Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Dylan (1973)

(1973, Columbia Records)


(a bowl of white fucking rice, with some Kosher salt, and a dab of butter)

What you see before you is my dinner, a bowl of white rice. Why white rice, you ask? Well, to truly get into the spirit of this 1973 LP, Dylan, that's why. My bowl of rice encapsulates the true spirit of Dylan. Bland, forgettable. I'm like a goddamn martyr tonight. But I'll live. First I boiled water, then I put rice in the pot. No rice cooker was used in the making of this rice. Jesus take the wheel!  I love rice, actually.

This album should not be confused with the 2007 CD "best of" release, also called Dylan. No way, Josè (Feliciano). That 2007 Dylan was released so people shopping at Wal-Mart could buy up Bob Dylan "greatest hits" CDs by the gross and remember how relevant the man once was while stocking them in loved one's stockings. This, the original Dylan LP, was released so Columbia Records could try to make a couple peanuts off their rapidly dimming star, and so Bob Dylan could let everyone know how much he wanted to shat on Columbia.

The album is basically a contractual obligation, both for Dylan and Columbia while reaching an agreement of putting out one final release before Dylan jumped ship from his flagship label. He was on to Asylum Records after this for the grand total of ONE studio LP (Planet Waves), before rebuilding his bridge with Columbia some 2 years later (Blood on the Tracks).

Flat out, this album stinks! I'm sure some contrarians out there like it (and there's some pleasant moments). But, hey, at least it's short. In fact, this record stinks so much, it was never reissued on CD until 2013, when they buried it in his complete album box set The Complete Album Collection Volume 1 (which begs the question, what the hell is going to be on volume 2?). I mean, Bob Dylan's recorded flatulence may have made their way to CD before this ever did. I, for one, found my copy at a Thrift Store, and nearly jumped out of my shoes, even though you can order it online for like 3 bucks + shipping. The "album" consists of outtakes from the Self Portrait and New Morning sessions some 3 years earlier. Also, the (shit)kicker; the album continues NO original Bob Dylan songs. Zero. Not a one. 9 lifeless, crummy cover songs to put you to sleep. Ahhh, damn I'm losing what little appetite I had left for this white rice.

Here's a visual companion to help you understand the overall feel of the record:

When it comes to this album you are faced with a choice; do I listen, or do I take a hard piss into a strong wind gust? I say do both, because at least you'll have a weird, self-degradation story to tell with the latter.

Without any further complaining, here's Bob Dylan's most forgettable LP (and this is taking into account the 1980s).

Lily of the West- I think I picked a bad time to review this one. The temperature is plummeting outside, my head hurts, I'm on my back in bed, and my rice dinner is cooling over on my desk. Did I just paint a mental Michelangelo on the Sistine ceiling for 'ya or what?
(Bob Dylan was the guy on the right back in the '60s, but on this LP, he's more the one ready to pull God's finger in a classic fart gag)

I'll let you know when I decide to get up and dive into that meal o' mine, by the way.
Here, Dylan does what he does by peeling back the cover (no pun intended, since I'm in bed wanting to go under the covers while listening to a record of covers) and diving head first into another traditional arrangement, one made popular by Peter, Paul, and Mary back in the early '60s. Without having any context to previous versions (like a true scholar), this is a pretty solid arrangement, somewhere between above-average Dylan performance and throwaway country western stomp. Not a bad opener. I'm gonna buck up, you buckaroos.

Can't Help Falling in Love- Oh man, this song really is not doing me any favors helping to peel me off this bed, and I've bucked back the heck down, buckaroos. If you ever wanted to hear Dylan lifelessly cover a pretty cringe worthy version of your favorite Elvis/UB40 wedding song, snag a copy of Dylan ASAP! Creepy crawly backing vocals resonate while Dylan sounds partly dead, maybe deaf, the band certainly half deaf and dead. Flamenco guitar leads  and rhythmic strums on life support fill out the rest just in case you wanted to feel a little more dead inside too. OH brother.

This song's about as fun as getting shot with paintballs...

("having fun yet?"- weird girl looking provocative after getting hit by paintballs while listening to "Can't Help Falling in Love") 

Sarah Jane- Okay, I'm up now and ready to eat. Fork in hand. Needle in groove. Shine on you crazy Dylan. This rice is warm and white for sure. Can't deny any of the facts. Boiled that water and dropped in one cup, and it couldn't have come out better. Kind of grainy through, y'know?

The end of "Can't Help Falling in Love" dragged on for several months so I had to go do something with me life, like finish this entry. So here we find ourselves with another traditional tune, "Sarah Jane." Compared to the last track, this one's practically a pogo punk anthem with its unbridled energy, poorly mixed "la-la-la-la-la" vocal parts, and rambunctious session playing. Not breaking any new ground here, but this sticks to the parts of my brain that celebrate both the "catchy" and the slightly "bizarre." So weird, I kind of LOVE it. Crap, but crap that should be revisited.

The Ballad of Ira Hayes- Bob Dylan covers his buddy, classic folker Peter LaFarge in what has become a folk classic, mainly due to Johnny Cash's version. You'll know that version, if you've bothered to even google Johnny Cash and hear a few songs. And you know what, Mr. Man In Black, I'm gonna say Bobby did it better. Yeah, that's right. Come fight me, Jaqcuin Phoenix... Ira Hayes, a native American who helped raise the flag at Iwo Jima, returns home to find his people disowned him. So do the American public at large. Ira Hayes met his maker at the end of a bottle some ten years after raising that flag. A tragic tale put to tape. On this cover, Dylan kills it vocally, the whole song playing out like a slow, weepy gospel tune, with some questionable musical accompaniment that really MAKES this song. Another bizarre affair, à la Self Portrait. A long and strangely beautiful rendition.

Also, this rice is still pretty damn ricey. I think I added the right amount of salt. Not bragging or anything, just sayin'.

(Actual photo of Johnny Cash hearing about Ira Hayes from a skull-capped newsy waving a paper. Historic)

Mr. Bojangles- Not to be confused with the tap dancing actor Bill Robinson, or the fried chicken chain, "Mr. Bojangles" was originally written by country crooner Jerry Jeff Walker.

(Bojangles is a possible shitty place where you can write your own "Dinner with Dylan" entries)

Here, Dylan gives a soulful take on an old favorite to many aging men who know their country history.  The organ kind of rips, the gospel girls are giving an eerie, haunted-church choir performance, and Dylan bellows to the heavens. Overall, this song is like an avant nightmare. It's dreary, haunting, kind of great, slightly unnerving. Is it all really necessary? Is any of this necessary? Which brings me to my next question; why are we here?

(God explains to a casual Dylan fan the meaning of life and the purpose of 1973's Dylan)

Mary Ann- 1 I'm finishing up my rice, but it got stuck in my throat for a while and I'm getting nasty, starch induced acid reflux. I'm gonna gag to death... Cause of death; Gagging? Dylan? Blogging? Oh, the prospects are so embarrassing. I must clear this blockage and live on.

Wow. Deep breath after that one.... Between trying to find out the meaning of life and choking on white rice, things got a bit existential but thankfully NOT gastrointestinal for a second. A little too deep for a casual music write-up, perhaps, but I'm grounded and ready to tackle another song that was not written by Robert Zimmerman of Duluth Minnesota. Okay, here we have a lifeless Dylan delivering a lifeless country folker. The gospel singers are busy planting nightmare seeds in my brain. Truly an unnecessary song, but at least it's over in under three minutes, just enough time to pick any stray grains of rice out of my teeth. Lifeless. Garbage. Dead on arrival with guitar. Thanks, lifeless Zimmy.

("You're welcome"- lifeless Zimmy, circa '70s talking to me)

Big Yellow Taxi- You may know this song because it was written by and got Counting Crows elected into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame, and subsequently led to Adam Duritz unanimous victory as Mayor of Cleveland. Okay, I may have underestimated your intelligence. It's written by the everyone's favorite Bleacher-sitter, Joni Mitchell. Also Adam Duritz never held office in Cleveland. That honor, of course goes to....
(Howard the Duck, or late Toronto Mayor Rob Ford... we may never know)

Here, Dylan delivers a weirdo, bent-out-of-shape version full of obtrusive bongo spanking, ear piercing back-ups, and some half-assed vocal delivery. If this is what paradise looks like, bulldoze it and start over. Oh yes, and pave it silly!

A Fool Such as I- For the first time on the record, Bob Dylan, the master of the cover song, dons his deep crooner voice straight out of the Self Portrait sessions. Yes, ol' Meaball throat is back! The song shuffles forward, getting punk as hell, but minus all the punk while retaining some of the hell. Rock n roll country stuff for your tired ear. Again, why? Why are we here? What is the meaning of life? Is there a God?

(Thanks for clearing that up, Stephen)

Spanish is the Loving Tongue- If side B has not reaffirmed your lust for life, this closer isn't going to help ignite any sparks in your blackened soul. First part is straight ballad with lusty crooning. Then the lust really breaks in as the song picks up some lustful steam and but dies listlessly and lustless. It such a shame, especially when "Spanish is the Loving Tongue" What do you think Adam Sandler?

("Hoagies and grinders. Navy beans, navy beans, navy beans"- Adam Sandler talking normally)

Thanks for joining me in a quest for the meaning of life through Bob Dylan's "lost" and "recycled" LP. Things got deep there for a second. By the way, if any readers figure out the meaning of life between now and the next post, please email me at

I was able to find this album in a thrift store, as I mentioned earlier. Hopefully, one day this monkey's paw of an LP can fall into your hands and make most of your middle-of-the-road nightmares come true. Excuse me while I go in search of caffeine to kick me back into gear. What'dya say Zimmy?

("Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz"- Bob Dylan and his empty boots... from the Library of Congress)

NEXT WEEK, we get back on track with a REAL LP, as Bob Dylan reunites with THE BAND and rides the WAVES... Planet Waves that is.


  1. Last time, I think I wrote that "Dylan never made a bad studio album". I will stand by that statement because this album doesn't count - as I understand it, Dylan did not approve its release. Yeah, it's pretty darned bad, although even here there are 3-4 songs that I can enjoy listening to.

  2. You are correct. To be fair, this wasn't approved by Dylan, but still remains a part of the official discography. If there's a silver lining, I'd say it's the LP that lives on the least as it was nearly lost to the masses after the release. Thanks for always reading and chiming in!

  3. Since you're going to all the trouble of reviewing every Dylan album, I figured the least I can do is to comment on each of your reviews... maybe trying to spur you on to continue and complete the project. :-)

  4. Will this series be continued? Ya gotta be getting hungry?