Posts Tagged ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’

(As noted in my first Essentials entry, this is an occasional series in which I spotlight albums that, in my estimation, everyone should experience at least once.)

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:

There is much to be said about Tuesday’s presidential election, but the biggest takeaway is this: For the second time in 12 years, and only the fifth time since America’s founding, the candidate who received less votes won.

The outcome is a result of the arcane Electoral College and per-state approach of the founders, who had little faith in the will of the people. As Alexander Hamilton explained in The Federalist Papers, the final decision on who should be president was the domain of “men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station.” He and his brethren wanted to insure that “the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.”

(That same lack of faith is why senators also weren’t directly elected. Until 1913, state legislators selected them.)

In practice, however, the Electoral College is a rubber-stamp vessel whose voters almost always cast their lot with the will of their states. And that’s why crooked carnival barker Donald Trump will be the next president of these United States.

It is what it is, unfortunately.

While there is much more that I could say, I’ll leave it with this: the first order of business Trump and the congressional Republicans should do is to dismantle the Statue of Liberty and ship it back to France. Their America is not about liberty, freedom or welcoming “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” As I wrote last week, to them, it’s not a land made for you and me; it’s a land of us versus them.

Anyway, for today’s Top 5: Freewheelin’ First Aid Kit.

fakdylan

(I borrowed the photo from FAK’s official Facebook page.)

1) First Aid Kit – “The Times They Are A-Changin’.”

2) First Aid Kit – “With God on Our Side”

3) First Aid Kit – “It Ain’t Me Babe”

4) First Aid Kit – “One More Cup of Coffee.”

5) First Aid Kit – “Subterranean Homesick Blues”

And one non-Dylan bonus:

First Aid Kit – “America”