Bob Dylan (1962)


 
1. You're No Good 2. Talkin' New York 3. In My Time of Dyin' 4. Man of Constant Sorrow 5. Fixin' To Die 6. Pretty Peggy-O 7. Highway 51 8. Gospel Plow 9. Baby Let Me Follow You Down 10.House of the Risin' Sun 11.Freight Train Blues 12.Song to Woody 13.See That My Grave is Kept Clean

 

Of all of Bob Dylan's vast catalog of releases, his very first record is one of the least known. This was more of a "discovery" album - Dylan was discovering his gift, the record company was discovering what he had to offer, and folk audiences were beginning to discover a revival of this type of music that was somewhat smaller and diverse than what the mainstream audience was into at the time.

Eleven of the thirteen songs here are covers of old folk and blues numbers. What is surprising is not the lack of original material, but the fact that there even was any original material on here in the first place. Why should a major record label devote space on an album to this unknown kid from the backwoods of Minnesota? Well, to be honest, his original pieces are the best thing on the entire album. Talkin' New York is Dylan at is most typical, humorous and sardonic as he serenades the story of being an up and coming nobody in the big town of New York, and Song to Woody is, well, a tribute to Woody Guthrie.

Speaking of Woody Guthrie, there was no other artist that ever came close to influencing Bob Dylan's work than Woody Guthrie - this would always be apparent. Yet this album stands out a bit more than anything else Dylan had ever done in that it sounds sort, well....what would be a word.....hardcore? Punk? Rebellious? Not the words that come to mind when describing a folk album released by a (then) nobody in 1962, yet these songs all have that feeling. No, he's not "thinkin' 'bout the government", nor is he singing any protest songs about the world around him. That would appear later. In spades. These songs just seem to have a bite to them that may not come across as angry, yet are definitely filled with energy that seemed to separate himself from his counterparts at the time. Being a young kid in his early twenties, the energy and passion that he delivers is somewhat expected, and the album has aged well, even if it's not his most familiar record.

Yes, you could definitely hear that there was a genius in the making when listening to this album, and it wasn't surprising when his career would take off mightily in the very near future.


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