Bob Dylan’s Self Portrait

I was cruising around Hastings last week and kind of just killing time. I had picked up some discount graphic novels and a photo history of Pearl Jam and as I was about to make it to the check out line I happened to stop and see a huge bin of new cds. They were all marked down to like $3 so I said, “What the heck.” After going through it there was actually a lot of really great albums in there. I suppose that since most of our music consumption and purchasing takes place on Amazon or iTunes, cd sales are probably minimal at best. And so stores that still carry them have to mark a lot of their inventory down just so they don’t end up with too much product. Hey, that’s fine with me. I ended up leaving with the books as well as 3 cds, 2 from Bob Dylan and one from Pete Yorn.

Since I’m in the music industry a lot of people assume that I know a lot about every musician, or that I know a lot about the really big ones. I confess that this is not necessarily true. I’ve heard a lot of music, and I’m a fan of a lot of music. But it hasn’t been until the past several years that I’ve become more interested in the backstories and histories of some of the big icons. Bob Dylan is one of them. I have to credit some of my fellow music connoisseurs who’ve introduced me to more and more Dylan over the past several months. This has led me to have a deeper hunger for his songbook. And I had no idea how deep that songbook is.

These two albums I picked up are among them. I’d honestly never heard of Planet Waves (recorded with Bob Dylan & The Band) nor Self Portrait. But I’m digging them now! Planet Waves has more of a rock and jazz feel to it. The full band avenue gives Dylan more to work with in the magnetism of his writing. It adds some layers and flavors that are really unique.

But Self Portrait has been the big surprise and here’s how: I’m growing in my appreciation and interest in a style of music I was previously not too big on and that’s country. This is more classic-styled country. Slide guitar, pedal steel, and some fiddle here and there that is the throwback sound we’re hearing now from a lot of indie singer/songwriters. Maybe my love for indie music has laid that foundation. A few years ago I didn’t have the stomach for classic country (no pun intended). But that’s really changed and as I was listening to this album that occurred to me.

Without diving too deep into a critique or review of the album (and that’s not what I’m doing this time), I just want to tell you some cool songs that you might want to check out. One is The Boxer. I thought this might be a cover of the Simon & Garfunkel track, since both songs came from the same era. But it’s not. It’s a really interesting story about a boy who leaves his family and has to survive. He tells of growing up on the streets, and his adolescence into early adulthood. Then he encounters The Boxer, and there’s something about the passion and fire in this man that’s very intriguing. It’s a fascinating song and its one that I replayed several times to get the full effect.

Another great track is Woogie Boogie. Like the title implies, it’s an old fashioned jazz/blues jam. It’s all instrumental, and it’s a lot of fun. Dylan covers Blue Moon and his unique stylings adds a different dimension to the classic tune. One track in the classic country style that I really dig is It Hurts Me Too. It’s a great love song and hits all the right notes. So does Take Me As I Am (Or Let Me Go).

All in all, Self Portrait has 24 tracks, and 90% (in my opinion) are fantastic. That’s easily worth the $3 price tag. Actually, I feel like I got the better end of the sale. What do you think?

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Host of the syndicated radio program The Appetizer heard on public radio across Texas and online from our Listen Now link; enjoys conversations, music, food, art, storytelling, and people. Connect with me. Would love to hear from you.

2 thoughts on “Bob Dylan’s Self Portrait

  • May 1, 2012 at 3:54 PM

    I had no idea you had banked so well on your Hastings trip. I am curious about this cd.

    • May 1, 2012 at 7:35 PM

      You’ll just have to check out the show this week (and or listen on the iPod at home). Ha!


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