[su_dropcap]T[/su_dropcap]he mid-1960s were turbulent years in the professional life of Bob Dylan as he began to transition from acoustical folk music to performing with electric guitar, and his folknik fans were not happy with the new sound, expressing their animosity during Dylan concert appearances with hostile heckling between songs (“phony” “traitor”) and walk outs. Fifty years later, listening to the soon to be released collection of The Bob Dylan World Tour 1966 live-concert recordings, “The 1966 Live Recordings“*, can’t help but wonder….what exactly was the problem? Well, of course, it’s complicated, but the music is Dylan doing his thing while at the same time—-making rock and roll history.
[su_quote cite=”Bob Dylan, 1966 Playboy Interview”]I was very drained, and the way things were going, it was a dragging situation…But, “Like a Rolling Stone” changed it all..[/su_quote]
Dylan wrote Like a Rolling Stone on an upright piano after an exhausting 1965 concert tour, when he was feeling down and discouraged. It was released in July 1965, and typically played in the closing slot of the 1966 world tour. Like a Rolling Stone was revolutionary in combining different musical elements, and became a worldwide hit record despite the long play time. Ranked #1 by Rolling Stone magazine in its ‘500 Greatest Songs of All Time’ list, the song just keeps getting better over time with multiple recordings of cover versions by artists with diverse styles and interpretation.
Included in a compilation of songs recorded for Amnesty International Chimes of Freedom (2012) was Seal and Jeff Beck’s soulful rock cover of Like a Rolling Stone. The music video was shot during their LA recording session, directed and produced by Martin Lewis, edited by Peter Shelton.
Music Row Magic
After Like a Rolling Stone, the release of the Highway 61 Revisited album (1965), and another grueling concert tour, things were not going well in the New York recording studio, and Dylan was frustrated. Record producer Bob Johnston suggested they change things up, and record in Nashville. Dylan went for the idea, and brought in keyboardist/guitarist, Al Kooper, and Canadian guitarist, Robbie Robertson, from New York to join the Nashville session players. The result was the double album Blonde on Blonde* (released May 16, 1966), widely considered one of the greatest albums of all time. Dylan later said, “The closest I ever got to the sound I hear in my mind was on individual bands in the Blonde on Blonde album. It’s that thin, that wild mercury sound. It’s metallic and bright gold, with whatever that conjures up.”
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Feature photo of Bob Dylan performing with The Band in Chicago 1974 is courtesy of Jim Summaria CC BY-SA 3.0