On this day in 1965, the first day of recording sessions for Bob Dylan’s Bringing It All Back Home album were held at Studio A, Columbia Recording Studios in New York City. Dylan recorded what became two classic tracks – “Subterranean Homesick Blues”, and “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.”
“Subterranean Homesick Blues” became Dylan’s first US Top 40 hit, peaking at #39 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also entered the Top 10 on the singles chart in the UK. But the track is probably best known for its innovative film clip, (which first appeared in D. A. Pennebaker’s documentary, Don’t Look Back).
Dylan came up with the idea of holding up cue cards, with selected words and phrases from the lyrics, and the clip was shot in an alley behind the Savoy Hotel in London. The cue cards, which were written by Donovan, Allen Ginsberg, Bob Neuwirth and Dylan himself, have intentional misspellings and puns throughout the clip: for instance, when the song’s lyrics say “eleven dollar bills” the poster says “20 dollar bills”.
The clip is one of the first “modern” promotional films, a forerunner of what later became known as the music video. Dylan was way ahead of his time – and has been a major and profoundly influential figure in popular music and culture now for five decades.
Bob became a huge influence on The Beatles, especially Lennon, and later Bob and George Harrison became very close friends. Other acts acknowledged to have felt Dylan’s influence include Pete Townshend, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie, Bryan Ferry, Nick Cave, Patti Smith, Syd Barrett, Cat Stevens, Joni Mitchell and Tom Waits. More than 3,000 artists have covered Dylan songs, and his influence can still be heard today in modern music – just listen to Mumford & Sons.
Dylan’s influence wasn’t just for budding pop stars. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak initially bonded over their mutual obsession with Bob Dylan, the former an obsessive collector of Dylan concert bootlegs from the early electric period of 1965 and 1966.
Just think, no Bob Dylan – no Apple!
Jobs’ biographer has stated that Dylan’s words “struck chords of creative thinking” in Jobs, who finally met Dylan when the singer was playing near Palo Alto in October of 2004. “We sat on the patio outside his room and talked for two hours,” said Jobs. “I was really nervous, because he was one of my heroes, and I was also afraid that he wouldn’t be really smart any more, but I was delighted. He was everything I’d hoped.” Dylan’s own thoughts on Jobs have not been recorded.
They met up the next time that Dylan came through town, and Jobs told him that his favorite song was “One Too Many Mornings”, only for Dylan to play it that night. “He’s one of my all-time heroes,” said Jobs. “My love for him has grown over the years, it’s ripened. I can’t figure out how he did it when he was so young.”
Dylan has played over 3,000 concerts, covering all corners of the globe, and has released over 40 albums. In celebration of that, a new iPhone / iPad App was released a few weeks ago. The core of the App is the Dylan daily diary, documenting his gigs, recording sessions, single and album releases, awards and much more. As befits a man who’s released so many classic albums, his set lists are ever-changing, constantly being adapted to suit his current view, so a trawl through his itinerary over the years provides a fascinating journey. The App also bundles of trivia and a fiendishly difficult quiz for dedicated Dylanologists, plus a comprehensive overview of every track released on his essential 12 albums.
Finally, if you are in any doubt as to Dylan’s continuing relevance, bear in mind that the song of the moment is Adele’s version of ‘Make You Feel My Love’, a great song, but not written by her, as many assume. Yes, it’s another one of Bob’s – from his ‘Time Out Of Mind’ album. Rediscover Bob now…
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