Well, how can you not like an album that kicks off with “Subterranean Homesick Blues”?
I first heard that aged 16, way before I was into Dylan, before I barely knew the man beyond “Blowin’ in the Wind”. But it stuck about. It’s anarchic, nonsensical and still kind of weighty at the same time. And it’s a great intro to what is a totally welcoming album.
The tracks in this one are all great. There’s the ones you know, “She Belongs to Me”, “It’s all over now, Baby Blue” and the seminal “Mr Tambourine Man”. Then there’s the surprises, like the charming “Love Minus Zero” and “Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream”, and if the laughing concentration break at the beginning of that one doesn’t get you, then lines like “He asked me for collateral and I pulled down my pants” will make you bathe in its silliness.
“Maggie’s Farm” is one of the greatest protest songs ever written (and surprisingly well covered by Rage against The Machine), “She belongs to me” is beautiful, “Gates of Eden” is magnificent, and the whole thing just shines.
In the cold light of retrospect, this doesn’t jump out as Dylan’s greatest – the fact it was about to be massively overshadowed by his next album didn’t help – but it’s a damn good listen, the sound of a young songwriter who’d found his confidence and even his swagger.