Bob Dylan – The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (1964)

The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan is the second studio album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released on May 27, 1963 by Columbia Records. Whereas his self-titled debut album Bob Dylan had contained only two original songs, Freewheelin’ represented the beginning of Dylan’s writing contemporary words to traditional melodies. Eleven of the thirteen songs on the album are Dylan’s original compositions. The album opens with “Blowin’ in the Wind”, which became an anthem of the 1960s, and an international hit for folk trio Peter, Paul & Mary soon after the release of Freewheelin’. The album featured several other songs which came to be regarded as among Dylan’s best compositions and classics of the 1960s folk scene: “Girl from the North Country”, “Masters of War”, “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” and “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right”.

Dylan’s lyrics embraced news stories drawn from headlines about the Civil Rights Movement and he articulated anxieties about the fear of nuclear warfare. Balancing this political material were love songs, sometimes bitter and accusatory, and material that features surreal humor. Freewheelin’ showcased Dylan’s songwriting talent for the first time, propelling him to national and international fame. The success of the album and Dylan’s subsequent recognition led to his being named as “Spokesman of a Generation”, a label Dylan repudiated.

Track Listing:

Side one[26]
No. Title Recorded Length
1. “Blowin’ in the Wind” July 9, 1962 2:48
2. “Girl from the North Country” April 24, 1963 3:22
3. “Masters of War” April 24, 1963 4:34
4. “Down the Highway” July 9, 1962 3:27
5. “Bob Dylan’s Blues” July 9, 1962 2:23
6. “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” December 6, 1962 6:55
Total length: 23:29

Side two
No. Title Recorded Length
1. “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” November 14, 1962 3:40
2. “Bob Dylan’s Dream” April 24, 1963 5:03
3. “Oxford Town” December 6, 1962 1:50
4. “Talkin’ World War III Blues” April 24, 1963 6:28
5. “Corrina, Corrina” (traditional) October 26, 1962 2:44
6. “Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance” (Dylan, Henry Thomas) July 9, 1962 2:01
7. “I Shall Be Free” December 6, 1962 4:49
Total length: 26:35

Review: It’s hard to overestimate the importance of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, the record that firmly established Dylan as an unparalleled songwriter, one of considerable skill, imagination, and vision. At the time, folk had been quite popular on college campuses and bohemian circles, making headway onto the pop charts in diluted form, and while there certainly were a number of gifted songwriters, nobody had transcended the scene as Dylan did with this record. There are a couple (very good) covers, with “Corrina Corrina” and “Honey Just Allow Me One More Chance,” but they pale with the originals here. At the time, the social protests received the most attention, and deservedly so, since “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Masters of War,” and “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” weren’t just specific in their targets; they were gracefully executed and even melodic. Although they’ve proven resilient throughout the years, if that’s all Freewheelin’ had to offer, it wouldn’t have had its seismic impact, but this also revealed a songwriter who could turn out whimsy (“Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right”), gorgeous love songs (“Girl From the North Country”), and cheerfully absurdist humor (“Bob Dylan’s Blues,” “Bob Dylan’s Dream”) with equal skill. This is rich, imaginative music, capturing the sound and spirit of America as much as that of Louis Armstrong, Hank Williams, or Elvis Presley. Dylan, in many ways, recorded music that equaled this, but he never topped it. — Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Schill Score: 5.75/10

Listen to Album on Spotify

Comments are closed.