Posts Tagged ‘It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)’

Last week, I watched Bob Dylan: Roads Rapidly Changing, a documentary that recounts Dylan’s rise in and eventual departure from the Greenwich Village folk scene. He arrived in the Big Apple from the Land of 10,000 Lakes in 1961 with no connections, but – due to his talent and drive – quickly made a name for himself. “Blowing in the Wind,” The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, “The Times They Are a-Changing,” Another Side of Bob Dylan and Bringing It All Back Home, his 1965 farewell to the folkie world, date to this period in his life.  

The film, which I highly recommend, features a wealth of archival footage and performances alongside insights from an assortment of fellow Village folkies (Eric Andersen, Maria Muldaur and Tom Paxton) and rock journalists (Robert Christgau and Anthony DeCurtis).

Highway 61 Revisited, released a mere five months after Bringing It All Back Home, isn’t covered in the doc, which is understandable – it was his first full-fledged rock album, and the film focuses exclusively on his folkie days. Still, think about that for a second: In an era where it can take an artist years to release the next album, Dylan released two monumental sets within five months of each other. Paradigms shifted with each.

Of Bringing It All Back Home: The first side features Dylan backed by an electric band – a radical notion within the purist folk scene at the time. In the most simplistic description, the new sound marries the folk form to the rock beat.

The second half features an acoustic Dylan at his most electric.

There’s little more to say but this: The album, which expanded the concept of what popular music could and should be, is consistently rated as one of the greatest of all time. (This Rolling Stone article delves into its impact.) It sounds as fresh today as it must have sounded in 1965.

One last thought: Since the dawn of written history, there have always been purges of the past in order to placate the present. (You might say that we, as a people, have a long history of criticizing what we can’t understand.) Humans are flawed creatures, in other words, with our biggest flaw being that we tend to run with the pack. But in the mid-‘60s, Bob Dylan didn’t turn his back on what came before. Instead, he synthesized it into something new.

The track list:

I’m not sure which is worse: the mendacious Chump, the Clown Car of Corrupt Cronies (aka the current incarnation of the GOP), or the Grammy Awards. Since this is a music blog, I’ll skip the first two. And, for the same reason, I’ll just sideswipe the Grammy Awards and say that, for as long as I can remember, they’ve been simultaneously entertaining and meaningless. Which is why, at 10 o’clock last Sunday night, with an hour left in the ceremony, I felt no remorse in turning off the tube and turning in for the night.

And with that, here’s today’s Top 5: #ReleaseThisBlogPost.

1) Bob Dylan – “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)” from Bringing It Back Home (1965).

2) Neil Young – “Ambulance Blues” from On the Beach (1974).

3) Juliana Hatfield – “On Video” from Made in China (2005).

4) Paul Weller – “Wake Up the Nation” from Wake Up the Nation (2010).

5) First Aid Kit’s Klara Söderberg – “The Times They Are a-Changin’” from The Freewheelin’ First Aid Kit (2017).

And two bonuses…

6) Courtney Marie Andrews – “Heart and Mind” (2017). Written shortly after the 2016 election

7) Rumer – “Love Is the Answer” from the Love Is the Answer EP (2015) – a cover of the Todd Rundgren/Utopia classic.