By Michael J. Casey
Which Dylan Album Should I Buy?
If you have read my first article on how to become a bob Dylan fan you may have some questions on certain choices that you have. One of the main ones being buying albums. If you haven't been listing to Dylan since 1962, when he released his self-titled debut album, then you have almost 50 years of music and over 30 albums to choose from.
I know I recommended starting with a greatest hits album to help get your juices flowing, but that is going to be just the tip of the iceberg. Dylan is known for his many deep tracks, and longtime fans often have favorite songs that other fans haven't even heard of. To avoid not being able to hold yourself in a conversation, you will need to own more than just a couple of albums. If you have the money to go out and by every one of his CDs more power to you, but not many of us have the money to throw around. Some might say just to download his whole catalog, but I do not condone illegal activity.
What I suggest is look into the many different areas of music that Dylan has covered over the years and starts with your favorite areas and expands from there. Dylan has been known to cover everything from folk, rock, jazz, blues, country and even Christian rock. Take a look at what areas you like the best and start from there.
One of my recommendations is to start were it all began for Dylan. Folk music is where he has his roots and it is where some of my favorite songs have been produced. His first four albums are derived in manly folk music. These albums include Bob Dylan, the Freewheelin' Bob Dylan; the Times Are A-Changing, and another Side of Bob Dylan. These albums were released in 62', 63', 64', and 64', and all have considered being great albums.
The first album Bob Dylan is true folk music with the majority of the songs being traditional folk music not even written by Dylan himself such as "House of the Rising Sun" and "Man of Constant Sorrow" The former known for the rendition preformed by the band The Animals and the latter grew fame in the Coen Brothers film O' Brother Where Art Thou. My opinion would to choose one of the other three, that way you will have a better chance of knowing some of the more popular songs on the Album and still be able to experience some great music you haven't heard before.
Now I don't really have a favorite when it comes to any of the three albums but if I had to choose I would most likely go with The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. This album included the masterful "Blowing in the Wind" a song that is recognizable around the world and his been performed by countless others musicians across all genres of music. This is the only great protest song that appears on the album, but also "Masters of War" a song that gives me the chills when I listen to it today because the theme of the songs still resonates so well with today's current issues. It also have songs of relationships like the songs "Girl from the North Country" (although the Nashville Skyline version played with Johnny Cash is a better version) and a song that great break-up song, "Don't Think Twice its Alright".
Well you might say to me what if you like Dylan electric period better; well you're in luck because his music is just as good in that genre too. Again his early rock music you have many amazing rock albums to chose from, and the choice is not necessarily and easy one. Here you have three albums that have appeared on all sorts of list for great albums, and all are great in their own respect. These albums would be "Bring it All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, and Blonde on Blonde. These albums are known not just for the amazing music, but many can pick out the album from the cover art alone. Bring it All Back Home is a great choice for those who can't really decide between the folk acoustic sound of Dylan and they knew rock sound that he would unleash on the world. The reason why I say this is because the Album contains a little bit of both.
Songs like "Subterranean Homesick Blues" and "Maggie's Farm" but also contains songs like "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "It's all Over Now Baby Blue". If you want more rock then Highway 61 Revisited is the album that you need to buy. It includes some of the greatest rocks songs ever created and one that many think is the epitome of rock. Of course that song is "Like a Rolling Stone". Beside that it has the song which it gets it title from, the 11 minute masterpiece Desolation Row and my personal favorite of the album "Ballad of a Thin Man", which, like "Masters of War" still continues to make feel like I did the first time I heard it. And of course you have Blonde on Blonde an album that has many references to women and love, and relationships. This was one of Dylan's most successful US releases of his career and many consider it to be one of the best albums of all time, although the same is true for his previous album.
These seven albums would be recorded in five years and before his 18 month break from music due to his motorcycle accident. This time period consist of what many people would consider classic Dylan and have some of his most famous songs. The truth is though this isn't the end of the line for Dylan and he will go on to write many more albums. If you were to choose an album other than these seven I would recommend Blood on the Tracks another Dylan masterpiece.
I hope that one of these eight recommendations can help you figure out which album you would want to buy, realizing that this isn't the limit of Dylan's music, in fact it is the opposite he much more great more music to be heard and this is just the tip of the iceberg and if you like this you going to love the rest of what he has done.
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