Bob Dylan – Let’s Stick Together

This post is a 4-in-1 deal…Let’s Stick Together was on Bob Dylan’s album Down In The Groove…considered his worst album by some critics. I never thought that…I bought it when it came out and it’s not that bad. The worse Bob Dylan album is much better than a lot of others.

This song has been covered by a lot of artists. The confusing part is the song not only goes by Let’s Stick Together but also Let’s Work Together.

Our band covered this one and we did it with the arrangement that Dylan laid down. I like this song no matter who covers it. I like Bryan Ferry, Canned Heat, and Wilbert Harrison’s version.

Wilbert Harrison originally wrote and recorded this blues-style R&B number as “Let’s Stick Together,” a plea for fidelity in a fractured marriage. That version, released in 1962, didn’t make the charts (until Bryan Ferry covered it in 1976) but never left Harrison’s mind. Seven years later, he resurrected the song, keeping the melody but changing the lyrics. “I thought I’d put some words to it that meant a bit more.”

Changing the title to “Let’s Work Together,” Harrison’s new message of unity was aimed at a nation rife with conflict over the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War.

Canned Heat didn’t want to overshadow Harrison with their version. In fact, if they’d known the singer was going to have success with it, they never would have recorded it in the first place. They first heard the tune when it was still making the rounds at underground radio stations. Their new guitarist Harvey Mandel played it for the rest of the guys and suggested they cover it, but their co-vocalist, Bob “The Bear” Hite, wanted to wait a few months to see if Harrison would chart first. According to drummer Adolfo de la Parra, Hite didn’t like taking songs away from living black musicians unless they weren’t hits.

Bryan Ferry had success with the song…peaking at #4 in the UK in 1976 and #1 in Australia. In 1988 Ferry did an updated version of the song, re-mixed by Bruce Lampcov & Rhett Davies. This re-recording reached #12 in the UK chart. Ferry had the most success with the song.

Let’s Stick Together

Well, a marriage vow, you know, it’s very sacred
The man put us together, now, you wanna make it
Stick together
Come on, come on, stick together

You know, you made a vow, not to leave one another, never
Well, ya never miss your water ’til your well runs dry
Now, come on, baby, give our love a try, let’s stick together
Come on, come on, stick together

We made a vow, not to leave one another, never
Well, ya never miss your water ’til your well runs dry
Come one, baby, give our love a try, let’s stick together
Come on, come on and stick together
You know, we made a vow, not to leave one another, never

It might be tough for a while, but consider the child
Cannot be happy without his mom and his papi

Let’s stick together
Come on, come on, stick together
You know, we made a vow, not to leave one another, never

Alarm – Sixty Eight Guns

I saw The Alarm open up for someone and I think it was Dylan in the late eighties. At that time I didn’t know who they were but I liked them right away. I kept up with them after that concert. This song stood out from all the ones they did.

When they first started out…like most rock bands they were rebellious. “Sixty Eight Guns” was their battle cry, a call to arms against the establishment. This attitude was formed in their hometown of Rhyl, North Wales, where they grew up in bleak economic times and fought naysayers who saw no need for another rabble-rousing rock band.

The song was written by bass player Eddie Macdonald and lead singer Mike Peters. Many reviews at the time compared them to U2…also calling them U3 at times. The Alarm gained a huge audience by opening up for…guess who? They opened for U2 on a large 1983 tour. This song was released in 1983 and peaked a #39 on the Billboard Top Rock Tracks and #17 in the UK.

In 1991 The Alarm was doing a concert and lead singer Mike Peters suddenly said “We’ve shared some great moments in time over the last ten years and tonight I would like to thank all the people who have supported me from the beginning to the end. Tonight this is my last moment with the Alarm, I’m going out in a Blaze of Glory – my hands are held up high”…… It would have been nice if he would have shared this little bit of info with his bandmates before the concert!

They did regroup occasionally and they have switched up members but have continued to release albums in the 21st century under the name The Alarm MM++.

Mike Peters: “It was about young people at that difficult age where you’re too cool for school, but not wise enough or eligible enough for adult life, So, it’s about people like that – like I was, once. We hung around on street corners, we started bands, we bought clothes, we identified with each other, and we credit these very bonded groups of individuals. And that’s how the Alarm grew.”

“It was a gang that made The Alarm special, ‘Sixty Eight Guns’ is really the description of the feeling that you could make change for yourself and make your life a better place to be in.”

Sixty Eight Guns

And now they’re trying to take my life away 
Forever young I cannot stay
Hey
On every corner I can see them there
They don’t know my name they don’t know my kind
They’re after you with their promises
(Promises of love)
They’re after you to sign your life away
(Yeah, yeaoh)

Sixty-eight Guns will never die
Sixty-eight Guns our battle cry
Sixty-eight Guns
Sixty-eight Guns
Oh, the Sixty-eight

Living in the backstreets 
That’s our home from home
The painted walls were all we’ve ever known 
?he Guns Forever’ that’s our battle cry
It is the flag that we fly so high 
For every day they’ll try and drag us down
(Drag us down and down)
I cry with anger I have done no crime
No
(Yeah, yeaoh)

Sixty-eight Guns will never die
Sixty-eight Guns our battle cry
Sixty-eight Guns will never die
Sixty-eight Guns our battle cry
Sixty-eight Guns
Sixty-eight Guns
The Sixty-eight

Up on the terrace I can hear the crowd roar 
Sixty Eight Guns
And in the subway I can hear them whisper 
Sixty Eight Guns
Through all the raging glory of the years 
We never once thought of the fears 
For what we’d do when the battle cry was over . 
Nothing lasts forever is all they seem to tell you when you’re young 

(I, I do swear
To unbreak the promise
To unbreak the vow

Unbreak it)

When you’re young
Have no illusion, no disillusion

Unbreak the promise
Unbreak the vow
Uphold the promise

SIXTY EIGHT GUNS

Sixty-eight Guns will never die
Sixty-eight Guns our battle cry
Sixty-eight Guns will never die
Sixty-eight Guns our battle cry
Sixty-eight Guns
Sixty-eight Guns
The sixty eight guns
Sixty eight guns
The sixty eight guns

Bob Dylan – Eat The Document

This is a film I so wish they would clean up and release. I watched a bootleg version of it in the 80s VHS. 

This was a film that covered Bob Dylan on his 1966 European tour backed up by the Hawks that eventually became The Band minus, Levon Helm. The film was to be shown on ABC television but ABC rejected and saying it was “incomprehensible” because Dylan himself was one of the editors and wanted the film to have more of an artistic feel.

It was filmed by D.A. Pennebaker who filmed Dylan’s 65 European tour when he played acoustically called Don’t Look Back. Don’t Look Back is terrific. This film is very disjointed. That is not saying I don’t like it. This is the Dylan period that probably is my favorite. The Hawks are raw and powerful and Dylan was

There are some highlights to this odd film. A spontaneous piano duet with Dylan and Johnny Cash, John Lennon and Bob Dylan very high riding around in a cab, and the famous concert where an audience member yells out “Judas” because of Dylan’s conversion to electric music. After the Judas remark, he proceeds to tell Robbie Robertson to play it loud and they kick off in a vicious “Like a Rolling Stone.” My favorite live version of that song. Those folk music fans were harsh.

The film is disjointed and frustrating to watch because some of the songs you want to see and hear are there…but only partly. You will be seeing Dylan performing something and then flash away to something else. Some of the concert footage and film from this ended up in the Martin Scorsese movie No Direction Home…I would recommend No Direction Home to everyone.

Bob was pale and nervous and there is no secret he was doing drugs heavily throughout this movie. After the tour, Dylan had a motorcycle wreck heard around the world and after he recovered he didn’t tour for years.

The cab ride with John Lennon is historical now. Both of them in sunglasses and Lennon trying to inject humor into the situation and Dylan is ok at first and then starts getting sick as the filming stops.

If you are a Dylan fan it’s worth a watch. I’m glad we have “No Direction Home” to see some clear film segments on that tour. Eat The Document has not been officially released but you can get a bootleg of it or watch most of it on youtube.

A Concert of The Mind…Fantasy Park

***Dave from A Sound Day has a new feature Turntable Talk…he will have an article by me today about Why the Beatles are still relevant…hope you get to read it.***

Fantasy Park: 1975 – Twin Cities Music Highlights

Imagine a concert in 1975 with The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Allman Brothers, Linda Ronstadt, The Rolling Stones, The Who, and more. Well, it happened! Sorta. Rod Serling did all of the radio promos. It would be one of his last projects…he would pass away before it aired.

It was a 48-hour-long rock concert (Fantasy Park) that was aired by nearly 200 radio stations over Labor Day weekend in 1975. The program, produced by KNUS in Dallas, featured performances by dozens of rock stars of the day and even reunited The Beatles. It was also completely imaginary, a theatre-of-the-mind for the 70s.

The “concert” was made up of live and studio recordings by the artists with live effects added to make it sound legit.

The show had college students hitchhiking all over America hoping to get to Fantasy Park. In New Orleans when the concert aired, the IRS came knocking on the doors of WNOE trying to attach the gate receipts to make sure the Feds got their cut! Callers were asking where they could get tickets to this amazing show.

The show was so popular in Minnesota that they played it again in its entirety the next year…now that people knew it wasn’t real and weren’t looking for tickets. The greatest concert that never was.  Fantasy Park had their own emcee and special reporters covering the weekend event giving you the play-by-play details along with some behind-the-scenes updates.

The concert would always be halted due to rain on a Sunday morning to allow the locals to get in their regular (usually religious) programming and the whole event always ended promptly at 6 pm on Sunday.

Now people look for the full 48-hour tapes of the show. They are a hot collector’s item. Rod Serling passed away on June 28, 1975.

Bands at Fantasy Park

Chicago
Elton John
Led Zeppelin
Joe Walsh
Cream
Shawn Phillips
Pink Floyd
Carly Simon
James Taylor (& Carol King)
Poco
Alvin Lee
Eagles
Linda Rondstadt
Dave Mason
Steve Miller
John Denver
Beach Boys
War
Grand Funk
Yes
Deep Purple
Rolling Stones
Cat Stevens
The Who
Rolling Stones
Moody Blues
Marshall Tucker Band
Allman Brothers Band
Seals & Crofts
America
Joni Mitchell
Doobie Brothers
Loggins and Messina
Crosby/Stills/Nash/Young
Bob Dylan
Beatles

Here is 10 minutes of it here.

Bob Dylan – Maggie’s Farm

One of the first songs that caught my attention by Bob Dylan. I’ve seen the man live 8 times and this one…he would always play, at least in the first 5 concerts. After that I only heard it once again.

I don’t post many Dylan songs…not because I’m not a huge fan…like I said I’ve seen the man 8 times. If I get a chance, I’ll see him 8 more times.  When you post a Dylan song you almost feel the urge to do an interpretation of the song…I have no interest in doing that.

Some think he was inspired by The Bentley Brothers’ “Penny’s Farm,” a 1920s song about a rural landlord. In “Maggie’s Farm,” Dylan included descriptions of Maggie, her brother, her father, and her mother in successive verses.

The song was famous for the reaction it got at the Newport Jazz Festival when Dylan “went electric” to his die-hard folk fans. This appearance by Dylan is portrayed as one of the most important and controversial events in the history of American rock and roll. When the band came out to play his new songs from Bringing It Back Home album…much of the crowd were not amused. They wanted Bob to only play the acoustic and sing protest songs…but Bob had already started opening the folk-rock door earlier with bands such as The Byrds covering his songs.

Some say that most of the booing was not because of the songs but with different things like the short set, the volume level (you couldn’t hear Dylan sing), and other things.

Bob didn’t really care…or he didn’t show it much. He was going to do what he wanted to do. He continued with a different backing band later…and that band heard boo’s around the world…the backing band turned out to be The Band…then known as The Hawks.

Al Kooper organist: The reason they booed is because he only played for 15 minutes and everybody else played for 45 minutes to an hour, and he was the headliner of the festival. […] The fact that he was playing electric…I don’t know. The Paul Butterfield Blues Band (who had played earlier) had played electric and the crowd didn’t seem too incensed.

Maggies Farm peaked at #22 in the UK in 1965.

From Songfacts

Dylan recorded this at one of his first rock sessions on January 15, 1965. He was backed by two electric guitarists, piano, bass, and drums.

Dylan’s famous (some say infamous) set at the Newport Folk Festival on July 25, 1965 marks the split of Bob Dylan with the folk movement when he decided to play a set with a backing band of electric instruments. The set included three songs: “Maggie’s Farm,” “Like A Rolling Stone,” and “Phantom Engineer.”

 The audience at the festival was clearly angry with Dylan and they expressed their anger with a growing chorus of boos during the 16-minute set.

The band for this set was hastily thrown together. This would indicate that doing an “electric” set wasn’t necessarily part of Dylan’s plans for this festival.

Several members of this band played with the Paul Butterfiled Blues Band, who played for about 45 minutes just before Dylan took the stage. Guitarist Michael Bloomfield, bassist Jerome Arnold and drummer Sam Lay all played with Dylan that evening. Al Kooper, who didn’t play with the Butterfield band but played the instantly recognizable organ line on “Like A rolling Stone” in the studio recording, rounded out the band. Legend has it that Dylan rehearsed all night with this band the day before the performance, but even with that preparation, the performances were weak. That too could have accounted for the boos.

Al Kooper said later in an interview that he thought the booing was caused by a bad sound system, but recordings don’t bear that out.

But the day before during a blues workshop, Alan Lomax, one of the organizers of the festival, was very condescending in introducing the Butterfield Blues Band. Lomax was a blues purist and felt that white boys had no business playing the blues. That led to a physical fight between Lomax and Albert Grossman who managed both Dylan and the Butterfield Blues Band.

Also, in introducing the evening show, Pete Seeger (another organizer of the festival, and another folk music purist,) played the audience a recording of a newborn baby, and said that the final night’s program was a message from everyone to this baby that the world it was being born into was full of hate, hunger, bombs, and injustice, but that the people – the folk – would overcome, and make it a better world.

Overwrought displays like this also may have set Dylan’s teeth on edge. If he was on the fence about doing an electric set, these two events might have convinced him just to get under the skin of these two pompous organizers.

Or maybe the audience was angry with the short set of only three songs. A rain delay pushed some of the afternoon bands into the evening show. So people had been sitting and waiting for Dylan for a while. Peter Yarrow (of Peter Paul and Mary, and another of the Festival’s organizers) persuaded Dylan to return to the stage to sing a few more songs. Dylan borrowed an acoustic guitar (allegedly from Johnny Cash) and opened with “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” while he appeared to be regaining his wits after being blindsided by the boos from the audience.

The acoustic set seemed to placate everyone. Dylan then started to strum the chords to “Tambourine Man” but realized he didn’t have a harmonica. He asked for anyone with an E harmonic to throw it up to him. There followed a barrage of incoming harmonicas hitting the stage. Dylan picked one up, thanked the crowd and played on. (This can be seen on the Songfacts.com video of the song.)

The two recordings of Maggie’s Farm presented here – the acoustic studio version, and the video from the Newport Folk Festival – are good examples of how Dylan’s music changed. In 1963, when Dylan released his first successful recordings, he was hailed as one of the most powerful musical voices in America. By 1965, with the growing influence of the Beatles, and the continued musical conservatism of the folk movement as personified by Pete Seeger, the relationship between the folk movement and Dylan became increasingly strained. The final separation came with “Maggie’s Farm” at the Newport Folk Festival of 1965. (Thanks, David Sherman, who teaches the History of Rock and Roll at Excelsior College.) >>

Making his fifth appearance performing on the Grammys, Dylan played this at the 2011 ceremonies backed by The Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons.

Festival! was a 1967 documentary film about Dylan’s three mid-’60s appearances at the Newport Folk Festival, including his controversial electric set from 1965. Uncut magazine asked the movie’s director, Murray Lerner, what he could hear on stage, after Dylan came on and played “Maggie’s Farm.”

“I heard a combination of boos and applause,” he replied. “And some catcalls. And then when he came back and did the acoustic songs, they got with it again. He was nervous when he came back, there’s no question about it. That was sweat you can see rolling down his face. And on ‘Mr. Tambourine Man,’ asking for a harmonica from the crowd – the fact that he forgot his harmonica.”

Maggie’s Farm

I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more
No, I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more
Well, I wake in the morning
Fold my hands and pray for rain
I got a head full of ideas
That are drivin’ me insane
It’s a shame the way she makes me scrub the floor
I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more

I ain’t gonna work for Maggie’s brother no more
No, I ain’t gonna work for Maggie’s brother no more
Well, he hands you a nickel
He hands you a dime
He asks you with a grin
If you’re havin’ a good time
Then he fines you every time you slam the door
I ain’t gonna work for Maggie’s brother no more

I ain’t gonna work for Maggie’s pa no more
No, I ain’t gonna work for Maggie’s pa no more
Well, he puts his cigar
Out in your face just for kicks
His bedroom window
It is made out of bricks
The National Guard stands around his door
Ah, I ain’t gonna work for Maggie’s pa no more

I ain’t gonna work for Maggie’s ma no more
No, I ain’t gonna work for Maggie’s ma no more
Well, she talks to all the servants
About man and God and law
Everybody says
She’s the brains behind Pa
She’s sixty eight, but she says she’s fifty four
I ain’t gonna work for Maggie’s ma no more

I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more
No, I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more
Well, I try my best
To be just like I am
But everybody wants you
To be just like them
They sing while you slave and I just get bored
I ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s farm no more

Otis Gibbs

I came across Otis’s youtube channel and I think some of you would be interested. He is a singer songwriter but on his channel he has conversations musicians who have played or worked with Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Tom Petty, Waylon Jennings, just to name a few, and  his own stories about different musicians. For you music fans it’s worth your time. The guy doesn’t interview people…he lets people talk and tell their stories.  He is also a good story teller. I’m hooked on his channel.

He has stories about Jerry Reed, The Replacements, Dan Baird, Merle Haggard, Ry Cooder, Towns Van Zant, Bill Monroe, George Jones, Johnny Paycheck, John Prine, Mike Campbell and more.

He lives in Indiana but interviews many Nashville connected musicians. Check this guy out…His music is VERY good as well. I’m just checking that out more as I go… his music is classified as alt-country.

I just picked a few random youtube videos from his page below.

This is his youtube page:

https://www.youtube.com/user/otisgibbs

Chuck Mead – 90s Alternative Country band BR5-49…talking about when he toured with Bob Dylan

Kenny Vaughn – Lucinda Williams  guitar player at the time talks about touring with Tom Petty

Chuck Mead again with Keith Richards

Dan Baird on the Replacements

Otis Gibbs Wiki

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otis_Gibbs

Replacements – Merry Go Around

This one is off of their last studio album All Shook Down. I was going to conclude with this one having one off of their studio albums but there is one more coming next week.

This is not my favorite off the album but it did have a commercial sound for that time and it’s something that I thought would have charted in the Billboard 100. Merry Go Round did peak at #1 on the alternative charts. The album peaked at #69 in the Billboard Album Chart in 1990.

“Merry Go Round” was written about the  lives of Westerberg and his sister Mary (“They ignored me with a smile, you as a child”).

The band went to Los Angeles to make a video for Merry Go Round. With Westerberg’s okay, Warner Bros. hired Bob Dylan’s twenty-three-year-old son Jesse Dylan, who was just starting to direct.

It was shot in black and white and later edited to include some colorful inserts. From the opening moments, with a stone-faced Westerberg staring blankly into the camera, the video lacked the fun that had marked some of  their other clips. Paul and Tommy managed a few smiles, and Slim played along gamely. The drummer Chris Mars, miming to Charley Drayton’s drum track, was understandably less than enthused.

Merry Go Round

Hush was the first word you were taught
And they watched you wear
The clothes they claimed that they bought
They brought you down
To watch the merry-go around

In fall, you knew how much it cost
A trouble doll
Around your neck when you lost
You wouldn’t make a sound
But I could hear your little heart pound
And I watched your feet slip off the ground

Merry go round in dreams
Writes ’em down, it seems
When she sleeps, she’s free
Merry go round in dreams

You wake to another day and find
The wind’s blowing out of key with your sky
Only you can see
And the rain dancing in the night
Everybody stands around in delight

Merry go round in dreams
Writes ’em down, it seems
When she sleeps, she’s free
Merry go round in dreams

And everybody thinks she’s sick
She’s got two worlds she can pick
And she’s sad

Hush is the only word you know
And I stopped listening long ago
They ignored me with a smile
You as a child
But the trouble doll hears your heart pound
And your feet they say goodbye to the ground

Merry go round in dreams
Writes ’em down, it seems
When she sleeps, she’s free
Merry go round in dreams

Merry go round in dreams
Merry go round in me
Merry go round
Round and round in me
Merry go round
Round and round in me

George Thorogood – Wanted Man

Wanted Man was written by Bob Dylan and it is a favorite of mine. I first heard it by George Thorogood. The first time I heard it was not the studio version that George did…it was when he played it on the 30th Anniversary Bob Dylan concert held in 1993. George’s version of Wanted Man was left off of the CD for some reason…but I knew I had to find that Dylan song as soon as I heard it.

This was pre-internet and I finally found out that Dylan never recorded it for an album. To this day I’ve never heard a version of only Bob singing it… not even a demo of just him.

From what I’ve read about the song Bob Dylan wrote Wanted Man for Nashville Skyline but no complete version of the song was recorded at those sessions. Johnny Cash covered the song and he announced it as a song that him and Dylan wrote together but the records show that Dylan copyrighted it according to a couple of websites.

Cash debuted “Wanted Man” on his 1969 live album, At San Quentin, and would later release a studio version.

George Thorogood released his version on his 1982 Bad To The Bone album released in 1982. The word play in this song is great.

Below I have George’s version of course but I also have Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan demo of the song.

Wanted Man

Wanted man in California
Wanted man in Ohio
Wanted man in Kansas City
Wanted man in Buffalo

Wanted man in Oklahoma
Wantd man in old Cheyenne
Wherever you might look tonight
You might see this wanted man

Well, I might be in Colorado
Or Georgia by the sea
Workin’ for some man who may not know who I might be
Yeah, and if you see me comin’
And you know who I am
Don’t you breathe it to nobody
Cause you know I’m on the lam

Wanted man by Lucy Watson
Wanted man by Jeannie Brown
Wanted man by Nelly Johnson
Wanted man in this Tex town

And I’ve had all that I’ve wanted
Of a lot of things I’ve had
And a lot more than I’ve needed
Of some things that turned out bad

Well, I got sidetracked in El Paso
Stopped to get myself a map
I went the wrong way into Juarez
With Juanita on my lap
And I went to sleep in Shreveport
Woke up in Abilene
Wonderin’ why the hell I’m wanted
At some town halfway between

Wanted man in Albuquerque
Wanted man in Baton Rouge
Wanted man in Tallahassee
Wanted man in Syracuse

And there’s somebody sent to grab me
Anywhere that I might be
Wherever you might look tonight
You might get a glimpse of me

Wanted man in California
Wanted man in Ohio
Wanted man in Kansas City
Wanted man in Buffalo
Wanted man in Oklahoma
Wanted man in old Cheyenne
Wherever you might look tonight
You might see this wanted man

Bob Dylan – The Times They Are A-Changin’

I like this song a lot and I was drawn to it right away when I listened to it on my copy of Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits…but I cannot connect to it like the listeners did in 64-65. It was more than a pop song.

Dylan wrote this in 1963 when the civil rights movement was underway and demonstrations against the Vietnam War were gearing up. It would become the anthem of his generation.

Sometime songs can sum up the generation and time they are released in and this one is one of the very few that does it.

The song was on Bob Dylan’s 3rd album The Times They Are a-Changin’ released in 1964. The song wasn’t released as a single until 1965 and it peaked at #9 in the UK.

On December 10, 2010 Sotheby’s in New York sold a single rather worn sheet of binder paper on which Bob DylanOffsite Link wrote the original lyrics of his most famous song, The Times They Are A-ChanginOffsite Linkprobably in October 1963. This battered piece of paper with messy writing sold for $422,500.

Bob Dylan

https://www.historyofinformation.com/detail.php?id=2750

The song was ranked number 59 on Rolling Stone‘s 2004 list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”

Bob Dylan: “I wanted to write a big song, some kind of theme song, with short, concise verses that piled up on each other in a hypnotic way. This is definitely a song with a purpose. I knew exactly what I wanted to say and who I wanted to say it to.” 

From Songfacts

A call to action, “The Times They Are A-Changin'” became an anthem for frustrated youth. It summed up the anti-establishment feelings of people who would later be known as hippies. Many of the lyrics are based on the Civil Rights movement in the US.

Dylan recorded this song in October 1963. He first performed the song at a Carnegie Hall concert on October 26 that year, using it as his opening number.

On November 22, 1963, United States president John F. Kennedy was assassinated, which made this song even more poignant. This also presented a quandary for Dylan, who had to decide if he would keep playing the song; he found it odd when audiences would erupt in applause after hearing it, and wondered exactly what they were clapping for.

Dylan kept the song in his sets. It was issued on the album of the same name on January 13, 1964.

Dylan covered the Carter Family Song “Wayworn Traveler,” writing his own words to the melody and named it “Paths Of Victory”. This recording is featured on “Bootleg Series Vol. 1-3”. After writing that song, he re-wrote the words again, changed the time signature to 3/4, and created this, one of his most famous songs ever.

This was released as a single in the UK in 1965 before Dylan went there to tour. It became his first hit in that territory, climbing to #9 on April 21. British listeners liked what they heard from Dylan and made a run on his second album, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (released in 1963), sending it to #1 on April 11. This marked the first time in two years that an album by a group other that The Beatles or Rolling Stones was #1 in the UK.

Dylan allowed this to be used in commercials for accounting firm Coopers and Lybrand in the ’90s. In 1996, he also licensed it for commercial use by the Bank of Montreal. 

This song appears on the official soundtrack of the 2009 movie Watchmen. A cover of Dylan’s “Desolation Row” by My Chemical Romance also appears on the soundtrack. >>

Simon & Garfunkel covered this on their first album, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M., in 1964. They were produced at the time by Tom Wilson, who also produced Dylan’s The Times They Are A-Changin’ album.

The Times They Are A-Changin’

Come gather ’round, people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
And you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
The battle outside ragin’
Will soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is rapidly fadin’
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’

Bob Dylan – Knocking On Heaven’s Door

This song is one of Bob Dylan’s best known songs. There has been many covers but I’ll take this one over all. I read a review Thursday of the soundtrack of Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid by Bob Dylan written by Cincinnati Babyhead.

Dylan  wrote the lyrics of the song from the perspective of a dying sheriff living his last moments played by Slim Pickens. The song plays beautifully to that scene in the movie

Last night I decided to watch the movie again. It’s a great movie and if you get a chance… watch it. Dylan had a part in the movie as the character, Alias. Knocking On Heavens Door peaked at #12 in the Billboard 100, #14 in rhe UK, and #12 in Canada in 1973.

Booker T. Jones (musician on the album): “He [Dylan] lived over in Paradise Cove and I lived on Winding Way in Malibu. I bought Lana Turner’s old house and I’m not sure where he lived, but he had a house just across the road there and he would come over and pick up my guitar and work on songs and stuff. They were working on the movie with Jason Robards late one night, and for some reason [Dylan] just called me up and asked me to come over to the studio and to play on the song, and I played bass on it.”

The other musicians on “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” are:

Vocals, Guitar: Dylan
Guitar: Roger McGuinn
Drums: Jim Keltner
Harmonium: Carl Fortina
Flute: Gary Foster
Backup Vocals: Brenda Patterson, Carol Hunter, Donna Weiss

From Songfacts

Dylan wrote it for the 1973 Western film, Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid. It plays while Sheriff Colin Baker is dying from his gunshot wounds. 

Guns N’ Roses covered this on their 1991 album, Use Your Illusion II. They played it in 1992 at a tribute concert for Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of Queen, who had died of AIDS. 72,000 people attended the concert, which was held in London’s Wembley Stadium. In case you’re wondering, towards the end of the end of this version, the man on the telephone says, “You just better start sniffin your own rank subjugation Jack, ’cause it’s just you and your tattered libido, the bank and the mortician, forever man and it wouldn’t be luck if you could get out of life alive.”

In 1996, Bob Dylan allowed the Scottish musician Ted Christopher to record a new verse for “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” which Christopher had written in memory of the schoolchildren and teacher killed in the Dunblane massacre. This is one of the rare times Dylan has officially permitted someone to add to or change the lyrics to one of his songs. Christopher’s version reached #1 in the UK.

One of the few times Dylan authorized a sample was when he let the British singer Gabrielle use this song as the basis of her 1999 track “Rise,” which went to #1 in the UK. According to Gabrielle, Dylan not only allowed it, but waived some of the royalties he was entitled to.

Warren Zevon recorded this for his 2003 album The Wind. Zevon was dying of lung cancer when he recorded the track, and died shortly after the album was released.

This song has been covered in reggae style by multiple artists including G.T. Moore & The Reggae Guitars, Arthur Louis and Eric Clapton.

Other artists to have covered this song include Avril Lavigne, Dolly Parton, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Cold Chisel, Neil Young and Aretha Franklin.

The title of the song was used as the original title for the Cowboy Bebop movie. Cowboy Bebop is a popular Japanese Anime that made a big hit in America when the dubbed version (done in the late ’90s) was broadcast on Cartoon Network in 2001. Bebop was known for taking influences from pop culture (example: The title of episode 6 is “Sympathy for the Devil,” obviously a take off of the Rolling Stones Song). When a full length Bebop movie was made in Japan, it was titled Cowboy Bebop: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door. When it was dubbed and brought to theaters in America for a short time, they changed it to Cowboy Bebop: The Movie so Dylan wouldn’t take any legal action against them. 

This song is musically similar to Neil Young’s “Helpless,” which was recorded in 1969 and features on the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young album, Déjà Vu.

In October 2007, 1,730 guitarists in Shillong, India strummed this song for five minutes to set a world record for the largest ever guitar ensemble.

Knocking On Heavens Door

Mama, take this badge off of me
I can’t use it anymore
It’s gettin’ dark, too dark to see
I feel I’m knockin’ on heaven’s door

Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door

Mama, put my guns in the ground
I can’t shoot them anymore
That long black cloud is comin’ down
I feel I’m knockin’ on heaven’s door

Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door

Band – I Shall Be Released

There is a very solemn song with a religious hymnal feel to it. Richard Manuel sings this one with a slight mournful falsetto voice that is just pure as you can get. I Shall Be Released is not commercial, not meant to be a hit, sell a million copies, but just pure music at it’s best…there are no pretensions or gimmicks…this is the Band at one of it’s many peaks.

Bob Dylan wrote this in 1967 but it was not until 1971 on his Greatest Hits Vol. II album that his version was officially released. The Band, who backed up Dylan on his first electric tour, recorded it for Music From Big Pink, which was their first album. Their version is the most well-known.

Everyone under the sun has covered this song but the Band’s own rendition was released first and is probably the best known version.

The song was the B side to The Weight released in 1968. Music From The Big Ping peaked at #30 in the Billboard 100 and #18 in Canada. That wasn’t the biggest thing though…the album helped change the landscape of popular music from the psychedelic harder rock to more earthy roots music.

From Songfacts

This song could be either an anti-death penalty composition or a metaphoric attempt by Dylan at looking forward to being released from Hell on Earth – possibly awaiting the “release” from the hell of being an innocent man wrongly imprisoned.

In Robert Shelton’s biography No Direction Home, he gives the song a different meaning. After Dylan’s motorcycle accident in 1966, when he was 25, he retreated from the spotlight. This was after he had suffered great disappointment at the reception his European and American tour dates brought. He’d been booed offstage, called a traitor, and attendance dropped at some of his concert dates. Dylan was seriously injured in the accident, and Shelton states that Dylan withdrew not only to recuperate, but to spend the time in self reflection, and with his family. He goes further, saying that the song represents Dylan’s search for personal salvation. 

This was featured in the 1987 Emmy-winning documentary Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam. 

Other artists to record this song include Bette Midler, Nina Simone, and Joan Baez, who performed the song at Woodstock while pregnant with her son, Gabriel. The Band also performed it during their set at the festival.

I Shall Be Released

They say everything can be replaced
They say every distance is not near
So I remember every face
Of every man who put me here

I see my light come shining
From the west down to the east
Any day now, any day now
I shall be released

They say every man needs protection
They say that every man must fall
Yet I swear I see my reflection
Somewhere so high above this wall

I see my light come shining
From the west down to the east
Any day now, any day now
I shall be released

Now, yonder stands a man in this lonely crowd
A man who swears he’s not to blame
All day long I hear him shouting so loud
Just crying out that he was framed

I see my light come shining
From the west down to the east
Any day now, any day now
I shall be released

Bob Dylan – Bringing It All Back Home…Desert Island Albums

This is my seventh-round choice from Hanspostcard’s album draft…100 albums in 100 days. 

2020 ALBUM DRAFT- ROUND 7- PICK 6- BADFINGER20 SELECTS- BOB DYLAN- BRINGING IT ALL BACK HOME

he not busy being born
Is busy dying

I was a kid when I first heard a Bob Dylan song and it was Knocking On Heaven’s Door. I liked the song but didn’t think much else about it. Later I  heard about him while reading about the Beatles. This man was armed with words that caught everyone’s attention. The books would describe his voice as crude but effective with other adjectives thrown in the mix. I then bought his greatest hits.  I received that great Dylan poster with the album that had “ELVIS” formed in his hair…I thought what a cool guy.

Original Bob Dylan Poster Created by Milton Glaser – The Ross Art Group

I then purchased Bringing It All Back Home and I was a bigger fan. I loved his voice right away. He didn’t sing like McCartney, Lennon, Elvis, or anyone like that but it worked…his voice had soul and passion. I found out why a generation before me followed him like the Pied Piper…it all became clear. Whether you understood or agreed.. his voice and words meant something. Bob wasn’t a product.

It was Dylan who inspired the Beatles and it was The Beatles who inspired Dylan…they played off of each other and took popular music to new exciting places.

This album angered a lot of his fans. After being a folk singer armed with his acoustic and his bag of words…he blew people away. Then this album came out with electric instruments. That did not go down well with the folk fans. One side of the album was acoustic and the other side full of raw electric songs. Some of his fans would boo him at concerts as soon as the band backed him up on the rock section. That didn’t slow Bob down at all…he knew what he was doing was right and he would not yield to the boos or naysayers.

On top of all of this…the album was recorded in three days…three days (January 13,14, and 15 1965). That’s not enough time for most artists to get a decent outtake.

These songs…where do I start? Lets start with the opener Subterranean Homesick Blues and the line “You don’t need a weather man
to know which way the wind blows.” How many hippies have quoted that line? I learned this song by heart much like I did Tangled Up In Blue later on.

It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding) is a song that verse after verse amazes me. His voice in this song is perfect… almost like a preacher behind a pulpit. Bob sings about commercialism, hypocrisy, politics, and warmongering for starters. It’s wrong to pick out a lyric in this song without posting all of them but I will…”Made everything from toy guns that spark, To flesh-colored Christs that glow in the dark, It’s easy to see without looking too far, That not much is really sacred” I mean…holy hell…who comes up with that? It fits just right with today’s commercialism.

Love Minus Zero/No Limit is a over looked song by Bob that very well could be my favorite off of the album. This contains one of my favorite Dylan lyrics. “She knows there’s no success like failure, and that failure’s no success at all.” Lyricists would kill for lines like that…Dylan would make a habit of it. He helped raised the standards for songwriters. No longer would serious artists get away with simple rhyming lyrics.

She Belongs To Me took a while for me to get this one. For the longest time I skipped it on the album but then…one day it clicked. “She’s got everything she needs, She’s an artist, she don’t look back, She can take the dark out of nighttime
And paint the daytime black.” it has since become one of my favorites.

I’m not going to add more videos to the already full post but it was a coin toss on which ones to go over. It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue, Mr. Tambourine Man, Outlaw Blues, Gates of Eden, Maggie’s Farm…and all of them are worthy. Bob released three albums between March 22, 1965 and June 20, 1966. Those albums were Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisted, and Blonde on Blonde. Those alone would be a hall of fame career for any other artist but Bob was just getting warmed up.

This is my first non-band album on my island and I couldn’t have picked a better artist or album. Listening to Dylan never gets old because you continually find something new you didn’t hear before.

1. Subterranean Homesick Blues
2. She Belongs To Me
3. Maggie’s Farm
4. Love Minus Zero/No Limit
5. Outlaw Blues
6. On The Road Again
7. Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream
8. Mr Tambourine Man
9. Gates Of Eden
10. It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)
11. It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue

Byrds – Mr. Tambourine Man

When I hear jangly Rickenbacker guitars I’m automatically happy … The Byrds influence everyone from Tom Petty to Cheap Trick to Big Star to new bands now. If I could go back to any era… it would be the mid-sixties. Much of the music we hear today has elements of this period.

Bob Dylan wrote “Mr. Tambourine Man,” which was originally released on his fifth album Bringing It All Back Home in early 1965. His version wasn’t released as a single, but when The Byrds released their cover later in 1965, it was a massive hit.

It peaked at #1 in the Billboard 100, #1 in the UK, and #2 in Canada in 1965. topping the charts in both the US and UK. It’s the only song Dylan ever wrote that went to #1 in America.

Roger Mcguinn said he was trying for a vocal between John Lennon and Bob Dylan.

David Crosby: “He came to hear us in the studio when we were building The Byrds. After the word got out that we gonna do ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’ and we were probably gonna be good, he came there and he heard us playing his song electric, and you could see the gears grinding in his head. It was plain as day. It was like watching a slow-motion lightning bolt.”

From Songfacts

Dylan wrote this on a road trip he took with some friends from New York to San Francisco. They smoked lots of marijuana along the way, replenishing their stash at post offices where they had mailed pot along the way.

The Byrds version is based on Bob Dylan’s demo of the song that he recorded during sessions for his 1964 album Another Side of Bob Dylan (Dylan’s version was not yet released when The Byrds recorded it). It was The Byrds manager Jim Dickson who brought in the demo and asked them to record it – the group refused at first because they thought it didn’t have any hit potential. When The Byrds did record it, they took some lyrics out and added a 12-string guitar lead.

Only three of the five members of the Byrds performed on this song: Roger McGuinn sang lead and played lead guitar; Gene Clark and David Crosby did the vocal harmonies.

Session musicians were brought in to play the other instruments, since the band was just starting out and wasn’t deemed good enough yet by their management. The session musicians who played on this song were the Los Angeles members of what came to be known as “The Wrecking Crew” when drummer Hal Blaine used that term in his 1990 book. This group of about 50 players ended up on many hit songs of the era.

The Byrds who didn’t play on this one were bass player Chris Hillman and drummer Michael Clarke.

This was the Byrds’ first single. In a 1975 interview with Let It Rock, Roger McGuinn explained how the unrefined sound of this song came about. Said McGuinn: “To get that sound, that hit sound, that ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’ sound, we just ran it through the electronics which were available to us at that time, which were mainly compression devices and tape delay, tape-sustain. That’s how we got it, by equalizing it properly and aiming at a specific frequency.

For stereo-buffs out there who noticed that ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’ in stereo isn’t really stereo, by the way, that’s because when Terry Melcher, the producer, first started mixing records he didn’t know how to mix stereo, and so he made all the singles up to ‘Turn Turn Turn’ mono. The label is misrepresentative. See, when Columbia Records signed us, they didn’t know what they had. So they gave production to someone low on the totem-pole-which was Terry Melcher who was Doris Day’s son who was getting a token-job-in-the-mailroom sort of thing. They gave him the Byrds and the Byrds were supposed to flunk the test.”

This was inspired by a folk guitarist named Bruce Langhorne. As Dylan explained: “Bruce was playing with me on a bunch of early records. On one session, [producer] Tom Wilson had asked him to play tambourine. And he had this gigantic tambourine. It was, like, really big. It was as big as a wagon wheel. He was playing and this vision of him playing just stuck in my mind.”

Dylan never told Langhorne about it (Bruce had to read about it in the Biograph album liner notes, like the rest of us). He wrote the song and recorded a version with Rambling Jack Elliot that got to the Byrds (known as the Jet Set at the time) before it was ever put on a record.

Dylan claims that despite popular belief, this was not about drugs: “Drugs never played a part in that song… ‘disappearing through the smoke rings in my mind,’ that’s not drugs; drugs were never that big a thing with me. I could take ’em or leave ’em, never hung me up.” >>

This was the first of many Bob Dylan songs recorded by the Byrds. Others include: “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere,” “The Times They Are a-Changin’,” “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue,” and “Chimes of Freedom.”

The production style was based on The Beach Boys song “Don’t Worry Baby,” which was the suggestion of producer Terry Melcher. Bill Pitman, Leon Russell and Hal Blaine had all played on that Beach Boys song, so it wasn’t hard for them to re-create the sound on this track.

This was the first influential folk-rock song. All of the characteristics of that genre are present, including chorus harmonies, a rock rhythm section and lots of thought-provoking lyrics.

This was discussed in the 1995 movie, Dangerous Minds. In the movie, they talked about the underlying drug references this song might entail… Example: “Mr. Tambourine Man”=Drug Dealer; “Play a song for me”=give me a joint. The basis for this theory was that music was heavily censored at that time, so musicians would share their feelings about drugs and unallowed subject material through coded songs. >>

Although the Byrds didn’t write this or play most of the instruments, they would later write the song “Rock N’ Roll Star,” which made fun of The Monkees for not writing their own songs and not playing their own instruments. 

In the movie Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, Austin Powers (Mike Myers) attempts to play the CD of this album on a record player. 

While many interpreted the song as a thinly veiled drugs record, McGuinn had other ideas. Having joined the Eastern cult religion Subud just 10 days prior to entering the studio, he saw the song as “a prayer of submission.” McGuinn told The Byrds’ biographer, Johnny Rogan, in 1997: “Underneath the lyrics to ‘Mr. Tambourine Man,’ regardless of what Dylan meant, I was turning it into a prayer. I was singing to God and I was saying that God was the Tambourine Man and I was saying to him, ‘Hey God, take me for a trip and I’ll follow you.'”

Chris Hillman admitted to Mojo that he’s never been a fan of The Byrds’ version. “Even though it opened the floodgates, I never liked that track,” he said. “I loved the song, but I never liked the track – it was too slick. I always wonder what would have happened if we cut it ourselves. But in a business sense Columbia were hedging their bets, because we were a pretty crude sounding band then.”

Bob Dylan didn’t make it to Woodstock, but four of his songs did, including “Mr. Tambourine Man,” which Melanie included in her set on the first day. Joan Baez and The Band both did “I Shall Be Released,” and Joe Cocker sang two Dylan songs: “Just Like A Woman” and “Dear Landlord.”

Roger McGuinn admitted to Uncut magazine he was petrified going into the studio to record “Mr. Tambourine Man.” “I was playing with the big boys, the Wrecking Crew. I was so nervous that Hal Blaine kept saying to me, ‘Settle down kid. Why don’t you go out and have a couple of beers?'”

 

Mr. Tamourine Man

Hey, Mr. Tambourine man, play a song for me
I’m not sleepy and there ain’t no place I’m going to
Hey, Mr. Tambourine man, play a song for me
In the jingle jangle morning, I’ll come followin’ you

Take me for a trip upon your magic swirling ship
All my senses have been stripped
And my hands can’t feel to grip and my toes too numb to step
Wait only for my boot heels to be wandering

I’m ready to go anywhere, I’m ready for to fade
Into my own parade
Cast your dancing spell my way
I promise to go under it

Hey, Mr. Tambourine man, play a song for me
I’m not sleepy and there ain’t no place I’m going to
Hey, Mr. Tambourine man, play a song for me
In the jingle jangle morning, I’ll come followin’ you

 

Bob Dylan – Gotta Serve Somebody

This single won the Grammy for Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Male in 1979. Dylan performed the song at that same ceremony.

Slow Train Coming was Bob Dylan’s first release since becoming a born-again Christian. What a way to start it out…

I’ve always liked this song and this part of his career. It didn’t matter to me if it was a Christian song …it’s a good song.

The song peaked at #24 in the Billboard 100 in 1979.

Much of the album thus deals with Dylan’s faith and Christian teachings. While some of his older fans were not happy…he did gain some new fans because of it.

This was one of three songs Dylan played when he was the musical guest on Saturday Night Live in 1979. It was the only time he appeared on the show.

You Gotta Serve Somebody

You may be an ambassador to England or France
You may like to gamble, you might like to dance
You may be the heavyweight champion of the world
You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes
Indeed you’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

You might be a rock ‘n’ roll addict prancing on the stage
You might have drugs at your command, women in a cage
You may be a business man or some high-degree thief
They may call you doctor or they may call you chief

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes you are
You’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

You may be a state trooper, you might be a young Turk
You may be the head of some big TV network
You may be rich or poor, you may be blind or lame
You may be living in another country under another name

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes you are
You’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

You may be a construction worker working on a home
You may be living in a mansion or you might live in a dome
You might own guns and you might even own tanks
You might be somebody’s landlord, you might even own banks

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes
You’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

You may be a preacher with your spiritual pride
You may be a city councilman taking bribes on the side
You may be workin’ in a barbershop, you may know how to cut hair
You may be somebody’s mistress, may be somebody’s heir

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes
You’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

Might like to wear cotton, might like to wear silk
Might like to drink whiskey, might like to drink milk
You might like to eat caviar, you might like to eat bread
You may be sleeping on the floor, sleeping in a king-sized bed

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes
Indeed you’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

You may call me Terry, you may call me Timmy
You may call me Bobby, you may call me Zimmy
You may call me R.J., you may call me Ray
You may call me anything but no matter what you say

Still, you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes
You’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

Bob Dylan – Like A Rolling Stone

A snare drum shot starts this song that helped shape the sixties.  In 2004 Rolling Stone named Bob Dylan’s “Like A Rolling Stone” the greatest song of all time. When Bob sings  “How Does it Feel?” you can feel the venom.

“Like a Rolling Stone” runs 6:13. It was a big breakthrough when the song got radio play and became a hit, as many stations refused to play songs much longer than 3 minutes. It was also rare for a song with so many lyrics to do well commercially.

The title was taken from the proverb “a rolling stone gathers no moss.” Dylan got the idea from the 1949 Hank Williams song “Lost Highway,” which contains the line, “I’m a rolling stone, all alone and lost.”

The song peaked at #2 in the Billboard 100, #3 in Canada, and  #4 in the UK in 1965. The song was on the album Highway 61 Revisited that was released a few weeks after this single.

I like the studio version the best but I also like the “Judas” live version in 1966. Bob with The Hawks (later The Band) backing him fought boos and shouts through the tour. The world it seemed was upset at Dylan for going “electric” and having a band back him up. These are my favorite live Dylan performances…both versions are at the bottom of the post.

From Rolling Stone Magazine:

The music here is much more in that celestial mode, like it’s ether-borne, rather than anything originating from mind, guitar, bass, drum, organ, voice. The final showdown begins when someone in the audience, from out of the tension of the attendant silence, shouts, “Judas!” In the annals of heckling, that’s a pretty good one. Dylan responds with “I don’t believe you” – a nice little reference, too, to the earlier song. There is venom in his voice. “You’re a liar.” Another pause, before Dylan turns to his band and orders them to “Play fucking loud!” And goodness do they, right on command. Dylan puts his entire body into the “How does it feel?” line, like he is jumping straight down someone’s soul and punching the crap out of it. Then it is all over. Dylan says, “Thank you,” and “God Save the Queen” plays on the PA. Time to be rolling on. 

 

 

From Songfacts

This was the only song on the album produced by Tom Wilson, who produced Dylan’s second album, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. Wilson had been a jazz producer and was brought in to replace John Hammond. Wilson invited keyboard player Al Kooper to the session, and Al produced the famous organ riff that drove the song. This was the last song Wilson worked on with Dylan, as Bob Johnston took over production duties.

Thanks to The Rolling Stones, many associate the phrase with a life of glamor, always on the move, but Williams’ song is about a hobo paying the price for his life of sin. Dylan also used the phrase to indicate loneliness and despair: his rolling stone is “without a home, like a complete unknown.”

Dylan based the lyrics on a short story he had written about a debutante who becomes a loner when she falls out of high society. The lyrics that made it into the song are only a small part of what was in the story.

Dylan’s manager, Albert Grossman, who revolutionized the music manager profession and was known as a shrewd defender of his artists, was the one who told Columbia Records that they couldn’t shorten “Like a Rolling Stone” in order to make it more radio friendly.

Dylan recorded another version in 1970 for his Self Portrait album. This time, he used experienced session players in Nashville, Tennessee. Ron Cornelius played guitar on the album and told us about the session: “You’re not reading manuscripts. In Nashville the players are booked because of what they can create right now, not what’s written on a piece of paper. Everybody’s creating their part as the tape is rolling. Out of everybody I’ve worked with, I don’t know of anyone who’s been any nicer than Bob Dylan. He treated me wonderfully, but at the same time you knew being around him day after day that this man wakes up in a different world every morning. On a creative level that’s a really good thing and to try to second guess him or to ask him what he actually meant by these lyrics, you’re shooting in the dark because he’s not going to tell you anyway. And he might be telling you the truth when he says “I don’t know, what does it mean to you.'”

It is rumored that this was written about one-time debutante Edie Sedgwick, who was part of artist Andy Warhol’s crowd. She was the subject of an emotional tug-of-war between the Dylan camp and the Warhol camp.

According to this theory, the song includes some fanged, accusatory lines about Warhol and the way he mistreated the girl:

Ain’t it hard when you discover that
He really wasn’t where it’s at
After he took from you everything he could steal

“Poor Little Rich Girl” Sedgwick is viewed by many as the tragic victim of a long succession of abusive figures. After escaping home and heading to New York, she ran into Warhol, who soon began to use her as his starlet. When her 15 minutes had come to an end, Warhol moved on.

Sedgwick and Dylan had a brief affair shortly before the musician married Sarah Lownds, and many say that this Dylan song was written about her. It should be noted that there is absolutely nothing beyond circumstantial evidence to support this idea, but the myth is so widely known that it’s taken on a life of its own and is therefore recognizable on its own terms.

This made Bob Dylan an unlikely inspiration for Jimi Hendrix, who before hearing this considered himself only a guitarist and not a singer. After hearing this, he saw that it didn’t take a conventional voice to sing rock and roll.

Hendrix often played “Like A Rolling Stone,” including a performance at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. Hendrix and Dylan met only once, but Jimi had a knack for bringing out the emotions in Dylan’s songs: he also did a very successful cover of “All Along The Watchtower.” 

The Rolling Stones didn’t take their name from this song, but rather the 1950 Muddy Waters track “Rollin’ Stone.” The magazine Rolling Stone was named after this song, with a degree of separation: Ralph Gleason wrote a piece for The American Scholar about the influence of music on young people called “Like a Rolling Stone,” which he titled after the song. When he founded the magazine with Jann Wenner in 1967, they decided to name it after his story. Wenner muddied the waters a bit when he wrote in the debut issue: “Muddy Waters used the name for a song he wrote. The Rolling Stones took their name from Muddy’s song. ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ was the title of Bob Dylan’s first rock and roll record.”

In the November 2004 issue, Rolling Stone Magazine named this #1 on their list of the greatest songs of all time. >>

Greil Marcus wrote a book of almost 300 pages about this song. The book was released in 2005 and is titled Like a Rolling Stone: Bob Dylan at the Crossroads.

Al Kooper, who was primarily a guitarist and went on to be a very successful music producer, played this organ on this song. If you listen very closely at the beginning of this song, you will notice that the organ is an 1/8th note behind everyone else. Kooper wasn’t an expert on the organ, but Dylan loved what he played and made sure it was turned up in the mix.

When we asked Kooper what stands out as his finest musical accomplishment, he told us: “By the amount of emails I receive and the press that I get it is undoubtedly the organ part on ‘Like A Rolling Stone.’ I kinda like the way Martin Scorcese edited my telling of that story in the documentary No Direction Home. For me, no one moment or event sticks out. I think reading my resumé every ten years or so, is my finest moment – certainly my most incredulous. I cannot believe I did all the stuff I did in one lifetime. One is forced to believe in luck and God.” (Check out our interview with Al Kooper.)

A line from this song provided the title of the 2005 Martin Scorsese documentary about Bob Dylan called No Direction Home.

Jimi Hendrix’s performance of this song at Monterey is a classic. Hendrix had made a name for himself in Europe, but didn’t manage to make a dent in the US market until the fabled Summer of Love. It happened at the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967. All of a sudden, an artist who had struggled unsuccessfully for recognition in his own country became one of its future music legends.

Rolling Stone asked a panel of musicians, writers and academics to vote for Dylan’s greatest song in a poll to mark Dylan’s 70th birthday on May 24, 2011. This song came out on top, beating “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” and “Tangled Up In Blue” into second and third places respectively.

 

Dylan’s original draft of the song’s lyrics were written on four sheets of headed note paper from the Roger Smith Hotel in Washington, DC. The quartet of handwritten pages fetched over $2 million at Sothebys New York in June 2014, setting a new price record for a popular music manuscript. The previous record was John Lennon’s handwritten lyrics for the 1967 Beatles track “A Day In The Life,” which cost $1.2 million.

The Rolling Stones recorded this for their 1995 album Stripped. Stones guitarist Keith Richards explained: “We got over the built-in reticence. If he [Bob Dylan] had written ‘Like a Beatles,’ we probably would have done it straight away. We’ve been playing that song ever since Bob brought it out; it was like a dressing room favorite, a tuning room favorite. We know it really well. It was just a matter of screwing up the courage, really, to get over the feeling like we were riding on its back. We also realized that, hey, we took our name from a Muddy Waters album, a Muddy Waters song. Suddenly it didn’t feel awkward to play it.” 

An early manuscript of this song in the Dylan archives at the Center for American Research in Tulsa reveals some lyrics that were later changed or removed. Instead of “You used to laugh about,” it was “You used to make fun about.” Some lines that were excised:

You’ve studied all these great theories on life
And now you find out they don’t mean a thing
You’ve been blessed by counts these old friends claimed to love
Now they’re all ashamed of you

John Mellencamp performed this with Al Kooper at a Bob Dylan tribute concert held in Madison Square Garden on October 16, 1992.

Like A Rolling Stone

Once upon a time you dressed so fine
Threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn’t you
People call say beware doll, you’re bound to fall
You thought they were all kidding you
You used to laugh about
Everybody that was hanging out
Now you don’t talk so loud
Now you don’t seem so proud
About having to be scrounging for your next meal

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone

You’ve gone to the finest schools, alright Miss Lonely
But you know you only used to get juiced in it
Nobody’s ever taught you how to live out on the street
And now you’re gonna have to get used to it
You say you never compromise
With the mystery tramp, but now you realize
He’s not selling any alibis
As you stare into the vacuum of his eyes
And say do you want to make a deal

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone

You never turned around to see the frowns
On the jugglers and the clowns
When they all come down and did tricks for you
You never understood that it ain’t no good
You shouldn’t let other people get your kicks for you
You used to ride on a chrome horse with your diplomat
Who carried on his shoulder a Siamese cat
Ain’t it hard when you discovered that
He really wasn’t where it’s at
After he took from you everything he could steal

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone

Princess on a steeple and all the pretty people
They’re all drinking, thinking that they’ve got it made
Exchanging all precious gifts
But you better take your diamond ring, you better pawn it babe
You used to be so amused
At Napoleon in rags and the language that he used
Go to him, he calls you, you can’t refuse
When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose
You’re invisible now, you’ve got no secrets to conceal

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone