Category Archives: The Songs

John Brown

It is not just the song “John Brown” that is a masterpiece – it is the performance that we have of it on MTV Unplugged.  Indeed because that is the only performance I have ever heard of this song, the … Continue reading

Posted in MTV Unplugged (Live), The Songs | 4 Comments

Foot of Pride

It doesn’t quite matter how you approach Foot of Pride, there’s something very odd about it.  According to the booklet notes it is very rarely commented upon, and one can understand why.  Apart from the fact that it never made … Continue reading

Posted in Bootleg Series volume 3, The Songs | 19 Comments

Standing in the doorway

“Time out of mind” starts just about as low as you can imagine – “Love Sick” tells us the singer has had enough – enough not just of love, but of life.  It is the ultimate farewell song.   Except … Continue reading

Posted in The Songs, Time out of mind | 2 Comments

When the ship comes in

Amidst all the moral relativism of Dylan, all the references to the fact that “you are right on your side, and I’m all right on mine”, all the comments about not following leaders, and the commentary that says that everyone … Continue reading

Posted in Bootleg Series volume 3, No Direction Home, The Songs, Times they are a changing | 3 Comments

Highlands

For me, to understand of Highlands, there needs to be a view of “Time out of mind”.  While many Dylan songs can stand apart from the albums on which they make the first appearance, most of Time out of Mind … Continue reading

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Lay Lady Lay

Here’s a simple thought: “What is Lay Lady Lay” about? There’s an oft-repeated story that when the Everly Brothers heard it they mistook it for a song about lesbians, and turned it down. That was based on a mishearing. With … Continue reading

Posted in At Boudakan, Essential Bob Dylan, Greatest Hits Volume 2, Nashville Skyline, The Songs | 6 Comments

Maggies Farm

By Tony Attwood (revised March 2013) What is it that makes Dylan stay with Maggie’s Farm?  Hardly a tour goes by without it being wheeled out, it has been on over half a dozen albums and it was part of … Continue reading

Posted in At Boudakan, Bringing it all Back Home, Essential Bob Dylan, Greatest Hits Volume 2, Hard Rain, No Direction Home, The Songs | 3 Comments

Don’t think twice

Sometimes it is a little too easy to forget just how perfect some of the early Dylan works are, and that is why the demo version of Don’t think twice is so welcome on the “No Direction Home” album. Beautifully … Continue reading

Posted in Freewheelin, No Direction Home, The Songs | 2 Comments

Lenny Bruce is Dead

In his interviews Dylan says that he wrote the Lenny Bruce song in about five minutes.   Bruce died in 1966, and Dylan wrote the song around the time of the recording of Shot of Love in 1980.  Dylan never expressed … Continue reading

Posted in Shot of Love, The Songs | 1 Comment

Love Sick

You want a masterpiece from the old boy – here it is. Unexpected, it seems to have come out of nowhere after seven years. The opening seconds present a growl of uncertainty, before the guitar clicks in, and we have … Continue reading

Posted in The Songs, Time out of mind | Leave a comment

Desolation Row

Returning to the original version of Desolation Row after years of hearing it in live performances, is quite a shock. I recall a performance at Wembley where suddenly it became a dance number – and none the worse for that, … Continue reading

Posted in Highway 61 Revisited, The Songs | 12 Comments

Subterranean Homesick Blues: the meaning of the music and the lyrics

Subterranean Homesick Blues This was Dylan’s first successful attempt to integrate the emotions of the Beat Generation which he had understood from Alan Ginsberg and others combining the thoughts of the moment with three minutes of everything that was happening … Continue reading

Posted in Bringing it all Back Home, Essential Bob Dylan, The Songs | 7 Comments

Love minus Zero / No Limit

The second of the two love songs from the first side of “Bringing it all back home” is infinitely more complex than “She Belongs To Me”. While musically it seems to be straightforward, the lyrics (and indeed the very title, … Continue reading

Posted in Bringing it all Back Home, Essential Bob Dylan, The Songs | 7 Comments

Gates of Eden

At times I think there are no words but these to tell what’s true. The problem with the CD version of “Bringing in all back home” is that if you have never owned the LP you don’t quite get the … Continue reading

Posted in Bringing it all Back Home, The Songs | 1 Comment

Idiot Wind

There can be few opening chord sequences as distinctive as Dylan’s minor-4th, 5th, Tonic sequence which opens “Idiot Wind”. And there can be few opening lines to a song as distinctive as “Someone’s got it in for me, they’re printing … Continue reading

Posted in Blood on the Tracks, Bootleg Series volume 3, The Songs | 2 Comments

Jokerman: the meaning of the lyrics and the music

Numerous reference books suggest that Jokerman is one of Dylan’s masterpieces. A great poetic adventure that encapsulates everyone and everything from Ode to a Nightingale by John Keats (1884) to… well, anything you like. All mixed with a mature and … Continue reading

Posted in Infidels, The Songs | 27 Comments

Don’t Take Everybody to be your Friend

The Theme Time radio programmes resulted in at least one album: a double sided affair which includes “Don’t Take Everybody to be your friend” by Sister Rosetta Tharpe and the Sam Price Trio. Recorded in 1947 when Dylan must have … Continue reading

Posted in The Songs, Theme Time Radio Hour | Leave a comment

Isis

And so, Isis. So revered that the longest running Dylan magazine is named after the song. But why – what is it in Isis that is so powerful, so overwhelmingly important in terms of the Dylan genre? Certainly it is … Continue reading

Posted in Desire, The Songs | 4 Comments

Changing of the Guards

Below in the review of this song that I wrote in 2008.  After that is an additional commentary added in March 2013. Changing of the Guards: first track on Street Legal, failed to make it as a single (presumably because … Continue reading

Posted in Essential Bob Dylan, Street Legal, The Songs | 14 Comments

Things have changed: the meanings behind Bob Dylan’s song

By Tony Attwood Dylan’s commentary on being dislocated from the world, while being within it – here but not here – spreads across a multiplicity of his songs. It wasn’t there at the start – Times they are a-changing dripped … Continue reading

Posted in Essential Bob Dylan, The Songs | 2 Comments