Bob Dylan
Highway 61 Revisited


5.0
classic

Review

by DesolationRow USER (80 Reviews)
May 5th, 2006 | 21 replies | 5,926 views


Release Date: 1965 | Tracklist


2 of 3 thought this review was well written

Angst and poetry have been side by side in literature since man first began to write. If something is not happy, it is sad, if something is not good, it is bad, and if something is not right, it is wrong. There is no rhyme or reason to music, however. An explanation is not needed for inspiration. Highway 61 Revisited may just be the evidence of that. The raw cynicism and dark outlook of this Bob Dylan classic is enough to make anyone a dimmer person. Considered by many to be Bob Dylan's magnum opus, Highway 61 is the man's most bleak album to date, and one of his first entirely electric compositions. The futility of trying to find flaws in the music is only error that this album possesses. First of all, Bob Dylan had made the choice to go electric in 1965, with Bringing It All Back Home, an album proceeding this by a matter of months. But more importantly, this is not the political outcry aspect of Dylan that you have seen prior. Highway 61 marked a milestone in Dylan's career as a songwriter, focusing much more on poetry than his controversial, left-winged political views. His oral narration of his own thoughts are some of the most impressive lyrics that I have heard, in all my time as a listener, speaking in broad terms. The amalgamation of folk, blues, and rock music into one rich, full sound is something that should not go unnoticed in the stream of popular music. Fortunately for Bob Dylan, Highway 61 Revisited got about all the PR that one album would need.

As previously stated, Highway 61 Revisited is Bob Dylan's turning point as a songwriter, venturing from politics into poeticism. Not to say that the mood of his music and word is not any brighter than before, because if anything, his music is more blunt, cynical and mordant than it has been beforehand. Lyrics that range from a sardonic outlook on a broken home to an anthem of seeing people change for the worse, Bob Dylan's lyrics are sheer genius. Of course, they are vocalized through Dylan's gravelly, whiny, southern voice (ironic for a Minnesotan). Bob Dylan can be impugned for some of the most verbally attacking, controversial, masterful lyrics that have swept the American subcultures. Musically, Highway 61 is somewhat of a gem within the Dylan omnibus. While Bob Dylan has taken a 'less is more' approach to his music, Highway 61 is the oddball of instrumental virtuosity. There are distorted guitar leads, and hypnotic electric organ arrangements that accompany Bob Dylan's acerbic word of mouth. Personally, I wouldn't want anything else from a Dylan album.

Brevity is not something that Robert Zimmerman sought to integrate into the production of Highway 61. In more comprehendible words- Not very many songs are short enough for any pop culturist to approach as an introductory listen to Bob Dylan's work. But why this is a bad thing still escapes me. In a time where song length was a scapegoat for popularity, Highway 61 was the nonconformist. Abstract is not something that occupies the unwelcoming song lengths, nonetheless. Rather than just scribbling random words into melody, the songs on here each tell a unique story that do not coexist with one another in the slightest trace. The range between these stories are a phenomenal contrast to the concept albums, where one plot is told over the duration of the album, while each song on Highway 61 is reminiscent of one scathing chapter in a novella. The most fitting analogy to Bob Dylan's words on Highway 61 Revisited would be the melodic equivalent to George Orwell's work in 1984.

The dirtiness of the blues folk encompassed here is by far one of Bob Dylan's greatest efforts next to Blonde on Blonde. Dylan breaks out the harmonica for magnificent solos, and accordingly, the head bobbing, foot tapping melodies are great. For the nine hundred and ninety ninth time in this review, some of my favorite lyrics stand firm on Highway 61. In particular, Queen Jane Approximately, and Desolation Row rank among my top 5, the subsequent being my all time desired lyrical content. For the first time in history, I have decided to attach a wonderful sample of Desolation Row, the 11 minute bummed out closer to the album. Let this be my unofficial ending to this review, and on a brighter note, tell you that some of pop music's greatest songs are found on here.

They're selling postcards of the hanging.
They're painting the passports brown.
The beauty parlor is filled with sailors.
The circus is in town.
Here comes the blind commissioner.
They've got him in a trance.
One hand is tied to the tight-rope walker.
The other is in his pants.
And the riot squad they're restless.
They need somewhere to go
As Lady and I look out tonight,
From Desolation Row.


~Bob Dylan- Desolation Row



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user ratings (1183)
Chart.
4.5
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Med57
Moderator
May 5th 2006



1001 Comments


Ah, I love this album. I thought that it had more than one review though. Excellent review, and one that pretty much sums up my thoughts on the album. I can never pick a favourite Dylan album at all.

ktstein
May 5th 2006



438 Comments


He cant sing, but GOT DAMME, he can write a song!

masada
May 5th 2006



2733 Comments


Cool review/cool album.

XxcheetoxX
May 5th 2006



78 Comments


For some reason my tounge kept getting tied when I tried to read the lyrics at the end. Bleh

I should get this some time or another.

metallicaman8
May 5th 2006



4677 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Excellent review. I have this album on vinyl and it's just exquisite

Jimmy
May 5th 2006



717 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

One of my favorite albums of all time. It takes a lot to laugh and Desolation Row are my favorites.

John Paul Harrison
May 5th 2006



1014 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

A fine review, sir. I always feel as though "Tombstone Blues" gets overlooked, however.

DownPaymentBlues78
May 6th 2006



278 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Great, great review for a fantastic album. This is a true classic. 'Desolation Row' gets me every time.

DesolationRow
May 7th 2006



833 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Tombstone never gets overlooked, in my opinion. It's one of the lyrically smartest songs on here, as well as one of my favorites on the album.

Bron-Yr-Aur
May 7th 2006



4405 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Mr. Leo, perhaps I could borrow this album from you? A fine review as well.

DownPaymentBlues78
May 7th 2006



278 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Tombstone Blues is one of my least favorites from this, but of course judging by the quality of this album, that still means I like it a hell of a lot.

El_Goodo
May 7th 2006



1008 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Hmm I found it a little bit odd you didn't even mention Like A Rolling Stone, that is one of Bob's greatest accomplishments. Amazing lyrics, great melody, its an epic. From A Buck 6 has a great bass line! And Desolation Row is the second epic on this album, the lyrics blow me away.

DesolationRow
May 7th 2006



833 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Because Like A Rolling Stone has been mentioned thousands of times, as well as being heard by anyone who knows who Bob Dylan is. No use paying more attention to it.



John Paul Harrison
May 7th 2006



1014 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Mr. Leo, perhaps I could borrow this album from you? A fine review as well.


Indeed. I think you'll like it. Highway 61 is quieter that Bringing it All back Home, but it's more innovative.

And who is this "Leo"? I am the John.


DesolationRow
May 8th 2006



833 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I edited the lyrics at the end, and italicized them. It no longer is a pain in the ass to read.

His deliverance of Desolation Row is so menacing, it's great.

ImTheFloor
May 8th 2006



59 Comments


I love this album. "Desolation Row" is of course, my favorite.

El_Goodo
August 25th 2006



1008 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Because Like A Rolling Stone has been mentioned thousands of times, as well as being heard by anyone who knows who Bob Dylan is. No use paying more attention to it.


Well most reviews comment on the albums best songs, even if they have been talked about countless times.

Hobbes42
February 27th 2011



27 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This album is simply amazing. Yes, Tombstone Blues is underrated, no, Like A Rolling Stone should always be mentioned, and of course Desolation Row is a masterpiece.

Ryus
December 8th 2013



2121 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Best album, ever.

NightProwler
December 8th 2013



6335 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Could'a been a contender, if it wasn't for Queen Jane and Buick 6

Digging: Neil Young - American Stars 'N Bars



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