Congrats go out to Mr. Bob Dylan, who released his self-titled debut LP 50 years ago today, a fact more mind-blowing than the lyrics to "Visions of Johanna."
Dylan's first record, on Columbia Records, where he still resides, was mostly traditional folk and blues covers. But they were well chosen and delivered with what many have noted is a punk-like ferocity, which was completely against the white-bread grain of folk and popular music of the era.
Several of these songs have enjoyed long lives after being brought to the public's attention by Dylan's debut, which was a flop at the time but has understandably gained in stature as Dylan's genius matured.
One of these tunes is "Man of Constant Sorrow," a tune which has been covered almost as many times as well, a Dylan tune. Most recently, it was featured heavily in the Coen Brothers film O Brother, Where Art Thou? Here's Bob doing a truly wonderful version back in 1963 or so.
Another one was "House of the Rising Sun," a public-domain song whose arrangement Dylan stole from fellow folkie and mentor Dave Van Ronk right before Van Ronk was about to record his own debut record. A few years later, The Animals did what many would say is the definitive version of the tune.
Nothing would ever be the same — for Bob, for The Beatles, who immediately grasped that Bob was pointing the way, or for any of us.
Bob has never really let up, releasing somewhere around 45 albums of new material, plus about 10 LPs of previously unreleased outtakes and another 10 LPs or so of live shows, and maybe another 10 best-ofs. And there's still plenty left in them there vaults.
Cheers Bob - here's to another half century.
Get Bob Dylan's original mono recordings on iTunes:
The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan