Bob Dylan - John Wesley Harding (1967)

Bob Dylan is an American singer-songwriter who emerged out of the early 60s folk revival to become an informal chronicler and reluctant figurehead of social unrest. He famously made the move from folk music to electric rock in the mid-60s, and has remained a major figure in music for five decades.

Dylan's mid-60s period of rock & roll, controversy and excess came to an abrupt halt in the summer of 1966. Whilst back in New York recovering from his European tour, he was involved in a motorcycle accident, and then mysteriously he vanished from the public eye. Rumours abounded - some believed he was dead, some claimed he had suffered horrific injuries. The seriousness of the accident has never been clear, but it has come to represent a mythical turning point in his career. From that point onwards he went into a period of seclusion, and did not tour again for another eight years.
Once sufficently recovered, he called the members of The Hawks (who had backed him on his recent electric tour) to join him and start playing some music together. Both Dylan and The Hawks were now neighbours in Woodstock. At his home and in the basement of The Hawks' house 'Big Pink', they recorded a large number of songs which represented a new start in Dylan's songwriting. Originally intended as demos, these recordings were soon circulating as bootlegs, and eventually saw release in 1975 as The Basement Tapes. Many other artists were given demos, and the Woodstock material was soon being recorded by various acts including The Byrds, Ian & Sylvia, Manfred Mann, Fairport Convention and Julie Driscoll. Following these sessions The Hawks started work on their debut album Music From Big Pink, and renamed themselves The Band.
Meanwhile Dylan went down to Nashville to record his next album. The Woodstock music had seriously changed his direction, and when John Wesley Harding came out in 1967 it introduced a new Dylan. He had abandoned the electric rock music of his past three albums and turned to a sparser, more rustic sound. Playing acoustic guitar or piano and accompanied just by bassist Charlie McCoy and drummer Kenneth Buttrey, this new back-to-basics sound has since been referred to as one of the starting points of the country-rock movement. Soon all sorts of artists and bands would be eschewing the psychedelic excesses of the time and turning to more rural, rootsy sounds. The songs themselves were shorter and more concise than the sprawling epics he had been writing before, with lyrics drawing on the American west and the Bible, though their meanings for the most part remained cryptic. On two of the songs the trio were also joined by pedal steel guitarist Pete Drake, foreshadowing the road Dylan was soon be taking further into country music territory. It also included a song called "All Along The Watchtower", which would soon be transformed into something entirely new by guitarist Jimi Hendrix.
The album was a surprise success, considering that it was release with little to no promotion - it got to #2 in the US and #1 in the UK. Today it is seen as a landmark album both in Dylan's discography and the music of the late 60s.

Blonde On Blonde (1966) <|> Nashville Skyline (1969)
More from Bob Dylan



Anonymous said...

great to hear this after so many years but unfortunately the title song "John Wesley Harding" is just a little bit damaged - file is to short and music stops suddenly in the last seconds - pls. fix it

Thanks a lot.

mondal said...

Bob Dyian's video, picture and songs always excited all people. I also like it.
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