Bob Dylan: Highway 61 Revisited (1965)

I'm over 200 albums into this little side project, and I've held off on saying anything about Dylan, largely because saying something like "well, he's ok, I like a few of his albums" is considered sacrilegious in some quarters and likely to get you a stern tongue-lashing, or worse.  But that's just the way it is.  

Look, I won't deny the genius that is Bob Dylan.  I own a veritable shitload of Dylan albums, pretty much everything through the early 80s (I gave up after that), including plenty of live stuff and the various archives boxes.  But do I actually listen to it?  Not so much.  When it comes to Dylan, I often prefer others' interpretations to the originals, whether it's the Byrds' "My Back Pages" and "You Ain't Going Nowhere" or Manfred Mann's "Mighty Quinn" or of course Hendrix's "All Along The Watchtower."  My actual Dylan listening largely comes down to the 2 1/2 albums from his initial '65-'66 electric period -- side one of Bringing It Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, and Blonde On Blonde.  I'll occasionally spin the rest of his work through the duration of the later 60s and the 70s (particularly Blood on the Tracks and some of the killer live stuff with the Band from '66 and '74), but that's about it.

But how I love those two and a half albums, right?  Kinda torn between this one and Blonde, but I guess I give a slight edge to this because it's a tad more concise and, of course, because of the inclusion of "Like A Rolling Stone," a song that, no matter how many times I play it expecting I may find the thrill has started to fade, never fails to fill me with awe and respect.  Song for song, the whole record is pretty perfect.  I love the slow stroll of "It Takes A Lot To Laugh...," the gorgeous pop hook of "Queen Jane Approximately," the epic sweep of "Desolation Row."  (And I have to credit the Dead, whose versions of the latter two sold me on the songs before I developed a taste for the Dylan originals.)  Honestly, there's not a bum note to be found anywhere on the album.

So there's my Dylan confession.

Anyway, here's "Like a Rolling Stone," live '66:
And here's Dylan & the Dead doing "Queen Jane" in '87:
 

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