Monday, May 27, 2013

the freewheelin' bob dylan

Bob Dylan shot from the hip and revealed himself as an unparalleled songwriter with the wit, whimsy, wonder, and world-weary wisdom of this folk masterwork that earned him acclaim as the voice of a generation.  His eponymous debut had only broken even; but producer John Hammond fought for him and was determined to make the follow up a success.  'The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan' began under the working title of 'Bob Dylan's Blues' taking a year to record over eight sessions at Columbia Records Studio A in New York City.  During that time Dylan lived with Suze Rotolo who is pictured on the album cover and whose family were members of the American Communist Party.  Dylan would admit:  "Suze was into this equality-freedom thing long before I was.  I checked out the songs with her."    She left to study art in Italy and Dylan wrote earnest letters urging her to come back.  Dylan would take a trip to England during the winter to appear on a BBC drama and a fruitless side trip to Italy in hopes of seeing Rotolo, who had already gone back to New York.  

In the midst of the process, there was a power struggle between producer Hammond and Dylan's manager Albert Grossman, Hammond was replaced with Tom Wilson.   Dylan was writing new songs like mad, taking traditional melodies and injecting his own topical wordplay.  During the course of the sessions, he recorded twenty four originals and only seven covers.  After Dylan refused to play on The Ed Sullivan Show in early May when the producers asked not to perform "Talkin' John Birch Paranoid Blues", Colombia Records decided that the controversial song should be removed from the album along with three other covers and replaced with some of the newer originals that he had recorded with Wilson.  The final album would eventually have eleven originals and only two covers; a complete reversal from the ratio on his debut.  The credits include primarily Bob Dylan on guitar, harmonica, keyboards, and vocals; with occational backing from his first band:  Howard Collins and Bruce Langhorne on guitar; George Barnes and Leonard Gaskin on bass guitar; Herb Lovelle on drums; Gene Ramey on double bass; and Dick Wellstood on piano.  

Dylan was declared "the most prolific songwriter on the scene" by Pete Seeger at the time, who asked him how many songs he had written lately.  Dylan answered, "I might go for two weeks without writing these songs. I write a lot of stuff. In fact, I wrote five songs last night but I gave all the papers away in some place called the Bitter End."     

  'The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan' went to number twenty-two in the US and number one in the UK.  It established him as the voice of a generation, although Dylan insisted that he was dictating:  "The songs are there. They exist all by themselves just waiting for someone to write them down. I just put them down on paper. If I didn't do it, somebody else would."

  The anthemic "Blowin' in the Wind" secured his name in the world of folk music.  Peter, Paul and Mary released their version as a single only weeks after 'Freewheelin'' came out, taking it to number two and selling over a million copies. 

How many roads most a man walk down
Before you call him a man ?
How many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand ?
Yes, how many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they're forever banned ?
The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

Yes, how many years can a mountain exist
Before it's washed to the sea ?
Yes, how many years can some people exist
Before they're allowed to be free ?
Yes, how many times can a man turn his head
Pretending he just doesn't see ?
The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

Yes, how many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky ?
Yes, how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry ?
Yes, how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died ?
The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

    "Girl from the North Country" the theme was adapted from the traditional "Scarborough Fair" which Dylan learned from Martin Carthy during his trip to London.

    "Masters of War" 

Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build the big bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks

You that never done nothin’
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it’s your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly

Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain

You fasten the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion
As young people’s blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud

You’ve thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain’t worth the blood
That runs in your veins

How much do I know
To talk out of turn
You might say that I’m young
You might say I’m unlearned
But there’s one thing I know
Though I’m younger than you
Even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul

And I hope that you die
And your death’ll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I’ll watch while you’re lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I’ll stand o’er your grave
’Til I’m sure that you’re dead

"A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall"
Dylan said:  "Every line in it is actually the start of a whole new song. But when I wrote it, I thought I wouldn't have enough time alive to write all those songs so I put all I could into this one".

Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?
And where have you been my darling young one?
I’ve stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains
I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways
I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests
I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans
I’ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.

Oh, what did you see, my blue eyed son?
And what did you see, my darling young one?
I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it
I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it
I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin’
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin’
I saw a white ladder all covered with water
I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken
I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.

And what did you hear, my blue-eyed son?
And what did you hear, my darling young one?
I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin’
I heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world
I heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin’
I heard ten thousand whisperin’ and nobody listenin’
I heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin’
Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter
Heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.

Oh, who did you meet my blue-eyed son?
Who did you meet, my darling young one?
I met a young child beside a dead pony
I met a white man who walked a black dog
I met a young woman whose body was burning
I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow
I met one man who was wounded in love
I met another man who was wounded in hatred
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.

And what’ll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
And what’ll you do now my darling young one?
I’m a-goin’ back out ‘fore the rain starts a-fallin’
I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest
Where the people are a many and their hands are all empty
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison
And the executioner’s face is always well hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten
Where black is the color, where none is the number
And I’ll tell and think it and speak it and breathe it
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it
Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’
But I’ll know my songs well before I start singin’
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.

Bob Dylan-A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall  (1964) by gillriser5

"Don't Think Twice, It's All Right"

It ain’t no use to sit and wonder why, babe
It don’t matter, anyhow
An’ it ain’t no use to sit and wonder why, babe
If you don’t know by now
When your rooster crows at the break of dawn
Look out your window and I’ll be gone
You’re the reason I’m trav’lin’ on
Don’t think twice, it’s all right

It ain’t no use in turnin’ on your light, babe
That light I never knowed
An’ it ain’t no use in turnin’ on your light, babe
I’m on the dark side of the road
Still I wish there was somethin’ you would do or say
To try and make me change my mind and stay
We never did too much talkin’ anyway
So don’t think twice, it’s all right

It ain’t no use in callin’ out my name, gal
Like you never did before
It ain’t no use in callin’ out my name, gal
I can’t hear you anymore
I’m a-thinkin’ and a-wond’rin’ all the way down the road
I once loved a woman, a child I’m told
I give her my heart but she wanted my soul
But don’t think twice, it’s all right

I’m walkin’ down that long, lonesome road, babe
Where I’m bound, I can’t tell
But goodbye’s too good a word, gal
So I’ll just say fare thee well
I ain’t sayin’ you treated me unkind
You could have done better but I don’t mind
You just kinda wasted my precious time
But don’t think twice, it’s all right

Don't Think Twice It's Alright [Bob Dylan 1962] from Dan Pick on Vimeo.

'The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan'
full album:

All songs written by Bob Dylan, except where noted

Side one

1. "Blowin' in the Wind"   2:48
2. "Girl from the North Country"   3:22
3. "Masters of War"   4:34
4. "Down the Highway"   3:27
5. "Bob Dylan's Blues"   2:23
6. "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall"   6:55
Side two
1. "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right"   3:40
2. "Bob Dylan's Dream"   5:03
3. "Oxford Town"   1:50
4. "Talkin' World War III Blues"   6:28
5. "Corrina, Corrina" (traditional) 2:44
6. "Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance" (Dylan, Henry Thomas) 2:01
7. "I Shall Be Free"   4:49

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