Some favourite Bob Dylan tracks

Back in the noughties EMI Music Publishing sued a young Italian documentary maker. In the background of one of the scenes in her documentary a mobile phone had rung. EMI owned the copyright to the ringtone and said that she had used it without permission. EMI successfully sued the documentary maker for $10,000 (and bankrupted her in the process).

Don’t you just love the bad guys in the suits! and Sony Music are just as bad, particularly when it comes to Bob Dylan on YouTube. Sony rigorously enforced copyright on YouTube and any unauthorised Dylan numbers were removed immediately, and the account holders were more often than not suspended. This year, though, Sony have eased up a bit. They’ve probably realised that keeping a tight rein on YouTube Dylan does them more harm in the long term, because the more that people discover Dylan on YouTube the more they will go out and buy his records.

So, for the time being you can find original Dylan tracks on YouTube, which leaves me with the almost impossible task of selecting some of my favourite Bob Dylan tracks (which, if Sony get mean again, will disapear from this post).

I don’t believe you is from Dylan’s fourth album, Another Side of Bob Dylan, released in 1964. If you’ve been following any of the memoirs I’ve been posting on this blog (see here) you might realise why I don’t believe you has such an emotional pull on me…

Bob Dylan is well known for being a bit vague about his non-specific lyrics. The song, Ballad Of A Thin Man, from the 1965 album, Highway 61 Revisited, is a prime example. Dylan has never given a direct explanation of what Ballad Of A Thin Man is about. Theories abound: the ‘Mr Jones’ in the song is a journalist who once pissed-off Dylan; or the song is about Brian Jones, from the Rolling Stones; or it’s about keeping up with the Joneses, a reference to American materialism; or it’s about homosexuality, since there is much phallic symbolism within the lyrics. Have a listen and make up your own mind…

Going electric was the first of many controversial turns that Bob Dylan made in his career. A year after releasing Highway 61 Revisited, Dylan had a motorcycle accident. He wasn’t badly hurt and mystery still surrounds the event. Following the accident, Dylan became reclusive and did not tour again for 8 years. He still made albums though, and in 1968, going completely against the psychedelic vibe of the time, he released an acoustic album called John Wesley Harding, and then in 1969 a country album called Nashville Skyline. John Wesley Harding was critically acclaimed and sold well. Its religious overtones gave a hint of what was to come in the 1970s, when Dylan became a born-again Christian and released two albums of gospel music. But getting back to 1965, and Highway 61 Revisited, this track’s called Queen Jane Approximately

Bob Dylan and Queen Jane Approximately. What does the song mean? What is it about? There’s been endless speculation. There’s no speculation regarding Masters of War, from Freewheelin’, Dylan’s second album released in 1963.

And I hope that you die
And your death’ll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I’ll watch while you’re lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I’ll stand over your grave
‘Til I’m sure that you’re dead.

Dylan recorded Masters of War shortly after the 1962 Cuban Missle Crisis, when the world came to the brink of nuclear war. The end of times. Masters of War is an angry, simplistic protest against the nuclear arms race; in fact, it’s the angriest record I’ve ever heard…

In complete contrast to Masters of War this next track is called Buckets of Rain, from Dylan’s 1975 album Blood on the Tracks

This final track is called Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands and it’s from the 1966 album Blonde on Blonde. Legend has it that Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands is about Dylan’s then wife, Sara…

Another favourite Dylan track of mine is Desolation Row. I’ve made a separate post about Desolation Row and if interested you can find it here.

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