Musicheads Essential Album: Bob Dylan, 'Bringing It All Back Home'

Bob Dylan 'Bringing It All Back Home' album cover
Detail of album art: Bob Dylan, 'Bringing It All Back Home.' (Columbia)

The first in the trilogy of albums representing the summit of Bob Dylan's vast achievements, Bringing It All Back Home crackles with energy and plumbs the depths of dark emotions. It's a Musicheads Essential Album.

1965 found Dylan at the height of his notoriety, restless and combative as he knocked down one wall after another. This was the year of the England tour immortalized in the documentary Don't Look Back, the year of Dylan in Wayfarers, the year Dylan infamously "went electric" at the Newport Folk Festival in July.

Some folkies were shocked when Dylan grabbed a Strat, but they shouldn't have been surprised: in March, he'd released Bringing It All Back Home, with an electric band tearing through a side A that opened with the post-Beat, proto-rap "Subterranean Homesick Blues" and included raucous rave-ups like "Maggie's Farm" and "Outlaw Blues."

Bringing It All Back Home married Dylan's slashing wit and endlessly fascinating lyrical flights to a rock beat, decisively demonstrating that rock and roll wasn't just a soundtrack for sock hops. Popular music was never the same again. And that was just side A!

When fans flipped the disc over, they found a quartet of acoustic numbers that demonstrated the vast range of Dylan's songwriting skills: the lilting "Mr. Tambourine Man," the imposing "Gates of Eden," the harrowing "It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)," and the heart-melting yet profoundly ambiguous "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue."

With Bringing It All Back Home, Dylan and producer Tom Wilson invented an entirely new sound, making the LP one of the most influential of all time and a foundational document of folk rock. Many listeners heard "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" as Dylan's farewell to his past self: the end of innocence for not just one artist, but an entire generation.

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