Other than the great “Song To Woody,” which I praised last week, I haven’t ranked the songs on Bob Dylan’s first album very high. In fact, if you leave out “Song To Woody,” the average ranking of the songs from Dylan’s debut has been about 99th, and none of the other tracks has come in higher than 70th.
This may give the indication that I don’t like Bob Dylan as a whole; comparatively speaking, I don’t. But it’s not as if I don’t still end up listening to the album often—I find something to like in every (well, almost every) one of the tracks.
“Pretty Peggy-O” is a nice example of this. Continue reading »
At the end of “Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency,” the best episode of the most recent season of Mad Men, Don Draper tries to comfort his daughter, who is scared of the dark. She is scared of the dark because she thinks that her new baby brother is inhabited by the ghost of their grandfather. Together they go to the baby’s room to look at it, and Don comforts her by telling her that the baby is not her Grandpa: “This is your brother. We don’t know who he is yet, or what he’s going to be. And that is a wonderful thing.” And then the episode fades to black and “Song to Woody” starts playing over the closing credits.
Bob Dylan’s “Song to Woody” is really a song about identity—or, more accurately, it’s about the lack of identity that comes with youth. It’s about how people define themselves before they’ve done anything important. And it is the most beautiful and brilliant song on Dylan’s first album. Continue reading »
There’s not a whole lot to say about this song: Highway 51 will never be the highway Dylan is best remembered for. As I mentioned last week, Bob Dylan only wrote two of the tracks on his debut album—“Song to Woody” and “Talkin’ New York.” On some of the folk standards that he includes, Dylan took a songwriting credit for the musical arrangement he came up with, but on this song, only Curtis Jones is credited. The song itself is rather simple—Dylan recorded it in one take while recording the album. Continue reading »