Blonde On Blonde
Columbia Records, 1966
REVIEW BY: Adam Mico
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/20/2003
On March 14, 1966, John Lennon told a London newspaper that the Beatles were "bigger than Jesus." After his joint persecution at hands of the press and conservative groups, public awareness was heightened of popular music's content, specifically lyrics. So where does Bob Dylan fit in?
"Well, they'll stone ya when you're trying to be so good, They'll stone ya just a-like they said they would. They'll stone ya when you're tryin' to go home. Then they'll stone ya when you're there all alone. But I would not feel so all alone, Everybody must get stoned..."
In April 1966, Dylan intentionally dropped "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" on the unsuspecting public's lap when he released this classic as the introductory single to Blonde On Blonde. The track's environment was jolly; it opened with muffled and bleeding horns, a marching-style drum track and sounds of a cackling mob responding to Dylan's giggled lyrics. Shockingly, relatively no public backlash occurred. "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" loaded and launched the perfect offensive. In fact, this single was so commercially accepted that it reached #2 on Billboard's Singles Chart.
Other songs including the breezy harmonica-laden "I Want You" and the evil "Just Like A Woman" were also released on AM radio to modest success. However, the power of Blonde On Blonde isn't that it carries a collection of singles, but that it perfectly sequences moods and tracks to promote inspired and repeated listens.
If you happen to be a fan of simple-minded, cliched lyrics with a blatant radio-friendly production, then you will dislike and/or fail to understand this album. As the songs roll on, eclecticism reigns. Teetering between rock, blues, folk, witty comedy and the provocatively wistful, each song carries you a purposeful journey.
Placed firmly as a fixture in the collections of many critics, Blonde On Blonde consistently reaches the upper regions of all-time album charts. Recently, it was prominently positioned at #9 on VH1's All-Time 100 Greatest Albums of Rock-N-Roll (2001). Don't be afraid; place this in your stereo system. Sure it's been around longer than most readers have likely existed, but trust me...it's hip. Blonde On Blonde's timelessness, seamless sequence, tone and surreal aural candy remain as fresh-frozen today as it did 37 years ago.