This week (March 22) marks the 50th anniversary of one of the most important recordings of all time, Bob Dylan’s Bringing It All Back Home. The album was Dylan’s first entry into top 10 status in the states, and contained his first single to chart in the US, “Subterranean Homesick Blues”. Bringing It All Back Home marked Dylan’s firm step away from the protest folk scene that he had become associated with. He began to take a more creative approach to his songwriting.
Dylan spent the summer of 1964 in Woodstock, NY, up all hours, hitting the typewriter. In the month of August, he had finished edits on “Mr Tambourine Man” and “the Gates of Eden”, and written at least 2 more songs, “If You Gotta Go, Go Now” and “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)”. Later that month, he met with the Beatles for the first time in their New York hotel and reportedly introduced them to marijuana, a meeting that paved the way for their series of more introspective sounds on future records.
After a disappointing recording session at Columbia’s Studio A in New York, Jan 13, 1965, Dylan met up with a full electric band the next day in Studio B and in 3 and a half hours recording time, they had produced master cuts for “Love Minus Zero/No Limit”, “Subterranean Homesick Blues”, “Outlaw Blues”, “She Belongs to Me”, and “Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream”. The next day, the same group met again in Studio A and finished recording again in 3 and a half hours, working up master takes of “Maggie’s Farm”, “On the Road Again”, “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)”, “Gates of Eden”, “Tambourine Man”, and “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue”.
Some of Dylan’s greatest songs are included on this album. “Subterranean Homesick Blues” was Dylan’s first charting single in the US, and is thought of by some as a precursor to rap (or at least a precursor to Michael Stipe and Billy Joel). “Maggie’s Farm” marks Dylan’s freedom from the protest Folk movement. As such, the rambling “Outlaw Blues” further marks Dylan’s escape from the protest folk movement, and his desire for a more bohemian “outlaw” lifestyle. “Tambourine Man” is somewhat a foray into psychedelia, impressive considering it’s entirely acoustic. It was the big breakthrough hit for the Byrds. One of the greatest songs in the Dylan canon, “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)” is an ambitious composition that contains some of Dylan’s greatest lyrics.
All in all, Bringing It All Back Home is considered one of the most important records in Dylan’s catalog, especially considering it marked his first real success and his step away from the protest folk scene. The album ranked 31st on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Another Dylan album from 1965 comes in higher, but we’ll talk about that later. Anyways, have some Dylan.
Watch: Bob Dylan “Subterranean Homesick Blues”
Listen: Bob Dylan “Mr. Tambourine Man”
Watch: Bob Dylan “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)”
Listen: Bob Dylan “Maggie’s Farm”
This week in Indie is a weekly series focused on record releases that had a great effect on the indie rock landscape.