- Album name: The Times They Are a-Changin’
- Artist name: Bob Dylan
- Year: 1964
- Number of discs: one
- Label: Columbia Records
- Collection: Brenner / Gessner
- Distinguishing characteristics: “GESSNER” written on the LP, indicating that my father owned it
- Buy it on Amazon: $30.04
Level of familiarity before listening
I mostly listen to Dylan’s records from around this era – my favorites are, in chronological order, Bob Dylan, The Freewheelin’, Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde, but haven’t listened to this one as much. It’s the seventh Dylan record that I’m reviewing, and the previous six were:
- The Freewheelin’ (1963): 5/5
- Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits (1967): 5/5
- John Wesley Harding (1967): 4/5
- Nashville Skyline (1969): 4/5
- Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 (1971): 4/5
- Planet Waves (1974): 3/5
What I expected
Mid 1960s folk and folk rock.
What it was actually like
As I may have mentioned once or twice in the past, I don’t really care for “protest music,” or generally for music with ideological, religious or political themes, and when listening to it, I try to focus on the music itself and ignore the message. This was probably Dylan’s preachiest record from his early era, and its songs were the most political and the least personal and musically catchy, and that’s why I haven’t listened to it anywhere near as much as the records from the few years before it and after it.
Also, while I think political themes aren’t inherently bad or wrong, I do think they can easily cross a line into being exploitative, and Dylan probably crossed that line multiple times on this record. For example, it would be one thing to write a song about the murder of Medgar Evers, but it was quite another to start a song off with direct references to “Medgar Evers’ blood.”
A couple of the songs, including the title track, began with lines like, “Come gather ’round people…,” which has always struck me as a bit demeaning, and almost belongs in children’s music. I do think The Times They Are a-Changin’ is a really powerful and rousing song, though. I just wouldn’t consider it one of Dylan’s best.
3/5: interesting, but not for me