I feel like i’ve posted this before but maybe it didn’t work? I almost don’t want to publish it because I occasionally remember that it’s in my inbox and I read it and I love it.
I started with Blonde on Blonde when my dad bought the cassette tape (!) for me in fourth grade. We would listen to it together on the ride to school and I was weary, and then in high school I became aware that I loved it. Dylan said once, somewhere, that it was when his own music sounded the most satisfying to him — that he’d perfected his ‘sound’ on that record. He’s probably changed his mind by now, but to me, it is perfect. So much harmonica. There’s not a song I don’t like on that album, so I’d start there.
After that I got into his unplugged stuff and bought Another Side of Bob Dylan and listened to “To Ramona” on repeat, and also “All I Really Want to Do” — those are easy songs to like, in my opinion, but it’s full of good ones: “It Ain’t Me, Babe” and “Spanish Harlem Incident” and “My Back Pages” are so killer.
Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan was next for me, and then Highway 61 Revisited. “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry” is the only thing I want to listen to when it’s hot outside.
After a while you’ll start to want to hear different eras depending on your mood. Or I did, at least, and that’s how I really started exploring. I heard Planet Waves, which Dylan recorded with The Band, and loved the way he was shouting words (it’s a very candid, honest record — songs about his kids, etc) and the rich tone of the whole thing, and then I went on to listen to The Rolling Thunder Revue, because he was touring with them when it was recorded. Also Joan Baez and a million other amazing musicians. He was pretty coked up the entire tour which explains why he’s practically screaming the words, but it’s one of my favorite of Dylan’s many, many voices.
And if you’re going through a break-up, Blood on the Tracks. If you want more of The Band with Dylan, The Last Waltz. Feeling a bit political,The Times They Are a-Changin’. And Bringing It All Back Home has some of my favorite love songs on it, and some of my favorite hate/sad love songs on it, as well. New Morning is worth it if only for “If Not For You” and “The Man in Me” and “Sign in the Window.” Not his best album, but it’s really humble. Just about him being a dad, that kind of thing. I like it.
Most people hate the later stuff, but I still listen to it when I’m at my dad’s because he has all of the physical CDs and I don’t. Modern Times is great; so is Time Out of Mind.
I could go on — favorite songs, favorite lyrics — but that isn’t what you asked. Anyway, I hope you get into Bob Dylan. My advice any time you want to listen to any unfamiliar music is to have an open mind and don’t feel bad if you aren’t moved by certain artists or songs to the same degree as other people. Enjoy.