Autobiographical Order No. 364: Bob Dylan – Highway 61 Revisited

In high school, shortly before graduation, I entered what was essentially my “I need to dive into the canon phase,” and spent the better part of 2000 filling in the massive gaps in my CD collection. But it continued to a more exaggerated degree in college. Some of that was doing stuff like buying a classic Bruce Springsteen album on a whim. But part of it was having a group of friends who were similarly obsessed with music and with whom I could trade mixes, recommendations and such.

As a result I ended up getting into such obscure artists as…The Beatles! And Bob Dylan. Bob Dylan, to me, seemed more like this untouchable ideal. You appreciated him. You respected him. But you didn’t actually listen to him. He was this critical favorite that seemed to trump any and all other music. He was the kind of guy who’s late-career albums topped year-end lists seemingly by default.

I’m not saying any of this is true, it’s just my dumb teenage perception of him. The fact of the matter is Dylan released some pretty bad albums throughout his lifetime (occasionally dragging other bands into it) but, on the contrary, once I finally began to listen to his music, I discovered that it was a lot more fun than I gave it credit for. Some of it even rocked! (As Dylan said at his 1966 Royal Albert Hall show, “Play it fuckin loud!”)

So at some point, I picked up Highway 61 Revisited when I understood, for the first time, that Dylan’s music actually could be for me. If memory serves, it was a cheap CD copy during The Wherehouse’s going-out-of-business sale. I bought so much music at that time. And for basically around $5 apiece.

Highway 61 Revisited is my favorite Dylan album as a result. A lot of folks will tell you that Blood on the Tracks is his best work because it’s his most vulnerable, but nah, it’s this. He has more fun here. There’s soul, there’s energy, there’s anger (“Ballad of a Thin Man” is pretty bitter), and there’s slide whistle. I mean, the title track is a damn treat. Which is maybe the number one reason why this is my favorite Dylan album.

But then again there’s Bringing it all Back Home. I want to tell you I have a lot more to say on that soon but as of right now, this is the only Dylan album I own. It won’t stay that way. It won’t. But it’s a damn good start.

Rating: 10.0

Sound Quality: Great

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