John Wesley Harding

John Wesley Harding

This 1967 album transcended easy categorization as Bob Dylan moved from the experimentation and rock of his few previous releases. Cut in Nashville with a loose-limbed backing trio, the songs are mostly country-folk parables that, even at their most jaunty, like the plainspoken title track, are filled with mystery and distrust—from the occasional violence (the lightning that destroys a courthouse in the roiling “Drifter’s Escape”) to the biblical (“Wicked Messenger”). There are heavily covered love songs too, such as the brilliantly restrained “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight.”

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