Almanac Music – Bob Dylan:  ‘Rough and Rowdy Ways’

‘…..a man of contradictions, a man of many moods’.

 

 

As I ramble the walking tracks and pathways by Lake Colac, the Botanic Gardens, and surrounds, I have found it a great joy to listen to music as I walk during this time of Covid-19 and enforced restrictions. 

 

 

Normally I’m not one for headphones or earplugs but to ease the monotony these walks can incur I decided to give them ago. Initially I commenced with a $10 pair of wireless earplugs but I got what I paid for; very crappy quality sound so it was inevitable I’d move onto the buds that came with my new phone. A what a pleasant surprise welcomed me. The quality was fantastic!

 

One of the things I quickly noticed from listening to my music through good quality plugs was the clarity and the explicitness of the sound. The sounds from the various individual instruments were easily and more readily identifiable and noticeable than I had been aware of in the past. And the words, I heard them all; no confusion at all.

 

My preferred playlist has been a Bob Dylan one. With nearly nearly one thousand songs that Bob has recorded in his long career it sometimes is very easy to overlook  his lesser known compositions. So the playlist I decided upon incorporated many of these lesser known songs – at least to me they were, though probably not to the ‘real out of this world’ aficionados, I tend to play my absolute favourites and that can tally a few hundred tunes! – for my listening pleasure while walking.

 

Bob has been an essential part of my life since I was first introduced to his recordings by a very with it teacher in 1966 and  ever since then I have been absolutely hooked. Though I was aware of Bob’s songs before then, mainly through Peter, Paul & Mary, and of course the music of The Byrds, I’d never actually heard any of his recordings until then. Little was known to me about the persona of Bob so I was intrigued and wanted to find out more. That snapping drum beat intro to ‘Like a Rolling Stone’  then Bob’s growling voice entering the fray did it for me. From that album playing on the portable turntable our teacher had brought into the room that day was the first time I’d actually heard Bob sing and it invariably added to the mystique of the man for me and I wanted more.

 

Naturally I got more, a whole lot more, and I’ve been a loyal fan for over 50 years.

 

 

So like many fans I was astounded and totally surprised to discover in my email a free link to a new Bob Dylan song, ‘Murder Most Foul’. I was blown away. The coverage of this release was sensational, nobody knew it was coming but when it hit it hit like a tsunami. It got bigger and bigger, and kept on rolling and rolling along. The response to the song’s release was momentous to say the least. 

 

And, typical of Bob, the song defied all the normal conventions of recorded music  but that’s Bob. It also gave him his first number one hit.

 

Along with a couple of other songs pre-released from the album I’ve enjoyed listening to them on constant rotation on my phone as I walk.  And how good are those songs, ….and the musicianship on the songs is outstanding, … and Bob’s singing is the most articulate it has been for many a long time, sensational, I just don’t have the words to describe them.

 

19 June was the release date of the new album. Unfortunately Colac does not have a music store nor does anyone else sell music here, so I could not buy the album! That will have to wait until a forth coming visit to Geelong or Melbourne.

 

Thankfully I can listen to the album on Apple Music and was transfixed by it as I walk. I could not get over how good it is. Every track is a standout, especially ‘Key West (Philosopher Pirate)’, and ‘Mother of Muses’ both fast becoming favourites.

 

Bob has received amazing reviews for the new album and it may well become his biggest selling album ever the way it is marching out of the doors wherever music is sold.

 

I cannot do the album justice with a review of my own, so many reviewers have done an outstanding job in that respect. Check out some of them via the links below.

 

The Shadow Knows What He Knows

 

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2020/jun/13/bob-dylan-rough-and-rowdy-ways-review

 

https://www.smh.com.au/culture/music/bob-dylan-s-new-album-will-stand-the-test-of-time-20200618-p553yy.html

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/12/arts/music/bob-dylan-rough-and-rowdy-ways.html

 

https://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/bob-dylan-rough-and-rowdy-ways/

 

Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.

 

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About Colin Ritchie

Retired teacher who enjoys following the Bombers, listening to music especially Bob Dylan, reading, and swimming.

Comments

  1. Good stuff, Col. Am looking very much to hearing this album. I’m still, and will continue to be, mesmerised by Murder Most Foul. And many more songs, past and present. Too many to start a list. Cheers.

  2. Rick Kane says

    Hi CR

    You could do a lot worse than have His Bobness riding shotgun with you for 50 years.

    Matty Q and I spent Saturday night playing the hell out of it. So many twists and turns, so many jaw dropping phrases turned inside out, so much to digest. This is Bob at 79! Like you on the first 6 listens it sounds incredible. With MMF for me easily the standout.

    By the way, check this site out for reviews: https://www.metacritic.com/music/rough-and-rowdy-ways/bob-dylan

    Cheers

  3. John Butler says

    Col, like Trucker says, lyrically there’s a lot going on with the songs on this album.

    It’s encouraging to know the old boy’s still got it in him. :)

  4. Luke Reynolds says

    Col, love that the excitement of a new release from your favourite artist doesn’t diminish after 50 years.
    Good quality headphones/ear buds are worth worth every cent.
    Great pic of Lake Colac!

  5. Those photos are terrific. I am serially underlunched so when the borders are open we get hold of harms et al and find a luncheon place that can deliver the new album. Good idea that.

  6. Looking forward to hearing this.

    As the picture on the sticky of Almanac Music suggests, I have been a Dylan listener and fan since about Grade 10 (1977) after seeing a doco about the protest movement on TV. Coincided with learning of the sensibility of The Deep South, the Kent State tragedy, MLK, Vietnam and so on, It was history which took me there.

    The Dylan autobiography is a must-read too.

  7. Peter Crossing says

    Is this the masterpiece Bob always said he would paint? The streets are certainly filled with rubble but there are no signs that “everything’s gonna be smooth like a rhapsody”.
    Thanks for your story Col, as important as any ethereal review.
    Look forward to the immersing myself in the album.

  8. Dylan is pure genius!

  9. E.regnans says

    Love it, Col.
    I took in “Murder most foul” while walking locally here only last week. (Or was it the week before?)
    The song and the idea for the song and the execution of the idea for the song all blew me sideways.
    Stunning.

    I have a lot of catching up to do.
    Thanks.

  10. DBalassone says

    I share your excitement Colin, having spent the best part of 30 years obsessing over Dylan’s every move.  “Murder Most Foul” is a mesmerising, epic song that I have played again and again over the past few months….and it seems to resonate even more after the recent happenings in America.  ‘The blood stained banner’, that says it all.  I really like the bluesy numbers ‘Crossing the Rubicon’, ‘Goodbye Jimmy Reed’ and ‘False Prophet’ too.  My first impresson was that some of the other songs on the album seem to meander on a bit, and don’t have a strong enough melody to pull it off, but I need to listen a few more times…..that’s the thing about Dylan that doesn’t probably get through to this tweet-attention span era…you have to listen, and then listen again, and again.  I know people who gave up on ‘Murder Most Foul’ after 3 minutes. They’re missing out.

  11. Thanks for this, Col.
    I am a Dylan fan, but my preference for Bob is decidedly early era.
    I have not listened to this as yet, but am keen to do so in the coming days.

  12. Rick Kane says

    JTH, I presume you’re talking about Chronicles. A magnificent read. And not too shabby as an audio book with Sean Penn narrating.

    Agree DB re your point about melodies. Never Dylan’s strongest card. What I don’t get in clear, structured melodies on this album is easily made up for with ideas and imagery and sturdy (potentially appropriated) rhythms. Key West, the Frankenstein song (which I reckon is the next most insightful after MMF) and the love song are damn fine.

    Cheers

  13. Yes, ‘Chronicles’.

  14. Allan Barden says

    Col

    Great piece.
    Basement Discs in Block Place, Melbourne have copies and will post them out free of postage. That’s how I bought my copy – http://www.basementdiscs.com.au. Just need to call them.
    Having listened to it just the once, the jury is still out for me on the CD, but I do need a couple of more listens and immersions first I think, before I can form an opinion. My initial favourites though are ‘Crossing the Rubicon’, ‘Goodbye Jimmy Reed. Also ‘False Prophet’. Lorelle can’t see it but I even conjured up visions of Leonard Cohen at times on some of the tracks. Both poets I guess although Dylan plays better guitar! Maybe I just miss Leonard.

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