Although I was familiar with the songs of Bob Dylan (via a nice little ‘best of’ tape), the first album I ever bought was Time Out of Mind.  I bought it in Blackpool, if I remember correctly (along with The Rolling Stones’ Bridges to Babylon).  I’d only really flirted with other stuff – Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde on Blonde, Blood on the Tracks and such.  I’m not exactly sure why, but I was completely happy with the albums I had.  I had absolutely no desire to delve deeper than that … and, well, it wasn’t until my younger brother threw a load of other stuff my way a good few years ago that I really found myself digging that bit deeper.

Anyhoo, on Wednesday I came home from work to find one o’ them nice ‘Sorry, you were out’ slips.  My brother had text me earlier and said “I threw a record in the mail”.  A record!  What could it be!?  So, on Thursday evening I took that slip along to the local Delivery Office and exchanged it for my record.  I took it home and opened it and found this wonderful slice of awesomeness in there – Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited.  I’d actually forgotten all about this.  Y’see, my brother had told me a few weeks ago that he had a spare copy of this and that he’d send it to me.  Given that it’s one of those albums I get lost in, I was completely surprised that I’d forgotten that part of our conversation.  The other part was that it was the mono version.  I hadn’t heard the mono version, so I was pretty excited and ‘thanks’ just doesn’t cover it.

So yeah, I’ve got Highway 61 Revisited in the collection now.  A mono version … and I’m delighted, too.  As an album it’s perfect. How it starts and how it ends.  The in-between fleshing it all out.  Dylan’s raucous, poetic, yet cynical and perfectly chaotic apocalyptic carnival record.  Sequenced perfectly, too.

No matter how familiar you are with Like A Rolling Stone you can never be over familiar and I was fairly excited about dropping the needle.  As always, the vinyl brings something new … this time it’s not just the ‘warm tones’, but the first experience of the mono mix (which isn’t just a fold-down, but a specific mix).  The pace picking up for Tombstone Blues.  Side A ends with one of my favourite Dylan song – Ballad of a Thin Man.  Probably the sole reason I have no desire to keep up with the Jones’.

There’s a million better writers that will offer a blow-by-blow and dissection of this record and they’ll likely offer way more on the last three songs than I can.  But that run … man, it’s incredible.  The title track has always been one that fascinates me – excites me even!  Is it the sound of the apocalypse?  A carnival?  Some chaotic rambling through a dusty ghost town … and then, just when it leaves us thinking our hero (or anti-hero) is a goner out there among the sun bleached rocks, we learn in Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues that he’s sorta-okay and he comes staggering from the ordeal in Mexico.  Phew.  I can’t express just how much I dig Desolation Row.  It’s an incredible song.  In many ways the companion to Like A Rolling Stone.

No direction home?  What does it matter …

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6 thoughts on ““Tell me great hero, but please make it brief Is there a hole for me to get sick in?”:Bob Dylan – Highway 61 Revisited (Mono; 1965)

  1. Still one of my favorite Dylan record and the odd thing about the record is that my In-Laws live on the same Highway 61 that he would travel while coming to Minneapolis from his childhood home on the Iron Range.

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    1. Yeah, it’s a really great album and definitely one of my all time favourites. There’s only really a couple (okay, so maybe a dozen or so) Dylan albums I’d like to have on vinyl and this was top of that list. To get to know it all over again too is pretty great.

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  2. Great point about it being impossible to be too familiar with the opening track – such a great song and record. How is it even possible that he released both this & bringing it all back home within months of each other?!

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    1. That’s a very good point that I hadn’t really considered (this and Bringing It All Back Home being just months apart) … there’s not many artists that could follow up a great album with a great album, never mind follow it up with one of the best albums ever recorded.

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