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Highway 61 Revisited

Bob Dylan


Dylan goes electric—and brings the entire culture with him.

“I need a dump truck, mama, to unload my head,” Bob Dylan howls toward the middle of his epiphanic 1965 album. Dylan—at that moment, the unofficial youth poet laureate and sneering voice of an emergent counterculture—had a lot on his mind. When he returned after a breakneck British tour in May 1965, he was exhausted, having released five albums in just three years. Was he out of things to say, or the drive to say them?

“It’s this transition…into rock star and exactly the time you do something slightly different—and piss people off.”


On these nine songs, Dylan is over most everything—the world’s barbarity on “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues,” high society’s superficiality on “Ballad of a Thin Man,” the heart’s tangles and briars on “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry.” As war escalated, the country heaved, and Dylan battled his new status, these were the images of an overheated mind acting out the theater of human experience in song. That gave listeners something to hold on to as the language and landscape of rock shifted in real time, which happened on—and because of—Highway 61 Revisited.