Revisiting the Bob Dylan 1963 modern Folk masterpiece “The Freewheelin’”

A defining record in music history

Revisiting the Bob Dylan 1963 modern Folk masterpiece “The Freewheelin’”

Bob Dylan’s second album, “The Freewheelin’”, released on May 27, 1963, it’s one of his strongest and best, it represents the beginning of Dylan’s writing contemporary words to traditional melodies and secured him an unstoppable cult following. But more than that, it also defined him as “Spokesman of a Generation”, a label he rejected. It’s easy to love this album, the illusion of its simplicity makes it a defining record in music history, in fact, the complexity of the song hide behind that illusion of simplicity, when you listen to “Masters Of War”, an expose of what former President Eisenhower called the Industrial-Military Complex; an evocative response to the then-recent Cuban Missile, you cannot help wondering how can a 22-year-old write a song such as this. The lyrical content of it as well as the melody, defined modern Folk for years to come. Bob Dylan’s anthem of the Civil Rights Movement “Blowin’ In The Wind”, serves as an opening track for this Dylan journey. It’s perhaps the album’s most popular song to this day, however, it doesn’t totally defines it, as there are significant lyrically and musically differences when comparing it to other songs of the album. Yes, it’s possible to create a full, rich and influential album only with well-crafted lyrics, an acoustic guitar, and harmonica (the only track out of 13 that features a full band is “Corrina, Corrina”). And a lot of talent. “Bob Dylan’s Blues”, “Girl from the North Country” and the also famous “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” are other defining songs that are present on “The Freewheelin’”. There are two covers featured on the whole record as Dylan wrote 11 of the 13 songs. “Corrina, Corrina”, originally recorded by the Mississippi Sheiks, and by their leader, Bo Carter in 1928 and “Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance”, a song dating back to the 1890’s that was popularized by Henry Thomas in his 1928 recording. Bob Dylan introduces this way original American Folk and Blues songs to a whole new generation. He also re-wrote Lead Belly’s “We Shall Be Free” to “I Shall Be Free”, the final track in the album. The album cover also helped it to gain a cult status, featuring a photograph of Dylan with then-girlfriend Suze Rotolo. It was taken in February 1963 by Don Hunstein at the corner of Jones Street and West 4th Street in the West Village, New York City, close to the apartment where the couple lived at the time. It has since become one of the most iconic images of all time. It’s hard to not overestimate the importance of “The Freewheelin'”, a seminal album that influenced a whole generation of musicians and bands, and, that remains contemporary and timeless.

All tracks were written by Bob Dylan, except where noted

Side 1
1 “Blowin’ in the Wind”
2 “Girl from the North Country”
3 “Masters of War”
4 “Down the Highway”
5 “Bob Dylan’s Blues”
6 “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall”

Side 2
7 “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right”
8 “Bob Dylan’s Dream”
9 “Oxford Town”
10 “Talkin’ World War III Blues”
11 “Corrina, Corrina” (traditional)
12 “Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance” (Dylan, Henry Thomas)
13 “I Shall Be Free”

Personnel
Bob Dylan: acoustic guitar, harmonica, vocals

Additional musicians:
Howie Collins: guitar on “Corrina, Corrina”
Leonard Gaskin: double bass on “Corrina, Corrina”
Bruce Langhorne: guitar on “Corrina, Corrina”
Herb Lovelle: drums on “Corrina, Corrina”
Dick Wellstood: piano on “Corrina, Corrina”

Produced by:John Hammond, Tom Wilson
Recorded during:April 24–25, July 9, October 26, November 1 and 15, December 6, 1962, and April 24, 1963 at the Columbia Studio A, 799 Seventh Avenue, New York City
Released:May 27, 1963
Label: Columbia

Singles:
“Blowin’ in the Wind” / “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” Released: July 1963

Strongest tracks:
“Blowin’ in the Wind”, “Girl from the North Country”, “Masters of War”, “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall”, “Corrina, Corrina”, “Bob Dylan’s Dream”, “I Shall Be Free”

Watch Bob Dylan performing two of “The Freewheelin’” most emblematic songs, “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” in 1963

Listen to the album “The Freewheelin’” on Spotify

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