You walk into the room
With your pencil in your hand
You see somebody naked
And you say, “Who is that man?”
You try so hard
But you don’t understand
Just what you’ll say
When you get home
Because something is happening here
But you don’t know what it is Do you, Mister Jones?
E/E: Who is Mr. Jones, in Ballad Of A Thin Man?
BD: He’s a real person, you know him, but not by that name.
–Ephron & Edmiston Interview, NY – 1965
..one of the purest songs of protest ever sung, with its scathing take on the media, its interest in and inability to comprehend [Dylan] and his music.
~Mike Marqusee (from wikipedia)
This song is almost as good as “Like A Rolling Stone”.. they feel very much alike.. and again it’s a song impossible to tire of.
Now.. I guess Time reporter Horace Judson was one of Dylan’s many Mr. Jones’s:
I was over in England one time doing a press conference. And that was the first time I ever gave a press conference where I didn’t want to answer any of the questions. I didn’t answer any of ’em. From that point on I stopped answering questions. People wanna know just all about your personal life you know, where I came from anyway. That’s very impolite. Anyway I wrote this thing here. Try to have my say again, I don’t know if it ever reached anybody who’s supposed to reached, actually got hurt, but it made me feel better to write it.
~Bob Dylan (before Ballad Of A Thin Man -Tokyo, Japan – 5 March 1986)
Highway 61 Revisited is the sixth studio album by singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. It was released in August 1965 by Columbia Records. On his previous album, Bringing It All Back Home, Dylan devoted Side One of the album to songs accompanied by an electric rock band, and Side Two to solo acoustic numbers. For Highway 61 Revisited, Dylan used rock backing on every track, except for the closing 11-minute acoustic song, “Desolation Row“. Critics have written that Dylan’s ability to combine driving, complex, blues-based rock music with the power of poetry made Highway 61 Revisited one of the most influential albums ever recorded.
Highway 61 Revisited peaked at number three in the United States charts and number four in the United Kingdom. The album has received multiple accolades and was ranked number four on Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. The single “Like a Rolling Stone” reached number two in the US charts and number four in the UK. It has been described by critics as Dylan’s magnum opus and was number one on Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list. Two further songs, “Desolation Row“, and “Highway 61 Revisited“, were listed at number 185 and number 364 respectively.
In May 1965, Dylan returned from his tour of England feeling tired and dissatisfied with his material. “I was going to quit singing. I was very drained… I was playing a lot of songs I didn’t want to play,” Dylan told Nat Hentoff in 1966.
“It’s very tiring having other people tell you how much they dig you if you yourself don’t dig you.”
Out of this dissatisfaction, Dylan wrote an extended piece of verse which Dylan described as a “long piece of vomit”.He refined this long poem into a song consisting of four verses and a chorus—”Like a Rolling Stone”.
Dylan told Hentoff that the process of writing and recording “Like a Rolling Stone” washed away this dissatisfaction, and renewed his enthusiasm for creating music.Speaking of the breakthrough of writing that song, forty years later, Dylan told Robert Hilburn in 2004,
“It’s like a ghost is writing a song like that… You don’t know what it means except the ghost picked me to write the song.”
Highway 61 Revisited was recorded in two blocks of recording sessions, which took place in Studio A of Columbia Records in New York City, located at 799 Seventh Avenue, just north of West 52nd Street.The first session, June 15 and June 16, was produced by Tom Wilson and resulted in the single, “Like a Rolling Stone”.On July 25, Dylan performed his controversial electric set at the Newport Folk Festival, where some sections of the crowd booed his performance.Four days after Newport, Dylan returned to the recording studio. From July 29 to August 4, Dylan and his band completed recording Highway 61 Revisited, but under the supervision of a new producer, Bob Johnston.
Side one 1. “Like a Rolling Stone” 6:09 2. “Tombstone Blues” 5:58 3. “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry” 4:09 4. “From a Buick 6” 3:19 5. “Ballad of a Thin Man” 5:58
Side two 6. “Queen Jane Approximately” 5:31 7. “Highway 61 Revisited” 3:30 8. “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” 5:31 9. “Desolation Row”
My ratings (0-10):
Singer-songwriter Phil Ochs told Broadside magazine, immediately after the record’s release, that Dylan had “produced the most important and revolutionary album ever made”.Speaking to Anthony Scaduto five years later, Ochs said, “I put on Highway 61 and I laughed and said it’s so ridiculous. It’s impossibly good, it just can’t be that good. How can a human mind do this?“
The album cemented Dylan’s mastery of a new genre—combining verbal complexity with a hard rock sound. One 1965 reviewer wrote: “Bob Dylan used to sound like a lung cancer victim singing Woody Guthrie. Now he sounds like a Rolling Stone singing Immanuel Kant“.
The album was a hit, peaking at number 3 on the Billboard 200 chart of top albums.In August 1967, Highway 61 was certificated as a gold record.
Highway 61 Revisited has remained among the most highly acclaimed of Dylan’s works. Scaduto, Dylan’s first serious biographer, wrote that it may be “one of the most brilliant pop records ever made. As rock, it cuts through to the core of the music—a hard driving beat without frills, without self-consciousness.” Commenting on Dylan’s imagery, Scaduto wrote: “Not since Rimbaud has a poet used all the language of the street to expose the horrors of the streets, to describe a state of the union that is ugly and absurd.”
Dylan critic Michael Gray called Highway 61 “revolutionary and stunning, not just for its energy and panache but in its vision: fusing radical, electrical music … with lyrics that were light years ahead of anyone else’s; Dylan here unites the force of blues-based rock’n’roll with the power of poetry. Rock culture, in an important sense, the 1960s, started here.”
In 1995 Highway 61 Revisited was named the fifth greatest album of all time in a poll conducted by Mojo magazine.
In 2001, the TV network VH1 placed it at number 22.
In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine, describing Highway 61 as “one of those albums that, quite simply, changed everything”, placed it at number four in its list of the greatest albums of all time.
The Rolling Stone list of the 500 greatest songs of all time ranked “Highway 61 Revisited”, “Desolation Row” and “Like a Rolling Stone” at #364, #185 and #1, respectively.
Now the moon is almost hidden
The stars are beginning to hide
The fortune-telling lady
Has even taken all her things inside
All except for Cain and Abel
And the hunchback of Notre Dame
Everybody is making love
Or else expecting rain
Location: Studio E, Columbia Recording Studios – NYC
What: The 6th and last Highway 61 Revisited session, produced by Bob Johnston
Master versions recorded: Desolation Row
The released version on H61R is actually a splice between take 6 & 7.
Musicians: Overdub session with Bob Dylan (guitar) and Charlie McCoy (guitar, bass).
Desolation Row is number 9 on my list of Dylan’s 200 best songs.
“Desolation Row” is a 1965 song written and sung by Bob Dylan. It was recorded on August 4, 1965 and released as the closing track of Dylan’s sixth studio album, Highway 61 Revisited. It has been noted for its length (11:21) and surreal lyrics in which Dylan weaves characters from history, fiction, the Bible and his own invention into a series of vignettes that suggest entropy and urban chaos.
The Highway 61 Revisited version was recorded on August 4, 1965, in Columbia’s Studio A in New York City. Nashville-based guitarist Charlie McCoy, who happened to be in New York, was invited by producer Bob Johnston to contribute an improvised acoustic guitar part and Russ Savakus played bass guitar.Polizzotti credits much of the success of the song to McCoy’s contribution: “While Dylan’s panoramic lyrics and hypnotic melody sketch out the vast canvas, it is McCoy’s fills that give it their shading.”
Bob Dylan’s second best song ? or best ? iow – best or second best song ever recorded.
It doesn’t really matter.
«.. The Sound Is So Rich the Song Never
Plays The Same Way Twice»
– Greil Marcus
“Like a Rolling Stone” is a 1965 song by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. Its confrontational lyrics originate in an extended piece of verse Dylan wrote in June 1965, when he returned from a grueling tour of England, exhausted.
After the lyrics were heavily edited, “Like a Rolling Stone” was recorded a few weeks later as part of the sessions for the forthcoming album Highway 61 Revisited. During a difficult two-day preproduction, Dylan struggled to find the essence of the song, which was demoed without success in 3/4 time. A breakthrough was made when it was tried in a rock music format, and rookie session musician Al Kooper improvised the organ riff for which the track is known.
However, Columbia Records was unhappy with both the song’s length at over six minutes and its heavy electric sound, and was hesitant to release it. It was only when a month later a copy was leaked to a new popular music club and heard by influential DJs that the song was put out as a single. Although radio stations were reluctant to play such a long track, “Like a Rolling Stone” reached number two in the US charts and became a worldwide hit.
“Gates of Eden” (5:44)
July 20, 1965
June 15–16, 1965, Columbia Studio A, 799 Seventh Avenue, New York City
The song’s sound was revolutionary in its combination of electric guitar licks, organ chords, and Dylan’s voice, at once young and jeeringly cynical.Critic Michael Gray described the track as “a chaotic amalgam of blues, impressionism, allegory, and an intense directness in the central chorus: ‘How does it feel'”. The song had an enormous impact on popular culture and rock music. Its success made Dylan a pop icon, as Paul Williams notes:
Dylan had been famous, had been the center of attention, for a long time. But now the ante was being upped again. He’d become a pop star as well as a folk star … and was, even more than the Beatles, a public symbol of the vast cultural, political, generational changes taking place in the United States and Europe. He was perceived as, and in many ways functioned as, a leader.
2010 – rank 1 – 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (Rolling Stone Magazine)
2006 – rank 4 – 200 Greatest Songs of the 1960s (Pitchfork Media)
2000 – rank 4 – 100 Greatest Rock Songs (VH1)
Live in 1966:
Spotify Playlist – different versions of this masterpiece: