Thursday, August 7, 2014

31 Bringing it all back home (1965) Bob Dylan

1. Subterranean Homesick Blues
2. She Belongs to Me
3. Maggie's Farm
4. Love Minus Zero/No Limit
5. Outlaw Blues
6. On the Road Again
7. Bob Dylan's 115th Dream
8. Mr. Tambourine Man
9. Gates of Eden
10. It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)
11. It's All over Now, Baby Blue

Now we're all grown up and Dylan is in his seventies and rock music has matured we can look back at Bob's career and judge every album on its merits. We're no longer trying to put him in a box, label him with a stamp or make him the sole possession of a certain musical faction. We don't need to worry about whether he's lost to us or coming back to us or turned his back on this or embraced that. We don't need to worry about what their new direction is for their creator because they're markers on a journey we've seen plotted out, not signposts to an uncertain future. We can sit down and just enjoy each Dylan album for what it is.

Using this knowledge we know that Self Portrait is still pretty bad but was a minor aberration, the Born Again albums aren't as bad as everyone thought they were and the eighties albums are actually worse. And it frees us up to listen to Bringing it All back home as an album not a bold and terrifying new direction.

The biggest songs on Bringing it all back home are probably Maggies Farm, Tambourine Man and Subterranean Homesick blues, or at least they're the songs that people who don't consider themselves Dylan fans would probably know. Of course like a lot of Dylan songs they probably don't know the originals as much as they know the popular covers. Tambourine Man was a huge hit for The Byrds and Maggies Farm was an obligatory hit for any self respecting Punk Band playing in Thatcher's Britain during the eighties.

Those who consider themselves casual Dylan fans would probably know Love Minus Zero/No Limit, It's allright ma I'm only bleeding and It's all over now Baby Blue all of which don't get the radio airplay or the publicity that the others do but are by no means lesser songs. It's Allright Ma is often cited as one of his best songs and I'm inclined to agree. It's not a pretty listen like Blowin in the Wind and it doesn't get covered by popular artists but it's incredibly powerful. It still amazes me to this day that anyone could hear Bringing it All Back Home and be disappointed, as many die hard folkies were back in 1965. They might have heard electric instruments on side one and lamented a lack of obvious protest songs but how could they not love this? It's alright Ma is incredibly dark and spooky but it's lyrics are just unbelievable and incredibly dense. You can spend years listening to it and still hear new things as its incredible series of words and images takes you by surprise every time.

To me the best example of the genius of Dylan however are among the overlooked and lesser known tracks. She Belongs to Me flies under the radar of a lot of people. It doesn't get played on the radio and it rarely makes anyone's list of top Dylan tracks but it's fantastic. It might sound like a love song but it's so much more. It's got some great Dylan lines which you can ponder for ages and still get a lot out of. I personally love: "She never stumbles, She’s got no place to fall" which for me is a fantastic piece of lyric writing. She Belongs to Me is also a track that I suggest people listen to if they claim Dylan can't sing. If they're caught up in their own warbly Dylan impressions and believe his vocals are all nasal expeditions up and down the register in the course of one song I suggest they give this a listen. It's proof that Dylan can not only hold a tune he can cradle it lovingly which makes the lyrics all the better.

Bringing it All Back Home is not a perfect album but with the power of CD burning and the accessibility of out takes it's easy to make it one. I drop Bob Dylan's 115th Dream from the running order (which is too long and loses its novelty value too quickly) and instead include three outtakes which were considered but not recorded. Farewell Angelina, If You Gotta Go, Go Now (Or Else You Got to Stay All Night) and I'll Keep It With Mine all deserve to be rescued from obscurity. They're brilliant songs and their presence here would lift this album from outside the top thirty to inside the top ten.

Bringing it all Back Home is the sound of Bob Dylan tearing down his own legend but creating an even greater one in the process. It's the greatest and most influential recording artist of the past fifty years proving he didn't need popular causes and a sub-culture's adoration to prop him up but he wasn't going to let them hold him back either. If it was recorded by any other solo artist it would be their highest ranked appearance on this countdown. Bob has three others higher than this which just goes to show how amazing he is.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "Never say that one Dylan album is your favorite over another. You always have to change your mind."

-Possibly the truest thing ever said on Amazon. Amen brother.

So are you glad Bob brought it all home or do you wish he left it wherever the hell it was? I mean where are we even going to put it it? Seriously Bob, hire a shed or something, sheesh... sorry I got sidetracked. Just let me know below.

1 comment:

  1. My life has been enriched for having heard Dylan albums. I embrace them all , though skip thru the 80s pretty quickly like most of us do. I love his recent albums even Tempest. Go Bob.