Highway 61 Revisited – Bob Dylan (1965)

Album no. 58/1001

This came out in the same year as Bringing It All Back Home, and this time he’s almost completely electric, really flipping the bird at the folk establishment. Go on Bobby D!

This album has ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ on it, which was the song that arguably changed Dylan from a folk singer into a rock star. The organ on that track was recorded by a young session musician called Al Kooper, who claims that the organ is half a beat late on all the chord changes because he hadn’t had time to learn the song properly beforehand. Fair effort.

Have you listened to this album before?

NK: I have heard this once or twice, and I’ve heard some of the songs a lot more times than that. I don’t mind this album but I feel like he’s still building up.

CL: This is the one and only Bob Dylan album I’d ever heard before this listening endeavour – and the only reason I have it is because it has a ‘Highway 61’ on it, which I first heard in Walk The Line. Cool story.

Standout track

NK: I want to go for an under the radar indie rock pick, but it’s clearly ‘Like a rolling stone’. Sorry ‘Just like Tom Thumb’s blues’, but this song absolutely has a standout best track. Apart from that I think the songs show promise but aren’t amazing.

CL: I already like this more than the previous Bob Dylan album because it has some musical accompaniment. Not just his whinging voice. I mean, there’s obviously plenty of that, but at least it sort of gets drowned out a bit by the other instruments. But clearly the best song is ‘Highway 61 Revisited’. It’s literally the only one that moves more than a plod.

NK: I think it’s his first proper album with a band. It’s also his funniest and weirdest album if you believe Rolling Stone magazine.

When would be the best time to listen to this?

NK: This is a slow bluesey folk album. When I listened for the purposes of this review I was in the garden trying to get rid of some ivy, and I would highly recommend that. Worked for me, but then, I do hate ivy.

CL: Not on a bus. You might fall asleep and miss your stop. This is an important warning and should be placed on the cover of the album.

Why has this album been included on the list?

NK: This is regarded by some folks as the middle part of a trilogy of albums (between Bringing It All Back Home and Blonde on Blonde) which marked Dylan’s transition from folk idol to rock star. You can hear it happen if you listen to them in a row. Unrelated: I’m super keen for Blonde on Blonde.

CL: Ugh, I don’t know. Probably for his use of that instrument at the start of ‘Highway 61 Revisited’. It’s not a kazoo. But it sounds like a kazoo. And you know, I like to kazoo. Just kazoo it, guys.

Will you be listening again?  

NK: Maybe, but I’d rather jump ahead in Dylan’s catalogue I reckon. This is good, but I think the songs up ahead are better.

CL: Oh look, I’ve tried to listen to this album the whole way through a couple of times, when I was trying to convince myself that I could enjoy some Dylan, but my goodness it’s hard work. It’s VERY boring. Aside from ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ and ‘Highway 61 Revisited’? No.  

Rating

NK: This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.

CL: This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.This is possibly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard. I’m removing it from my iTunes without delay. It was offensive to my eardrums.

Listen to Highway 61 Revisited on Spotify or buy it in iTunes.

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