Bob Dylan / Outlaw Blues 1962 – 2001
1962 - 1970
1. Mixed Up Confusion / Single A Side March 1962
2. Song To Woody / Bob Dylan June 1962
3. Blowin' In The Wind / The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan May 1963
4. A Hard Rains A Gonna Fall / The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan May 1963
5. The Times They Are A Changin' / The Times They Are A Changin' March 1964
6. When The Ship Comes In / The Times They Are A Changin' March 1964
7. My Back Pages / Another Side Of Bob Dylan August 1964
8. It's All Over Now Baby Blue / Bringing It All Back Home April 1965
9. Subterranean Homesick Blues / Bringing It All Back Home April 1965
10. Ballad Of A Thin Man / Highway 61 Revisted September 1965
11. Like A Rolling Stone / Highway 61 Revisted September 1965
12. Positively 4th Street / Single A Side October 1965
13. Tell Me Mama / Live Albert Hall May 1966
14. I Want You / Blonde On Blonde July 1966
15. Visions Of Johanna / Blonde On Blonde August 1966
16. Too Much Of Nothing / The Basement Tapes Summer 1967
17. All Along The Watchtower / John Wesley Harding January 1968
18. One More Night / Nashville Skyline April 1969
19. Copper Kettle / Self Portrait July 1970
20. Went To See The Gypsy / New Morning November 1970
1973 - 2001
1. Knockin On Heavens Door / Per Garrett & Billy The Kid July 1973
2. Going Going Gone / Planet Waves February 1974
3. It's All Right Ma ( I'm Only Bleeding ) / Before The Flood July 1974
4. Shelter From The Storm / Blood On The Tracks February 1975
5. Simple Twist Of Fate / Blood On The Tracks February 1975
6. Isis / Desire 1976
7. Where Are You Tonight / Street Legal June 1978
8. Precious Angel / Slow Train Coming September 1979
9. In The Summertime / Shot Of Love August 1981
10. Blind Willie Mctell / Bootleg Series 1-3 May 1983
11. Dark Eyes / Empire Burlesque June 1985
12. Death Is Not The End / Down In The Groove June 1988
13. Man In The Long Black Coat / Oh Mercy October 1989
14. Long Pilgrim / World Gone Wrong November 1993
15. Not Dark Yet / Times Out Of Mind October 1997
16. High Water ( For Charley Patton ) / Love And Theft September 2001
I never used to get with Bob Dylan. I never could understand what all the fuss was about as he was hailed poet, prophet, messiah! Inevitably new generations reject all that has gone before so I missed out on Elvis, Dylan and The Beatles, though oddly not The Stones, who somehow survived my blank generations blockout and remained the epitome of cool. Hell, we used to think we were The Stones. But no-one ever wanted to be Dylan.
Even when Desire provided a brief soundtrack to our teen angst, it was still just another record to put away for another day. I guess that is until now when far older and wiser its easier to appreciate the past and the nuclear style impact Dylan had. All on his lonesome he made that great step from ‘Be Bop A Lula’ to ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’, achieving fully formed what Eddie Cochran could only hint at.
Before Dylan the highest form of rock’n’roll lyric had been Chuck Berrys praise to American consumerism and under age girls. Dylan rewrote the rules of the game, hosting the great shotgun wedding between legitimate poetry and true rama-lama. He destroyed all limits, the world itself proving the rockers oyster. From love to politics, from philosophy to surrealist nightmare, he made it possible to say just about anything through the medium of rock’n’roll.
For a figure of such huge influence, the original Robert Zimmerman came from humble origins and always attempted to obscure the past. A ramblin’ hobo kid bounced between orphanages and carnivals obviously sounded far more romantic than the eldest son of respectable, immigrant Minnesota ironmongers yet Dylan himself, and his long, long career, have always been marked by myth, mystery and controversy.
Relocating to New York, his first single, the prophetically titled and rockin’ ‘Mixed Up Confusion’ was rapidly deleted by his fat Manager Albert Grossman, who had his ear and wallet on the popular folk gravy train. Dylans debut boasted only two original songs but through 1962 he wrote a pack of protest songs, showcased on The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. With ‘Times They Are A-Changin’ his songwriting had so obviously developed far beyond his Greenwich Village peers. He had also expanded his musical boundaries, adding more blues and R’n’B influences, Bringing It All Back Home making it clear that he was moving on with one side loud and electric.
Then came a flurry of seismic events that have become engrained in olde rock lore: Playing the Newport Folk Festival with a blues band; The release of Highway 61 Revisited and ‘Like A Rolling Stone’; The cry of ‘Judas’ at the Royal Albert Hall (now acknowledged to have been at Manchester Free Trade Hall). All of these finally swept aside precious folk purism for a new generation of electric longhairs. But, and it’s a big one, on 29th July 1966, Dylan vaulted over the handlebars of his Triumph. As complex, drugged and fucked up as Elvis or Lennon, he chose that moment to retreat into his shell. The voice of a generation disappeared into his Woodstock home to raise a family just when he was needed the most.
Musically if not spiritually, all was not lost as he hooked up with The Band at Big Pink to record a glut of old, new, borrowed and blue songs, none of which were intended for release. When they eventually were, initially on bootlegs, but finally as The Basement Tapes, they proved that Dylan had changed yet again and had become far more streamlined and direct. While he had been in self imposed exile, rock had undergone its own metamorphosis, becoming heavier and artier in the wake of the psychedelic revolution. His quiet return with John Wesley Harding typically kicked against the pricks and was the first country rock record of any significance. It was followed by a fistful of releases, all forerunners of today’s Americana. Ironically the domestic bliss he had sought so desperately in Woodstock ended with the collapse of his marriage. Distraught and disillusioned, his pain inspired Blood On The Tracks, possibly the greatest break up record of them all.
From that point on Dylan began an endless, confused quest. Witness the year long white faced Rolling Thunder revue showcasing ‘Hurricane’, a new protest song about boxer Rubin Carter. Strangest of all was the fan shredding controversy of his born again Christian muse launched with Slow Train Coming. It doesn’t matter who you are, in popular music God equals career suicide and inevitably the world lost interest.
He returned to the road in 1984, touring with the Grateful Dead before kicking off the aptly named Never Ending Tour, a stream of shows lasting almost to the new millennium. Dogged forever by the ghost of the 60’s his new records were patchy in the extreme, but each and every time he looked down and burnt out, he was resurrected by some of his greatest songs. Oh Mercy, Time Out Of Mind and Love And Theft finally exorcised his past, for a short while at least. More importantly he’s still up there doing it 40 years on, revisiting and reinventing all those songs that changed the world in the first place.