Tag Archives: 1965

The Rewind Button: Bringing It All Back Home

The Rewind Button is a group blogging project that I’m participating in. We’re taking on Rolling Stone‘s Top 40 albums of all time and writing our own reviews of them.

Bringing It All Back Home by Bob DylanI believe this is the fourth Bob Dylan album I’ve reviewed for this project. I’ve never listened to so much Dylan as I have now. And I’m going to declare that Bringing It All Back Home is my favorite of the one’s reviewed.

The album is feisty, punchy, and rollicking. I also like that most of the songs are short (for Dylan, that is). More times than not, I found myself dancing in my seat at work while listening to the songs.

By the way, when “On the Road Again” came on, it reminded me of the Georgia Satellites’ classic “Keep Your Hands to Yourself.”

Bringing It All Back Home is an album I would be proud to have in my disc changer, at home and work.

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The Rewind Button: Rubber Soul

The Rewind Button is a group blogging project that I’m participating in. We’re taking on Rolling Stone‘s Top 40 albums of all time and writing our own reviews of them. There will be a new album and review each Thursday.

Rubber SoulNow we come to my favorite Beatles’ album, and I have to figure out a way to explain why it’s my favorite. Won’t you let me get away with just saying it’s great, go listen, then end? I didn’t think so.

Here’s where I start: This is the first Beatles’ album that included no covers and included all four members as composers. When I listen to Rubber Soul, I feel like I’m listening to an album and not a compilation of singles. I feel like there was a real purpose to the overall production.

Another aspect that appeals to me is that it’s a turning point in The Beatles’ career. It’s their turn-the-corner moment. The recordings look to the past and future, sometimes within a single song. For example, take out the sitar in “Norwegian Wood” and you still have a good song, but one that could have fit on previous Beatles’ albums or featured on another artist’s album in that time period. But The Beatles added the sitar, an instrument that is usually classified as a world music instrument.

In 1965, attitudes about the world were changing, people were openly embracing other cultures and experimenting with ways of how to better inhabit this planet. For the world’s most popular band at the time to contribute to that attitude, well, that’s a pretty big deal. They didn’t need to sing political songs; they expressed their views with instrument choices, recording practices, and art direction.

Just look at the album cover and name, for example. The group photo is in focus, but slightly stretched. This aligns with the name Rubber Soul, in that the world and humans are getting pulled. The world is warped, there’s something new afoot.

And consider this new direction for the band: the song “Run for Your Life.” Sure, The Beatles had written sad songs in the past, but never one which expresses outright anger and wishful hurting. This is Rubber Soul‘s last song, and it’s a prescient one knowing what we do now of how the summercruxe of love ended in Altamont.

Because I’m fascinated and drawn to the cruxes in life, that is why Rubber Soul is my favorite Beatles album. It’s a perfectly balanced affair that, in my list, ranks far above Revolver and Sgt. Pepper’s.

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The Rewind Button: Highway 61 Revisited

The Rewind Button is a group blogging project that I’m participating in. We’re taking on Rolling Stone‘s Top 40 albums of all time and writing our own reviews of them. There will be a new album and review each Thursday.

Highway 61 RevisitedJonah Lehrer shares a great story in his latest book, Imagine: How Creativity Works, about Bob Dylan. Lehrer tells us that after months of grueling touring, Dylan vows to give up making and playing music. He leaves for upstate New York to relax and write a book. However, once he’s away from all life’s pressures, a sense of urgency comes over him to write. He immediately dictates what comes to mind, later claiming it was like word vomiting. After writing for hours, he had “Like a Rolling Stone” completed. A few days later, he’s back in New York, recording the song quickly and cementing his status as America’s premier troubadour.

Listening to Highway 61 Revisited is like attending a fun party. I feel like I’ve stepped sober into a room full of people dancing, smoking, drinking and fondling. It’s how I image the late 1960s were for free-spirited individuals. The energy is attractive, and even if I don’t quite understand the party’s whys or whats, I’m willing to stay until the end.

Listening to this album is also like taking a road trip. Yes, maybe the title is playing a bit into that feeling, but it’s the rolling aspect of the music that lends itself to this feeling. Most of the songs are bluesy stomps touching on America’s current collective psych in 1965. It’s interesting that the top five albums on Rolling Stone‘s list were all released between 1965 and 1969. Does that mean the late 1960s were rock and pop music’s golden age? Highway 61 Revisited makes a compelling argument that yes it was.

You have Dylan releasing this album, followed later in the year by The Beatles’ Rubber Soul, then Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys in response to Rubber Soul, followed by Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde, then the one-two punch of Revolver and Sgt. Pepper’s. If the 1960s weren’t the golden age, it was at least a time of great conversation among artists, framed in musical responses. This is something sorely lacking in today’s musical landscape (well, actually, hip-hop is carrying on this tradition).

Dylan’s genius was instigating this one-upmanship, and he achieved this by not settling for the status quo. Sure, he could have carried on the folk path, playing sold-out shows night after night. But he realized that his art (and his physical and mental health) was suffering because of this. He had to break free, get away, and just chill out for a bit. And by doing so, he gifted so many other artists.

Maybe I’m giving Dylan too much credit. Perhaps he just wanted to relax and not try so hard. Maybe he just wanted to rock out for once. Either way, purposeful or by accident, Highway 61 Revisited started a musical movement we have yet to witness on the same depth and intellect again.

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