Mp3 Blog #21: “…free from the chains of the skyway?”

Bob Dylan:
If Tomorrow Wasn’t Such a Long Time
From the Witmark Tapes

No More Auction Block
Available on the Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3

From the Witmark Tapes

I Was Young When I Left Home
Available on the soundtrack to No Direction Home

All Over You
From the Witmark Tapes

Available on the Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3

Mama, You’ve Been on My Mind
Available on the Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3

Ballad in Plain D
Available on Another Side of Bob Dylan

* * * * *

Since I’ve already apologized for posting popular music, I feel no reason to do it now. Likewise, since I’ve had to apologize for my strong fondness for Bob Dylan from the time I was a sophomore in High School, I feel no reason to do it here. In these lines I find it interesting that over the years I’ve had to argue for my fondness of Bob Dylan less and less and, more interesting, how I’ve practically always won and made many “Dylan-converts.”

In my (I’m not going to say giddy) anticipation of the new Bob Dylan album Modern Times that comes out next Tuesday, I’ve decided to post a few Dylan mp3 comps. A few years ago I tried a similar task and, because I tried to fit in all my Dylan favorites and “essentials,” I failed miserably. This time I’m keeping it much simpler and concentrating primarily on including some of my personal favorite songs that are not well known.

This first collection of songs concentrates on the early years before Bob Dylan first went electric. All but one of the songs I’ve selected are not on the three classic acoustic albums. I chose two songs, No More Auction Block and Moonshiner, to illustrate the strength of early Dylan as a traditional folk-singer performing traditional songs. I chose If Tomorrow Wasn’t Such a Long Time, I Was Young When I Left Home, and Mama, You’ve Been on Mind to show the quality of songs that Bob Dylan left off his first few albums. I chose Farewell and All Over You, well let’s just say, “for kicks.”

The last song Ballad in Plain D comes off of what has become my favorite acoustic Dylan album, Another Side of Bob Dylan. It is an illusively complex song about fragile and proud characters and reflections on a failed romance. The song ends with what I consider to be one of the most cryptic lines Bob Dylan ever wrote. I spent nearly ten years trying to unravel it until one night – after spending a day struggling to understand some compositional materials – it became a clear description of the relationship between our limitations and freedoms.

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