Great Record: Blonde on Blonde

Overview: This is now the third time I've covered this record here on TFB; originally, in a Bob Dylan special where I gave it the top spot among his classic works, and later on in a Very Good Records post where I stingily gave this record an A. Come on, Andy, lighten up. It's an A+.

The most storied and well-known of the stylistic changes Bob Dylan has made throughout his 50-year career was, of course, his decision in the mid-60's to "plug in," adding electric rock and roll to his foundation of acoustic singer-songwriter folk music. Controversial at the time, Dylan's transformation is now heralded as a key development in rock music, producing some of the genre's finest works. These include his first couple of releases after "going electric," Highway 61 Revisited and Bringing It All Back Home, followed by what is for me his career-best outing, 1966's Blonde on Blonde.

Nominally a double album (though it fits on a single CD, yay technology), Blonde on Blonde finds Dylan expanding his folk-rock sound even further, fully developing his lyrical and songwriting skills and incorporating elements of hard rock, blues, gospel, and of course folk. Compared to the rest of Bob-o's career, the melodies here are the clearest, the lyrical images the most imaginative, and the overall package the most enjoyable for listening.

The album kicks off with a bit of a curveball, "Rainy Day Women #12 and 35," a song that you know better as the "everybody must get stoned" song. The drunken brass band and background ruckus of the track, combined with Dylan's silly lyrics (during which he cracks up laughing twice), belies the more mature bent of the remaining 70 minutes od music on the record. Throughout the record, Dylan and his band jump back and forth between more rocking tracks and more traditional-sounding folk styles; in a sense, the sprawling disc is a microcosm of Dylan's career up to that point.

You're not going to believe this, but I like the more rock-oriented selections here on Blonde on Blonde. "Obviously 5 Believers" is, to my knowledge, Dylan's rockingest tune ever, and a personal favorite - I love the rambling, funky groove over the verses and the harmonica-vs-bass riff break that serves to break up the verses in lieu of a proper choruses. It's enough to make one wonder what kind of heavy rock Dylan had been capable of, if that had been his thing. Dylan's way with an easy groove propels the magnificent, heartfelt "I Want You," one of the number of songs here about relationships with an honest, sincere feel that Dylan often left on the sidelines. "Absolutely Sweet Marie" bounces along on a keyboard melody harkening back to the previous decade's styles, but Dylan makes it sound like his own.

The gentler numbers have some standouts, including the long, poetic "Visions of Johanna" and the delicate acoustic plucking of "Just Like a Woman" and "4th Time Around." It should tell the reader something that I'm highlighting these tracks, because in general this isn't my preferred style. I'm always impressed when an artist manages to capture my imagination without necessarily having a sound that I'm immediately drawn to.

"Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands" closes the disc on a reflective, melancholy note, in stark contrast to the lighthearted opener. At over 11 minutes, it's far longer than it needs to be to serve its purpose (and yet still ends on a fade out), but maybe that was the point. Either way, it's the culmination of a remarkably accomplished set of folk-rock, further cementing Dylan's place as an icon of modern music.

3 best songs: One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later), I Want You, Obviously 5 Believers

Newport: When Dylan first plugged in, a couple of years before this, a lot of the folkies hated it - calling him a sellout, booing him, and in one memorable instance, calling him "Judas." What the fuck was wrong with these people?

Complaining about Bob Dylan's voice: Yeah, we know, it's not a classically good voice. Really, we know this. You aren't adding anything to the discussion by complaining about it, just revealing that you've totally missed the point.

It seems like it'd be hard to play guitar like this and also play harmonica and sing: I'm just sayin'.

Magic moment: The spine-tingling rush to the chorus of "One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later)"

Minor flaw: "Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands" probably doesn't need to be 11:20

Why it's great: This is what folk-rock is.


Steve Finnell said...


Contrary to what men believe, only God can forgive the sins that have been committed against Him. Joseph Smith nor Brigham Young can forgive sins. Catholic priests cannot forgive sins. Lutheran ministers cannot forgive sins. There are no men dead or alive who can forgive the sins that men commit against God.


Isaiah 43:25 "I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins.


Micah 7:18 Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity...

Only God pardons iniquity. Joesph Smith, Brigham Young, Catholic priests, nor Lutheran ministers have the authority to pardon iniquity.

Daniel 9:98 To the Lord our God belong compassion and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against Him;

Mankind has rebelled against God and He alone can grant forgiveness.


Mark 2:6-11..the scribes...7...He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone? ....10 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins"---He said to the paralytic, 11 "I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home."

The problem with scribes was they did not realize that Jesus was God in the flesh. Joesph Smith, Brigham Young, Catholic priests, Lutheran ministers, nor any other men, are or were, God in the flesh.


Acts 8:18-22 ....20 But Peter said to him....22 Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you.

The apostle Peter did not grant forgiveness to Simon, he told Simon to pray to God for forgiveness. Note, Simon was already a Christian.


John 20:19-23 ....23 If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained."

Jesus was not giving Peter and the rest of the apostles the power to grant forgiveness of sins to men on an individual bases, Jesus was not ordaining them as priests with that power. Jesus was giving Peter and the apostles the authority to proclaim the terms for forgiveness of sins. Peter and the apostles did just that on the day of Pentecost. (Acts 2:22-41...36 Therefore let the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ---this Jesus whom you crucified. 37...Peter and the rest of the apostles....38 Peter said to them , "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.)

Peter and the apostles did not forgive sins on the Day of Pentecost nor on any subsequent day. They declare God's terms for pardon.
FAITH: John 3:16
CONFESSION: Romans 10:9-10

Christians are not asked to confess to Joesph Smith, Brigham Young, Catholic priests, Lutheran ministers, nor any other men, in order to have their sins against God forgiven!

Christians are to confess their sins to God in order to receive forgiveness. (1 John1:5-9 ....God is light... 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from unrighteousness.)

1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between men, the man Christ Jesus,

The only priest standing between men and God is the high priest, Jesus Christ.

NOTE: Confessing sins and asking God for forgiveness is only available to Christians. Non-Christians must have FAITH, REPENT, CONFESS JESUS AS LORD, BELIEVE IN HIS RESURRECTION AND BE BAPTIZED IN WATER IN ORDER TO THEIR SINS FORGIVEN.


( All Scripture quotes from: NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE)

YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY BLOG. http://steve-finnell.blogspot.com

Andy said...

I've received some awful comments in the 8 years I've been writing this blog, but this is almost certainly the #1 stupidest. Congrats!

Ryan C said...

Certainly the most annoying.

Anonymous said...

Jesus loves you, Andy. Also, you haven't lived until you've heard Jason and the Scorchers' version of "Absolutely Sweet Marie." (Uh, you haven't, have you?)


-- Mister X