To Ramona

Bob Dylan recorded all 11 songs on his fourth album — Another Side of Bob Dylan — on a single night, June 9, 1964. As demonstrated in the title, the songs reflected a shift in Dylan’s writing style. The writer Nat Hentoff was present for the recording of the album on that night in JuneContinue reading “To Ramona”

Time Passes Slowly

In 1940, the German philosopher and critic Walter Benjamin wrote a piece called “On the Concept of History” as he was trying to escape from Vichy France. Within the essay, Benjamin shares a rhyme that was written in the midst of France’s July Revolution of 1830, when it was reported that people had shot atContinue reading “Time Passes Slowly”

Shelter from the Storm

In September 1974, Bob Dylan entered A & R Studios in New York with an acoustic guitar and a notebook full of new songs. Over the four days he was in the studio, he experimented with the structure of each song, but one song needed only four takes to achieve a master recording, seemingly arrivingContinue reading “Shelter from the Storm”

Señor (Tales of Yankee Power)

There’s a moment during the climax of Sam Peckinpah’s 1969 ultra-violent Western The Wild Bunch that is a direct connection to Bob Dylan’s song “Señor (Tales of Yankee Power)” off of his 1978 album Street-Legal. In the film, the outlaw gang, who serve as the plot’s anti-protagonists, are engaged in the biggest, bloodiest shootout depictedContinue reading “Señor (Tales of Yankee Power)”

Patty’s Gone to Laredo

Because of Bob Dylan’s prolific songwriting talents, one of the biggest draws for Dylan obsessives is that there are always songs to be discovered. Like Coronado seeking the lost cities of gold, the completists are always on the search for an undiscovered Dylan song. With the ongoing success of Dylan’s Bootleg Series and the regularContinue reading “Patty’s Gone to Laredo”

Like a Rolling Stone

The first time I listened to Bob Dylan was after seeking him out. I was a junior in high school and had been in a serious Beatles phase for a few years. I had listened to every Beatles song multiple times, even buying bootleg Beatles albums with murky sound quality and murky origins with myContinue reading “Like a Rolling Stone”

License to Kill

The concept of having a “license to kill” is popular in espionage fiction and films. The origin of that device is commonly thought to be from the James Bond novels by Ian Fleming. In the first James Bond novel, 1953’s Casino Royale, Fleming introduces the “00 Section” of MI6, Britain’s secret service. This “00” sectionContinue reading “License to Kill”

Isis

The idea of the film genre “Acid Western” was created by the film critic Pauline Kael in her 1971 review of the film El Topo in The New Yorker. She wrote: “The avant-garde devices that once fascinated a small bohemian group because they seemed a direct pipeline to the occult and ‘the marvelous’ now reachContinue reading “Isis”

If You See Her, Say Hello

Since the release of Blood on the Tracks in 1975, it has been one of Dylan’s most acclaimed and loved albums. Detailing the ins and outs of a relationship, many critics and fans thought that  Dylan was embracing the California confessional singer/songwriter style and musical approach, exhibited most beautifully and successfully on Joni Mitchell’s 1971Continue reading “If You See Her, Say Hello”

Highlands

Asked by Robert Hilburn of the Los Angeles Times in December 1997 about the genesis of “Highlands” off of Time Out of Mind, Dylan said: “I had the guitar run off an old Charley Patton record [in my head] for years and always wanted to do something with that. I was sitting around, maybe inContinue reading “Highlands”