On Bob Dylan's selt-title debut he showed that he had alot of potential, delivering beautiful renditions of classic folk songs such as In My Time Of Dyin', Man Of Constant Sorrow, Highway 51 Blues, and the ever-popular House Of The Rising On. As well as these cover's, Dylan had two originals, "Talkin New York, and Song To Woody," though these two song's are no where near as good as what was to come, they proved he could write song's.
On Dylan's second album, "The Free Wheelin' Bob Dylan." He Totally eclipsed his first album, delivering an album full of Dylan originals exlcuding the track Corina, Corina. That album showed Bob Dylan turning from a follower of the folk music, into a leader with song's like "Blowing In The Wind" and "Masters Of War" which would become classics, especially the first. Other song's like "Don't Think Twice It's Alright," and "Girl From The North Country," proved that Dylan could also write a solid melody, and a great love song.
The Follow up to "The Free Wheelin' Bob Dylan" was "The Times They Are A-Changin'" this album went away from the song's like "Don't Think Twice It's Alright" and followed in the vein of "Masters Of War," and "Blowing In The Wind." All the song's except for two (Boots Of Spanish Leather, and One Too Many Mornings") are straight up social protest song's. He protest's people who can't accept the changing times (guess what song that is), he tell's stories of injustice in the past, and how "you don't count the dead one's, when god's on your side."
I think this album is a prime example of why Dylan is considered the best songwriter of all time, in popular music. All the song's are incredible exampls of poetry. So let's get on with the review:
1.) The Times They Are A-Changin' - 5/5
This is a Dylan classic, and if your a fan and haven't heard it, then shame on you! As with most Dylan song's it is fueled by a constant rhythm on Dylans acoustic, a melodic harmonica, and Dylan's unique voice, and poetic lyrics. In this song he is warning people about that changes up ahead, and how the people used to the old time's "Better start swimming, or they'll sink like a stone." Lot's of very great lyrics in this song, and the hook comes at the end of each verse when Dylan sings out "for the times they are a-changin'"
2.) The Ballad Of Hollis Brown - 4.5/5
This song, like the title implies is the story of Hollis Brown. It's a story about a man (Hollis Brown) who appears to be out of money, and living in a place that's somewhat less than a paradise, with starving children ("Your children are so hungry, they don't know how to smile."), and no one to help him. Muiscally the song is driven by a repeating folk rhythm/riff, and Dylan's voice.
3.) With God On Our Side - 5/5
Brilliant song! It kick's off with Dylan's harmonica mimicking what we will later find out to be the vocal melody for the chorus. After the harmonica end's we find ourselve's in the verse, which is held together by the acoustic rhythm and Dylan's lyrics about how you never ask questions when god's on yourside. This song has a very strong melody, and brilliant lyrics. This is one of the best protest song's ever written. "The spanish american war had its day, and the civil war too was soon laid away, and the names of the hero's I was made to memorize, with gun's in ther hand's, and god on their side." He talks about many wars, including World War I "The first world war boy's, it came and it went, the reason for fighting I never did get, but I learned to accept it, and accept it with pride, for you don't count the dead...when god's on your side." Brilliant lyircs!
4.) One Too Many Mornings - 5/5
With this song Dylan takes a turn from the protest song's and provides a poetic narrative, about how he's had One Too Many Mornings. It's driving by a soft constant picking on the acoustic guitar, with the usual Dylan harmonica break's. This is a really great slower sad song, and as usual very poetic lyrics. It is also the shortest song on the album.
5.) North Country Blues - 4.5/5
This song is like The Ballad of Hollis Brown in that it is driven by a repeating acoustic rhythm. But unlike The Ballad of Hollis Brown, this song is a first-person narrative, with Dylan talking about his childhood, having his father and brother abandon him, and losing his job just when things were getting good, amongst other things. Though it is told in first person, it is still a protest song. He's singing about the ore where he is working is closed down, because down in the south american town's it is cheaper to hire workers. This song keep's you interested, because you are listening to hear the story and not the music which repeats constantly.
6.) Only A Pawn In Their Game - 4.5/5
This song, like "With God On Our Side" has one of the stronger melodies on the CD. This is a song about racism, and about the shooting of Medger Evert (sp?). With lines like "Your better than him, you've been born with white skin, they explain." The man being told this is "just a pawn in their game," and Im not exactly sure who the "their" is. But the story tells that they build him up telling him how as a white man it's his job to shoot this black man (Medger). Bob Dylan explains how it is not the man's fault as he's "Only A Pawan In Their Game."
7.) Boots Of Spanish Leather - 5/5
This is another slower song like "One Too Many Morning's," but this song deals more with love. It's a very sad song, with Bob really expressing the emotion both threw his word's and his voice. It's driven by an acoustic guitar being picked. The lyrics in this one though they are about love are still very beautiful and poetic. "I'd foresake them all for your sweet kiss, for that's all Im wishing to be owning."
8.) When The Ship Comes In - 5/5
This song ties with "With God On Our Side" for the catchiest song on the album. Appareantley Bob Dylan wrote this song after he didn't get a good room in a hotel, because the people there did not know who he was, but they knew the female singer he was with. The song itself is very poetic, sung about a ship sailing.
9.) The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carrol - 5/5
This song tells the Lonesome Death of Hattie Carrol. Sung with a pretty easy to remember melody, Dylan tell's the story of Williams and Zinger, who kill Hattie Carrol without reason. But they do not go to jail because they have powerful friend's, and lot's of money. This song is one of the only to have a chorus on this album. "But you who philosiphize disgrace, and criticize fears, take the rag away from your face, now aint the time for your tears." The song really tells you alot about both the victim Hattie Carrol and the killers Williams and Zinger.
10.) Restless Farewell - 4.5/5
"Oh all the money that in my whole life, I did spend, be it mine or right or wrongfully, I'd let it slip gladly to my friend's, to tie up the time most forcefully," the song opens up going right into that verse line. This follows in the vein of One Too Many Morning's, and Boots of Spanish Leather, being that it is more about relationship troubles. It is Dylan's way of describing a Restless Farewell with a previous lover. "I'll bid farewell, and be down the line."
Overall - 5/5
Every track on this album is extremley well written lyrically! Be it a protest song (With God On Our Side) or be it a love song (Boot's of Spanish Leather), they all have very beautiful and poetic lyrics. And all the song's keep you interested because you are told a story, none of the song's change alot, but the story alone keeps you hooked. And in some song's we get a very good melody (With God ON Our Side, When The Ship Comes In). This is a must have for any Bob Dylan fan, it was definetley worth the $8.00 I paid for it.