Bob Dylan – Bob Dylan
Columbia, 1962 (later pressing)
Acquired: Love Garden, Used, 2008
There’s a point during the opening track, “You’re No Good,” where Bob Dylan kind of giggles. This leads me to deduce that this track was recorded live (in the studio sense) and in one take, which is awesome. I say “Shit, this is really good.” Jenny says, “Damn right it is.” The thing about Bob Dylan’s debut LP is that it’s always going to be overshadowed by every record he makes until he makes Self-Portrait. Well, probably. It’s just a little sad, because it’s really, really fucking good. Granted, he only contributes two originals (the excellent “Talkin’ New York,” which plays like a sarcastic play on some kid from Minnesota movin’ to the city via aping Woody Guthrie and “Song to Woody,” which just makes me adore Bob Dylan because I have a thing for songwriters who are deeply indebted to other songwriters to the point of writing songs about them). It doesn’t have the swagger that he picks up around Another Side of Bob Dylan, but it’s exactly what Dylan wanted to be in 1962, which is to say Woody Guthrie, or a folk singer almost as good as Woody Guthrie. It’s really hard to view this record without bias because, goddamn, I know his next six records are going to be fucking masterpieces. I can’t even get to the point where I try to think “Well, what if this was some rare folk record put out by some guy named Bob Dylan, who never put out another record.” I can’t because it’s Bob Dylan and Bob Dylan is just unfuckwithable. But, listening to this while taking every other Bob Dylan record into context, it’s still really good. I like it more than John Wesley Harding and Nashville Skyline but not more than Blood on the Tracks or Desire. But what the fuck am I talking about? This is where homeboy started out and like a lot of debut LPs from future superstars, it’s not brilliant but the amount of promise held within it is unfathomable. Or maybe it is fathomable. Maybe if I said that in 1962 it would be unfathomable until it became fathomable. I don’t know. It’s a bunch of old folk standards sung by a dude who can’t really sing but that’s what makes him a great singer and there’s a passion in the way he sings these songs that makes him unfuckwithable. I always wonder if I would have thought Dylan was really annoying if I were a music critic forty-seven years ago. At this point, I listen to so many singer-songwriter records through music staff at KJ that it’s possible I could have passed on this, although I think forty-seven years ago this would have been pretty rad and I like to think I would have liked it. Now everyone just wants to be the next Bob Dylan, and it’s boring as shit. Actually, the last track on Side A and the first few tracks on Side B (including "House of the Rising Sun") kind of sound like he's trying way too hard and, as a result, kinda suck.