Jokerman as some of Dylan’s most lyrically complex and awesome songs. There are many people who do not like Dylan’s voice. That is fine. The ironic thing is that Dylan was signed to a label that was known for it’s beautiful singers. Dylan’s voice might not be as good as the best singers out there but, his voice suits these songs well. Dylan sang better in the 60’s than he does today. I look past the voice and into the songs but the voice has it’s place too. There are also a few songs that made me laugh out loud on this album: Down The Highway and I Shall Be Free. That was probably Dylan’s intent. Those songs are more like monologues than actual songs. Those songs probably influenced the style of singer/songwriters such as Todd Snider and local favorite B.A. Johnston. You could even say that those songs were a kind of precursor to rap music. But, that’s probably looking too much into it. There are no highlights because the whole album stands on it’s own. I don’t physically own this album but I have wanted it for a long time. It captures a place in Dylan’s life so well. His thoughts and his journeys. Even the album cover, with then girlfriend Suze Rotolo and Dylan linked arm and arm walking through a New York snow covered street, even captures his personal life at the time. Dylan is also one of my favorites because he can write like no other. He is not God or the messiah like throngs of people pictured him in the 1960’s. He is a human being and can sometimes be similar to myself. If I was as famous as Dylan, I would definitely feel what he felt when this album came out and the tours started and the road became chaotic. Dylan is brilliant at capturing what he and others are feeling. He is still going and still relevant. His albums continue to sell and he continues to draw audiences as part of The Never Ending Tour. But, this is where it all began. It is so simple: two microphones, an acoustic guitar, a harmonica, Dylan, a recording studio, an engineer and a producer. That is IT!!! I challenge any artist today to do that. I admire this record for that reason. Sometimes, the most simple thing can be the most complex and overall awe-inspiring thing. That is exactly what Dylan does with his second album. Overall, I give The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan 5 out of 5 stars.
Next: A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector!!!