Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Bob Dylan - Blonde on Blonde

Bob Dylan – Blonde on Blonde
Columbia, 1975
Acquired: Half Price Books, Used, 2013
Price: $4

Remember that scene in High Fidelity where Jack Black’s face drops when the guy tells him he doesn’t own Blonde on Blonde? I was that guy. For years. I’ve had plenty of opportunities to acquire a copy, but just…haven’t. So I caved. And I’m listening to it and thinking to myself “Why the hell did I wait so long to pick this up?” because it has all of my favorite Bob Dylan songs. No lie. The ones I really, truly can’t live without. “One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later),” “Visions of Johanna,” “Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again,” and “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands” all rank right up there on the list of songs I can’t live without. Track by track it’s a masterpiece but the cohesion is what makes it a Masterpiece. With the capital M and all that. One of those albums to be gushed over for all time for the laser focus of its vision and the seamless blending of Dylan’s devastatingly great lyrics and the rollicking jams achieved by Robbie Robertson’s guitar, Al Cooper’s organ, and the tireless work of the group of Nashville session musicians Dylan cobbled together to make this such a special thing. It’s an album that kills me moment by moment. The way the piano builds up and crashes into the last chorus of “One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later).” Every single line of “Visions of Johanna” which made me want to be a writer when I was 16 and discovering music, literature, and heartbreak simultaneously. The delicateness of the third side of the record between “Just Like a Woman” and “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands” that always comes as such a surprise to me because A.) I forget those five songs are there and B.) I forget how good those five songs are that by the end of “Obviously 5 Believers” I’m like “Oh yeah there’s one more song” and that it’s probably my favorite song on the record (and the reference to “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands” in “Sara” from Desire adds another layer to the track). But you know, it’s Blonde on Blonde and I’m just gonna cop-out and say this record speaks for itself. You’ve heard it, you know it, you love it or hate it or you’re one of those folks who says “I don’t see what the big deal is pff it’s not that great” the same way certain insufferable film students talk about Citizen Kane because it’s cooler to seem like you’re above the commonly accepted masterpieces. Where one would find enough fault with this record to dismiss it is beyond me.

Here's Cat Power's cover of "Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again." Partly because it's hard to find decent versions of Dylan tracks on youtube, mostly because I really love this cover and recall fondly the month and a half I spent spinning the I'm Not There soundtrack which is really what got me into Dylan in the first place.

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