Thursday, June 9, 2016

Another Side of Bob Dylan (1964)

(1964, Columbia Records)


Welcome back all you D(ylan)innerphiles! If you're keeping stats at this point, you can tell a couple things about me. First, I'll eat any ol' hunk of vegeterian friendly junk. The more carbs the better. Salt, an added bonus. Protein, sure if it's there, I'm in. This is the second dinner to be prepared by my loving and supportive girlfriend, who can make a killer combination of weird items we have in our freezer. Today, I'm diving into a Morningstar Blackbean burger, topped with a hash brown (fried to perfection), avocado slices, and yellow american cheese (straight from the Whole Foods). I mean, does it get better than this?


Yes, the answer is no. So, without any further hoopla about another disgustingly photographed sandwich (including that tacky plate inherited from my late grandmother's pantry), let's get down to brass tacks.

We are almost there. Almost out of the cloud of folk we’ve been wallowing in for the past few albums and into the frying pan of electricity. You’ve all heard the expression; “Dylan goes electric.” Well, that is NOT happening on this LP. The extension cord is still several feet from the outlet, and the alleged axe wielding of Pete Seeger is nowhere to be found. While several months away from shocking the world, shunning a bunch of crying folkers, and alienating some sweater wearing protesters, Zimmy still had his foot firmly planted in the folk world as (what I like to call) Emperor Dylan. 

After the immense success of The Times They Are A-Changin’, Dylan was still about a year away from breaking out his electric FULL band at the Newport Folk Festival (causing folk legend Pete Seeger to allegedly grab aforementioned axe to cut Dylan's power, seriously, which actually would've probably killed him), forever changing rock n roll history and practically inventing the genre of heavy metal (?).  Some important events, nevertheless, began to unfold during 1964, helping drive Dylan towards more abstract, poetic territory, and evolving into somewhat of a mad man. He took a life changing/affirming cross-country trip in a station wagon prior to recording this LP, scrolling poetry along the way, developing some of his free-form, stream-of-conscience word play. Additionally, he became somewhat obsessed with the Beatles at this point, even acquiring an electric guitar for the first time in his life, effectively breaking many folk-spackled hearts. Also, in early ’64, Dylan apparently dropped acid for the first time, turning him into a sunglasses wearing maniac for the better part of two years. Finally, Dylan was in a heated affair with fellow folker Joan Baez at the time, effectively destroying his relationship with longtime girlfriend Suze Rotolo (the one lookin’ all chipper on The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan). So what does it all mean? I'm no psychologist but what a weird time to be alive, maaaaannnnn, but what do I know. Seriously. (I was born during the release of Dylan's Empire Burlesque. Christ, look at the reviews of that piece of dumper. be posting that dinner in about 19 weeks or so).

To elaborate on the album's cover, as I have for the others, would be wasting  precious breath in a vacuumed sealed torture chamber. Who gives a crap about this LPs cover. Looks like garbage, or more similar to this....

(that gull in the forefront could be Dylan, high on the goofy grass, circa 1964)

In the end, Another Side of Bob Dylan adds up to less of a “protest” folk record and more of a French poetic album full of metaphor, a diver-friendly pool Dylan was about to drown himself in following the release of this LP. Also, if you want to wax prolific, this whole LP was tracked in one night with producer Tom Wilson! How’s that for efficient? Way to go Emperor Dylan. Alright, I’m off to eat my food. Let’s give this sucker a spin… The last of the early ‘60s' Dylan folk records. 

Also, I am eating a side of Cool Ranch Doritos with my dinner. 


All I Really Want To Do- 5  This one's a bit "goofy" as Bob Dylan attempts to rhyme every verb in the English language with another verb. He comes mighty close to achieving this strange feat. The harmonica is a-blastin' as usual with producer, Tom Wilson, making sure the piercing tones reach the earth's core to disrupt the mole men's sleep patterns. The vocal performance is tops, with Zimmy morphing into full on goat-voice man right out of the gate, and going Appalachian hillbilly on the high parts. This is infectious, if not obnoxious material! Damn the man, Zimmy! 

(Anyone of these goats could be Emperor Dylan racing out of the gate on this opening classic. Because he is a goat.)

Black Crow Blues- Okay, I'm drinking wine with tonight's dinner again, so things are about to get mildly fuzzy in the brain. Just kidding. I'm a seasoned drinker, and unlike last dinner, I'm going to down some water to keep the blood flowing and not drift into a sodium abyss. Regardless, sit back, relax, and watch me have a good time folks. Speaking of having a good time, Dylan was puffing hard on the jazz cigarettes on this LP. I'm certain! This one's got some piano, which is like half way to this Minnesota boy going electric, right? The piano is all bouncy and saloon-like. Dylan sounds like he's in the clouds, even declaring how "metaphorically" HIGH he is. This guy's stoned as shit and the career is really starting to get interesting now! Keep your heads in the clouds, baby.
Also, I'd like to add that this sandwich is great! I'm two bites in, and keeping them small, because the meal is not that big (let's face facts, folks). My planning on meals has been lacking. These records are long, and I'm can finish 40% of meals in 3 bites or less.  I'd hate to keep snacking on these delicious Cool Ranch Doritos after the sandwich is all done with but such is life. 

(Me- a Self Portrait...which is also the name of much hated Bob Dylan album)

Spanish Harlem Incident- Dylan likes to wallow in the acoustic world an awful lot, the way a small child might find itself engulfed in a fast food ball pit. BUT this gets a little rockin' here for a sizzling second on this folky slab of stream-of-consciousness. It's at this point where the uptights (sitting in their NYC dorms in '64 chewing on Number 2 pencils like a bunch of nerds), are starting to look around going "Wait a minute, we're three songs in and there hasn't been a single protest song yet?" Oh shit, Dylan's getting abstract speaking in some carefree, hazy-day tone about getting lost in some woman's teeth and being surrounded by her. What's he even talking about? It's fantastic, so screw you NYC dorm students of '64 that I just made up! Jerks.

Chimes of Freedom- What is considered to be Bob Dylan's epic "protest" song off his 4th LP is actually more of a rambling monumental achievement in poetic acid tripping. But because he mentions the words "freedom" and "chimes" in the title (not in that order, you'll notice), that gives the folk faithful something to latch onto. But really, this is a drawn-out, seven minute song about waiting out a ravaging lighting storm while traveling through the countryside. Zimmy is off in left field smelling daisies and scrolling endless shit in notebooks at this point. Don't bother him. He's busy becoming a budding genius. Also, while this play on I just went ahead and finished this delightful sandwich, WAAAYYY too early. So much for self-control.  I tell you, the avocado added such a wonderful texture when paired with the fried crunch of the hash brown. I'm off to eat Cool Ranch Dortios. 

(another group of American songwriters would eventually write about lightning before accidentally setting one of themselves on fire during a concert)

I Shall Be Free No. 10- I'd rather eat at a diner, but sometimes winer is finer. Glug glug. For my wine, I'm drinking a cheap Pinot Grigio. I know little about wine except it relaxes me and you shouldn't drive while on it. Same when eating Cool Ranch Doritos. What's missing from this album, you might ask, is Emperor Dylan does not sing about Cool Ranch Doritos, which seems like a missed opportunity with every bite since Frito-Lay started manufacturing them in 1964. Okay, let's get grounded folks. This one opens up with some crazy, devil-may-care harmonica rips and contains some real who-gives-a-shit lyrics following the monumental diatribe of "Chimes of Freedom." Okay, I'm far from drunk, but Dylan sounds downright plastered here, as he counts down numbers after figuratively fighting the late-great Cassius Clay, and then rhymes some real unclear nonsense. Not the proudest of moments.

(The late Cassius Clay was a much better boxer than Bob Dylan, as their professional boxing records will show. Muhammed Ali: 56-5, Emperor Dylan 0-0. Here he is knocking out 4 blokes at once)

To Ramona- After five minutes of gibberish from "I Shall Be Free No. 10" it's tough to get my head readjusted with the genius of early Zimmy. Luckily, "To Ramona" takes a step back in the right direction but still wallows in average territory. I know what some of you are thinking, I hate this guy eating his dinner and his WRONG opinions. Hell, you'd be right to think that, perhaps, but I am no doctor of the mind. A bunch of lyrics here, none of them particularly great, all sung to a melody that sounds a bit like "The Times They Are A-Changin'" mixed with a traditional Spanish folk song (to which I know none). Dylan sounds strong as a lion (who has been spliced with a goat) vocally, but the whole short affair is... a short affair. Apparently, this also alludes to his actual affair with Joan Baez! Time for more Cool Ranch Doritos.


Motorpsycho Nitemare- This is the tittle to the best Roger Corman movie never made! Zimmerman weaves a new narrative about a traveling salesman stumbling upon a hotel straight out of the movie Psycho who falls in love with a crazy farmer/hotel owner's daughter. Somehow, he gets involved in milking the farmer's cows, says he LOVES Fidel Castro (everyone's fav idol in the early '60s), and gets a "Reader's Digest" thrown at this head. The song as a whole is a never-ending monotonous trip without a hook, but the story itself is pretty zonked out, and semi-funny. Keep smokin' up Zimmy, and forever plaster that brain of yours with blacklights and iridescent posters full of marijuana leaves.

(Bob Dylan's bedroom, circa 1964)

My Back Pages- So after the a few "What in the hell is going on?" songs, Dylan drops this slow, gut-wrenched melody on us, like a bag of Family Size! Cool Ranch Doritos from the top shelf.  Emperor Dylan sounds like a half-man, half-goat searching for some true enlightenment in his new drugged, literary laden reawakening. If goats could read, they'd be Bob Dylan. Also, what a profound piece of work from this youngster.  I mean, this guy was like 24 here, as the world was crumbling into a hellhole, a famed Zimmy, coming to grips with how much the "folk" scene was actually a bit of a drag, and how gnarly French poetry can be (in so many veiled words). This is powerful, earth moving shit.
(Dylan, looking somewhere in the middle pages, and being like "Ummm, wait-what war? He was getting very high around the recording of the album and would read looking confused)

I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Met)- It's 1964. The Beatles just broke in America. And will you look at that, this one conjours up some early Beatles. Go chase the dream Dylan. Really, if the Beach Boys wanted to steal it and harmonize over this, it'sa million dollar dream waiting to happen. However, looks like Mike Love missed that boat. Speaking of the Love Boat, how was that show on-the-air for 9 seasons? Pretty catchy, somewhat depressing (the song, that is). Pop harmonies fused with folk strumming topped off with hill-people type harmonica blues.

(Mike Love during the recording of Pet Sounds)

Ballad in Plain D- 1 Cancel your plans because we're in for a cross country word trip. My dinner is long done and the Cool Ranch Doritos are running low. Heaven's no! Speaking of Heaven, sit back and take it in, cause this one's longer than "Stairway to Heaven," and barely better. Ah another thing you just learned-I don't like "Stairway to Heaven". What we have here is Zimmgoat singing an autobiographical account of the disintegration of his relationship with early girlfriend Suze Rotolo and the fight he had with her sister, Carla. The whole thing is self-loathing, ho-hum diary entry devoid of any of Dylan's usual lyrical trapeze. A long-winded snooze, and a bit pathetic.

It Ain't Me Babe- I barely thought I'd get out of that dang "Ballad in Plain D," but here I crawl toward the finish line, sending Emperor Dylan off on his viking folk funeral. Woof, I have to prop myself up from this proverbial hammock and finish this album review. This closer is also, apparently about ex-girlfriend Suze Rotolo, and MUCH better than the penultimate track. Here, Dylan gives Suze's character some credit at least, rather than sitting in his filth and wallowing about like that past stinker. Anyways, the melody here is pretty solid, the harmonica weeps in its own beer glass. A near perfect way to close, even if I'm out of Cool Ranch Doritos and actually I don't think I care for drinking wine with dinner. Oh well, as a wise man with a stick-cane once said, everyday is a path to self discovery. I mean, I'm sure at least once.

("It ain't me, babe"- Mikey Myers now famous response to Barbara Walters when asked about his time on SNL, or so it goes.)

That's it folkers, for this round of chompin', listenin', writin', and stewin'. Stay tuned next week when I chow down on some electric Dylan. So electric, it'll be like sticking a fork in a microwave and setting the time for 1,000 minute just to watch the sucka' burn...

Until next time...  Smoke if you got 'em. 


  1. Enjoying the reviews while trying not to think too much about the dinners.... Off to a really good start, I'm pulling for you to stick with it "all the way", to quote a song title from Zimmy's latest album! (PS, I have never understood the universal hate for "Ballad in Plain D", even from The Mighty Zimm himself - but then I like "Self Portrait" too, so go figure....)

    1. Thanks for reading! I'm hoping to make it, I think I will... I must! Stay tuned. On will be up next week. Also, I'm already looking forward too "Self Portrait" It's, if nothing else, fascinating.

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