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”