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Music Review: Bob Dylan – Bringing It All Back Home

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Bob Dylan went electric at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival and the music world changed. The folk community was up in arms but for Dylan there was no turning back.

Bringing It All Back Home was issued in the fall of 1965 and would contain an electric side and an acoustic side. Dylan began to fuse his folk stylings with a rock beat and created a whole new kind of music dubbed folk/rock. Dylan was becoming a better singer and his vocal style would continue to fit his changing music. This new style would elevate his commercial appeal as Bringing It All Back Home would be his first album to reach the American top ten and would climb all the way to number one in England.  

Bob Dylan’s lyrics would continue to become more inventive and the imagery would almost take on a mythical quality. The message and content of his writing would become increasingly personal and tell stories but would also continue to follow a liberal philosophy. Underpinning these lyrics was creative poetry and ultimately a beauty.

“Subterranean Homesick Blues” begins the album by continuing Dylan’s withdrawal from the protest movement, except now he was making fun of it. The album finishes with “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” which was a fine counterpoint to the opening song. This acoustic, love song is filled with sadness and resignation but can also be interpreted in a political context.

The electric “Maggie’s Farm” finds Dylan in rock ‘n’ roll mode. This song, about freedom of expression, is unique in that Dylan is expressing his new found freedom by creating a rock song. “Love Minus Zero/No Limit” is a haunting love song of infatuation and would become one of Dylan’s favorite concert tunes. 

“Mr. Tambourine Man” was the first track on acoustic side of the album. The melody and lyrics would point ahead to rock and psychedelia. This is one of the few Dylan songs that another artist would produce a more famous and in many ways a better version. The Byrds would take this stark, acoustic song and apply guitars and harmonies and create the perfect folk/rock song. “Gates Of Eden” was a song about lost innocence including his own. “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)” contains some of the most memorable lines that Dylan would create including; “Money doesn’t talk it swears.”  

Finally “Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream” is just a tour-de-force for Dylan. The surreal imagery touching on such subjects as the discovery of America and Moby Dick remain obscure over forty years later. If this is a typical Dylan dream, where is Carl Jung when you need him?  

Bringing It All Back Home would find Dylan at the first crossroads of his career. While the acoustic songs would be superb, it was the electric compositions that would point toward one of the most creative periods of Dylan’s career.

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About David Bowling

  • “Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream” has long been one of my couple of top favorite Bob Dylan songs. Back in the day, Dylan COULD be really, really frickin’ funny. Favorite Dylan lyric ever, as he’s at the bank trying to get a loan to bail his sailor buddies out of jail: “They asked me for some collateral, so I pulled down my pants.”

    And I certainly appreciate his parting greeting to a new sailor coming in to take up the white man’s burden as he was splitting town. “Said his name was ‘Columbus,’ and I just said ‘Good luck.'”

  • dylandy

    for the record, Roger McGuinn was the only Byrd who played on the studio version of “Tambourine Man.” The other performers were studio musicians known as “The Wrecking Crew.”