The Times They Are A-Changin' (studio album) by Bob Dylan
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Bob Dylan bestography
The best album by Bob Dylan is Highway 61 Revisited which is ranked number 26 in the list of all-time albums with a total rank score of 36,329.
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This album is rated in the top 2% of all albums on BestEverAlbums.com. This album has a Bayesian average rating of 80.4/100, a mean average of 79.3/100, and a trimmed mean (excluding outliers) of 80.5/100. The standard deviation for this album is 14.6.
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This is sad Dylan record with excellent songwriting and minimal folk/acoustic instrumentation. I kinda like it, but it's not my favorite by him.
Best tracks: Title Track, North Country Blues, Only A Pawn In Their Game and Boots Of Spanish Leather.
1964 was a turbulent year for the United States of America. Injustice violated the air with a stench that, at its best, resembled cigar smoke caked into waterlogged, whiskey-stained clothing. At its worst, it conjured the fragrance of rotting corpses piled into black plague mass graves. A societal powder keg was ready to burst, sending shrapnel in the form of violence and revolution across the land. Chronicles of this time in history are aplenty, but Bob Dylan's 'The Times They are A-Changin' occupies a place of poignance and societal relevance as our newest decade commences. The greatest art tends to come rocket-strapped with perennial staying power and universal application. Bob Dylan's third LP effort slides comfortably into those categories and classifications. It touches upon righteous, homely, American ethnocentrism, the painful ineffectiveness of the justice system and selective poverty. Despite Dylan rejecting the label of "Protest Songs", journalists flocked to confine his writing to an ideological box that they could present to the curious and quick-to-judge public. Dylan coyly sat on the fence during interviews which felt more like police interrogations, never confirming or denying anything. Still, the lyricism said more than Dylan ever could, surely illuminating the fact that the poet staunchly sympathized with the plight of the racially suppressed and disenfranchised. The inner shade of Dylan's heart was never in doubt with his position usually reserved for artists of color, those with intentions of questioning the status quo when it came to inequality in the United States. To hear a mid-western, white youth comment on the hypocrisy of American military conquest, the hideousness of white nationalism and imbalanced nature of wealth distribution was refreshing to millions and for thousands more fortunate, feather ruffling. 'The Times They are A-Changin' is concurrently a pinpoint, flaming arrow aimed at the controversial topics of the 1960's and a philosophical thought cloud of ideas and wisdom. All this from a scrawny, Minnesota-born New Yorker who could seemingly wear both hats and walk in all kinds of shoes.
The record greets us with the eternal strums of an acoustic guitar as Dylan's voice, strained and imperfect, a survivor of house fire, arrives with its own visage. The seminal opener chugs along at a fixed tempo, adorned with harmonica bursts that enliven the docile guitar tones. The harmonica, a humble and inexpensive instrument that acted as a trusted companion for many, was Dylan's weapon of choice during his early years. He declares, "Come mothers and fathers throughout the land and don't criticize what you can't understand." His prophetic and anthemic rallying cry has endured for nearly 60 years since it first graced ears. The album turns to a significantly grimmer beast with the introduction of second track, 'Ballad of Hollis Brown', a look at a poverty-stricken farmer in rural South Dakota. Dylan takes his tale of desperation and uses it as an allegory for those struggling with destitution. The metaphors are intentionally fatalistic, but many could view them as exaggerated. Here, Dylan's goal is to establish perspective, not provide a factual retelling. It's merely a painting of despair to be learned from. Dylan sings, "Your brain is a-bleedin' and your legs can’t seem to stand; Your eyes fix on the shotgun that you’re holding in your hand." The expanding wage distribution, in Dylan's estimation, provides a slow death with one alternative. One of Dylan's darkest, yet powerful statements. Next, he confronts an extremely prevalent bias during the middle of the 20th century in the United States. 'With God on Our Side' creates an image of an elitist America, one that can do no wrong and is justified, no matter the bloodshed. Dylan sees toxic patriotism acting as a slow, indoctrinating cancer (another contemporary issue). He wails, "The First World War, boys, it came and it went; The reason for fightin' I never did get but I learned to accept it, accept it with pride; For you don’t count the dead when God’s on your side." The arrogance needed to assume God identifies with a specific country's crusade is elephantine, however, it's a belief typified by the Pledge of Allegiance and by swearing upon a bible. Dylan's character comes to the realization that God's love is reserved for people and not places and that a country is just a plot of land and nothing more. Sadly, it's usually the prize for which fighting is done. The Vietnam War enveloped the decade and Dylan's parable is forever an unheeded warning.
The second half of the record begins with 'Only a Pawn in Their Game', another narration confronting hatred and prejudice, this time by way of propaganda and inculcation. The track examines lower-income, white southerners who are brainwashed into hating their black neighbors with an end goal of sustained oppression. Dylan illustrates this with syntax, "A South politician preaches to the poor white man “You got more than the blacks, don’t complain; You’re better than them, you been born with white skin." The simple instrumentation of 'Pawn' and the stressed rhyme repetition make sure that the message doesn't get clouded beneath the music. However, Dylan doesn't refuse the chance to include a romantic ballad on the LP. 'Boots of Spanish Leather' is a letter-exchanged anecdote of longing and gradual realization. The song is tinted by delicately plucked strings and alternating perspectives that create a gloomy overtone that comes to fruition when the narrator surmises the final fate of his crumbling union across a vast ocean. "I’m sure your mind is a-roamin'; I’m sure your thoughts are not with me but with the country to where you’re goin." The record arrives at an uptick in morale with 'When the Ship Comes In', an affirmative, inspirational testification that the future holds brighter days and that those who engage in tyranny and bigotry will eventually be overcome. Finally, LP centerpiece, 'The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll', draws inspiration from the murder of an African-American barmaid by the wealthy William Zantzinger. The track directs scrutiny at the murderer for devaluing the life of a woman he deemed "lesser than" and the justice system for (mostly) turning a blind eye. Dylan delivers the verdict, "And handed out strongly, for penalty and repentance, William Zanzinger with a six-month sentence." The track is a microcosm of the record's major themes and an unsettling reminder that justice remains imbalanced.
Dylan was just 23 years of age when 'Times' was first pressed, but his incredible perception was decades his senior. The clairvoyance of his prose is even parts astonishing and tragic given that little has changed since his pen first hit the paper. The poetry of these 10 tracks easily sit amongst the scribe's most visceral compositions. The album presents Dylan at perhaps his most uncompromising and forthright, functioning as his final, unabashed protest record. Oddly, the LP is often shunned from the 1960's landmark music rolodex with albums such as 'Highway 61 Revisited', 'Bringing It All Back Home' and even 'The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan' achieving a higher sense of reverence. Strangely enough, its content makes it a contender for his most topical, underrated and pertinent enterprise, both in 1964 and 2021. Dylan's uncanny ability to find the pulse of the given zeitgeist has never been in doubt, as he's strung together lyrical encapsulations at will for 60 years. Here, he weaves sorrow and hope into a homogeneous, digestible whole the likes of which none could reproduce. The power of 'Times' does not lie in division, but in a belief that human morality will win out. It's a beautiful sentiment and an eternal principle. In some ways, we're still waiting.
"And we’ll shout from the bow your days are numbered
And like Pharoah’s tribe they’ll be drowdned in the tide
and like Goliath, they’ll be conquered."
-When the Ship Comes In
1. The Times They are A-Changin'
2. The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
3. When the Ship Comes In
Not my favorite Dylan album, but I can hear the influence on other music that I love.
My favorite Dylan album. Great political songs on the one hand and achingly beautiful love songs/breakup songs on the other. Fantastic record.
Great album, get's a bit too 'full of itself' at times, but amazing considering it was only his second album.
Dylan não errava o começo de sua carreira! Belíssimas canções políticas.
Best tracks: The Times They Are-A Changin, Boots of Spanish Leather, When the Ship Comes In
Worst track: Restless Farewell
Not a personal favourite of Dylan's, but still a great record, especially the iconic title track!
#6 on my list of greatest Dylan albums. Very politcally driven album. An acoustic folk classic. Noteable tracks: Times They are a-Changin', The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carol, One Too Many Mornings, Only a Pawn in Their Game, With God on Our Side.
My least favourite of the folk albums, although Hattie Carroll is a great track.
Political songs plus a pair of sensitive cuts, ‘The Times They Are A-Changin' franked Bob Dylan as the new voice of his generation
Incredibly powerful album BEFORE his best suit of albums
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