Long Johnny wrote:
Sounds pretty dated to me now. That's the weakest of the pre-electric LPs.
some things never date . That Lp is one of them
Yeah... the cover is still hilarious, I'll give you that. Bob, sucking in his cheeks in an attempt to look like a Dorothea Lang photo of a dust bowl victim; every wrinkle in his "work clothes" perfectly arranged.... In Peter Guralnick's Elvis biography he writes about how Elvis, when he first decided he wanted to be a movie star, made his own study of what was involved and discovered that great actors never smile. The cover of "Times" looks like Bob made the same discovery.
Dylan's friend, Tony Glover, recalls visiting Dylan's apartment in September 1963, where he saw a number of song manuscripts and poems lying on a table. "The Times They Are a-Changin'" had yet to be recorded, but Glover saw its early manuscript. After reading the words "come senators, congressmen, please heed the call", Glover reportedly asked Dylan: "What is this shit, man?", to which Dylan responded, "Well, you know, it seems to be what the people like to hear."
Dylan recalled writing the song as a deliberate attempt to create an anthem of change for the moment. In 1985, he told Cameron Crowe: ""This was definitely a song with a purpose. It was influenced of course by the Irish and Scottish ballads ...'Come All Ye Bold Highway Men', 'Come All Ye Tender Hearted Maidens'. I wanted to write a big song, with short concise verses that piled up on each other in a hypnotic way. The civil rights movement and the folk music movement were pretty close for a while and allied together at that time."
More recently, the song seems to have been linked to banking
for some reason: In 1994, Dylan licensed the "The Times They Are a-Changin'" to be used in an advertisement for the auditing and accountancy firm Coopers & Lybrand, as performed by Richie Havens. Two years later, in 1996, a version of the song by Pete Seeger was used in a TV advertisement for the Bank of Montreal. [Wiki]
Listening to it in 2009, half the record is excellent, and half is very dated, more so than any of Dylan's other work from the period.
"Only a Pawn In Their Game" may be the best "protest" song ever written as it is the only one I can think of that doesn't simply sing to an audience of the already converted. "Hattie Carrol" is its opposite, a shrill and embarrassingly bad song. "One Too Many Mornings" and "Boots of Spanish Leather" are both beautiful and timeless songs. "When the Ship Comes In" is as brilliant in its simplicity as "Restless Farewell" is brilliant in its complexity.
But the rest.... ugh.
"With God On Our Side" is OK if you listen to it as a parody of early 60s folk self righteous smugness. "Hollis Brown" is Bob trying to out Woody Woody and falling on his face in the effort. And "North Country Blues".... I don't know for sure as I've never managed to stay awake for the whole plodding dirge.