I heard the sound that Gordon Lightfoot was getting, with Charlie McCoy and Kenny Buttrey. I’d used Charlie and Kenny both before, and I figured if he could get that sound, I could…. but we couldn’t get it. (Laughs) It was an attempt to get it, but it didn’t come off. We got a different sound… I don’t know what you’d call that… It’s a muffled sound.
~Bob Dylan (to Jann Wenner November 29, 1969)
“I didn’t intentionally come out with some kind of mellow sound……. I would have liked … more steel guitar, more piano. More music … I didn’t sit down and plan that sound.”
~Bob Dylan 1971
This quiet masterpiece, which manages to sound both authoritative and tentative (a mix that gave it a highly contemporary feel), is neither a rock nor a folk album—and certainly isn’t folk-rock. It isn’t categorisable at all.
~Michael Gray (BD Encyclopedia)
An analyzis of John Wesley Harding and All Along The Watchtower done by NerdWriter (live Woodstock 94):
“Dear Landlord is Dylan’s most heartfelt performance on the album, the most liquid, open-throated…
Some of the landlords we can reasonably imagine Dylan singing to here include his manager, his record company, his audience;… his country. .. Dear Landlord features some great drumming. Dylan’s piano playing is fiery,…”
~ Paul Williams (Performing artist 60-73)
|Released||December 27, 1967|
|Recorded||October 17 – November 29, 1967|
|Genre||Folk rock, country|
John Wesley Harding is the eighth studio album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released in December 1967 by Columbia Records. Produced by Bob Johnston, the album marked Dylan’s return to acoustic music and traditional roots, after three albums of electric rock music. John Wesley Harding shares many stylistic threads with, and was recorded around the same time as, the prolific series of home recording sessions with The Band, finally released in 1975 as The Basement Tapes.
“As I went out one morning
To breathe the air around Tom Paines
I spied the fairest damsel
That ever did walk in chains”
As I Went Out One Morning:
John Wesley Harding was exceptionally well received by critics and enjoyed solid sales, reaching #2 on the US charts and topping the UK charts. The commercial performance was considered remarkable considering that Dylan had kept Columbia from releasing the album with much promotion or publicity. Less than three months after its release, John Wesley Harding was certified gold by the RIAA. “All Along the Watchtower” became one of his most popular songs after it was covered by Jimi Hendrix the following year.
In 2003, the album was ranked number 301 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
[about the album JWH]…..Dylan comes across like a man who has arisen from Armageddon unscathed but sobered, to walk across an allegorical American landscape of small, poor communities working a dusty, fierce terrain. The masterpieces within the masterpiece are ‘I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine’, ‘All Along the Watchtower’ and ‘I Pity the Poor Immigrant’.
~Michael Gray (BD Encyclopedia)
I Pity the Poor Immigrant:
……. The music is again a brilliant electronic adaptation of rural blues and country and western sounds. A swaying harp picks out the title track, “John Wesley Harding.” A statement is made about the concept of everyday Good and Evil. Harding is Johnny Cash’s outlaw figure, “he was never known to hurt an honest man” — folk-hero of a different kind, John Wesley Harding — “a friend to the poor.” Call him Robin Hood if it means more to you. He was offering you “a helping” hand, and was this a man really to be hunted and punished?
~Gordon Mills (from RollingStone.com review in 1968)
Album of the day:
Also check out:
- Bob Dylan first recording session for “John Wesley Harding”
- Bob Dylan second recording session for “John Wesley Harding”
- Bob Dylan third (and final) recording session for “John Wesley Harding”
-Egil & Hallgeir