“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)

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 …



  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.


    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.


  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?!


    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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