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Bob Dylan - Bob Dylan 1962 to 1970 : Every Album, Every Song

  by Lisa Torem

published: 19 / 1 / 2024

Bob Dylan - Bob Dylan 1962 to 1970 : Every Album, Every Song


For her 'Raging Pages' column, Lisa Torem gives ‘Bob Dylan 1962 to 1970 : Every Album, Every Song’, Opher Goodwin’s new book on Dylan’s studio work high marks.

Opher Goodwin “taught the first ‘History of Rock Music’ class in the UK” and had the good fortune of catching Sixties acts, including Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors and Captain Beefheart, during his time in London, “the epicentre for the underground explosion of rock music and culture” according to his recent press release. His subject, Bob Dylan, the Hibbing, Minnesota-born troubadour, who has often been championed as North America’s incomparable poet laureate, greatly influenced John Lennon, particularly on the dreamy ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ and literary-minded Suzanne Vega. Goodwin was originally dismissive of Dylan’s work – “We weren’t big on ‘folk’ music,’ he shares about his relationship with a then-friend, in the introduction. That statement, alone, piqued my interest, causing me to ask myself, ‘What, then, turned Goodwin into a super fan?’ But as I pored through the book, I easily discovered how the author’s evolution took place. Dylan’s early inspirations include no-holds-barred storyteller Woody Guthrie, soulful singer/guitarist Odetta, and oddly, “Be Bop a Lula” singer Little Richard. As such, one of Dylan’s chief goals was to befriend Guthrie, and on early albums, he would sharply mirror Guthrie’s talking-blues style. Goodwin also notes that Dylan’s rise to popularity in New York’s Greenwich Village came with a price. Being considered the voice of a generation “irritated him no end” and “heaped tension on his shoulders.” This conundrum would bedevil Dylan throughout his career. Radical French poets Rimbaud, Baudelaire and Verlaine would partially quench Dylan’s desire for dark, sensuous detail, before he embraced Beat poet Allen Ginsberg. Goodwin cites examples of how Dylan would, many times over the course of his career, reimagine himself, to the chagrin of his early fans. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival he was considered a turncoat when he blasted his electric guitar. Similarly, when on his album ‘John Wesley Harding’ he dared to enter the Americana realm, he tried the patience of the tried-and-true. And again, as the counter-culture gathered steam, Dylan was called upon to lead the flock. He decried such thoughts of attachment. ‘Nashville Skyline’ honoured his new image, or lack thereof, for he had given the boot to corduroy caps and faded jeans. His times were ‘a-changin’, and so was he. Dylan’s discography reveals debut album covers by Jesse Fuller, Blind Willie Johnson, Bukka White and Blind Lemon Johnson, et al, arranged instrumentally with hard-picking plectrum and mournful blues-harp. His sophomore album was a sea-change. His labelmates had turned him on to a roster of trailblazers, and he began to scribe protest-songs oozing with unbridled conviction. ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ and ‘Masters of War,’ “the ultimate anti-war song,” would become period-pieces. ‘A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall’ “never fails to engage.” The author vehemently states: “No matter how many times you hear it there is always something new to discover or wonder at.” With the same razor-sharp focus, Goodwin ushers us through Dylan’s 1962-1970 discography, I highly recommend this well-researched book. That Dylan has achieved folk-rock royalty status is undisputed, but reading about his climb to studio self-actualisation answers a series of burning questions.

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5651 Posted By: Opher Goodwin, Driffield, UK on 27 Feb 2024
Thanks for the great review. Much appreciated!

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