Nobody has a favorite Dylan album.
That’s a topic that can carry a conversation into the night– or an argument into the next morning. Indeed, the man himself seemed to enjoy polarizing his admirers. In 1965, Dylan released Bringing It All Back Home. The album along with his outlaw performance at the Newport Folk Festival a few months later split the dynamic into two sides– acoustic and electric. Dylan was daring his audience to choose. Of course, you didn’t have to– and that August, Highway 61 Revisited didn’t even bother straddlin’ the fence.
Dylan plugged in his Stratocaster, cranked it, and surrounded himself with some of the crunchiest, funkiest tones of the entire decade. “Like A Rolling Stone” became an anthem that influenced everyone from the Beatles to the Stones to Hendrix and beyond. Bobby D digs down into his rock n’ roll DNA with some distinct rockabilly rhythms on “Tombstone Blues” and “From A Buick 6”. There’s a dissonant, anti-pop quality to “Queen Jane Approximately” that must’ve tickled John Lennon to tears while the whistlin’ boogie woogie of the title track simply drives south, windows down in the dust, sun in the rearview mirror.
Dylan follows the honky tonkin’ “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” with the epic finality of “Desolation Row”. With that, Dylan does what his previous album claimed. There’s nothing there to trim– not a word from the ridiculous narrative, certainly not Charlie McCoy’s inspired and roving guitar work. Every character on “Desolation Row” has a face, every face has a name, and the ultimate verse is among the greatest ever written or recorded. Nobody has or could have a favorite Bob Dylan album. There’s always one more that could be a contender. But if you need a suggestion, I’ve always got one.
Today it’s Highway 61 Revisited.