Friday, June 17, 2016

Brining It All Back Home (1965)

Bringing It All Back Home
(1965, Columbia Records)


Low and behold, I have returned with yet another dinner, this time presenting a dish that would make one long for Christmas.  Some of you strange ghost busting fans may be thinking "Is that pile of ectoplasmic residue you're eating?" and no, it's also not left over gook from the set of You Can't Do That on Television, you even stranger fans of kids television references. It IS, however, spaghetti squash topped with an avacado based pesto sauce, topped with tomatoes redder than the nose of a drunken Rudolph.  Let me tell you, this dish is simple, effective, and actually pretty good for you. Diverging slightly from my seemingly strict "fried hash brown on top of a weird sandwich" cuisine I seem to stick to. I am sorry Dylanphiles but it's just gotta be this way. Like many American Doctors seem to be saying: "Be kind to your arteries, because they are God's play things inside your body, keeping you alive, you stupid idiot." 

Okay, so on to the main reason we're all here; Robert Zimmerman, later born again as the three syllabled Bob Dylan (easier on the ears while sipping latte in a Barnes and Noble for sure). While Dylan's career was pretty freakin' amazing before with all of his folking around, here’s where things start to get pretty darn good. And I mean really DARN good. This is FINALLY that much talked about moment when Bob Dylan plugged in and turned the world on its ear. It's also the record that personally got me hooked on Dylan. I listened to it with my windows rolled down, barely even acknoweledging Yield signs, running my tires up against curbs, and dropping money at Taco Bell with my brand new license in back pocket. I didn't even have a wallet yet! My trips down memory lane are far from scenic, and full of potholes. But this album remains unchanged. VroomVroom

Bringing It All Back Home, an LP far from Dylan's comfort zone, came out seven months after Another Side of Bob Dylan. Dylan plugs the electric slinger in for all of Side-A, gets ridiculous, beautifully abstract, goes off the deep end, and hits his head on wild success and self-inflicted alienation of his fans. And this is a good 2-3 years before everyone else in the “rock” world went off the deep end with all the damned drugs and the epileptic dancing. With this, Dylan’s first “electric” album, we get a great mix of obtuse, poetic rhyme schemes, haunting imagery, raucous roadside jams, all with a killer rhythm section assembled by producer Tom Wilson. 

What evidence do we have that Dylan's gone electric, you might be asking (besides the buzzing of the 6 string)? Hmmm, how about Exhibit A), the only exhibit we'll need. You can tell Zimmy's electric on this album by his hair. 

(Robert Zimmerman aka Bob Dylan)

It's clear while plugging in the amplifier, something he'd never done in the past, it sent the helmet skyrocketing. It's science involving electric currents and one's body acting as a conductor, but I won't bore you with the details. I'm neither a scientist, nor a detailer. While some may receive electric shocks and die, others turn out to be geniuses, I guess. 

(Einstein was all about Science and was also a doctor. Here, he sports his best Dylan-do after going electric)

(Filmaker, Yahoo Serious went electric, plugging in for his 1988 movie Young Einstein, who's pictured above. Here, he is not Bob Dylan)

(This guy)

(Einstein from Back to the Future, pictured next to Michael J. Fox's crotch. Here, he's not understanding the complexities of The Times They Are A-Changin' for he was a dog, not a doctor or scientist)

At this time, Dylan was practically killed by the folk faithful who felt betrayed, and felt as though they just got beat up for their lunch money by the principal himself. Meanwhile, Dylan limped around full of electricity like Frankenstein's Monster, who also could read Rambaud. He was still a couple months shy of making his public "electric" debut at the Newport Folk Festival in '65, an incident that went down in history as the second most important incident to involve electricity in American history.

(Yet another man goes electric as the history books would lead you to believe. Like Dylan, the history books  are lying to you)

Starting with Bringing It All Back Home, Dylan released a near perfect trilogy of LPs, culminating in what was the drug tinged, blues frenzy of a double LP titled Blonde on Blonde. It was a time when rock critics salivated and took home a nice paycheck for a weird job. 

This LP goes great with dinner too, despite the fact I’ll probably keep jumping up to cheer every time the next song comes on, choking on my food like a jerk. Also, no wine with this dinner tonight. I think I've realized I just hate the juice when coupled with food.


Subterranean Homesick Blues- 5 This LP starts off like a burst of lighting. The short tune opens up with that classic rock-hillbilly guitar twang and breaks into that undeniable backbeat before turning into the world's first rap song by a Jewish artist nearly 20 years before The Beastie Boys became the illest. Well this song is a steaming bowl of word soup with nearly annoying hooky rhymes, but it's all pretty brilliant! If I were Vice President, Hubert Humphrey, I'd tell my boy President Lyndon B. Johnson to declare this a national treasure in the act of rhyming. Some people think this song is gimmicky, as Dylan spouts off a bunch of nonsense while the boys behind him pave a rocky road of blues. It almost flies off the rails, but never quite does. This song is also credited for naming a bunch of bands, whether true of not, along with an American radical organization; Weather Underground (the radical organization), fIREHOSE (SST Records indie rock), Pavement (90s hunks), The Vandals (silly dudes making fast punk). 

("Subterranean..." contains most words used in this traditional American coffee table book)

She Belongs To Me- 5 After that proto-punk rap opener, Dylan really scales it back with this introspective, poetic strummer where he places this mysterious woman on a pedestal all while losing his sanity. So basically, we're par for the course. Speaking of course, I'm gonna start my main course. MMMMMM, can't you just feel the steam of the spaghetti squash rising up from the confines of this dish and kissing your face like the rays of an early summer's 'morn? NO? Me neither, because it's fairly lukewarm, but tasty for sure! Sweet, lightly salted. But the avocado pesto? OH Brother, I surrender. This is out of this world if you've come to wrap your tongue up in a lovely basil blanket. Anyway, back to this crowd pleaser. For the first time in a while, Dylan's harmonica actually sounds appropriate in the mix. It fails to lacerate the ears like on earlier albums. The best part about this poetic rant is that it doesn't go on for 12 minutes like some of these typical Dylan escapades did, and eventually will... 

Maggie’s Farm- Well now that you caught your breath with that slower, folk-frayed second track, Dylan sticks his motorcycle-revin' boot in your ear again. "Maggie's Farm" is a rambuctious, snarling pile of words, Dylan telling how he doesn't want to do this, or that, or work for any members of the titular Maggie and her dumb family. Honestly, this family sounds like garbage, but not as bad as say, The Manson Family.  The guitars are twangin', the ride cymbal is jivin', the chickens are flapping a wing or two in the barn. Dylan’s nasally sneer is equally ear piercing and defiant, in place of traditional harmonica. Zimmerman tells a story while using a bushel full of fresh picked allusions off the apple tree of adjectives. Also, this dinner just is delicious, but I'm not used to using a fork and listening. I'm generally holding a sandwich. Relearning old techniques help make life new again!  

(an alleged rendition of the wretched conditions on "Maggie's Farm" in the mid the '60s)

Love Minus Zero/No Limit- The title may be split in two but this song comes in at just under 3 minutes. The whole A-side is one breezy affair, come to think of it. It's like watching laundry flap in the breeze on a picturesque spring day, but there's secondhand doobie smoke everywhere and you hear motorcycles revving in the distance. Here, Bobby Zim goes almost straight '60s pop, complete with melodic jangle, and whimsical guitar strums. To ice that cake, Zim delivers an incredibly strong vocal performance. Call it country, call it pop, call it folk. New York's French poet (by way of Minnesota) is laying the groundwork here for infamy. What's he talking about through this whole thing? I don't know, I'm not a genius like all of the people pictured at the beginning of this entry. 

Outlaw Blues- 3 I really have to start planning ahead on bigger dinners. Honestly, who takes 45 to 60 minutes to eat a dinner besides my dearly departed grandfather who was still getting used to the concept of pens by the time he left us in 2004. Seriously, my grandad was slow mover. I'm nearly done. Maybe my jaw's too big? I don't know. Still not a doctor. This song is a rockin' and a rollin' but for the first time on the record, it's a bit of a bore compared to the sheer output of groundbreaking material that preceded it. This is downright Sticky Fingers Rolling Stones' stuff compared to the gorgeous poetic travels of "Love Minus Zero/No Limit." Still, it's head and shoulders better than the shampoo Head and Shoulders (no Dylan fan talks bout that nearly as much as they do this song!) But like, when your biker Uncle calls you a "sissy Mary puke" for liking Bob Dylan, you can be like "hey, Uncle Biker, listen to this!" Can't guarantee this fictional uncle still won't punch you in the stomach. He sounds like a regressive dick, to be honest. 

(for reference, so Dylan fans can start the conversation about Head and Shoulders. When dandruff's got you down, think H&S). 

On the Road Again- Another smokin' cigarettes/drinking at the bar-rocker where Dylan drops a bunch of nonsensical, but trippy lyrics in the storytelling style. Also, might I add, I really do love the addition of the tomatoes in this dish. Tomatoes were a veg (I'm sorry, a fruit. EXCUSE ME) I wasn't down with until I hit my teens, even though I practically went to bed wearing one of those beer helmets with Prego on one side and Heinz Ketchup on the other. Mwwwwah, to our friend: the tomato. Anyway, this one's short enough. You can dig the shit out it if you wanna throw on your black shades and stare at the wall, thinking about François Truffaut films and the Hell's Angels at the same time. The '60s were really something to behold.

(Not all tomatoes are our friends)

(Just kidding... Tomatoes are friends to everyone. Embrace it)

Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream- Like the song “Bob Dylan’s Dream” off The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, this one’s similarly titled, except Zimmy added the number “115” before the word “dream.” You see what he did there? He's practically rewriting the English language. Unfortunately, it seems since 1963 Dylan only had 115 dreams, which may be attributed to his heavy THC use in that time period. Also, in relation to said THC use, Dylan and producer Tom Wilson open this track up by including a clip of them cracking-the-bleep-up. Well, the lyrics are indeed a mesh of post-modern chop suey in the storytelling tradition again. A true classic, more memorable than the previous two "rockers," however, this one gets quite tedious in its marathon ways. And with it, I have finished the last forkful of my spaghetti squash dinner. Off to the kitchen sink I shall roam to dispose of it.

Mr. Tamborine Man- 5 I'm back from the sink and ready to tackle side B. After showing his newly sprouted but very strong "rock" chops on the first side, Zimmy brings all back home for his"acoustic/folk" fans who haven't already returned this record to Woolworth's (This was '65, of course). This CLASSIC is a meandering, but pleasant fever dream to endure, drifting down a long river of weird dreams. Don't drink the water, kids. On a historical side street detour, Dylan cut a take of this right after Another Side of Bob Dylan was recorded. That original version somehow made it into the hands of The Byrds, who rerecorded a jangley, radio friendly rendition and made 1 million dollars off of it before Dylan could even release HIS version! How about that? That's business, and you can take it to the bank. The chorus is pretty lame, and I don’t need to hear it again for a long while, but those kaleidoscopic verses.... MY WORD! Jeff Mangum eat your heart out. This is Bob Dylan doing Neutral Milk Hotel 30 years before, making him the original Jeff Magnum. Sorry indie kids who don't understand how time works. 

(Stevie Nicks would become somewhat of a Mr. Tamborine Man a little over a decade later, and sometimes includes "flair" on her "tambo")

Gates of Eden- Finally, for all the electric haters out there, here's a little protest folk teet for you to latch your hungry mouth around (yikes). But, once again, what the hell is Dylan talking about? And would those starving folkers gain much nourishment here? Can't tell, for I'm am STILL not a doctor, but only a raiser of questions. But it sounds damning, quite anti-establishmentarian, and makes me wanna protest against something. I'm angsty and I'm not gonna take it anymore. A doomy trip worth taking, along the lines of "Chimes of Freedom." The song also had the words "breadcrumb sins" in it, which make me regret ingesting so many starches in my life (think back to last week's Cool Ranch Doritos, for example). 

("Breadcrumb sins" in action)

It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)- One badass song title way before GG Allin made a career out of bleeding. This is about as far left of traditional folk as you can get. With lyrics so twistedly haunting, Dylan should have been subjected to a on-the-spot urine sample by the FBI. What kinda drugs you got flowing through you, Zimmy?, they might say. And he'd be all How do you know my name's Zimmy... WOW do you guys see those dancing goats over there, all while licking a Hogan's Heroes commemorative stamp laced with acid. Great minor chord descending riff plays throughout as Dylan invents hip-hop yet again, jamming about 47, 549 words into this song, somehow rhyming them in a way that doesn't make you roll your eyes. It's like that Barenaked Ladies song "One Week," but TIMELESS and without anyone "losing" one's "shirt."

(a chill kid taking Dylan's song title literally. Kid, Dylan is poetry... in motion

It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue- 5 Zimmy has totally cross-pollinated with a goat on this song, as his high-pitched nasal snarl is taken to new heights. It's like he's being held captive back on that damned Maggie's farm. Yet, it's got a great little hook in there, as Dylan strums along with sparse electric guitar backing. Possibly the least impactful of the b-side tunes, in terms of it's lyrical barrage, but what goddamn closer. At the time, one of the non-haters would only hope that Dylan would release another album, say, a scant four months later being a confident goat... Oh wait. He did. 

Join me next week when BOB DYLAN goes so electric he makes Motley Crüe look more like Motley Cure (a make-believe band front by a confused Vince Neil singing "Friday I'm in Love") 


  1. Like you, this album was my gateway drug into Dylan. In my case, it happened around age 15-16... but I'm still mainlining the Mighty Zimm some 40+ years later.... "Together Through Life", I guess. (PS, avocado-based pesto actually sounds really good!)

  2. Gotta respect the "Together Through Life" reference! Yes, this one was, along with "Highway 61 Revisited" got me into Dylan as I started branching out of my listening zone, and immediately hooked me. I went out, got all of his earlier stuff, came to grips with it, and then learned to LOVE it. Also, the pesto avocado is awesome. Got the recipe online. A quick google search'll do you good. Thanks for reading!

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