Bob Dylan - Bringing It All Back Home

by James Gerard Rating:10 Release Date:1965-03-22

Five albums into his career, Bringing It All Back Home is the moment where the one-time-beatnik-troubadour and current living legend Bob Dylan arguably began to hit his artistic stride.  Dylan famously elicited the ire of many longtime fans by audaciously ‘plugging’ in and recording the first half of this release with a full-on band while distancing himself lyrically from the protest-laced prose that had been a staple of his earlier releases.  And while many of his contemporaries were left scratching their heads as they tried to make sense of this new, high-minded approach, it is clear looking back that Bringing It All Back Home was simply the natural evolution of an artist no longer interested in acquiescing to the expectations of those around him.

As is the case with many of Dylan’s peers, greatest hits collections have done a disservice to the man’s back catalog, a point that is cemented by simply listening to Bringing It All Back Home all the way through.  While the record is loaded with essential classics like the anthemic “Mr. Tambourine Man”, the tongue-tying “Subterranean Homesick Blues” (his first charting single) and the visceral declaration of “Maggie's Farm”, the album truly shines when taken in as a whole, showing that some of Dylan’s finest moments won't be found on any his numerous ‘best-of’ comps.

Tracks like “Outlaw Blues” and “On The Road Again” reveal a defiant Dylan questioning his place in the politically-charged folk movement that he had been such an instrumental part of and serve as some of Dylan’s most driving work.  And while the first half of Bringing It All Back Home revels in Dylan’s desire to ‘rock’, the album closes with the singer at his most contemplative, with the lyrically epic “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding) and the tangibly sincere “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” providing a fitting sense of closure to the proceedings.

Considering that Bringing It All Back Home was recorded over fifty years ago (in early 1965), the fact that it boasts such a timeless sound and aesthetic is a testament to the strength of Dylan as both a performer and an artist.  In fact, there are few names that carry more stand-alone credibility across wider cultural waters than that of Bob Dylan, and while the man spent his entire career defining and redefining the context of what it meant to be a singer/songwriter, nowhere were his results more initially tangible than on Bringing It All Back Home.  

While there are any number of Bob Dylan records that could easily qualify as a ‘classic’ album, Bringing It All Back Home (or Subterranean Homesick Blues as it would be known across Europe) is perhaps Dylan’s finest hour; the record is the very definition of a ‘must listen’; the sound of an artist coming into his own.

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  • Texacaliago

    I've always thought this is in many ways the perfect Dylan album (although it's not quite my favorite), being that it gives you the best of both worlds (electric/acoustic)...Side 2 never fails to blow my mind...those songs are all incredibly intense, majestic, and profound for me personally.