It’s hard for any person to imagine the strain that Dylan must have been under during his peak years of 1965-66. In that short period of time, he managed to change the face of popular music, while simultaneously (and oxymoronically) angering the majority of his fan base.
For a while, it must have felt like he was cutting his way through a jungle of ignorance and disrespect, which, along with his motorcycle accident, certainly must have played a large role in his decision to pull back from the limelight. Subsequently, he spent his off-hours recording casual bits and pieces of music with his ex-tourmates (who would soon come to be known as ‘The Band’) but none of those recordings were officially released, at least not until 1975. Instead, with little fanfare, Dylan returned to Nashville at some point to record an austere set of songs that sounded nothing like his previous albums.
“John Wesley Harding” signified yet another turning point in Dylan’s chameleonic career. While the rest of the world reveled in experimental sounds and rococo arrangements inspired by psychedelics, Dylan went in the exact opposite direction. Gone were his songs with endless verses and driving rhythms. In their place were these relatively compact compositions with extremely modest arrangements. It was a move that once again caused him to stand apart from the crowd, and despite a complete lack of advertising or promotion, the album rose to #2 on the pop charts. Despite their apparent simplicity, this set of songs is at least as open to interpretation as anything he has ever written.
Featured Tracks Include:
John Wesley Harding
As I Went Out One Morning
I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine
All Along the Watchtower
The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest
I Am a Lonesome Hobo
I Pity the Poor Immigrant
The Wicked Messenger
Down Along the Cove
I'll Be Your Baby Tonight
December 1967 - Billboard Charted #2