Album: Bringing It All Back Home.
A rollicking shout of word-filled joy, and definitive proof that Bob Dylan was younger than that now, “Subterranean Homesick Blues” has spent the past five decades being a pure shot of adrenaline. Even now, that opening can’t help but make me sit up and grin:
Johnny’s in the basement
Mixing up the medicine
I’m on the pavement
Thinking about the government
Dylan had previously done hallucinatory dream-logic songs, and he had previously released a rock and roll song, but this was where he wed the dream-logic to the rock and roll. As part of that wedding ceremony, he added a dose of speed, a dose of weed and – of course – a dose of Chuck Berry, whose “Too Much Monkey Business” provided the launching point from which Dylan headed towards the ionosphere.
You don’t need a weatherman
To know which way the wind blows
This is the beginning of the Bob Dylan that I love most: the one who killed it for a couple of years in the mid-1960s before nearly killing himself. I realize that declaring yourself a fan of mid-60s Dylan is a cliche – it’s not exactly being contrary or even cool to profess oneself in love with that particular period – but for nearly 35 years I’ve thought this was pretty close to the greatest music I’ve ever heard in my life, so not to focus on it would be a lie.
Don’t follow leaders
Watch the parkin’ meters
Oh and one more rant: as everybody knows, this song appears as a music video at the beginning of Don’t Look Back, a film about Dylan performing his “old” music, but – OF COURSE – it’s not available on YouTube. What is available is an “official” video that is just a picture of the album cover of Bringing It All Back Home. Which makes no fucking sense whatsoever.
UPDATE: Tim Gaskill has pointed out that I was wrong – the video exists on YouTube, but it’s listed as the “Don’t Look Back Official Trailer.” So here it is!!
“Subterranean Homesick Blues” in the trailer for “Don’t Look Back”
My Certain Songs Spotify Playlist: