ARTIST: Bob Dylan
TITLE: The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan
YEAR RELEASED: 1963
CHART ACTION: #22 US, #1 UK
SINGLES: Blowin’ in the Wind
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Girl from North Country, Masters of War, A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall, Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right
LINEUP: Bob Dylan
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Dylan unleashes DYLAN. His storehouse of folk and protest songs are recorded and released to the public, and many of them become instant folk standards.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: It’s easy to forget how insular and incestual the folk scene in the US was in the early 60’s. Many of these songs were known by the folkies in the scene. Still, the general public wasn’t keenly aware of Dylan’s talent until this record came out.
It took a year of intermittent recording, two producers, managerial vs. record company intrigue, and a released and withdrawn version before most of the world got their hands on this. What they got was 13 folk and talking blues songs that took the adult music world by storm. Soon, many artists covered the big songs on this album and almost everyone knew the words to every tune.
The masterpiece, though, is “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”. Never has the issue of Armageddon been articulated in such a metaphorical, topical and clever way. That, “Masters of War” and “Blowin’ in the Wind” make this a must purchase, and that’s not to slight the other 10 tracks. It’s a stunning work of rigor and complexity, especially for someone who was barely 22.
NOTES & MINUTAE: The suits at CBS got nervous about the first rack list, and so did Ed Sullivan, who told Dylan not to perform “Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues”. That song, along with “Rocks and Gravel”, “Rambling Gambling Willie” and “Let Me Die in My Footsteps” were all withdrawn after the test pressings, and four newer songs (including “Masters of War”) added.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No. But I’d love to put together the original version and see how that track order fell.
GRADE: A+: The perfect folk album.