Music Memories, Insights and Analysis

September 1, 2017
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Bob Dylan: Blonde On Blonde (1966)

Blonde On Blonde Blonde On Blonde was the seventh studio album by Bob Dylan, released May 16, 1966 on Columbia Records. Recorded mostly in Nashville, the double-LP features keyboard player Al Kooper (Blood, Sweat & Tears) and guitarist Robbie Robertson (The Band). The album was the follow-up to Dylan's critically aclaimed release Highway 61 Revisited, which was released in August 1965. The two albums are arguably Dylan's creative and commercial peak, with half a dozen hit singles among them. Blonde On Blonde was also one of the first double studio albums in rock music.

Many critics rank Blonde On Blonde among the top albums of all times. Two singles from the album "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" and "I Want You" were both U.S. top 20 hits. "I Want You" has been frequently covered by artists as diverse as The Hollies, Cher, and Bruce Springsteen.

The songs "Just Like a Woman" and "Visions of Johanna" have been named as among Dylan's greatest compositions and were featured in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list. "Just Like a Woman" has been covered by a variety of different artists including Stevie Nicks, Manfred Mann, The Byrds, Joe Cocker, Van Morrison, Jeff Buckley, Rod Stewart, Counting Crows, Gregg Allman, and Richie Havens among many others. Both The Grateful Dead and Marianne Faithfull have covered "Visions of Johanna".

The tracks "One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later)" and "Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat" were also released as singles. "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again" was later released as a single in a live version.

"Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" is one of Dylan's most iconic songs... but the title continues to throw people who are unfamiliar with his discography. The song, quite obviously, should have been titled "Everybody Must Get Stoned," but just as obviously never would have received airplay in those days with that particular title. Dylan scholar Clinton Heylin claims the title comes from the Book of Proverbs, chapter 27, verse 15: "A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike." One story is that when Dylan was told he couldn't call it "Everybody Must Get Stoned," he left the record building and took a short walk outside where he saw a mother and daughter, roughly 35 and 12 years of age walking in the rain. He went back in and gave the song its implausible title. (The Beatles referenced the song during their Apple rooftop concert in January 1969 when John Lennon sang the "everybody must get stoned" line a couple of times!)

Gatefold CenterSo what makes Bob Dylan (born Robert Allen Zimmerman on May 24, 1941) so universally revered? To begin with, he has sold more than 100 million records and is widely considered among the best lyricists in the history of popular music. He has won Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe Award, and an Academy Award. He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, and Songwriters Hall of Fame. He has also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Nobel Prize in Literature and a Pulitzer Prize special citation. Nobody has a resume to match.

But more than the awards and honors, its the influence he's had on popular music and culture over the past 50 yaers that have truly cemented his legacy. His songs have been recorded by the most influential artsts of our times: Jimi Hendrix's "All Along the Watchtower," The Byrds' "Mr. Tambourine Man," Peter Paul & Mary's "Blowin' In The Wind," The Animals' " It's All Over Now, Baby Blue," The Band's "I Shall Be Released," Guns N' Roses' "Knockin' on Heaven's Door," David Bowie's "Tryin' to Get to Heaven," Garth Brooks' "Make You Feel My Love," Eric Clapton's "Knockin' on Heaven's Door," The Hollies' "My Back Pages," Jefferson Starship's "Chimes of Freedom," Olivia Newton-John's "If Not for You," and Rod Stewart's "Forever Young." And this is just the smallest sample of the hundreds of top artists who have covered Dylan's songs. Everyone from Neil Young to The White Stripes, from Stevie Wonder to Eddie Vedder, from Pete Seeger to Tom Petty have covered songs from his vast catalog.

When you get a moment, check out Jeff Buckley's version of "Just Like a Woman". Even Adele has covered Dylan with her version of "Make You Feel My Love."

Songs like "Blowin' in the Wind," "It Ain't Me, Babe," "Mr Tambourine Man," "Like a Rolling Stone," "Positively 4th Street," "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" are part of our cultural makeup and their influence cannot be overstated.

Dylan also helped to bring music into the cultural forefront of the 1960s social movements. When Dr. Martin Luther King gave his famous "I Have A Dream" speach, it was preceeded by a Bob Dylan performance. Dylan introduced serious lyrics and serious topics to rock music (at a time when the Beatles were singing "she love you ya, ya, ya") and was among the first to "grow" the medium to songs over two-a-half minutes in length. When Bruce Springsteen inducted Bob Dylan into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he said: "Bob freed your mind the way Elvis freed your body; he showed us that just because music was innately physical did not mean that it was anti-intellectual."

© September 1, 2017 -   •   All Rights Reserved.

Tom Petty - Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 (Dylan cover)

Cher - I Want You (Dylan cover)

The Byrds - Just Like A Woman (Dylan cover)

Marianne Faithfull - Visions Of Johanna (Dylan cover)

John Mellencamp - Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat (Dylan cover)


Past Blogs:

September 1, 2017 - Blonde On Blonde

August 1, 2017 - CCR: Cosmo's Factory

July 1, 2017 - Crosby, Stills & Nash

June 1, 2017 - The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper

Complete Blog History

Recent and Related Releases:

30th Anniversary Concert Celebration [1992 All-star Concert] (Blu-ray)

No Direction Home: Bob Dylan Documentary [Scorsese - 2005] (Blu-ray)

Highway 61 Revisited

Blonde on Blonde

The Complete Album Collection Vol. One [Box set]

Biograph [1985, Box set]

Recommended Reading:

Chronicles: Volume One by Bob Dylan

The Lyrics: 1961-2012 by Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan in America by Sean Wilentz

Seeing the Real You at Last: Life and Love on the Road with Bob Dylan by Britta Lee Shain

Recommended Blogs:

DATAMUSICATA by James Lee Stanley
Tips, hints, clues and info for the artist in us all

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