I listened to Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde in December,
expecting it to suit the weather,
but had a complete change of mind and heart
once I placed the two together.
When I listened to Blonde on Blonde for the winter album series, and it didn’t mesh with the season, I thought I’d give it another go in Spring, to see how it felt then. I told myself sure it’ll work out, there’s a natural link between the two, second time lucky, so on and so forth (and if not, there’s always Autumn to try again). But as is befitting the continuing enigma that is Bob Dylan and his music, Blonde on Blonde has refused to fit into this second seasonal categorisation as expected.
Looking at the albums I wrote about in the winter series, they all possess a sense of gravitas and a transcendental yearning. Dylan’s music is rooted somewhere between the story–telling of folk and the blues tradition of day–to–day woes, rather than in the existential wondering and dread of heavy metal, with humour and heartbreak featuring heavily. Recurring lyrical themes are unrequited, tangled and obsessive love, a cyclical present trapped by the past, figurative blindness and the world conspiring against the (often resigned and apathetic) narrator, with lots of inverted clichés and idiosyncratic imagery. The instrumentation consists mainly of acoustic guitar and harmonica, with sporadic appearances from electric guitars, trumpets and trombones. Except for the atypical language (whichever bluesman or woman first sung ‘Woke up this morning’ really should have trademarked it), this description makes it sound pretty much like the blues…but the folk influence means this isn’t just a straight–up blues album. It has a busked quality and unusual song structures, the stories within each song about the narrator finding his way in a confusing world, such as in 11 minute outro Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands.
As mentioned, whilst not an album of winterly gravitas, neither does it possess the the good–time–rock–out vibe of summer, preferring inertia, jilted love, denied truths and broken promises. Next time you wake to a rainy spring day, or cold and bright sunlight filtering through thinning canopies, give Blonde on Blonde a spin.