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Bob Dylan – The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (1963)

June 6, 2013

[Album 191/1001]220px-Bob_Dylan_-_The_Freewheelin'_Bob_Dylan

It’s amazing what one person (well, one 1963 Bob Dylan) can deliver with just vocals, an acoustic guitar, and a harmonica.  For the bulk of the record, this is a one-man show.

It begins wistfully, with Blowin’ in the Wind’s unanswered questions fully deserving of all praise received over the last half century.

Girl from the North Country proceeds pleasantly before the record comes to a screeching halt on track 3.

I thought John Lennon’s Working Class Hero was up there on the ‘scathing attack’ meter.

Then I heard the musically similar Masters of War.

Imagine being on the receiving end of the closing stanza:

“And I’ll stand over your grave
‘Til I’m sure that you’re dead.”

There’s no comeback for that!

Not all of the 13 songs are timeless classics but there’s little to complain about either.  Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right is one for the books.

Freewheelin’… also set the bar that he’d continually raise over the next 3+ years.


From → 1960s

  1. For some reason, my parents had this record—probably bought when it came out. Not the stuff they normally listen to. I like the first 7 or so Dylan albums and a few songs from his later ones.

    Note that the tune from “Masters of War” is actually “Nottamun Town”. “Bob Dylan’s xxxth Dream” is actually “Lord Franklin” etc. This used to be called stealing until Pete Seeger renamed it “the folk process”. OK, they are traditional tunes, so no copyright infringement is involved, but they should be counted among the many songs written by the late, great Trad Arr rather than as music by Dylan.

    The lyrics are his though. Mostly. “Girl from the North Country” recalls the fact that Scarborough, site of the Fair, is in the North of England.

    This cover is the source of “in a coat he borrowed from James Dean” in American Pie, as the cover replicates a scene from Rebel Without a Cause (with Mr. Howell of Gilligan’s Island in a supporting role). How can we be sure? It is the Jester who sings for the king and queen in a coat he borrowed from James Dean; later in the song, the Jester is on the sidelines in a cast (Dylan after his motorcycle accident).

    • that’s true – so John Lennon can’t be accused of directly lifting Working Class Hero’s melody from Dylan, it’s also based on the traditional!
      I haven’t fully explored a couple of his early records yet, but his mid 60s work is something else.

  2. Nice review. What I really love about this album is the fact that it’s so thematically diverse. You have dead-serious protest Dylan, totally-unserious goofy Dylan, romantic Dylan, mystic Dylan, absurd Dylan and whatnot. Great stuff.

    Also, when’s ‘Another Side of Bob Dylan’ coming up? I’d love to read your thoughts on yet another big favourite of mine.

    • Surprisingly Another Side isn’t on the 1001 list (one of my coworkers was recently saying how brilliant that record was!) and I foolishly haven’t heard it yet. The Dylan records on the list are: Freewheelin, Bringing it, Highway 61, Blonde on Blonde, Blood on the tracks, Time out of mind & Bootleg series.

      List or no list, I’ll be sure to explore another side either way!

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