When we open our ears – and it may take a dozen listenings before we stop hearing this album in terms of what we expect these songs to sound like, or, for the fans, in terms of the performances we think should have been included – the rewards and surprises of Hard Rain are nearly inexhaustible.
~Paul Williams (Bob Dylan: Performing Artist, Vol 2: The Middle Years 1974-1986)
Hindsight shows that this album introduces the ragged, postmodern Bob Dylan, right from the grungy instrumental ground-pawing ahead of the start of the first number. Moreover the running order now seems surprisingly well thought out. It represents, too, the late phase of the historic Rolling Thunder Revue tour and captures the distinctive, bare-wired sound of Dylan’s existential gypsy band. Stand-out track is ‘Idiot Wind’, which, as Dylan grows ever more engaged, bursts open and pours out its brilliant venom.
~Michael Gray (The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia)
The 3 best all time (from any artist) officially released concert albums are obviously “Hard Rain”, “Bob Dylan Live 1966, The “Royal Albert Hall” Concert” & “Bob Dylan Live 1975, The Rolling Thunder Revue”. They are all brilliant. Today “Hard Rain” is the best of the lot.
The album received an awful lot bad criticism upon its release, and surprisingly still does. To my ears it has always sounded amazing. Listening to other bootlegs from Rolling thunder 2 & watching the Hard Rain movie (and outtakes), one could easily wish that more songs had been included, and he’d put out a double album. But it is what it is, and it’s incredible. It is also (as noted by Paul Williams) inexhaustible, it still sounds fresh & wonderful today.
Well, Jann, I’ll tell you something. There’s not too much of a change in my singing style, but I’ll tell you something which is true… I stopped smoking. When I stopped smoking my voice changed… So drastically, I couldn’t believe it myself. That’s true. I tell you, you stop smoking those cigarettes (laughter)… and you’ll be able to sing like Caruso.
~Bob Dylan (to Jann Wenner Nov 1969)
Anyway, on Nashville Skyline you had to read between the lines. I was trying to grasp something that would lead me on to where I thought I should be, and it didn’t go nowhere – it just went down, down, down.
~Bob Dylan (to Jonathan Cott, Sept 1978)
Released 49 years ago, it surely is one of his most controversial albums.. “Embracing” classic Country music & kicking off the “Country Rock” genre.
I’ve always liked this album… not a masterpiece, but a solid Dylan album.
#1 – Girl from the North Country (with Johnny Cash)
The message isn’t in the words, …. I don’t do anything with a sort of message.
I’m just transferring my thoughts into music. Nobody can give you a message like that.
~Bob Dylan (to Ray Coleman, May 1965)
Dylan’s third album reflects his mood in August-October 1963. It is also a product for his need to live up to and expand on the role he found himself in, topical poet, the restless young man with something to say, singing to and for a new generation.
~Paul Williams (Bob Dylan Performing Artist I: The Early Years 1960-1973)
Released January 13, 1964 – 54 years ago today… it is one of his weakest albums from the 60’s.. and still a fantastic album.
“The Times They Are A-Changin'” @ The White House in Feb 2010:
The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll – 5/7/65 – Free Trade Hall, Manchester, England:
Oh, but you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears
Bury the rag deep in your face
For now’s the time for your tears
(The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll)
The story I took out of the newspaper and I only changed the words.
~Bob Dylan (to Steve Allen, Feb 1964)
“I wrote my fourth album [“Another Side of Bob Dylan”] in Greece, but that was still an American album.”
~Bob Dylan (to Robert Shelton June 1978)
“Tom Wilson, the producer, titled it that,” [Another Side of Bob Dylan] “I begged and pleaded with him not to do it. You know, I thought it was overstating the obvious. I knew I was going to have to take a lot of heat for a title like that and it was my feeling that it wasn’t a good idea coming after The Times They Are A- Changin’, it just wasn’t right. It seemed like a negation of the past which in no way was true. I know that Tom didn’t mean it that way, but that’s what I figured that people would take it to mean, but Tom meant well and he had control, so he had it his way. I guess in the long run, he might have been right to do what he did. It doesn’t matter now.”
~Bob Dylan (to Cameron Crowe Sept. 1985)
“His writing and control of atmosphere on songs like ‘To Ramona’ and ‘Spanish Harlem Incident’ come across as early flashes of the creative explosion that he was to go through in 1965–66. A great minor album, and his last solo album until the 1990s.”
~Michael Gray (The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia)
“On this album, I took a few steps backward, but I also took a bunch of steps forward because I had a lot of time to concentrate on it. I also had the band sounding like I want it to sound. It’s got that organ sound from ‘Blonde on Blonde’ again. That’s something that has been missing.”
~Bob Dylan (to Robert Hilburn – May 1978)
Jonathan Cott interview – Sept. 1978: Jonathan Cott: What do you think of all the criticisms of Street Legal? Bob Dylan: I read some of them. In fact, I didn’t understand them. I don’t think these people have had the experiences I’ve had to write those songs. The reviews didn’t strike me as being particularly interesting one way or another, or as compelling to my particular scene. I don’t know who these people are. They don’t travel in the same crowd, anyway. So it would be like me criticizing Pancho Villa.
First of all… “Street-Legal” is a fantastic album. I have never “understood” all the criticism it got.. and still gets, and I even dig the original overall sound & production.