blonde on blonde vs. highway 61 revisited.

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which is the better dylan album, in your informed opinion?

di, Saturday, 5 January 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

Highway 61 takes the crown here, despite the fact that I wouldn't especially mind never hearing "Like a Rolling Stone" again.

Dylan's never sung better than H61R--you can hear him sinking his teeth into every line. Also, I like Dylan best as a blues guy, and H61R wins on the strength of its twisted and vehement blues mutations--"It Takes A Lot To Laugh" etc., "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues," and esp. the fantastic title song (which reminds me: does anybody else think the Flying Lizards' "TV" is a rewrite of it?).

BoB, actually, has my favorite Bob blues ever ("Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat," whose venom is eternally potent), but is also loaded down with lazy throwaways (quick, sing me a little of "Obviously 5 Believers"-- can't do it, can you?), plus "Rainy Day Women" and "Just Like a Woman" are probably the two Bob songs I'm most exhausted with. Plod plod plod.

Douglas, Saturday, 5 January 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

I've always really enjoyed the souped-up version of "It takes a lot to laugh" on the bootleg vol.2...he really tears into the "I wanna be your lover, baby" line.

Blonde has "johanna" on it which is my favorite dylan song. Still, 61's high points make the rest of Blonde seem kinda pale. "Memphis blues" for instance. So 61 wins. Should winner have to face "Bringing it all back home" for the championship?

Although, Douglas, I've always liked 5 Believers and am humming it to myself right now.

Dave K, Saturday, 5 January 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

I'm going with "Bringing It All Back Home." Nyah.


Jay, Saturday, 5 January 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

'Bringing It All Back Home' takes the cake, agreed.

'Highway' is a second-rate 'of the same era/vibe' record - a weird transitional piece between the two, and probably much more interesting as a result...

But from both, you've simply got to go with 'Blonde On Blonde'. The definitive record - but with better tracks than 'Highway' - You Go Your Way..., I Want You, Like A Woman, Lady of the Lowlands, etc. etc., Rock And Roll with terrible folksy, angsty singing - together at last!

Michael, Saturday, 5 January 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

Blonde on Blonde.

When I was a teenager I didn't really "get" Bob Dylan. I found him boring. His CDs are sold at the "Nice Price" though (like $6), so I'd buy another one every now & then. Blonde on Blonde ended up being the first of his records that really hooked me -- especially "Visions of Johanna", which I used to play over and over again -- and then a lot of the albums I'd rejected before began making sense. I'm a little biased towards it. Good memories are associated with it.

And it's still a big favorite of mine. I find it very wintery & mysterious. I like that it's a double album. The long, shambling groove works for me. "Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands" needs three sides of music to precede it because it makes the song's weary, lost, romantic quality all the more perfect, I think. It sounds like the last song in a long set.

My favorite Dylan album is probably John Wesley Harding, but Blonde on Blonde comes awfully close. And so does Highway 61 Revisted.

Oliver, Saturday, 5 January 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

Now, I listen to BOB much more often than H61....l966 was such an awesome year for Bob, the England tours with the Hawks. Oh, I was so much older then....

buck beckham, Saturday, 5 January 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

I'm going for Blood on the Tracks, so there!

Lord Custos, Sunday, 6 January 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

l966 was such an awesome year for Bob...

Well yeah, aside from the motorcycle wreck.

hstencil, Sunday, 6 January 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

which reminds me of the toby litt novel about beatnicks where they decided that dylan died in the crash ...

anyway, BoB for style, HW61 for balls.

geoff, Sunday, 6 January 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

Blonde on Blonde - it just SOUNDS better - more expansive and roomy and richer. Joe South - mmmmm.

Andrew L, Sunday, 6 January 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

I don't like Blonde On Blonde as much cause it starts with 'Rainy Day Women' which is annoying and has 'Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat' which makes me want to hit him. I like 'Obviously 5 Believers' though.

HIghway 61 Revisited is just perfect and has 'Queen Jane Approximately', so it wins.

I love being a Dylan know-nothing.

N., Sunday, 6 January 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

My vote is for Bringing It All Back Home.

Lindsey B, Sunday, 6 January 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

Highway 61 Revisited. More perfect, I never get tired of anything on it except "Ballad of a Thin Man" (a kind of preemptive exhaustion, usually--as good as it is, I have to steel myself against it some, "Yeah, I know, you're so much cooler than that guy, uh huh, enough already"; "Like a Rolling Stone" has nothing on this song in the overplayed/overpraised category), Bloomfield is a motherfucker, "It Takes a Lot to Laugh" and "Tom Thumb's Blues" exemplify rhapsodically-weary-at-25 better than anything I've ever heard, love the way the whole thing moves.

Blonde on Blonde I love a lot, though not "Obviously 5 Believers" (nice guitar, shit else) or "Pledging My Time" (couple funny-surreal lines, shit else). I do enjoy "Rainy Day Women" as a goof and opener, and "Visions of Johanna" is on somedays my favorite Dylan song; so are "Memphis Blues Again" and "Absolutely Sweet Marie." The band is better here (as Paul Williams pointed out in Performing Artist Vol. 1, pay close attention to the drumming- -it's perfect), but the material isn't quite up to 61's.

M. Matos, Sunday, 6 January 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

incidentally, "Leopard-Skin Pillbox Hat" could have been written or performed by Lenny Bruce

M. Matos, Sunday, 6 January 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

golly michaelangelo, you actually *read* "performing artist"? like to quote from?

mark s, Monday, 7 January 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

Highway, but the highs are higher on BoB. Count me in w/ "Visions of Johanna" being among my favorite Dylan songs, and "Stuck Inside of Mobile" is right up there. And I really dig "Lepoard Skin Pill Box Hat" how can you not love the image of the mattress balancing on a bottle of wine -- that's sweet. But yeah, thare are a 4 or 5 BoB songs I always skip, and I'm not even that crazy about "Sad-Eyed Lady." Wheras I can always listen to 61 straight through.

Mark, Monday, 7 January 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

golly michaelangelo, you actually *read* "performing artist"? like to quote from?

normally I don't answer condescending-asshole questions like this one, but yeah, I have read it, and I obviously did quote it. but "like to"? what are you, in junior high?

M. Matos, Monday, 7 January 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

What's so fucking junior high about that?

Josh, Tuesday, 8 January 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

Mark's in SENIOR high, like. AND he's a prefect.

Dr. C, Tuesday, 8 January 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

'Self-Portrait'. Well, SOMEBODY had to say it.

OK, I lie. 'Slow Train Coming' is the one for me. I file it next to Ice Cube's 'Death Certificate' in the 'spleen' section of my personal organ collection.

dave q, Tuesday, 8 January 2002 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

five years pass...

willful contrarianism to prefer 'highway'.

That one guy that hit it and quit it, Friday, 21 December 2007 18:25 (fourteen years ago) link

I always used to prefer Blonde - but after recently listening to them again, I was more impressed by Highway. I think Matos nails it pretty well in his comments above (though I disagree with him on "5 Believers" and "Pledging My Time", both of which I think are great) - the band and singing on Blonde are better, but Highway has more consistently great material.

o. nate, Friday, 21 December 2007 18:29 (fourteen years ago) link

i've always like highway better, and it helps that it was the first dylan album i really sat down and listened to.

as others said upthread, there are always a few tracks on blonde that i skip over. blonde has incredibly high peaks but nothing that highway can't match, i think, except for maybe "visions" or "stuck inside of memphis". (to be honest those two and a couple of the others are the only ones that i really love on blonde.

highway it is.

willful contrarianism to prefer 'highway'.

this is just kinda dumb.

Mark Clemente, Friday, 21 December 2007 18:34 (fourteen years ago) link

it sounds like practice for 'BoB', halfway house between that and 'bringing it'.

That one guy that hit it and quit it, Friday, 21 December 2007 18:36 (fourteen years ago) link

come on, calling an incredible album out of an artist's peak period as one's favorite is "willful contrarianism?"

you could make a reasonable argument for picking nearly any dylan album from '63 to '69 as the best one. not that i'd accept it, but it would be entirely reasonable.

in any case i don't see highway as really a transitional album at all. if anything, bringing it strikes me as that, with the half-electric rock /half-acoustic folk going on. highway is pretty distinctive in tone, too, from both of those other albums.

Mark Clemente, Friday, 21 December 2007 18:42 (fourteen years ago) link

it suffers from 'LARS' being a just a tad overplayed. also it's only nine tracks, and deducting that and the sucky 'ballad of a thin man' and 'desolation row'...

That one guy that hit it and quit it, Friday, 21 December 2007 18:46 (fourteen years ago) link

true. and if you don't like "ballad" or "desolation" than probably highway won't do much for you. but those are two of my favorite songs on the album.

"LARS" certainly suffers a bit from being overplayed, but i still love it. i also haven't heard it too often recently so it still works for me.

i like the fact that highway is shorter. i find myself much more inclined to throw on an album if requires a shorter amount of time to hear the whole thing. blonde 70 minutes. that's pretty long. usually with albums that long i make it about 40 minutes in and then i'm done. if an album is 30-40 minutes long and it's all good, it'll get played a lot more than the 70 minute clunker that might have some gold on it.

Mark Clemente, Friday, 21 December 2007 18:53 (fourteen years ago) link

blonde *is 70 minutes, obv.

Mark Clemente, Friday, 21 December 2007 18:54 (fourteen years ago) link

two years pass...

has a bootleg of *just* the instrumental tracks of Blonde on Blonde ever come out? I would love love love to be able to focus more clearly on the guitar riffs on "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again".

Most important performer of our generation: (Euler), Saturday, 13 March 2010 14:35 (twelve years ago) link

Does Dylan pull out "Temporary Like Achilles" live these days? It sounds like a Basement Tapes song if you ignore the vocals and it would be hard to pull off without radically reworking it (which could be interesting). I don't have any boots with it, fwiw, from any era, not just recently.

Most important performer of our generation: (Euler), Saturday, 13 March 2010 14:53 (twelve years ago) link

man "Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands" is both gorgeous and ridiculously hilarious at the same time. "They wished you’d accepted the blame for the farm" is so absurd, like a total bullshit line (even if it's "supposed to mean something"), that I lol each time I hear it. It's like the way a carnival barker would talk as he's falling asleep.

Most important performer of our generation: (Euler), Saturday, 13 March 2010 15:17 (twelve years ago) link

It took me years before i made the 60s Dylan plunge and yeah every album I listened to was back-to-back magic and perfection. I really can't pick between the two most times but if I'm in a sentimental mood BOB usually wins.

Adam Bruneau, Saturday, 13 March 2010 15:45 (twelve years ago) link

three months pass...

"Ballad of a Thin Man" really is pretty annoying, isn't it? It goes on too long "with all this repetition"; kind of a dirge, really. The organ is nice enough but it's a drag that it's on all those o/w great 1966 shows.

Euler, Thursday, 17 June 2010 16:35 (twelve years ago) link

BoB by a nose, but both are sorta otherworldly & UFWithable.

ImprovSpirit, Thursday, 17 June 2010 16:47 (twelve years ago) link

i dunno euler, those 1966 thin men are pretty intense to these ears. i don't think i've heard a really good live version since, but in 66, that song was god-like.

tylerw, Thursday, 17 June 2010 17:02 (twelve years ago) link

love dylan but I find BoB sorta boring save a few songs.

iatee, Thursday, 17 June 2010 17:04 (twelve years ago) link

i was never a fan of thin man myself, but he really lit it up when i saw him do it live last year. it could have been his band, though. that band was terrific.

hobbes, Thursday, 17 June 2010 17:05 (twelve years ago) link

I like the 1966 versions where the organ comes through better than on the "official" one, but Bob's whine just ends up annoying. I was just listening to the album, version---I've got three huge box sets of 1965 and 1966 coming up in my queue---like, er, 36 cds worth (!)---so lotsa "Thin Man" in my near-ish future.

Euler, Thursday, 17 June 2010 17:08 (twelve years ago) link

The folks who find "Ballad of a Thin Man" boring are making me wonder if I hear the same thing they do when it comes on.

ImprovSpirit, Thursday, 17 June 2010 19:38 (twelve years ago) link

I think most of the 66 boots are of the acoustic half of the shows, so probably not too much Thin Man Euler!

Officer Pupp, Thursday, 17 June 2010 20:29 (twelve years ago) link

youtube seems to be scrubbed clean of dylan videos these days, but the 66 performance of this song included in No Direction Home is off the hook.

tylerw, Thursday, 17 June 2010 20:33 (twelve years ago) link

i used to would say HW 61 with little doubt, but over the years BoB has really earned its classic status to these ears. there are still more songs on BoB that I'm inclined to skip over, but the standouts are pretty much peerless vis-a-vis his catalaog.

used to bull's-eye Zach Wamps in my T-16 back home (will), Thursday, 17 June 2010 20:38 (twelve years ago) link

hope it's ok if I keep using this thread as a general 1965/1966 thing.

The second set of 1965-6-1 @ BBC TV Theatre, London, England is terrific! Firstly, check out the set list:

Love Minus Zero/No Limit
One Too Many Mornings
Boots Of Spanish Leather
It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)
She Belongs To Me
It's All Over Now, Baby Blue

It's the last show before Newport 65, and it sounds like something is dying. The "Boots of Spanish Leather" has a faraway sound, sad & distant. He tells the "I'm only bleeding, ho ho ho" joke that's common on the UK 1965 tour but here it's lifeless (this is the last time he played it in 1965 & 1966 that I know of). But the real ear-opener is "One Too Many Mornings", which has the arrangement you know from the 1966 rock shows (with the delayed "behind"), but here in an acoustic take, and like the other songs, sad sad sad. It's great to hear where that later arrangement originates.

Euler, Monday, 21 June 2010 19:36 (twelve years ago) link

great write-up Euler. one of these days I will descend into the labyrinth that is dylan bootlegs. but for the mean-time, there's an arrangement of 'don't think twice it's alright' that's more upbeat/vicious than the album version that he played in the 60s - anybody know which bootleg has it?

crüt it out (dyao), Tuesday, 22 June 2010 01:29 (twelve years ago) link

might be the Before the Flood version from 1974 -- it's pretty rip-roaring.
so euler, this 65-66 set is the Jewels and Binoculars thing? Quite an undertaking! Some great stuff, but also I'd imagine some pretty poor sounding (audio quality) stuff as well.

tylerw, Tuesday, 22 June 2010 01:35 (twelve years ago) link

hah yeah that's the one - I was a little unclear in my first post, I think he started playing this version in the 60s. I meant it was different than the arrangement on the album...thanks for the rec, though

crüt it out (dyao), Tuesday, 22 June 2010 01:42 (twelve years ago) link

I'm listening through three 65 and 66 boxes: firstly, 1965 Revisited, Jewels & Binoculars, and Genuine Live 1966. I think everything from the latter is available on Jewels & Binoculars but I knew the latter first (and like its sound quality). Plus I have the Sept. 3, 1965 Hollywood Bowl show in the queue (somehow that missed 1965 Revisited.

Euler, Tuesday, 22 June 2010 05:32 (twelve years ago) link

Euler's post above mentioning Love Minus Zero/No Limit just reminded me what Clinton Heylin said in the first part of his song chronology book, that it was originally written on the label like a mathematical equation, so (hopefully the formatting will work...):

Love - --------
No Limit

Which i kinda love.

Officer Pupp, Tuesday, 22 June 2010 12:54 (twelve years ago) link

It didn't... datgunnit... ok, Love minus (-) Zero divided by No Limit.

Wish i hadn'tr bothered now...

Officer Pupp, Tuesday, 22 June 2010 12:55 (twelve years ago) link

it's ok, i liked the blonde on blonde chapters the most, some of it is a little boring. nice that he gives the 90s-00s some detailed analysis.
if anyone's looking for a quick n easy dylan bootleg intro, this guy is posting the recent "performing artist" boots:
probably the most well organized collection available.

tylerw, Friday, 7 October 2011 14:55 (ten years ago) link

I think this has what you're looking for. It's findable if you look around. I've listened to the whole damn thing, all 26 disks, & it's pretty insane.

Euler, Friday, 7 October 2011 15:00 (ten years ago) link

ha, i've never braved that thing, though i've heard a lot of it. the audience recordings are super-rough, right?

tylerw, Friday, 7 October 2011 15:02 (ten years ago) link

they are rough & only for the superfanatic of that period. The good sounding sets though are worth time beyond the immeasurably worthwhile official 1966 boot. The real Royal Albert Hall show is particular great.

Euler, Friday, 7 October 2011 15:09 (ten years ago) link

yeah, i've got the genuine live 66 bootleg (covering euro/uk tour), which i think changed my life.

tylerw, Friday, 7 October 2011 15:10 (ten years ago) link

I had that too; this is all of that & more, I think...way more than a non-freak needs, but I am a freak for Bob.

is there gonna be a new Bootleg Series volume this year? wasn't the Witmark thing last year? I have lost track.

Euler, Friday, 7 October 2011 15:23 (ten years ago) link

i don't think so? think the new bob "product" this year is that hank williams songbook thing. and the unreleased gospel era track on the lol hawaii five-o soundtrack.

tylerw, Friday, 7 October 2011 15:35 (ten years ago) link

that'll be cool enough then I guess.

for 1965 fandom I've gotten much love out of this.

Euler, Friday, 7 October 2011 15:44 (ten years ago) link

I love those 1965 shows because it's when Bob finally works out the croak of the Times They Are A-Changin' voice into something more tender, less strident. Though there are already hints of that on the astonishing slow take on "Gates Of Eden" in the 1964 Halloween show.

Euler, Friday, 7 October 2011 15:46 (ten years ago) link

one year passes...

I noticed that a girl in one of my rotary art classes today--excellent student, very quiet--was having a bit of a giggling fit. It continued for a while, so I eventually asked her what was so funny. It was the lyrics to "Desolation Row"--I was playing a '65-66 CD I'd made on the occasion of his birthday. I didn't think any of them were paying any attention.

clemenza, Saturday, 25 May 2013 03:47 (nine years ago) link

three years pass...

We had a farewell get-together after work for three people leaving next week. At one point, "Mr. Tambourine Man" came over the pub's sound system. I listened for about a minute, and had the same reaction I always have in such situations; I solemnly announced to the guy next to me, "Listen to what I say here: there are very few things in life as overwhelming as hearing Bob Dylan in a public setting" (by which I meant 1964/65/66 Bob Dylan--and many songs, not all of them..."Mr. Tambourine Man" definitely). I believe that devoutly--I can't even describe how that feels to me.

I could tell my pronouncement had quite an effect. "Neil--pass the onion rings," he replied, secretly pondering memory and fate and the jingle-jangle morning.

clemenza, Friday, 10 March 2017 01:53 (five years ago) link

four years pass...

I clicked on this thread because I wanted to write about Desolation Row, but yes! to that post from four years ago. I have a distinct and lovely memory from childhood of being on a brief family trip in California, sitting in the car overlooking a beach, in jeans that were wet from wading in the ocean, feeling chilly and salty and uncomfortable and terribly happy and not wanting it to end, and hearing "Mr. Tambourine Man" on the radio. (The Byrds cover, but still effective. I don't think I had heard it before.) Years later I compared notes about that trip with my brother (JoeStork) and found that the memory of hearing "Mr. Tambourine Man" had stayed with him as well, in much the same way.

Lily Dale, Wednesday, 12 May 2021 05:49 (one year ago) link

I still get shivers nearly ever time he gets to the "to dance beneath the diamond sky . . ." line.

Deicide at Chuck E. Cheese (PBKR), Wednesday, 12 May 2021 11:55 (one year ago) link

seven months pass...

Lily Dale's story in the revive above is terrific.

i remember being completely hypnotized and under the spell of Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man" the first time i heard it. probably age 13 or 14. it was just in my wood-paneled suburban bedroom, listening to the old blue Greatest Hits album. with "Subterranean Homesick Blues" i moved the needle back to hear it over and over, but i think with MTM it was more the epic centerpiece. it's still very evocative to me as a piece of writing and a performance, I can see my breath in the air as this tambourine man and his follower pass by, a hushed atmosphere despite all the jingle-jangling. don't think i could ever be critical of that one. but I had to actually look up which album it's on -- for me it exists mainly on that GH disc.

the two albums highlighted for this thread, i didn't hear until college. Highway 61, i got a copy of for a birthday or Christmas, and so i got to know it much much better. i like it a lot even if i'd probably give the edge to Bringing It All Back Home, of those two. BoB i know little enough to associate it mainly with one specific road trip down to Savannah - my friend was playing her copy in the car towards the end of the drive there, we stopped and got ice cream somewhere amidst Disc 1. tonight i've listened to Disc 2 twice in a row without intending to --- i think i like it a LOT better, and would probably have spent more time with this album if those songs came first!

I Am Fribbulus (Xax) (Doctor Casino), Tuesday, 21 December 2021 04:59 (nine months ago) link

Great posts above

Despite my lifelong Dylan fandom, I’m not sure that I’ve ever actually owned a copy of H61… I may just have the songs ingrained in my brain via Dylan collections. Honestly, I think I sort of forget the album exists; my brain jumps from BIABH to BOB (both of which were among the first CDs I owned, by any artist).

katebishopfan616 (morrisp), Tuesday, 21 December 2021 06:08 (nine months ago) link

(Looking at the H61 tracklist now… I should give this one a spin some time, looks like a pretty good album, lol)

katebishopfan616 (morrisp), Tuesday, 21 December 2021 06:10 (nine months ago) link

H61 is my weird Dylan blindspot, also. I borrowed a copy from my local library years and years back and listened to it a good deal but it never clicked - just wasn't in that headspace. I'm at the stage where I'm more interested in his less celebrated periods (xian, 80s, etc.)

Western® with Bacon Flavor, Tuesday, 21 December 2021 06:14 (nine months ago) link

Amphetamine pace of H61 makes it a great driving album.

ma dmac's fury road (PBKR), Tuesday, 21 December 2021 12:53 (nine months ago) link

These two records are usually paired together, but I think Blonde on Blonde actually marks a shift that is completed with his 1967 recordings. There's more attention to songcraft, writing bridges and hooks, the tempos are easing off, there are many more country music touches. I suspect that the motorcycle accident had less to do with his change in style than that he had burnt off a lot of the intensity of 1965. This may correlate with changes in drug intake and family situation?

Halfway there but for you, Tuesday, 21 December 2021 14:07 (nine months ago) link

i buy that. part of why it's taken me a long long time to get into BoB is that i find the energy level kinda sluggish. i was wondering last night if that was partially a matter of the mix --- the drums in particular feel really muffled/distant a lot of the time. but it could totally also be the songwriting and tempos making things feel a little bit less urgent. much moreso than on the previous two albums, i find the lyrics kinda washing past me --- just a parade of randomly identified characters doing miscellaneous things, not really adding up to a point or a narrative. maybe that'll change with more attentive listens, idk, but I feel like a lot of these songs could shed 2 or 3 verses and we'd never know the difference. disc one is also weighed down by having Rainy Day Women and Just Like a Woman which reallllly bore me (except the opening of JLaW). do Dylan fans get into "one-disc" versions of this record, the way Beatles people will tinker around with the White Album on rainy Sundays? i guess it gets tricky if you're committed to keeping Sad-Eyed Lady, which i probably would be.

I Am Fribbulus (Xax) (Doctor Casino), Tuesday, 21 December 2021 14:33 (nine months ago) link

sorry, that coulda used a paragraph break

I Am Fribbulus (Xax) (Doctor Casino), Tuesday, 21 December 2021 14:33 (nine months ago) link

i've never cared for BoB that much tbh, it is slow and plodding and too long. i honestly have never listened to it all the way through. highway 61 is perfection though for me

at 14 i was browsing my parents' record collection, which was terrible. just awful. they didn't even really listen to music. but my favorite uncle had left a worn copy of H61 in there, and i saw it and it stood out from the rest. i think i put on side 2 first, i have a very distinct memory of listening to "queen jane" and just feeling enraptured by the timbres and textures of everything - the out of tune guitars, the organ and piano, dylan's voice, the harmonica. the same for the rest of this album really.

marcos, Tuesday, 21 December 2021 15:03 (nine months ago) link

I've always had the same feeling about Blonde On Blonde. The songs kind of meld together in my mind: a lot of words, a lot of psychedelia that doesn't give me much to hang onto, less variety than the other albums, fewer peaks of energy, less of an arc. It's great, of course, but it's also the album from that era that I listen to least.

Highway 61, I think I imprinted on at an early age and it formed my idea of what an album should be like. Sometimes when I'm in one of those discussions about the best Rolling Stones album, I catch myself saying, "Well, of course Let it Bleed is the best album as an album," and then I realize that what I actually mean is that it's the one that's most like Highway 61.

Lily Dale, Tuesday, 21 December 2021 15:06 (nine months ago) link

I don't know if I've read anyone say they love Blonde on Blonde top to bottom; for such a canonized album, everyone seems to say, "I don't like this, don't like that, skip a bunch of songs", me included. Of course, everyone has different choices.

Halfway there but for you, Tuesday, 21 December 2021 15:11 (nine months ago) link

I think the whole thing is pretty great, but it’s a particular vibe… a long, languid album that’s in absolutely no f’n hurry. The most upbeat, “poppy” tracks are all on side 3!

katebishopfan616 (morrisp), Tuesday, 21 December 2021 16:41 (nine months ago) link

The first rock double album, before there were any rules about how such a thing should be structured!

Halfway there but for you, Tuesday, 21 December 2021 16:47 (nine months ago) link

oh man, blonde on blonde was the first dylan album i really loved and i largely think of it as energetic?

STOCK FIST-PUMPER BRAD (BradNelson), Tuesday, 21 December 2021 16:55 (nine months ago) link

The Classic Dylan Album I listen to least, and, yeah, it's got its dull patches, but, well, fuck it -- it's great.

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 21 December 2021 16:56 (nine months ago) link

(xpost) By exactly one week! BOB, June 20/66; Freak Out!, June 27/66. (Not that the structuring of Freak Out! might serve as any kind of useful blueprint for someone else.)

clemenza, Tuesday, 21 December 2021 16:57 (nine months ago) link

It came out a few weeks before Revolver and a week before Freak Out; it's funny to think that at the time, hipsters likely regarded it as the most far-out, hallucinatory rock record possible, based largely on the lyrical content. Now it sounds like an atmospheric country-rock record with a lot of words.

Halfway there but for you, Tuesday, 21 December 2021 17:01 (nine months ago) link

Both Dylan and Zappa put their side-long tracks on side 4. The third rock artist to release a double: Donovan, following in Bob's footsteps as usual...

Halfway there but for you, Tuesday, 21 December 2021 17:03 (nine months ago) link

BoB is great but it is an epic listen as a whole, and one best done at 2AM, furthering the difficulty. It's a pretty strung-out album.

ma dmac's fury road (PBKR), Tuesday, 21 December 2021 18:46 (nine months ago) link

eight months pass...

Vinyl Me Please is doing a MONO Blonde On Blonde pressing as their Essentials title for December.

an icon of a worried-looking, long-haired, bespectacled man (C. Grisso/McCain), Thursday, 15 September 2022 16:57 (two weeks ago) link

Oh yeah, that seems right. Check that, people. I first heard it in mono because I always bought mono because it was cheaper (not that much, but I was on an allowance). I thought stereo was corny parental stuff anyway, like Cinemascope. Much cooler to hear the wild sounds pressing the wall---Wall of Sound, yeah---and Dylan's crew blaring down Highway 61. with "It Takes A Lot To Laugh" {" I been up all night, leanin' on the window sill") and the beginning and end of moodswinging "Desolation Row" locating the Row pretty close to the funky old high-rise hallways of BoB (which I thought of re Village, Lower East Side, the Dakota, the Chelsea, and then realized it was all recorded in Nashville, which fit too, with my 70s visits to the Nashville of Altman's Nashville, with newspapers blowing around wet narrow little old streets, and even childhood memories of Chicago: all those scarred-up bad cough American cities back then, where thee action was).
Yeah blaring along Hwy61, then floating through rooms and halls of Bob, with moodswing to sneer also in "Visions of Johanna," in context of the narrator's own search-flailing: he's fogged and stoned and floating but can't relax---"my conscience explodes"---and "The ghost of electricity/Howls in the bones of her face" not far from "with her fog (Vogue?) her ampheta-meen, and her pearls," which is the key line of otherwise ho-hum-ish "Just Like A Woman," and the post-moodswing, crucial wordplay turning one "stone" to another, dodging terminal self-pity, is crucial in "Rainy Day Women." So there are enough bits standing out even in the foggiest, draggiest tracks (and "Visions," of course is far more than that, or that appproach at its best, but I think there are enough effective lines/contrast all through this thing to carry me between the most consistently compelling stand-alone tracks).
Even "Sad-Eyed Lady," which I don't think I ever paid that much (enough?) attention to, has "With your mercury mouth/In the missionary times" at the beginning, and "my Arabian drums" awaiting Milady's instructions all through: they're gonna be parked somewhere, this exotica imagery, so he can go off to the sere, clear(er), though even darker, backwoods streets ov John Wesley Harding.

(Some great comments on this thread, which I'd never seen before. Good to compare these albums, but don't know that I prefer one over the other, though Hwy61 plays itself without warning in my head pretty often, as it has for many a year.)

dow, Thursday, 15 September 2022 19:16 (two weeks ago) link

So what I meant to convey was that his albums came out so quickly and had just enough intimations on one of what the next soon led to---and Bringing It All Back Home had the isolation of being young etc. in the sticks, then jumping onto Highway 61, to city fog of BoB, back to the boonies, in a bloodstained historical way, still unfurling, for JWH, closing tracks of which foretold Nashville Skyline in different context, of course.

dow, Thursday, 15 September 2022 19:24 (two weeks ago) link

blonde on blonde hands down. it just seems less self conscious, like he’s not looking over his shoulder or winking as much, just letting it all spill out. It’s an ornate maroon and gold carpet. it sounds like home.

“like a rolling stone” is so awesome, tho, I will never deny that

brimstead, Thursday, 15 September 2022 19:47 (two weeks ago) link

It’s an ornate maroon and gold carpet. it sounds like home. So much so that I couldn't listen to it for several decades: when I tried, there were too many associations pressing in. Though very eventually, that was okay, and I was just amazed, that's all (in part by what he could do while obviously in his mid-twenties, an age range I was also much impressed by when I was much, much younger than that).
Now my fave version of "Stone" is by Hendrix at Monterey, the way the pointedness of the song comes through thee canny cuetness of his delivery's dynamic.

dow, Thursday, 15 September 2022 20:04 (two weeks ago) link

I'm 40, and my parents were big Dylan fans. These two + Bringing It All Back Home were in regular rotation when I was growing up and were thus among the first "adult" music that I heard somewhere other than the radio that I really tried to develop my own connection with. Predictably, my relationships with all 3 albums have continued to evolve throughout my life.

Posts upthread by marcos and Dr. C describing the airier, more limp mix of BoB had me sold on where I would put my allegiance between these 2. While I have always loved the poetry of Dylan's phrase "thin, wild mercury sound," the actual SOUND he seems to be describing leans a little too heavily on the "thin" part, on BoB anyway. But then I read brimstead's gorgeous

like he’s not looking over his shoulder or winking as much, just letting it all spill out. It’s an ornate maroon and gold carpet. it sounds like home.

and I'm back to thinking of these two deeply similar albums as incomparably different.

Also, cannot believe I have never noticed before today that Blonde on Blonde abbreviated spells BOB!

Lavator Shemmelpennick, Thursday, 15 September 2022 20:07 (two weeks ago) link

Re: trimming the fat on BoB to create a regular length LP, it would be interesting to see if there's any consensus. A lot of the songs are quite similar, and I suspect that aside from a few obvious standouts (and cutting Rainy Day Women) the ones you keep and cut are very personal, based on specific lines and moments that resonate. I won't try to get into track order - it definitely wouldn't be this - but a very quick pass for me says something like

Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again
I Want You
Visions of Johanna
One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later)
Temporary Like Achilles

Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat
Most Likely You Go Your Way (and I’ll Go Mine)
Fourth Time Around
Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands

Rainy Day Women #12 & 35
Pledging My Time
Just Like a Woman
Absolutely Sweet Marie
Obviously Five Believers

Lavator Shemmelpennick, Thursday, 15 September 2022 20:18 (two weeks ago) link

But wait! Whut about

dow, Thursday, 15 September 2022 20:30 (two weeks ago) link

dow, Thursday, 15 September 2022 20:32 (two weeks ago) link

I'd keep "Absolutely Sweet Marie" because it's got am instrumental hook and interesting chord changes, which I bet no-one ever said about half of the songs on the record.
I admit I never got "Visions of Johanna".

Halfway there but for you, Thursday, 15 September 2022 20:58 (two weeks ago) link

It's like Bob saying, "do you see what I did there?" for seven minutes straight.

Halfway there but for you, Thursday, 15 September 2022 21:01 (two weeks ago) link

Johanna vs. Sweet Marie is exactly the kind of personal preference I alluded to - neither has much in the way of hooks, both long, but both have lots of indelible lines. "The ghost of ’lectricity howls in the bones of her face" - cmon

Lavator Shemmelpennick, Thursday, 15 September 2022 21:09 (two weeks ago) link

I do like "Sweet Marie" a lot but it is sort of Blonde on Blonde by numbers to me. It doesn't stand out.

"Just Like a Woman" also has plenty of great moments but could've been a non-album single

Lavator Shemmelpennick, Thursday, 15 September 2022 21:10 (two weeks ago) link

Oh, I love Sweet Marie. I could see maaaaybe losing Five Believers.

mosh pit insurance agent (morrisp), Thursday, 15 September 2022 21:36 (two weeks ago) link

People. Just enjoy the record. Also if anybody so much as *touches* the Kenny Buttrey tour de force of “Marie”, I will be over with the enforcers.

assert (matttkkkk), Thursday, 15 September 2022 21:43 (two weeks ago) link


brimstead, Thursday, 15 September 2022 21:55 (two weeks ago) link

Inspired by this revive, I listened to BoB tonight and was thinking about how the album is kind of divided between serious or intense songs (Visions, One or Us Must Know, etc.) and lighter/funnier material (Rainy Day, Leopard Skin, etc.). It's its own little White Album. I was imagining the single album version of BoB not in terms of my favorites (I'd take some from both styles), but solely from the serious or intense side. There isn't quite enough for an entire album imo, so I added "She's Your Lover Now" and came up with this:

Emo Blonde on Blonde
Side A:
1. She's Your Lover Now
2. Visions of Johanna
3. One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later)
4. Just Like a Woman

Side B:
1. Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again
2. Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands

That fumble at the end of She's Your Lover Now leads into Visions really well.

Abel Ferrara hard-sci-fi elevator pitch (PBKR), Friday, 16 September 2022 00:40 (two weeks ago) link

So I've been listening to this version, which I now call Blonde on the Tracks, and it is killer imho (I know ppl don't like Just Like a Woman, but it works in this much more thematic context).

i need to put some clouds behind the reaper (PBKR), Friday, 23 September 2022 22:12 (one week ago) link

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