Liner Notes da "The
Freewheelin' Bob Dylan"
La prima delle canzoni di Dylan in questo album è Blowin' in the wind. Nel
1962 Dylan disse in merito alla canzone: "Io ancora dico che alcuni dei
più grandi criminali sono quelli che voltano la testa quando vedono
qualcosa di sbagliato e sanno che è sbagliato. Ho solo 21 anni e so che ci
sono state troppe guerre. Voi che avete più di 21 anni dovreste saperlo
Ora tutto quello che egli vuole aggiungere è: "Il modo migliore di
rispondere a queste domande della canzone è domandansele. Ma un sacco di
gente deve prima trovare il vento."
Su questo brano e tranne quando non specificato altrimenti, Dylan esegue
tutto da solo accompagnandosi con la chitarra e l'armonica.
Girl from the North Country è stata da Bob Dylan concepita circa tre anni
prima che ne scrivesse la stesura finale nel Dicembre del 1962. "Succede
spesso" - spiega - "Mi porto una canzone in testa per un sacco di tempo e
poi viene fuori".
La canzone e la performance di Dylan riflette il suo particolare tipo di
lirismo. Una fusione tra desiderio ardente, asprezza e semplice
apprezzamento di una bellissima ragazza. Dylan illumina tutti questi
aspetti della sua visione ma allo stesso tempo conserva la sua
indipendenza. Non supplica niente a questa ragazza del nord.
Masters of war spaventa lo stesso Dylan. "Non ho mai scritto nulla di
simile prima" - afferma "Non canto canzoni in cui mi auguro che la gente
muoia ma non ho potuto trattenermi in questa. La canzone è una sorta di
reazione, un sentimento su cosa si PUO' fare?".
La rabbia è una specie di catarsi, un modo di trovare un temporaneo
sollievo dal pesante senso di impotenza.
Down the highway è un distillato del sentimento di Dylan verso il blues:
"Quello che provo per il blues" - dice - "deriva da quello che ho imparato
da Big Joe Williams. Quello che ha reso così grandi i veri cantanti di
blues è stato il fatto che erano capaci di affermare tutti i problemi che
avevano; ma allo stesso tempo essi rimanevano al di fuori di tali problemi
e potevano osservarli. Ed in questo modo li hanno vinti. Quello che è
sconfortante oggi è che molti giovani cantanti cercano di andare dentro al
blues dimenticando che quei vecchi cantanti erano soliti estraniarsi dai
Bob Dylan's Blues è stata composta come un'improvvisazione. "Inizio con
un'idea poi sento quello che viene dopo. Il modo migliore per descrivere
questa canzone è paragonarla a camminare sul lato di una strada."
A hard rain's a-gonna fall rappresenta per Dylan una maturazione dei suoi
sentimenti circa la materia che già era presente nella precedente Let me
die in my footsteps che non è inclusa in questo disco. A differenza di
molti cantautori contemporanei Dylan non si limita a fare un punto
polemico nelle sue composizioni. Come in questa canzone sulla
psicopatologia della pace-attraverso-l'equilibrio-del-terrore, le immagini
di Dylan sono evocative in maniera molteplice ed a volta orribile. Alla
fine trasmutando le sue feroci condanne in ciò che può essere solo
definito arte, Dylan raggiunge emozioni che pochi discorsi politici o
estrapolazioni di statistiche sono capaci di toccare.
"Hard rain" aggiunge Dylan "è un tipo di canzone disperata".
Fu scritta durante la crisi dei missili a Cuba nell'ottobre del 1962
quando quelli che avevano permesso essi stessi di pensare ai possibili
risultati dello scontro Kennedy/Khrushchev tremavano nell'imminenza della
fine. "Ogni verso di questa canzone" dice Dylan "è in realtà l'inizio di
una canzone intera. Ma quando l'ho scritta pensavo che non ci sarebbe
stato sufficente tempo da vivere per scrivere tutte quelle canzoni così le
ho messe tutte in una".
Dylan interpreta Don't think twice it's all right in maniera differente
dagli altri cantanti. "Un sacco di gente" dice "la interpreta come una
sorta di canzone d'amore. Ma non è una canzone d'amore. E' una
dichiarazione che forse tu puoi dire per sentirti meglio. E' come parlare
a se stessi. E' una canzone difficile da cantare. A volte riesco a
cantarla anche se non come farebbero Big Joe Williams, Woody Guthrie,
Leadbelly e Lightnin' Hopkins. Spero di poterci riuscire un giorno ma loro
sono persone più anziane. Talvolta ci riesco ma quando succede, succede in
Suonano con Bob su questo brano: Bruce Langhorne (chitarra), George Barnes
(chitarra), Dick Wellstood (piano), Gene Ramey (basso) ed Herb Lovelle
Bob Dylan's dream è un'altra delle sue canzoni che si è portato dietro per
molto tempo prima di scriverla. Nacque inizialmente da una conversazione
tra Dylan e Oscar Brown, Jr. nel Greenwich Village. La canzone ad ogni
modo rimase nel cassetto fino a quando Dylan andò in Inghilterra
nell'inverno del 1962. Lì egli ascoltò un cantante, Martin Carthy (o
almeno così Dylan ricorda il suo nome) eseguire Lord Franklin e quella
vecchia melodia venne riadattata per Bob Dylan's dream. La canzone è un
affettuoso sguardo indietro all'idealismo ed al cameratismo dei giovani
QUANDO sono giovani.
Di Oxford Town Dylan dice con un sorriso che "è un motivo da banjo che io
ho suonato con la chitarra". Ad ogni modo questo resoconto della dura
prova di James Meredith parla tristemente da solo.
Talking World War III Blues fu quasi mezzo improvvisato durante le sedute
di registrazione dell'album. La forma del talking blues alletta molti
giovani cantanti perchè sembra molto semplice e flessibile. Bob Dylan è
così enormemente e donchisciottescamente se stesso che riesce a riempire
lo spazio che il talking blues offre con una originalità inequivocabile.
Corrina, Corrina è stata considerevolmente modificata da Dylan: "Non sono
di quelli che cambiano le canzoni solo per il gusto di cambiarle. Ma non
ho mai ascoltato Corrina, Corrina esattamente, così questa versione è
quella che mi viene."
Dylan riesce ad essere tenero senza essere sentimentale ed il suo lirismo
è intrecciato a sfrontata passione. Con Dylan suonano Dick Wellstood
(piano), Howie Collins (chitarra), Bruce Langhorne (chitarra), Leonard
Gaskin (basso) ed Herb Lovelle (Batteria).
Honey, just allow me one more chance è stata sentita per la prima volta da
Dylan da un cantante blues texano ora scomparso. Dylan si ricorda solo che
il suo nome era Henry. Qui Dylan distilla l'aspettativa ottimistica della
A differenza dei suoi contemporanei Dylan non si limita ad una o due
maniere di fare musica. Può essere sarcastico e beffardo, arrabbiato ed
entusiasta, riflessivo e rumorosamente allegro. La canzone finale I shall
be free dimostra la vivacità del suo spirito.
traduzione di Michele Murino
Liner Notes from "The
Freewheelin' Bob Dylan"
bt Nat Hentoff
Of all the precipitously emergent singers of folk songs in the continuing
renascence of that self-assertive tradition, none has equaled Bob Dylan
singularity of impact. As Harry Jackson, a cowboy singer and a painter,
has exclaimed: “He’s so goddamned real it’s unbelievable!” The
irrepressible reality of Bob Dylan is a compound of spontaneity, candor,
slicing wit and an uncommonly perceptive eye and ear for the way many of
us constrict our capacity for living while a few of us don’t.
Not yet twenty-two at the time of this albums release, Dylan is growing at
a swift, experience-hungry rate. In these performances, there is already a
marked change from his first album (“Bob Dylan,” Columbia CL 1779/CS
8579), and there will surely be many further dimensions of Dylan to come.
What makes this collection particularly arresting that it consists in
large part of Dylan’s own compositions The resurgence of topical folk
songs has become a pervasive part of the folk movement among city singers,
but few of the young bards so far have demonstrated a knowledge of the
difference between well-intentioned pamphleteering and the creation of a
valid musical experience. Dylan has. As the highly critical editors of
“Little Sandy Review” have noted, “…right now, he is certainly our finest
contemporary folk song writer. Nobody else really even comes close.”
The details of Dylan’s biography were summarized in the notes to his first
Columbia album; but to recapitulate briefly, he was born on May 24, 1941,
in Duluth, Minnesota. His experience with adjusting himself to new sights
and sounds started early. During his first nineteen years, he lived in
Gallup, New Mexico: Cheyenne, South Dakota; Sioux Falls, South Dakota;
Phillipsburg, Kansas; Hibbing, Minnesota (where he was graduated from high
school), and Minneapolis (where he spent a restless six months at the
University of Minnesota).
“Everywhere he went,” Gil Turner wrote in his article on Dylan in “Sing
Out,” “his ears were wide open for the music around him. He listened to
the blues singers, cowboy singers, pop singers and others — soaking up
music and styles with an uncanny memory and facility for assimilation.
Gradually, his own preferences developed and became more , the strongest
areas being Negro blues and county music. Among the musicians and singers
who influenced him were Hank Williams, Muddy Waters, Jelly Roll Morton,
Leadbelly, Mance Lipscomb and Big Joe Williams.” And, above all others,
Woody Guthrie. At ten he was playing guitar, and by the age of fifteen,
Dylan had taught himself piano, harmonica and autoharp.
In February 1961, Dylan came East, primarily to visit Woody Guthrie at the
Greystone Hospital in New Jersey. The visits have continued, and Guthrie
has expressed approval of Dylan’s first album, being particularly fond of
the “Song to Woody” in it. By September of 1961, Dylan’s singing in
Greenwich Village, especially at Gerde’s Folk City, had ignited a nucleus
of singers and a few critics (notably Bob Shelton of the “New York Times”)
into exuberant appreciation of his work. Since then, Dylan has inexorably
increased the scope of his American audiences while also performing
briefly in London and Rome.
The first of Dylan’s songs in this set is “Blowin’ in the Wind.” In 1962,
Dylan said of the song’s background: “I still say that some of the biggest
criminals are those that turn their heads away when they see wrong and
they know it’s wrong. I’m only 21 years old and I know that there’s been
too many wars…You people over 21 should know better.” All that he prefers
to add by way of commentary now is: “The first way to answer these
questions in the song is by asking them. But lots of people have to first
find the wind.” On this track, and except when otherwise noted, Dylan is
heard alone-accompanying himself on guitar and harmonica.
“Girl From the North Country” was first conceived by Bob Dylan about three
years before he finally wrote it down in December 1962. “That often
happens,” he explains. “I carry a song in my head for a long time and then
it comes bursting out.” The song-and Dylan’s performance-reflect his
particular kind of lyricism. The mood is a fusion of yearning, poignancy
and simple appreciation of a beautiful girl. Dylan illuminates all these
corners of his vision, but simultaneously retains his bristling sense of
self. He’s not about to go begging anything from this girl up north.
“Masters of War” startles Dylan himself. “I’ve never really written
anything like that before,” he recalls. “I don’t sing songs which hope
people will die, but I couldn’t help it in this one. The song is a sort of
striking out, a reaction to the last straw, a feeling of what can you do?”
The rage (which is as much anguish as it is anger) is a away of catharsis,
a way of getting temporary relief from the heavy feeling of impotence that
affects many who cannot understand a civilization which juggles it’s own
means for oblivion and calls that performance an act toward peace.
“Down the Highway” is a distillation of Dylan’s feeling about the blues.
“The way I think about the blues,” he says, “comes from what I learned
from Big Joe Williams. The blues is more than something to sit home and
arrange. What made the real blues singers so great is that they were able
to state all the problems they had; but at the same time, they were
standing outside them and could look at them. And in that way, they had
them beat. What’s depressing today is that many young singers are trying
to get inside the blues, forgetting that those older singers used them to
get outside their troubles.”
“Bob Dylan’s Blues” was composed spontaneously. It’s one of what he calls
his “really off-the-cuff songs. I start with an idea, and then I feel what
follows. Best way I can describe this one is that it’s sort of like
walking by a side street. You gaze in and walk on.”
“A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” represents to Dylan a maturation of his
feelings on this subject since the earlier and almost as powerful “Let Me
Die in My Footsteps,” which is not included here but which was released as
a single record by Columbia. Unlike most of his song-writing
contemporaries among city singers, Dylan doesn’t simply make a polemical
point in his compositions. As in this sing about the psychopathology of
peace-through-balance-of-terror, Dylan’s images are multiply (and
sometimes horrifyingly) evocative. As a result, by transmuting his fierce
convictions into what can only be called art, Dylan reaches basic emotions
which few political statements or extrapolations of statistics have so far
been able to touch. Whether a song or a singer can then convert others is
something else again.
“Hard Rain,” adds Dylan, “is a desperate kind of song.” It was written
during the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962 when those who allowed
themselves to think of the impossible results of the Kennedy-Khrushchev
confrontation were chilled by the imminence of oblivion. “Every line in
it,” says Dylan, “is actually the start of a whole song. But when I wrote
it, I thought I wouldn’t have enough time alive to write all those songs
so I put all I could into this one.” Dylan treats “Don’t Think Twice, It’s
All Right” differently from most city singers . “A lot of people,” he
says, “make it sort of a love song-slow and easy-going. But it isn’t a
love song. It’s a statement that maybe you can say to make yourself feel
better. It’s as if you were talking to yourself. It’s a hard song to sing.
I can sing it sometimes, but I ain’t that good yet. I don’t carry myself
yet the way that Big Joe Williams, Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly and Lightnin’
Hopkins have carried themselves. I hope to be able to someday, but they’re
older people. I sometimes am able to do it, but it happens, when it
happens, unconsciously. You see, in time, with those old singers, music
was a tool-a way to live more, a way to make themselves feel better at
certain points. As for me, I can make myself feel better some times, but
at other times, it’s still hard to go to sleep at night.” Dylan’s
accompaniment on this track includes Bruce Langhorne (guitar), George
Barnes (bass guitar), Dick Wellstood (piano), Gene Ramey (bass) and Herb
“Bob Dylan’s Dream” is another of his songs which was transported for a
time in his mind before being written down. It was initially set off after
all-night conversation between Dylan and Oscar Brown, Jr., in Greenwich
Village. “Oscar,” says Dylan, “is a groovy guy and the idea of this came
from what we were talking about.” The song slumbered, however, until Dylan
went to England in the winter of 1962. There he heard a singer (whose name
he recalls as Martin Carthy) perform “Lord Franklin,” and that old melody
found a new adapted home in “Bob Dylan’s Dream.” The song is a fond
looking back at the easy camaraderie and idealism of the young when they
are young. There is also in the “Dream” a wry but sad requiem for the
friendships that have evaporated as different routes, geographical and
otherwise, are taken.
Of “Oxford Town,” Dylan notes with laughter that “it’s a banjo tune I play
on the guitar.” Otherwise, this account of the ordeal of James Meredith
speaks grimly for itself.
“Talking World War III Blues” was about half formulated beforehand and
half improvised at the recording session itself. The “talking blues” form
is tempting to many young singers because it seems so pliable and yet so
simple. However, the simpler a form, the more revealing it is of the
essence of the performer. There’s no place to hide in the talking blues.
Because Bob Dylan is so hugely and quixotically himself, he is able to
fill all the space the talking blues affords with unmistakable
originality. In this piece, for example, he has singularly distilled the
way we all wish away our end, thermonuclear or “natural.” Or at least, the
way we try to.
“Corrina, Corrina” has been considerably changed by Dylan. “I’m not one of
those guys who goes around changing songs just for the sake of changing
them. But I’d never heard Corrina, Corrina exactly the way it first was,
so that this version is the way it came out of me.” As he indicates here,
Dylan can be tender without being sentimental and his lyricism is laced
with unabashed passion. The accompaniment is Dick Wellstood (piano), Howie
Collins (guitar), Bruce Langhorne (guitar), Leonard Gaskin (bass) and Herb
“Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance” was first heard by Dylan from a
recording by a now-dead Texas blues singer. Dylan can only remember that
his first name was Henry. “What especially stayed with me,” says Dylan,
“was the plea in the title.” Here Dylan distills the buoyant expectancy of
the love search.
Unlike some of his contemporaries, Dylan isn’t limited to one or two ways
of feeling his music. He can be poignant and mocking, angry and exultant,
reflective and whoopingly joyful. The final “I Shall Be Free” is another
of Dylan’s off-the-cuff songs in which he demonstrates the vividness,
unpredictability and cutting edge of his wit.
This album, in sum, is the protean Bob Dylan as of the time of the
recording. By the next recording, there will be more new songs and
insights and experiences. Dylan can’t stop searching and looking and
reflecting upon what he sees and hears. “Anything I can sing,” he
observes, “I call a song. Anything I can’t sing, I call a poem. Anything I
can’t sing or anything that’s too long to be a poem, I call a novel. But
my novels don’t have the usual story lines. They’re about my feelings at a
certain place at a certain time.” In addition to his singing and song
writing, Dylan is working on three “novels.” One is about the week before
he came to New York and his initial week in that city. Another is about
South Dakota people he knew. And the third is about New York and a trip
from New York to New Orleans.
Throughout everything he writes and sings, there is the surge of a young
man looking into as many diverse scenes and people as he can find (“Every
once in a while I got to ramble around”) and of a man looking into
himself. “The most important thing I know I learned from Woody Guthrie,”
says Dylan. “I’m my own person. I’ve got basic common rights-whether I’m
here in this country or any other place. I’ll never finish saying
everything I feel, but I’ll be doing my part to make some sense out of the
way we’re living, and not living, now. All I’m doing is saying what’s on
my mind the best way I know how. And whatever else you say about me,
everything I do and sing and write comes out of me.”
It is this continuing explosion of a total individual, a young man growing
free rather than absurd, that makes Bob Dylan so powerful and so personal
and so important a singer. As you can hear in these performances.