Another Side of Bob Dylan (2010 Mono Version)

Another Side of Bob Dylan (2010 Mono Version)

Early into Another Side of Bob Dylan, the suddenly iconic protest singer diagnoses his condition: “I woke in the mornin’, wanderin’,” he begins “Black Crow Blues,” his fingers riffling a peppy boogie-woogie piano riff. “Weary and worn-out.” Indeed, by the time Dylan returned to Columbia’s New York studio with steadfast producer Tom Wilson in the summer of 1964, the singer was a lightning rod. Dylan’s sociopolitical songs, and the civil unrest they’d helped nurture, had made him not only the voice of the rising counterculture, but also the enemy of those who opposed it. Dylan was, by and large, over it. He wasn’t washing his hands of the movement altogether, but he was trying to live his life—and, well, write about it. That weary young troubadour who had released the mighty The Times They Are A-Changin’ in early 1964 had other things on his mind—women, weariness, wild adventures—by the summer of that year, when he offered up his aptly named Another Side. Dylan’s verboten socialist associations, for instance, are the punchline of “Motorpsycho Nightmare,” a surrealist portrait of a man asking for help from a farmer—only to be seduced by his daughter (to escape, he pledges his allegiance to Fidel Castro and scampers off). “My Back Pages” finds the singer holding his own know-it-all zeal up to the light, wondering if he’s left behind a little life in the rush to be a generational bard. “I Shall Be Free No. 10,” meanwhile, is a playful talking blues number, in which the blues is the pedestal upon which he’s been put. And if the title “Chimes of Freedom” suggests some grand call for liberation, the song is actually a seven-minute fever dream of urban dystopia, the promise of hope flashing and fading like lightning. The song was an essential breakthrough for Dylan the poet, not the polemicist. But the most endearing and enduring tracks from Another Side of Bob Dylan might be the album’s love songs. “Ballad in Plain D” is a Shakespearean saga of star-crossed lovers, their love destined for doom. Like a note left on a bedside table, “To Ramona” acknowledges a spark between two people—but recognizes that it will never work, and that too many obstacles block the route to happiness, at least for now. And, of course, closer “It Ain’t Me Babe” is one of music’s great goodbyes, a farewell that says, It’s not you or me, but rather both of us that will ruin this thing we have. The song also worked as a sort of dismissal to those who’d already considered Dylan to be a Judas for leaving politics behind. That was a phase—and on Another Side of Bob Dylan, the ever-restless singer proved he was already on to the next one.

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