Bob Dylan CD

“The Best of Bob Dylan” CD

For some time now, and I have no idea how long that is, I have had a special CD in the car: The Best of Bob Dylan. It was not inside any protective paper enclosure and has lived in a side pocket below the left armrest for years, then somehow rejoined the present. That has been a wonderful development, since I had the opportunity to notice it once again and listen to it while driving around town doing various errands.

The CD includes sixteen works, apparently recorded from 1962 all the way through 2008. Dylan is nothing if not prolific and has moved over the years from strictly acoustic guitar and harmonica to accompany his nasal voice to rock style instruments and full orchestral accompaniment. In my opinion, the best works on the “Best of” reissue CD have full professional backups with a number of instruments, yet at its heart, it’s pure Dylan.

The first few songs, from the early sixties, are pure original coffee shop Dylan; just him and his acoustic guitar and harmonica. These, including Blowin’ in the Wind and The Times They Are A-Changin’ are classic early works, and this “period” of Dylan, if I may use this term, conclude with the classic Mr. Tambourine Man, from 1965.

The following song, Like a Rolling Stone is different, with a full professional arrangement, and it’s a five-star diamond. The next five-star (for me at least) work is Lay, Lady, Lay. This is almost indescribably tender and moving. “Lady” is followed by Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, a somber, almost funereal gloom-fest, but beautiful on its own. I’d give that a four star rating. However it is followed by the nearly impossibly beautiful and meaningful “Tangled Up in Blue.” To me, this is a five-star song and the way it is arranged represents Dylan at his absolute best. “Blue” has to be one of the greatest songs ever recorded, at least to me.

“Forever Young” is a good one but did not connect with me the way the most moving did; four stars. The next “killer” song for me, another five-star was “Gotta Serve Somebody.” The final song that really reached me was “Not Dark Yet,” a somber, slow one with full professional accompaniment; four to five stars.

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J.K. (Jim) George


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5 Responses

  1. Jim, thanks for a very nice refresher of some of Dylan's classics from the past. Don't overlook his more recent work "Rough and Rowdy Ways" - a collection of original songs which was released last year to critical acclaim. I was actually impressed with this latest 'album'.. Talk about some staying power - Bob turns 80 in May and is still turning out good music.
  2. 25 years ago we buried a fellow officer (Gene Hermanson) from the 5th Pct in downtown Manhattan. The song (knockin' on Heaven's door) was played at the wake. Since then, whenever I occasionally here that song it brings me back to the memory of Gene. Although somewhat morbid it tells his story which I can relate to. 5 stars in my book!
  3. JK James George
    From Anon-1: From the first time I heard him on the street in NYC, in front of a coffee shop fronting Central Park, near the Plaza Hotel, have loved his stuff. Gen X and Y not big fans, but they will be.
  4. JK James George
    From Anon-2: I could just leave "Blood On the Tracks" in the CD player forever and happy be :-)
  5. JK James George
    From Anon-3: I enjoyed your comments on Bob Dylan. If you like him, I think you would like his son, Jakob Dylan: o He fronts a band called the Wallflowers … check out their song “One Headlight” … very Dylanesque o Also, Jakob Dylan was the star of a movie entitled “Echo in the Canyon” that came out one or two years ago … it follows the birth of the great music scene in Laurel Canyon in Los Angeles … there is a soundtrack album entitled “Echo in the Canyon” o In this album Jakob collaborates with some great musicians and you will recognize many of the songs (covers from the 60’s and 70’s)

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