Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Highway 61 Revisited (1965)

HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED
(1965, Columbia Records)




 MY DINNER


Strap on your shades, toke up, and turn up, cause it's the '60s baby, and it's rock AND roll time.





Just to put us in the mood of things that roll and rock, here's some images of rolling stones.


(Rolling Stones with American hats...)




(And Rolling Stones gathering NO moss)



For those ready to get down and dirty, you can now have both of your favorite "R" words together all in one compact Zimmy album, if your favorite words are indeed "rock" and "roll," and not "radicivorous" and "rusticate."

Summer 2016 is officially here, so let's keep this ball rolling, like a stone. First, a quick run down of my weird plate... I have purchased myself a hefty falafel platter dinner from the Eddie's Falafel, a takeout spot in central NJ. Here, I've found myself with 5 falafel balls over brown rice, lathered in a light yogurt dill sauce. For crunch factor, we're looking at onions, tomatoes, and some hot sauce for a guttural burn. Some added pita slices appease the hungry man, for sure.

ON TO THE RECORD..... If you thought things were changing for the Zimmaster last go round, we've now hit dead man's curve with severed brake lines. After Highway 61 Revisited, things would never be the same for our wiley haired coyote.... One, he exiled his beloved followers for good with this one. And two, because Bob Dylan would soon change his sound yet again (to country!?!), because this walking bag of nuts can't wade in one musical lazy-river for too long without creatively pruning. 

SO, to catch up on the generals, Dylan finally went electric on his last record Bringing It All Back Home, but HERE, Dylan is the rock god of Macdougall, Houston, and Bleecker Streets all rolled into one tightly packed NYC subway map of a doob. See, said NYC streets weren't known for rock Gods, but rather for ho-hum types with clunky acoustic guitars. Dylan just happened to be their God. With this LP, Dylan had finally been ostracized full on by the moarning folk crowd, joined arm in sweatered arm ready to burn his records.

(a "betrayed" Dylan fan, circa 1965)


If Bringing It All Back Home got everyone hot under the collar, check this. Exactly one month prior to Highway 61 Revisited's release, Dylan hit the stage at the Newport Folk Festival to perform his now famous set with full-electric backing band, effectively spearheading a cold war between the dying folk breed and the growing American rock enthusiast. Bringing It All Back Home was the foundation. Highway 61 Revisited was the sprawling mansion on top.

(Dylan and his band at the Newport Folk Festival, seconds before the the earth split open and swallowed hundreds of well groomed weirdos)


Anyways, Dylan keeps things moving here, working with new producer, Bob Johnston (mainstay from the previous LPs, Tom Wilson did record "Like a Rolling Stone"),  giving the this record a loose, ragged, rollin' feel. Like a bumpy car down a dirt road, with some empty beer cans rattling in the trunk, it's a beautiful mess that'll take you there and back. Dylan continues to wander around his headspace piecing together endless streams of diction into unbelievable lyrical tomes. Also, devoid of hyperbole, this happens to be one of the greatest records of all-time!

Finally, let's take a look at the cover before diving in. This front sleeve is pretty classic in it's own right, but not as classic as say, The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. In reality, it just shows Dylan sitting looking like a really bored fella with a rye smile. I can't explain why this resonates with people but it must have to do that strange jacket he's wearing.
Also, if you look closely, Dylan is sporting a t-shirt with a motorcycle emblem, which seems to foreshadow his much discussed 1966 motorcylce accident!!! In a way, it's like THE FIRST Beatles' Death clue.  NICE!

THE WALRUS WAS BOB!

(It is believed Paul McCartney died in a car accident chasing after his dream to be Bob Dylan. Fortunately, his body double succeeded in forming the band Wings.) 





THE SONGS!!!

SIDE A:
Like a Rolling Stone- There's this whole rock theory discussion where balding nerds argue over what exactly that majestic, yet unmistakable guitar chord actually is that rings out during the opening of The Beatles' "A Hard Day's Night." Whatever the chord, it's engrained in the hearts and minds of countless uncles who wear denim. To me, that same feeling of jubilation strikes with the muffled snare hit that leads this stone a'rollin' (aka Dylan kicking out the jams). Also, what would this song be without Al Kooper's legendary organ riff? Apparently, Kooper was just hanging at the studio, invited to play, and made it up on the spot? WHAT? How's that for striking gold repeatedly, miner Zimmerman?
("Not bad"- Bob Dylan, down in the mines)

 And with that, an improvised organ riff worth 1 million dollars in ivory piano keys helped shape this EPIC opener. Dylan also confidently delivers on what is, perhaps, the most pivotal point of his career. Outside of this LP, there's like 20 different rambling bootleg versions of this song, and while they're good, this take is lightning in a bottle. A lot of people hate it. Also, I'd like to point out a lot of people hate Bob Dylan. And a lot of people hate Rolling Stones. Also, a lot of people just love stones in general. They're called geologists.


(The Rolling Stones on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine and Bob Dylan looking up at them on a cover of Rolling Stone like "wait... what the devil, maaannnn? huhuhuhuh." He was still in a perpetual fog of brilliance and street narcotics during 1965)


















Tombstone Blues- 5  Just like the old days, this song starts off with some acoustic Dylan. Then, three seconds later he kicks his folk fans in the face (literally, some say, the no good rascal), as this song rips along in a raucous stomp fest full of string pluckin' and organ blasts! Dylan bring his freeform kolydespoic poetry into the mix and jams it in your skull. What's a man to do when he's got so much to say, but none of it makes sense? A wise psychiatrist might have once said this is exactly what the "tombstone blues" is, Zimmy. Dylan's on fire, but the local fire company is at the annual crosstown softball game chuggin' beers. Ain't no one gonna extinguish this genius (wait until the late '70s, though).

(Dylan after creatively spontaneously combusting, circa '65)



It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry- And it takes a lot of words to complete the whole song title. I realize I've yet to comment on my dinner, as it's now almost depleted at this point. Got caught up in the precious moments! This cold takeout is surprisingly DELICIOUS, as is everything I seem to eat. OK! Is that alright with you? My tolerance for food is high, and I make every bite an optimistic one. This falafel plate is none too spicy, just oniony enough. The falafel itself; quite crips, yet moist, which is what you want in a quality falafel. Good lord, it's on point.
Anyway, this one's got a real rainy day, smokey blues feel throughout. It's like Dylan has copped the coolest blues song of all-time and made it cooler. The chorus is pretty much the hook lifted from "Like A Rolling Stone" but who cares. What's a Dylan to do but steal from himself (after already stealing from everyone else). The feel good blues trudge of the summer of '65. Also, shoutout to the tuba! 

From a Buick 6- 5  One of my favorites! Zimmy gets all unhinged, hot, bothered, tarred, feathered, barred, discharged, short pants, romance, learn to dance, try to be a success, please her, please him, 20 years of schoolin' and they put you on the day shift, the pump don't work cause the vandals took the handle.... WHOA! I'm sorry, I went into a Zimmy word seizure and let my fingers do the walking. Speaking of walking, that bopping blues baseline? To die for. Literally. Offer yourself up as sacrifice. And that screeching organ? You guessed it. Too die for. See you on the other side! All the while, Dylan's in the studio whining away desperately, with piss and vinegar charging through his speed coated veins (and that snarl? At this point it is safe to assume he was actually a goat wearing sunglasses). If this didn't give one of those smug folkies a heart attack then what else could (besides years of careless smoking).
Also, I have finished my falafel platter. Cheers to another day of being able to eat food! It was quite good.


(Bob Dylan during the recording of "From a Buick 6", reportedly)

Ballad of a Thin Man- Have you ever been at a real feel good party and then out of nowhere the cops are at the door and someone screams from the other room because some uninvited guest just OD'd, and meanwhile there's a dog just peeing on your new sneakers? I should hope NOT!!! But, that's sort of what this abprut shift in the LP feels like. And fittingly enough, this falafel is giving some wicked agita right about now. I knew it was gonna happen, and yet, I did not prepare. Prilosec was not my appetizer, and now I shall suffer slowly. Anyway, this tune hangs heavy in clousds of cigarette smoke, as Dylan delivers a scathing, drawling epic of confusion, scorn, and black sunglasses sexy kewlness. What does all of this mean? I don't really know, Mr. Jones. I have heartburn!

(This song is reportedly not about Mr. Jones, a member of television's The Monkees).




(William Powell starred in the Thin Man films of the '30s and '40s. Unfortunately everyone in this photo has passed on, except the dog who continues to act to this day!)


SIDE B:
Queen Jane Approximately- Welcome to the other side. Here, Big D really lets this one breath, the organ spreading its wings and letting the spring air underneath for a change. Everything up to this point on the LP is either smokey blues chocking your lung or rocking the rafters. This opener to side B is the most upbeat hybrid of the airiness found in "Like a Rolling Stone" spliced with that of a dove taking flight. A beautiful, beautiful dove. And unlike the white winged dove, Dylan's obtuse poetry sounds downright spiteful. You gotta love this. Everywhere the guy turns he's proclaiming his genius while setting shit on fire, in the figurative sense of course.



(how you should feel listening to this album right about now, and how my indigestion feels after eating this falafel platter. Zimmy does not need no water, and shall let the mother burn)

Highway 61 Revisited- According to various sources such as books and internet (which essetinally rip-off books), Zimmy had to fight the powers that be to name this album after Highway 61 in the first place. The highway goes from his boyhood home in Duluth, MN down to the dirty delta bayou of the deep south. While I'm not a cartographer, I'll take others people's word for it as I search for my atlas. This is the loosiest, goosiest track of the whole album. There's an annoying, (somewhat brilliant), tin whistle wailing about in the back. Even the piano romps appear to be out to tickle a funny bone or two. And for that, I decline one star as this being the WEAKEST track on this GREAT ALBUM!

Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues- 5 Holy shit. After tin whistles and backwoods hilarity, we're thrust back into one of Dylan's expansive, winding, rhyming narratives about some sort of bullshit. It's beautiful, it's long, it's beyond cool. It'll make you jealous you didn't write it, and you'll realize you didn't deserve to write it anyway. Apparently it was one of the longest songs to record to tape during the sessions. Thankfully, for the human race, it happened. And here we sit, with one of the greatest Dylan tunes of forever and ever, amen.

(for reference: an example of Tom's thumb)


Desolation Row- This song is longer than the Bible so good luck getting through it. What am I saying? Put your feet up, let the guitar sweeps take you away into the deep sea of poetic verse and be happy to drown there. The only none electric song on the record, Dylan spins another never ending tale in a bottomless bowl of lexicon soup, contrasting startling imagery and allusions matched with one of the greatest, simplest guitar hooks of all time. Perhaps the BEST of Dylan's epic closers? Wait around on this site and see so you can disagree with me and pour hot gravy over my head. After all, this IS a food blog! Revenge is a dish best served in a gravy boat.


Until next time, eat up, plug in, tune in, drop out, hang ten, hang loose, loosen up, out last, and peace out...

("Where you goin' maaaaaaannnnnn? Is dinner over? Daammmmmnnnnnn.- Bob Dylan, missing meals in '65)




STAY TUNED NEXT WEEK FOR THE EPIC DOUBLE LP Blonde on Blonde, another one of the greatest records of all-time according to the United Nations. 






4 comments:

  1. There have been times when I have thought, quite seriously, that Highway 61 might just be the greatest damned thing I've ever heard, in any genre (and I say that as someone who mostly listens to classical music). All of your pictures of people and things on fire hit the mark - I'm not sure any musician has ever been on fire to quite the degree that Dylan was here. The sheer intensity of this album always frightens me just a bit - for Dylan's sake, I mean. Listening to Highway 61 always makes me think of a light bulb glowing with unnatural brightness just before it goes dark forever.... I don't think the human body and brain were built to withstand this kind of energy flow, at least not for very long. Fortunately, of course, Dylan is still with us - but I think it was a pretty narrow shave! The motorcycle accident the following year probably saved his life.

    Sorry to ramble on so, but this one is extra special to me.... I can barely forgive you for knocking a point off the title song (WHAT?!?).

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  2. Best album by anyone, ever. Oh and the title track is worth 5/5 too.

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  3. Hey man, when's the next one due?

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    1. Sorry for the delay. The last two weeks got pretty hectic. The next dinner should be up Wednesday or Thursday! Thanks for checking in.

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