13 January, 2011

You Can Run But You Can't Hide IV

You might remember a tale of some minor work-related travails of mine from a while ago, related here, here and here.

It seems the object of my disaffection is acting on the unofficial advice given to her - she returned from Family Leave for about six months and now she's back on it again. During her return we neither spoke to, looked at, nor acknowledged each other in any way. We also went to some lengths to avoid being in the same vicinity.

That's a perfect resolution no amount of mediation could have produced.

08 January, 2011

Classic Albums Augmented II: Highway 61 Revisited

Bob Dylan:
Highway 61 Revisited - Positively 4th Street
This post is part of a series where I piss-fart about, quite gratuitously, with the track-listing of some great albums.Although this is the album that is often perceived as Dylan's breakthrough electric opus, he'd already gone electric on the previous LP Bringing It All Back Home, his fifth, where side one opens with Subterranean Homesick Blues. But then, there are so many misconceptions about ol' Bob it's no wonder he seems to hate his fans at times and doesn't mind showing it.

It starts with the hard snap of a snare drum - the instantly recognizable opening of Like A Rolling Stone. Al Kooper was just there to observe the sessions but ended up playing the distinctive organ riff that makes the song so special. The lyric is a denunciation of a woman Dylan knew, and both Joan Baez and Marianne Faithfull have been suggested as the song's subject.

Dylan would continue the sneering with the similarly-themed Ballad of a Thin Man to close Side One of the original LP release but before then gives his characteristic black humour a run with Tombstone Blues, reminiscent of Subterranean Homesick Blues and much of his subsequent album Blonde On Blonde.

It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry is the album's only ballad but Queen Jane Approximately is a song of caustic yearning, the humour returns in laugh-out-loud proportions with Highway 61 Revisited and then there's the edgy but still poignant Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues.

I won't argue with Rolling Stone, who ranked this LP at 4 on their list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. It's a pretty sensational collection, after all.

So could it be improved? I think so, yes. And including the single Positively 4th Street would do just that. This song is almost a fraternal twin to Like A Rolling Stone: there's organ here too and the same kinds of lyrical and musical tones and themes which would enable it to fit very nicely on this album.

If you'd bought Highway 61 Revisited on its first release and thought highly of Like A Rolling Stone, then Positively 4th Street would have seemed like an almost perfect follow-up single. The two songs seem to go together in the same way that the Kinks' You Really Got Me and All Day and All of the Night do.

Positively 4th Street is generally held to be disparaging the Greenwich Village folk crowd who accused Dylan of selling out when he went electric and eschewed the folkiness of his earlier output. The main subject has been postulated as Bob's ex-girlfriend Suze Rotolo, the beautiful young woman on the cover of The Freewheeling Bob Dylan, but like much Dylanology, this remains unverified.

There you have it: a great album just got even greater. Thanks to me.

So Which Tracks Would Miss Out?None, just shorten Desolation Row a little - there's no need for a song to run for 11 minutes for chrissakes.