Bob Dylan – The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (1963)
For some reason this album reminds me of winter, so I usually end up listening to it once or twice this time of year. It must be the combination of the fact that Bob Dylan is shown walking through the snow on the cover and a lot of the imagery contained in the lyrics, as well as the fact that I can remember buying the album a couple of weeks before Christmas a few years ago. Anyways, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan was the first Dylan album I ever heard and it’s still one of my favorites of his, as well as probably the best album of his early folk period.
Coming after his self-titled debut, which contained only two original songs written by Dylan alongside a bunch of covers, Freewheelin’ showed him starting to blossom as songwriter. All 13 songs on the album are original Dylan numbers, and even in this early stage he shows unbelievable skill as a songwriter. The album contains a combination of many of the political-charged anthems that made Dylan an icon in the folk world, as well as songs like “Bob Dylan’s Dream” or “I Shall Be Free”, that show off Dylan’s innate ability to create these bizarre but nonetheless entertaining little stories within the songs.
Of course the most famous song on the album is “Blowin’ in the Wind”, a song that’s been covered countless times, but is still just as powerful in it’s original recording. There’s definitely an effective clarity to these songs, which for the most part only contain Dylan’s voice, his guitar, and occasional harmonica playing. There is however, the song “Corrina, Corrina” which features a few studio musicians, and “Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right”, which features the gentle guitar playing of Bruce Langhorne, who Dylan would later write “Mr. Tambourine Man” about.
The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan wasn’t a huge success as far as the pop charts where concerned, but it certainly established him as one of the leading figures of the early 60’s folk scene. It also showed the incredible potential Dylan would display as a songwriter and as an artist with subsequent albums, as well as the style of songs that would establish him as “the voice of a generation”.
Favorite Tracks: “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”, “Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right”, “Girl From the North Country”