Bob Dylan "The Times They Are A-Changin'"

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MK
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Bob Dylan "The Times They Are A-Changin'"

Postby MK » Sat May 20, 2006 2:39 pm

I got the remastered CD, and so far, it seems like a good purchase. It sounds like a mono mix, but it's possible it has a really narrow stereo spread.

I played the tracks side-by-side with some outtakes from the same sessions (you can find them on The Bootleg Series Vol. 1-3 and Biograph) - the remastered Times CD isn't as sharp, but IMO, those other sets have a slight treble boost, maybe 2 dB at 10k? (Compared the DCC "Like A Rolling Stone" to the one on Biograph.)

Anyway, this is another Dylan album that could've been a double LP but most of the extra material was shelved for 20-30 years. A real shame because the BEST stuff was left off the LP. The original still has its fans and a good deal of critical acclaim, but I have to agree with Dave Marsh's Rolling Stone Album Guide assessment. He's not the best critic of Dylan's work, but I agree that this is Dylan's most dated album, at least from the 1960's.

Musically, the album is monochromatic and often dirgelike - the best tunes/melodies can be found on outtakes like "Percy's Song" and "Seven Curses." Lyrically, it's REALLY a mixed bag.

I don't get the appeal of "With God On Our Side," which is long and tuneless. But anyone get the words? So is/was Dylan upset that we "forgave" a post-Nazi Germany? Was that a big deal in the 60's? I mean, I'm not Jewish, but does anyone hold a grudge against present day Germany for the Holocaust? That's just one verse, the song ties it into some kind of political cynicism inspired by the Cold War. Needless to say, it sounds pretty dated, but I'm not sure if this ever made REAL sense 30 or even 40 years ago.

"Only A Pawn In Their Game" was inspired by the injustice surrounding Medgar Evans's murder. It's a compelling story (it was made into a movie - I don't even remember it, but apparently James Woods got an Oscar nomination playing Evans's killer). But this ain't a compelling song. Another "finger pointing" song (it's more cynical and bitter than sad or mournful), it doesn't have the brilliant lyrics or the imagery of Dylan's better protest songs.

"North Country Blues" is supposedly autobiographical - at least a few critics have called it that. Well, it's set around Dylan's hometown, but was Dylan's father a blue collar worker? It's sung from the POV of a mother who's husband loses his job (after the mines close and the jobs go to South America) and leaves her to raise the children by herself. I think Springsteen did this a lot better in "My Hometown" (similar theme). Musically, this isn't compelling, it's just a slow dirge, and lyrically, this isn't his strongest work.

Dylan did a nice version of "Restless Farewell" at Frank Sinatra's birthday celebration, but the original version was never one of my favorites.

So what did Dylan leave off? "Seven Curses," "Moonshiner" (aka "Moonshine Blues" - a version can be found on the Gaslight tapes), "Only A Hobo" (later covered by Rod Stewart for one his great Mercury albums), "Eternal Circle," "Percy's Song," and "Lay Down Your Weary Tune," all of which can be found on The Bootleg Series Vol. 1-3 or Biograph. There's a few more outtakes, but these are easily the best ones, IMO.

If I had to compile an alternate LP, I might sequence it like this:

Side A:
1. The Times They Are A-Changin'
2. Ballad of Hollis Brown
3. Seven Curses
4. Moonshiner
5. Only A Hobo
6. Eternal Circle

Side B:
7. Percy's Song
8. Boots Of Spanish Leather
9. One Too Many Mornings
10. When The Ship Comes In
11. The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
12. Lay Down Your Weary Tune

A little long at 50+ minutes, but his next album would be 50:44, and when it's just Dylan, a harmonica, and an acoustic guitar mixed to mono, you can get away with that. (Hell, they got away with it on Desire, a stereo, full band album which is even longer.)
"When people speak to you about a preventive war, you tell them to go and fight it. After my experience, I have come to hate war." – Dwight D. Eisenhower

"Neither slave nor tyrant." - Basque motto

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tkl7
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Postby tkl7 » Tue Jun 06, 2006 1:36 pm

I think the point Dylan is making in With God on our Side, is that God probably isn't on our side at all, and that God is just invoked by those who would lead us off to war, in order to justify themselves, and make us not question the true motives. The reference to the Germans just shows that whoever's on "our" side also has god on their side. IMHO it is one of the better songs on the album.

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MK
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Postby MK » Tue Jun 06, 2006 3:12 pm

The reference to the Germans just shows that whoever's on "our" side also has god on their side


That's a broad point in the song, but I'm talking about specifics here. Every verse deals with the B.S. idea of designating who has God on "their" side, but the way he fleshes out this example to make his case seems bizarre. Listen to the Carnegie Hall promo, I think the concert predates the album release by a few months. When he does "With God On Our Side," the audience erupts into applause during that particular verse. Why would this verse elicit a strong response? Seriously, was this an issue with some people in 1963?

Here it is, for those unfamiliar with it:

When the Second World War
Came to an end
We forgave the Germans
And we were friends
Though they murdered six million
In the ovens they fried
The Germans now too
Have God on their side.
"When people speak to you about a preventive war, you tell them to go and fight it. After my experience, I have come to hate war." – Dwight D. Eisenhower



"Neither slave nor tyrant." - Basque motto

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Rspaight
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Postby Rspaight » Tue Jun 06, 2006 4:27 pm

I always thought the point Dylan was making in that verse was that today's "evil evil insane enemy who cannot be reasoned with" is tomorrow's "staunch ally." It's certainly not comparable in degree, but it's the same situation as how Libya is now supposedly our trusty ally in the War On Terror when a few years ago we were bombing them and they were blowing up 747s.

It's the hypocrisy involved in the sort of "good and evil" thinking indulged in by those prone to making statements about whose side God is on.

Ryan
RQOTW: "I'll make sure that our future is defined not by the letters ACLU, but by the letters USA." -- Mitt Romney

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MK
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Postby MK » Tue Jun 06, 2006 5:21 pm

Yeah, that works pretty well...esp. since it works the other way too - the Russians were our allies, but a few years later, our mortal enemies. I guess that puts it in better context.
"When people speak to you about a preventive war, you tell them to go and fight it. After my experience, I have come to hate war." – Dwight D. Eisenhower



"Neither slave nor tyrant." - Basque motto

czeskleba
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Re: Bob Dylan "The Times They Are A-Changin'"

Postby czeskleba » Tue Jun 06, 2006 8:57 pm

MK wrote:
"Only A Pawn In Their Game" [snip] But this ain't a compelling song. Another "finger pointing" song (it's more cynical and bitter than sad or mournful), it doesn't have the brilliant lyrics or the imagery of Dylan's better protest songs.


Hmm, I find it to be pretty sophisticated as far as assassination protest songs of the era go. I like the fact that it tries to make a deeper analysis of the root causes of entrenched racism and looks at the sociopolitical system that maintains it. Most assassination folk songs of the era simply demonized the killer, eulogized the victim, or expressed the old "how long must this killing go on before we learn" sentiment.

MK wrote:"North Country Blues" is supposedly autobiographical - at least a few critics have called it that. Well, it's set around Dylan's hometown, but was Dylan's father a blue collar worker?


No, he operated a furniture and appliance store with his brothers. Dylan's background was middle class. I can't imagine why anyone would claim that is autobiographical... aside from the Iron Range setting, the characters in the song have no similarity to Dylan's life.

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Jeff T.
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Postby Jeff T. » Tue Aug 22, 2006 8:51 pm

Another brilliant Dylan album. It works fine, is loaded up with great songs, and shows a mature artist in the prime of his first peak era. The pre-electric period.

I reach for the MFSL LP for a great stereo version, but would gladly reach for the Mono Sundazed if I owned it. I should own it huh!

One Too Many Mornings is so beautiful, could you not find it timeless? Just love that song.

Re: but does anyone hold a grudge against present day Germany for the Holocaust? YES MANY DO! All is not forgiven there. Still insurance companies are paying out millions every year over that fuck up. So someone still holds a grudge or all money and artworks looted would be kissed off and forgotten right?