Friday, March 26, 2010

Bob Dylan- Another Side Of Bob Dylan (1964)

Another Side Of Bob Dylan is Dylan’s fourth album, the follow up the monumental The Times They Are a-Changin’. While many of the songs on the album retain the deeply political themes of its predecessor, Another Side Of Bob Dylan, like its title explains, portrays the increasingly poetic and emotional side of the musician, a side that appears in his earlier work but is now more completely realized. Album opener “All I Really Want To Do” showcases Dylan’s mastering of rhyme as well as his deeply emotional yet playful lyrics.
I ain't lookin' to compete with you
Beat or cheat or mistreat you
Simplify you, classify you
Deny, defy or crucify you
All I really want to do
Is, baby, be friends with you.
The whole album plays like an intimate personal concert rather than a studio recording. All the songs on the album feature only Dylan’s vocals, his acoustic guitar and his harmonica. The fact that the guitar sometimes plays out of time and Dylan giggles his way through the final lines of “All I Really Want To Do” only add the album’s personal and intimate feel. Other fan favorites present are the absolutely heartbreaking “It Ain’t Me Babe” as well the scathing, politically fueled “My Back Pages.”

But equally as fantastic are some of the album’s lesser-known tunes. “Spanish Harlem Incident,” one of my favorite Dylan tunes, has some of the album’s best and most surreal lyrics. “Motorpsycho Nitemare” and “I Shall Be Free No. 10” portray Dylan’s brilliant wit, particularly when it is infused with his fierce political criticism. The former weaves a hilarious story of Dylan’s night spent on a farm, trying to resist the temptation of the farmer’s beautiful daughter. He resolves the situation by shouting “I like Fidel Castro and his beard,” which results in the farmer chasing him out with a shotgun. Dylan closes the song with the brilliant line, “Me, I romp and stomping, thankful as a romp, without freedom of speech, I’d still be in the swamp.” The lyrics of “I Shall Be Free No. 10” brings to mind the stream of consciousness style that contemporary John Lennon popularized later in the decade.
I was shadow-boxing earlier in the day
I figured I was ready for Cassius Clay
I said "Fee, fie, fo, fum, Cassius Clay, here I come
26, 27, 28, 29, I'm gonna make your face look just like mine
Five, four, three, two, one, Cassius Clay you'd better run
99, 100, 101, 102, your ma won't even recognize you
14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, gonna knock him clean right out of his spleen."

Now, I'm liberal, but to a degree
I want ev'rybody to be free
But if you think that I'll let Barry Goldwater
Move in next door and marry my daughter
You must think I'm crazy!
I wouldn't let him do it for all the farms in Cuba.
Other highlights are the sprawling “Ballad In Plain D” and “Chimes Of Freedom,” as well as the beautiful “To Ramona” and lighthearted “I Don’t Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met).” The whole album is a stunning portrait of Dylan, as stark and candid as the black and white photo of him on the cover. Without the full band backing of his later albums, Another Side Of Bob Dylan’s minimalist guitar and vocal combinations allow Dylan’s lyrics to be completely at the forefront. The intellectualism of the folk movement is combined with his uniquely witty and raw emotional lyrics. It is one of my favorite Dylan albums, full of hidden gems, and both a good starting place for Dylan newbies and an essential for any fan of his work. Click the album artwork to sample the album.

UPDATE: Sorry dudes, apparently Bob Dylan and Columbia haven't made enough money so I can't let you sample the album.

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