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Bob Dylan questions
1 November 2016
4.42pm
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Expert Textpert
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Rishikesh
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My questions in another thread went unanswered. Anyone care to point me in the right direction with Dylan?

I have a few really good Bob Dylan albums*, but once I bought this live album that was so horrible I ended up smashing it with a hammer. Is he just bad live?  If not, at what point did he stop caring? The vocals were horrible and it was like he wasn't even trying.  

Also, when did his voice get completely shot? Is there a cut-off point beyond which I shouldn't buy his albums if I don't like his gravelly voice?

Also, not being super into Dylan, I never realized he actually sang, but then I heard Lay Lady Lay. Are there any other songs like Lay Lady Lay where he carries a tune?

Hopefully all of this doesn't sound like I hate Dylan. I just want to avoid the stuff I don't like.

 

*These are the Dylan albums I own, and they are all pretty good:

Biograph (box set)

Blood on the Tracks

Bob Dylan (self titled)

Desire

Nashville Skyline

"This Beatles talk bores me to death.” —John Lennon 

1 November 2016
7.27pm
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sir walter raleigh
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Time Out Of Mind, Love And Theft, and Modern Times have a similar vibe to Lay, Lay, Lay. Its very 'loungy' where Dylan's grumbly old man voice actually improves the song. It gives it a very gentle sound, full of wisdom.

My favorite track from this era is Spirit On the Water off of Modern Times. A lot of live versions out there sound pretty bad, but the album version has a clear melody and sounds really good and relaxing in my opinion. Moonlight off of Love And Theft I enjoy for similar reasons.

I see some of the most essential Dylan albums missing from your list:

first, The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, The Times They Are A Changin', and Another Side Of Bob Dylan. This is some of the best acoustic songwriting out there. It is lyrically unmatched by any other, and musically on par with James Taylor and Paul Simon (if you like them.)

My three favorites are Bringing It All Back HomeHighway 61 Revisited, and Blonde On Blonde. These are the three most essential Dylan albums in my opinion. Without them I would not be a fan, and I would not have given the rest of his music and chance. In these last six albums, his voice is at full strength, and it is often very impressive and beautiful. It Takes A Lot TO Laugh, It Takes A Train TO Cry off of Highway 61 Revisited for example has a beautiful phrase where he holds a high note for a long time, and I can't help but smile every-time I hear it. It really does sound great!

Anyway, I hope for your sake that you start to enjoy Dylan @Expert Textpert because he really is incredible. Also, I am sure someone like Ron Nasty will come in and give some better, less obvious recommendations, but for now I think this is a good start.

"The pump don't work cause the vandals took the handles!"

-Bob Dylan, Subterranean Homesick Blues

"We could ride and surf together while our love would grow"

-Brian Wilson, Surfer Girl

1 November 2016
8.12pm
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Pablo Ramon
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I completely agree that Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, and Blonde On Blonde are utterly essential.

I would also recommend The Basement Tapes (Dylan holed up in Woodstock with The Band making what were intended to be publishing demos...) and John Wesley Harding (Biblical in scope and substance...)

There are some truly awful Dylan albums, some of them live... but if you get obsessed you will want to own all of it, just like you want to own everything Beatles...

1 November 2016
9.11pm
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Rishikesh
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Thanks, this helps. It's hard to know where to dig in sometimes.

"This Beatles talk bores me to death.” —John Lennon 

1 November 2016
9.41pm
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I've noticed that there are Dylan fans who only like his early albums and they think his recent stuff (late 90s to the present) isn't good, though I don't think they've really listened to them.  I was one of them, until a friend pestered me about it, and I finally broke down and listened to Love and Theft, Under the Red Sky, Time Out of Mind, Modern Times, and Tempest -- and I was blown away by many of the songs on them.  A lot of people don't realize he's been putting out great stuff these past 20 years.

A ginger sling with a pineapple heart,

a coffee dessert, yes you know it's good news...

1 November 2016
10.10pm
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Rishikesh
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His voice is completely shot now. When did that happen? I can't stand to hear it.

...oh and I think I might have one or two more of his 60s albums on vinyl that I forgot about. I took some of my parents' vinyl when my dad died.

"This Beatles talk bores me to death.” —John Lennon 

1 November 2016
11.18pm
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Pablo Ramon
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Expert Textpert said
His voice is completely shot now. When did that happen? 

1966.

It has been slowly dying since his career began.

 

He is capable of some amazing singing at times, though it doesn't happen as much now....

3 November 2016
4.51pm
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limitlessundyinglove
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Pablo Ramon said

Expert Textpert said
His voice is completely shot now. When did that happen? 

1966.

It has been slowly dying since his career began.

 

He is capable of some amazing singing at times, though it doesn't happen as much now....  

Agreed.  Am I the only person who thinks his singing is great on Highway 61, but kinda crappy on Blonde On Blonde?  He just sings the whole album with this odd, wheezy tone, and he ends each line like it's a question.a-hard-days-night-paul-7(at least that's the best way I can describe it.) Oh well, at least he dropped this voice on later albums.

If you ask me, 1965 was the absolute pinnacle of Dylan's career.  Some would say Blonde On Blonde and Blood On The Tracks are among his best too, but I think they're both sorta overrated.  Another Side Of Bob Dylan and John Wesley Harding, on the other hand are awesome and hugely underrated.

Grooving some cookie spaghetti since 1968.

3 November 2016
8.24pm
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sir walter raleigh
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I think his Blonde On Blonde vocals are expressive of the lyrics. Especially in songs like I Want You and Rainy Day Women. It makes for very fun sing alongs. 

The following people thank sir walter raleigh for this post:

limitlessundyinglove

"The pump don't work cause the vandals took the handles!"

-Bob Dylan, Subterranean Homesick Blues

"We could ride and surf together while our love would grow"

-Brian Wilson, Surfer Girl

4 November 2016
8.20am
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Pablo Ramon
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I think it comes and goes...I find his singing on Blonde on Blonde less tuneful than Highway 61 or John Wesley Harding... and actually some of his best singing is on Planet Waves, though not his best songwriting...

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