Released May 27, 1963
Recorded July 9, 1962 – April 24, 1963 at Columbia Studios, New York City
Label Columbia Records
Producer(s) John H. Hammond and Tom Wilson
' Bob Dylan
is singer-songwriter Bob Dylan
's 2nd studio album, released in 1963 by Columbia Records.
The album, still frequently cited as one of his best, established Dylan
as a songwriter of premier importance. Where his debut, Bob Dylan
, had featured only two originals, Freewheelin
' contained only two covers, the traditional tune "Corrina, Corrina," and "Honey Just Allow Me One More Chance." Dylan
was one of few popular artists at the time to record his own compositions. "Blowin' In The Wind," one of Dylan
's most famous songs, which had been introduced to the world by folk trio Peter, Paul & Mary earlier that year, leads off the album. The song is nine questions about freedom, war, life and death. In the song, it is said the answer to each question can be found "blowin' in the wind."
' Bob Dylan
reached #22 in the US (eventually going platinum), and later became a #1 hit in the UK in 1965. In 2002, it was one of 50 recordings chosen that year by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry.
In 2003, the album was ranked number 97 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
Critics and the general public barely took notice of Dylan
's debut album, which sold roughly five thousand copies after the first year. For an album recorded by an unknown artist in a less-than-popular genre, the numbers weren't especially dismal or surprising. However, with John Hammond's support and reputation, expectations were high, and as Dylan
's debut disappeared from the industry charts, it was clear that Hammond's reputation was now tied to Dylan
's. Prestige Records had expressed an interest in Dylan
, seeing potential in Dylan
's growing songwriting skills, and Hammond was determined to support Dylan
, hoping his second album would be a success.
With Hammond producing, Dylan
began work on his second album at Columbia's Studio A in New York on April 24th, 1962. The working title at the time was Bob Dylan
's Blues, and as late as July, it would remain the working title. Dylan
performed renditions of two traditional folk songs, "Going To New Orleans" and "Corrina, Corrina", as well as a cover of the Hank Williams classic "(I Heard That) Lonesome Whistle". However, much of the session was dedicated to Dylan
's own compositions, and four of them were recorded: "Sally Gal", "The Death of Emmett Till", "Rambling, Gambling Willie", and "Talkin' John Birch Paranoid Blues." Dylan
's performances of "John Birch" and "Rambling, Gambling Willie" were deemed satisfactory, and master takes of both songs were selected and set aside for the final album.Dylan
returned to Studio A the following day, recording the master take for "Let Me Die in My Footsteps," which was also set aside for the final album. Dylan
then recorded several more originals ("Rocks and Gravel," "Talking Hava Negiliah Blues," "Talking Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues," and two more takes of "Sally Gal"), as well as several covers, including the traditional "Wichita (Going to Louisiana)," Big Joe Williams's "Baby Please Don't Go," and Robert Johnson's "Milk Cow's Calf's Blues." None of these would receive serious consideration, but "Talking Hava Negiliah Blues" and "Talking Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues" would eventually be released in 1991 on The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961-1991.
The recording sessions at Studio A would not resume until July 9. By this time, Dylan
's personal and professional life was undergoing serious developments. A manager, Albert Grossman, was pushing himself into Dylan
's business affairs; Grossman was involved in music publishing and, like Prestige, he had taken an interest in Dylan
. By securing Dylan
to a contract, Grossman would be able to profit from his songwriting.
During the July 9th session, Dylan
recorded several new compositions. The most notable was "Blowin' in the Wind," a song he had already performed live but had yet to record in the studio. Dylan
also recorded "Bob Dylan
's Blues," "Down the Highway," and "Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance" and master takes for these four songs were selected for the album.Dylan
also recorded "Baby, I'm In The Mood For You." An original composition, it was not a serious contender for the album, but it would eventually be released in 1985 on the boxed-set retrospective Biograph. Two more outtakes, an original blues number called "Quit Your Low Down Ways" and a Hally Wood composition called "Worried Blues," would also see release in 1991 on The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961-1991.
After settling his business affairs, Dylan
returned to Minnesota at the beginning of August. He stayed in Minneapolis, where he met up again with old friends, including Tony Glover, who recorded another informal 'session' with Dylan
. On this home recording, Dylan
talks about Suze Rotolo, and how she's expected to return on September 1st (she had been studying art in Europe, having left for Italy on June 8.) He then performs an embryonic version of a new song, "Tomorrow Is A Long Time." Shortly before September 1st, Dylan
would hear from Suze Rotolo, who tells him that she's postponing her stay in Italy indefinitely, putting a strain on their relationship.Dylan
returned to New York in the fall and performed a number of live shows where he debuted some compositions including "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" and "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall." Both songs appeared in an October engagement at the Gaslight Cafe, which was recorded and later bootlegged; one of Dylan
's most celebrated live recordings, a large portion of the Gaslight performances would be released on Live at The Gaslight 1962.Dylan
eventually resumed work on his second album at Columbia's Studio A on October 26th, where he recorded three songs. Several takes of Dylan
's "Mixed-Up Confusion" and Arthur Crudup's "That's All Right Mama" were deemed unusable, but a master take of "Corrina, Corrina" was selected for the final album. An 'alternate take' of "Corrina, Corrina" from the same session would also be selected for a single issued later in the year.
On November 1st, Dylan
held another session at Studio A where he performed three songs. Once again, "Mixed-Up Confusion" and "That's All Right Mama" were recorded, and once again, the results were deemed unusable. However, the third song, "Rocks And Gravel," was deemed satisfactory, and a master take was selected for the final album.
On November 14th, Dylan
held another session at Studio A, spending most of the session recording "Mixed-Up Confusion." Dylan
performed the song with several studio musicians hired by producer John Hammond; George Barnes (guitar), Bruce Langhorne (guitar), Dick Wellstood (piano), Gene Ramey (bass), and Herb Lovelle (drums). The song was never used for the final album, but a master take was selected and issued as a single later in the year. (The same single featured the 'alternate take' of "Corrina, Corrina" as the B-side.)
After completion of "Mixed-Up Confusion," most of the musicians were dismissed, but guitarist Langhorne stayed behind, accompanying Dylan
on three more originals ("Ballad of Hollis Brown," "Kingsport Town," and "Whatcha Gonna Do"), but these performances were ultimately rejected; "Kingsport Town" was later released on The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961-1991.Dylan
held another session at Studio A three weeks later on December 6th. Five songs, all original compositions, were recorded, three of which were eventually included on The Freewheelin
' Bob Dylan
: "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall," "Oxford Town," and "I Shall Be Free." All three master takes were recorded on the first take, with "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" and "Oxford Town" recorded in a single take. Dylan
also made another attempt at "Whatcha Gonna Do" and recorded a new song, "Hero Blues," but both songs were ultimately rejected and left unreleased.
Twelve days later, Dylan
left for his first trip to England, believing work on his second album to be finished. While staying in London, Dylan
immersed himself in the folk scene, making his first contact with Troubadour organizer Anthea Joseph and folksingers Martin Carthy and Bob
Davenport. "I ran into some people in England who really knew those [traditional English] songs," Dylan
recalled in 1984. "Martin Carthy, another guy named [Bob
] Davenport. Martin Carthy's incredible. I learned a lot of stuff from Martin." Carthy introduced Dylan
to a number of traditional English variants of songs that Dylan
knew only through their Appalachian derivatives. Carthy would become a significant influence on Dylan
, and his arrangement of the English folk songs "Scarborough Fair" and "Lady Franklin's Lament" would soon provide Dylan
with the basic melody to "Girl from the North Country" and "Bob Dylan
After finishing his obligations in England (including a brief appearance in a BBC drama, Madhouse on Castle Street), Dylan
traveled to Italy looking for his girlfriend, Suze Rotolo, unaware that she had already returned to America (reportedly the same time Dylan
left for England). While in Italy, Dylan
finished "Girl from the North Country" as well as an early draft of another song, "Boots of Spanish Leather". Dylan
then returned to England where Carthy was treated to a preview of "Girl from the North Country."
returned to New York in mid-January, he recorded his new composition, "Masters of War" for Broadside magazine. In the meantime, he got back together with Suze Rotolo, whom he convinced to move back in to his 4th Street apartment.
By this time, Dylan
's experiences since completing The Freewheelin
' Bob Dylan
"led him to reconsider the songs he had already selected" for the album, according to biographer Clinton Heylin. "There remains a common belief that [Dylan
] was forced by Columbia to pull 'Talkin' John Birch Society Blues' from the album after he walked out on The Ed Sullivan Show on May 12, 1963, when the head of program practices - i.e., the censor - considered the song potentially libelous." However, the 'revised' version of The Freewheelin
' Bob Dylan
was released on May 27, 1963; this would have given Columbia Records two weeks to recut the album, reprint the record sleeves, and press and package enough copies of the new version to fill orders.
Clive Davis, then the general attorney for Columbia Records, claimed in his autobiography that "the problem began with Ed Sullivan," and Dylan
did meet with Columbia's attorneys, who asked him to replace "John Birch," but that meeting took place several weeks before Dylan
's scheduled Sullivan appearance. Meanwhile, Dylan
had told an old friend that "there's too many old-fashioned songs [on the album], stuff I tried to write like Woody [Guthrie]. I'm goin' through changes. Need some more finger-pointin' songs in it, 'cause that's where my head's at right now." Rather than substitute "John Birch" and only "John Birch" with one of the eighteen outtakes left over from the 1962 sessions, Dylan
decided to replace four songs ("John Birch", "Let Me Die in My Footsteps", "Ramblin' Gamblin' Willie", "Rocks and Gravel") with songs he had written in England. With the exception of "John Birch," Dylan
felt he had outgrown these older compositions.Dylan
held another session at Studio A on April 24th, but John Hammond was not there to produce it; by then, his association with Dylan
had ended. According to Clinton Heylin, "the animosity generated between John Hammond and Dylan
's manager Albert Grossman never abated, and Dylan
and Hammond were estranged for some years after Hammond was ousted." As a result, Columbia paired Dylan
with a new producer, a young, African-American named Tom Wilson. At the time, Wilson was more experienced with jazz recording, and he was initially reluctant to work with Dylan
"I was introduced to Dylan
by David Kapralik at a time when I was not properly working for Columbia," recalled Wilson. "I didn't even particularly like folk music. I'd been recording Sun Ra and Coltrane...I thought folk music was for the dumb guys. [Dylan
] played like the dumb guys, but then these words came out. I was flabbergasted."
At the April 24th session, Dylan
cut five of his newest compositions: "Girl from the North Country," "Masters of War", "Talking World War III Blues", "Bob Dylan
's Dream", and "Walls of Red Wing". "Walls of Red Wing" was ultimately rejected (it was later released on The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961-1991), but the other four were included in the revised album sequence.
In an interview taken in 2000, Van Morrison recalled The Freewheelin
' Bob Dylan
: "I think I heard it in a record shop in Smith Street. And I just thought it was incredible that this guy's not singing about 'moon in June' and he's getting away with it. That's what I thought at the time. The subject matter wasn't pop songs, ya know, and I thought this kind of opens the whole thing up...Dylan
put it into the mainstream that this could be done."
"Blowin' in the Wind" is one of Dylan
's most famous compositions, one that made him a household name among the folk set. The song's melody is based on "No More Auction Block (Many Thousands Gone)," a traditional American folk song, dating as far back as 1867. Described by Clinton Heylin as "an anonymous slave's cry for emancipation," Dylan
had performed "No More Auction Block" in concert, and a celebrated performance from the Gaslight Cafe was even issued on The Bootleg Series.
"Blowin' in the Wind" made a strong impression on the civil rights movement of the 1960's, but its impact had little to do with its musical roots, even though its lineage made its influence all the more appropriate. Most listeners were taken by its lyrics, which were Dylan
's own words. African-American artists like Sam Cooke, Stevie Wonder, and The Staple Singers heard the songs as a clear expression of the civil rights movement ("How many roads must a man walk down / Before you call him a man?"), and artists like Cooke and Mavis Staples were surprised to hear that in "Blowin' in the Wind" because the song was written by a white man. Many artists, including Wonder and The Staple Singers, not only recorded their own cover versions of "Blowin' in the Wind" but were also inspired to explore similar ground in their own compositions. A famous example is "A Change Is Gonna Come," written and recorded by Sam Cooke. One of Cooke's final recordings, "A Change Is Gonna Come" became a widely-known civil rights anthem.
"Blowin' in the Wind" quickly became a commercial hit as well as a media sensation, but Dylan
was reluctant to embrace all the attention. Even in the earliest stages of his career, Dylan
resisted categorization, and he was concerned that the song's subject matter might limit his image to that of a 'protest singer.' Even before the song was published, Dylan
performed it at Gerde's Folk City, prefacing it with a disclaimer, saying, "This here ain't a protest song or anything like that, 'cause I don't write protest songs...I'm just writing it as something to be said, for somebody, by somebody." It's unclear whether Dylan
ever considered "Blowin' in the Wind" a major work; he was sometimes reluctant to perform it in concert, and according to John Hammond, he briefly considered dropping it from The Freewheelin
' Bob Dylan
. In 1966, Dylan
claimed, "I was never satisfied with 'Blowin' in the Wind.' I wrote that in ten minutes."
NPR's Tim Riley describes "Girl from the North Country" as "an absence-makes-the-heart-grow-confused song, but it's suffused with a rueful itch, as though Dylan
is singing about someone he may never see again." Years later, Dylan
would return to this song on Nashville Skyline, recording it in a duet with country music legend Johnny Cash.
A scathing, anti-war protest song, "Masters of War" is based on Jean Ritchie's arrangement of "Nottamun Town," an English riddle song. Written in late 1962 while Dylan
was in England, a number of eyewitnesses (including Martin Carthy and Anthea Joseph) recall Dylan
including the song in his club sets at the time. Ritchie would later assert her claim on the song's arrangement in a case that was ultimately settled out of court.Dylan
was only 21-years-old when he wrote one of his most complex and evocative compositions, "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall," often referred to as "Hard Rain." According to Dylan
's friend, John Cohen, "in September 1962 Bob
had shown me the words to 'Hard Rain.' The text to 'Hard Rain' was a big change from rock & roll music or blues or country songs, which I kind of connected him with. I said, 'Bob
, if you are going to do that kind of thing you should look at Rimbaud and Verlaine.'" Dylan
would eventually put the words to a verse pattern and melody taken from the Child ballad "Lord Randall."Dylan
reportedly premiered "Hard Rain" at the Gaslight Cafe, where Village performer Peter Blankfield was in attendance. "He put out these pieces of loose-leaf paper ripped out of a spiral notebook. And he starts singing ['Hard Rain']...He finished singing it, and no one could say anything. The length of it, the episodic sense of it. Every line kept building and bursting." Dylan
performed "Hard Rain" days later at Carnegie Hall as part of a concert organized by Pete Seeger. Seeger was so impressed by "Hard Rain," he covered it himself in his own set.
Many critics interpreted the lyric 'hard rain' as a reference to nuclear fallout, but Dylan
adamantly resisted the political connotations of his apocalyptic imagery. In a radio interview given to Studs Terkel in 1963, Dylan
said, "it's not fallout rain...I [just] mean some sort of end that's just got to happen." In 1965, Dylan
gave an elaborate explanation for the song's motivation, saying, "I wrote it at the time of the Cuban crisis. I was in Bleecker Street in New York. We just hung around at night - people sat around wondering if it was the end, and so did I. Would one o'clock the next day ever come?...It was a song of desperation. What could we do? Could we control men on the verge of wiping us out? The words came fast, very fast. It was a song of terror. Line after line after line, trying to capture the feeling of nothingness."
Heylin described "Hard Rain" as "certainly a summation of whole strands of poetry and song, in a way that 'Blowin' in the Wind' was not. It also suggested that such a talent was never going to be contained by something as self-referential and exclusive as the folk revival."Dylan
once introduced "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" as "a statement that maybe you can say to make yourself feel better...as if you were talking to yourself." Written around the same time Suze Rotolo postponed her stay in Italy, "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" is actually based on a melody taught to Dylan
by folksinger Paul Clayton. Riley described the song as "the last word in a long, embittered argument, a paper-thin consolation sung with spite."
's Dream" was heavily influenced by the traditional "Lady Franklin's Lament." The melody was taken from a modern arrangement, but lyrically "Bob Dylan
's Dream" owes much to the song as well. In "Lady Franklin's Lament," the title character dreams of finding her husband, Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin, alive and well. (Sir Franklin had vanished on an Arctic expedition in 1845; a stone cairn on King William Island detailing his demise was found in another expedition in 1859.) As Riley describes it, "'Bob Dylan
's Dream' rings ominously prophetic of what will become of sixties ideals - with its flush of unrealized idealism...it looks back before its time and draws a lot of tension from the awareness that youth's immediacy can't last."
"Oxford Town" Dylan
's sardonic view of the unfolding events at the University of Mississippi. U.S. Air Force veteran James Meredith was the first black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi, located a mile from Oxford, Mississippi and 75 miles south of Memphis, Tennessee. When Meredith first tried to attend classes at the school, a number of Mississippians pledged to keep the university segregated, including Mississippi's own governor. Ultimately, the University of Mississippi had to be integrated with the help of U.S. federal troops.
"Talkin' World War III Blues" was a spontaneous composition created in the studio during Dylan
's final session for The Freewheelin
' Bob Dylan
. As Riley writes, the song is a comedic story where "Dylan
tells his vision of postapocalypse America to a shrink, and the plot is rife with...serendipity and bureaucratic obsolescence."Dylan
was familiar with Big Joe Turner's rendition of the traditional "Corrina, Corrina," and he recorded a slower, stripped-down version of Turner's arrangement for The Freewheelin
' Bob Dylan
"Honey Just Allow Me One More Chance" is based on "Honey, Won't You Allow Me One More Chance," a song dating back to the 1890's that was popularized by Henry Thomas in his 1928 recording. "However, Thomas's original provided no more than a song title and a notion," writes Heylin, "which Dylan
turned into a personal plea to an absent lover to allow him 'one more chance to get along with you.' It is a vocal tour de force and...showed a Dylan
prepared to make light of his own blues by using the form itself."
"I Shall Be Free" is a rewrite of Leadbelly's "We Shall Be Free," which was performed by Leadbelly, Sonny Terry, Cisco Houston, and Woody Guthrie during their travels together during World War II. As Riley describes it, Dylan
drops the refrain ("We shall be free when the good Lord sets you free...") and rewrites "We Shall Be Free" as "a catalogue of contemporary ills with tabloid flair."http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Freewh ... _Bob_Dylan
Baby Please Don't Gohttp://www.files.eocfu.com/uploads/01-B ... DontGo.mp3
Corrina Corrinahttp://www.files.eocfu.com/uploads/02-C ... orrina.mp3
Watcha Gonna Dohttp://www.files.eocfu.com/uploads/23-W ... onnaDo.mp3
The Death of Emmett Tillhttp://www.files.eocfu.com/uploads/03-T ... ttTill.mp3
Lonesome Whistle Blueshttp://www.files.eocfu.com/uploads/05-L ... eBlues.mp3
Favorite Song: Don't Think Twice, It's Alright
Least Favorite: Don't really have one, but the one I listen to the least, is Honey Just Allow Me One More Chance.
Favorite Line: Ten thousand dollars at the drop of a hat,
I'd give it all gladly if our lives could be like that.
Half of the people can be part right all of the time,
Some of the people can be all right part of the time.
But all the people can't be all right all the time
I think Abraham Lincoln said that.
"I'll let you be in my dreams if I can be in yours,"
I said that.
Overall Album Rating: 10/10
Certainly in his top 3.