Tag Archives: Sara

75 Essential Albums – Day #57 – Bob Dylan

Here goes with day 57 of my countdown of 75 Albums that in my opinion should have a place in everyones music collection.  They are not in any particular order though the top 10 will be my personal take on the top 10 albums ever released.  You might be surprised at some of my picks and some of my omissions.  Feel free to chime in with your comments and let me know if you love (or hate my choices).

Bob Dylan – Desire

Desire was Dylan’s 17th Studio album and one of his most collaborative.  Many of the tracks feature the musicians involved in the ‘Rolling Thunder Review’ and vocals from Emmylou Harris.  In true Dylan fashion he bounced up from the agonised navel gazing of Blood On The Tracks with a more buoyant, less cynical album.   Desire is a much more optimistic album filled with epic tracks that tell a story in themselves rather than across the album as a piece.  His collaboration in the writing of the songs make desire a unique Dylan project.

Desire marks a move away from the 3 -4 minute song and goes beyond Dylans epics, he moves from 7 minute epics to 11 minutes plus.  Album opener ‘Hurricane’ tells the story of ‘Rubin Carter’ a boxer who was allegedly framed for a murder and clocks in at 8.33 in length.  The longest song of the album is “Joey”. A twelve-verse 11.30 minute ballad, it describes the life of deceased gangster Joey Gallo.    Dylan presents Gallo as an outlaw with morals, a picture that may well have been inaccurate and which attracted a great deal of controversy with Dylan being accused of glorifying gangsterism.

Isis is one of Dylan’s most celebrated songs, a symbolic travelogue that plays out against a backdrop of minor chords and droning piano.  Lyrically, Dylan speaks his mind with an uncharacteristic bluntness, he addresses his crumbling marriage (Sara) with a raw emotional hostility.   Dylan is at his most controversial where he tells a tale of racism in Hurricane.  Dylan returns to a theme of inequality that was prominent in ‘The Lonesome death of Hattie Carroll, a decade earlier.

It is the drawing together of a range of genres and cultures that make desire a great album.  This is very obvious in both Mozambique and especially in Romance in Durango which displays a distinctly Latin feel  where Harris and Dylan clash in Spanish verses, while horns and Latin percussion chime behind them.

The album closes with the gorgeous Sara, arguably Dylan’s most personal song ever.  A tribute to his wife It is touching and painful, beautiful but desperate, an opus to one he loves but is losing.  Desire is an engaging and captivating album, it is full of allegory and the interpretation is left to the listener.   Multi-layered, beautifully produced and full of interest it is a Dylan classic.

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