Another Side Of Bob Dylan was Dylan’s second album release of 1964 and was far different from The Times They Are A-Changin’. He was in a transition stage in his career and was no longer merely a writer of excellent songs but had moved in a sophisticated lyrical direction. His songs were becoming more philosophical and rooted in the present. Dylan’s lyrics were beginning to have layers of meaning open to interpretation. The protest songs were falling by the wayside.
A number of his fans, especially those rooted in the protest movement, were unhappy with the direction of this album. Yet, the melodies and textures of the music and lyrics would gain him millions of new adherents.
“All I Really Want To Do,” which opens the album, would find a playful and somewhat sarcastic Dylan really singing about what he did not want. Cher and The Byrds would both have hit versions of this song exposing more people to his music. The album’s closing song; “It Ain’t Me Babe” would take the same themes but present them in a blunt and forceful way. This song would become a pop hit for the Turtles and a country song via Johnny Cash. “It Ain’t Me Babe” would be one of the first songs that Dylan would perform electric.
“Chimes Of Freedom” was a different kind of protest song. It was poetic and filled with imagery which forced the listener to wade through its layers and provide their own interpretation. This song would be in Dylan’s concert repertoire for years and would be sung by him at Bill Clinton’s first Presidential inauguration.
One of the most interesting songs in the Dylan catalogue is “Ballad In Plain D.” This 8 minute opus was about the break-up of his long term love affair with Suze Rotolo. She would be immortalized as the girl on the cover of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. This long autobiographical tune would be one of Dylan’s most intimate songs and a rare look into his personal life as he was coming to terms with the end of an important relationship. Years later he would say it was one of the few songs he regretted publishing.
“To Ramona” is another relationship song but is more general in tone. It is a stark, extremely poetic and heartfelt performance that is one of the highlights of the album. “Black Crow Blues” is the first song to feature Dylan on the piano and nothing but the piano supporting his vocal. It is a basic blues tune with a little honky tonk thrown in for good measure. “My Back Pages” was another song that emphasized Dylan’s distancing himself from the protest movement. It has a memorable refrain and is ultimately a song of rejection.
Another Side Of Bob Dylan would be an important step in the development of Bob Dylan, not only as an artist but as a person. Many times we forget how young he was when he began his recording career and by 1964 he was maturing. He would never return to the design and lyrical patterns of his early releases. As such, he would bring a uniqueness to American music which would enrich the fabric of society itself.