Review Summary: How does it feel?
How does music manage to sweep us off our feet time and time again? Each time we uncover the genius of an album, our ears devour it till there is no more left. We move on, and consume the next one, ravenous as we are. People are constantly exploring the vast ocean that is music, attempting to find the next band that will affect us deeply, whether it's emotionally or in the way we act or think. What else is there in the world that has as much power as music does?
Everyone once in a while, if we look hard enough, we find an album that completely knocks us out. It's all we think of for weeks or even months, having a permanent spot in our CD players. Our friends are exasperated by our fruitless yet incessant attempts to foist our very strong opinions about the album unto them, to force them to enjoy the album at least half as much as we do. Usually, however, they don't share the same opinion as you. This is the beauty of music: its extremely subjectivity allows us to encounter the genius in an album others might not see, therefore giving you and the music a very personal relationship. The most personal and affecting album for me is Highway 61 Revisited
. It's the album that has stuck with me for my whole life, and will, as long as I am alive. It exposed itself to me when I was about ten years old, when my infatuation with music was not yet ablaze, and my delicate ears would not bear to be disturbed by anything that didn't top the charts.
While listening to Highway 61 Revisited
was a cathartic experience for me, it still would have been nearly as, or just as special as it is to me. Each song, no matter the length, holds the weight of the world inside it, due to Dylan's transcendent lyricism and inexplicable, uncanny ability to weave such a deceptively simple tune with an immeasurable amount of hidden depth.
The opener, and perhaps the most famous song in rock history, "Like A Rolling Stone," is a stellar example of the Dylan formula. It has numerous brilliant verses (and apparently he wrote a hundred others just as good), confrontational and full of sneers, along with a sing along, brilliant chorus. It builds on its own momentum while never leaving its comfort zone, safely nestled between repetitive and refreshing. Complete with a memorable organ line, "Like A Rolling Stone" revels in its modesty, putting Bob Dylan's lyrics at the forefront of the track.
One of the most original tracks is placed right in the middle, "Ballad Of A Thin Man," starkly contrasted with the driving rock tone of the previous track, "From a Buick 6." Bob Dylan's baritone voice sounds less raspy then ever, instead coming off as dirge-like and sorrowful. Amongst these great songs is the anti-climactic, gorgeously plain and lengthy "Desolation Row." It revels in its simplicity, allowing the lyrics to shine. Dylan utilizes convoluted allusions and references to various characters and weaves somewhat of a story revolving around Desolation Row. Despite its sheer length, everything about "Desolation Row" feels necessarily. It's slowly paced to allow the lyrics to get the spotlight.
Bob Dylan only needed an economical nine tracks to create a definitive work of art, the quintessence of rock music of the century. It's unequalled lyric brilliance, straightforward rock background, and the incomprarably unique voice of Bob Dylan make for one of the most rewarding, fulfilling listens an album can give.