Listen Up: Wednesday, October 26, 2005
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A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Bob Dylan

No Direction Home: The Soundtrack — The Bootleg Series, Vol. 7 (Sony BMG)

By Tom Geddie

Bob Dylan remains a folk music icon because of the poetic quality of his early work; he’s both adored and abhorred, depending on who’s talking about him. He came along at the right time to walk down the road paved by his idol Woody Guthrie and other populist masters of social protest songs. Dylan has managed to not only survive but persevere — so well, in fact, that he can put his name to a piece of boring self-promotion like Masked and Anonymous and get away with it.

The soundtrack to No Direction Home, the four-hour PBS documentary directed by Martin Scorsese, features 28 songs that Dylan recorded from 1959 through 1966 when he was the new golden child of folk music. The two-c.d. set includes live versions, alternate studio takes, and demos of some of his most memorable songs, plus a 1959 home recording of the derivative blues-folk “When I Got Troubles,” billed as “most likely” the first original song he ever wrote.

Highlights among the classic protest and love songs, filled with lyrical freedom and playfulness, include the civil rights anthem “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Man of Constant Sorrow,” “Masters of War,” “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues,” and “Desolation Row.”

The boxed c.d. set is often a little raw, but that’s the nature of folk music. The set also includes a 60-page jewel case-sized book filled with photos and text.

The road Dylan hauled in the early and mid-1960s — when American innocence was sort of turning to cynicism — was still more metaphor than the cliché it’s become today. A lot of young’uns could use the reminder.


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