30th August, 1965: Highway 61 Revisited' by Bob Dylan Was Released
Happy 54th birthday to the invention of folk-rock!
The seminal folk-rock album and often cited as one of the greatest albums ever recorded, it is this album that holds the most well-known song by Bob Dylan—"Like a Rolling Stone." Since then, he has been shot into the starlight, at the forefront of music everywhere and, has since become known as "The King of Folk Rock" or "The God of Folk", or more simply "The Bard"—taking the honorary title from William Shakespeare.
The sixth album and the second instalment to what Bob Dylan fans (Bobcats) call "the holy trinity" (Bringing it All Back Home, "Highway 61 Revisited and finally, Blonde on Blonde)—this album has made history for more than one reason. Rolling Stone Magazine actually ranks the song "Like a Rolling Stone" at number 1 on their list of "500 Greatest Songs of All Time" (I wonder why...) and the album has since been praised for its production quality and most important—the writing.
Recorded between the June and August of 1965, it was really Bob Dylan's first full-force venture into the world of electronic folk rock, rather than the experimental blues rock and slightly electronic stuff he dabbled in on the album Bringing it All Back Home. Critics praised the album and musicians adore it—the Bob Dylan biographer and all-round brilliant writer, Michael Gray stated that this was the album that started the 1960s.
All of the songs were written by Bob Dylan and he has since performed the song "Like a Rolling Stone" over 2,000 times in concert due to his Never Ending Tour, which began in the 80s and continues today.
As we know, Dylan also had a brilliant backing band for the album, travelling around with the Hawks (now: The Band) slightly afterwards on the live tours which were in 1966. But, the musicians who had input on this seminal album were very important as well.
We have the legendary blues guitarist Mike Bloomfield on the album, Al Kooper plays the piano, we have the drummer who did the beat for "Like a Rolling Stone" and later became one of the main drummers for Simon and Garfunkel—Bobby Gregg. Finally, what would "Like a Rolling Stone" be if it weren't produced by Tom Wilson?
Bob Dylan's seminal album was to become one of the most well-respected albums in all of music history. Not only giving him the name of "The Bard," but also giving him international fame when the album peaked respectively at the top five on both the American and British Charts.
AllMusic rated Bob Dylan's album with five stars as did the Chicago Tribune and The Encyclopedia of Music, Music Story and The Rolling Stone Album Guide. The Great Rock Discography gave it ten out of ten whereas, MusicHound and Sputnik both gave it five out of five and finally, with Entertainment Weekly giving it a A+ I can honestly say he created a perfect album.
But did he?
Those are all reviews from after as in way after the album became a culturally significant figure of musical history. What did people during his own day have to say about it?
- The British Musical Express called it "monotonous and tuneless," stating that the album was baffling.
- Melody Maker called it "incomprehensible"—but nevertheless "a knock-out!"
- The poet Philip Larkin praised the album for its ability to remain poetic in a commercial world.
So, it's safe to say that even though the British snobbery class may not have liked it, it sailed safely into musical history by the standards of everyone who mattered.
The Track List:
- "Like a Rolling Stone"
- "Tombstone Blues"
- "It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry"
- "From a Buick 6"
- "Ballad of a Thin Man"
- "Queen Jane Approximately"
- "Highway 61 Revisited"
- "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues"
- "Desolation Row"
What a beautiful way to close the album. The song "Desolation Row" is an acoustic performed only by Bob Dylan. It is a wonderful and enduring piece that is quite possibly one of the greatest recordings of acoustic song in the history of music.
Happy birthday to one of the greatest albums ever made and may your legacy live on...