I have a little project for everyone. Over the next week or so listen to these albums by Bob Dylan and The Beatles. These are arguable the greatest pop artists of all time. The songwriting alone is so great, so genius that you may not recover from the experience unscathed. As you listen take notice and pay attention to all the details. The songwriting, the performances. Notice how strong the melodies are and how abundant. Catchy hooks in the vocal, the guitar and even the bass and drums. Lines that stick in your head and heart. Listen to the lyrics. How intelligent. The elegant turn of phrase, the maturity of the rhymes. Listen to the production, the choice of instruments, the use of overdubs and reverb. If your new to Dylan and don't like his voice or his harmonica, keep this in mind. 1. He doesn't care if you don't like it and you can hear that in his voice. He sings with conviction and is unapologetic. 2. when he hits notes on his harmonica that go threw you and seem to split your head apart... he meant to do that.
Listen to these albums in chronological order and listen to them grouped by artist. Listen to the evolution of pop culture. These 6 albums changed everything that came after them. Like them or not, they touched everything in pop culture. Art, music, film, TV and books all were measurably different. Whether these were the catalysts of these changes is certainly debatable and probably impossible to tease out. Nonetheless, the exercise is delightful.
These are 6 albums released over just 2 years by 2 artists.
Bringing it All Back Home - Dylan March 1965
Help! - Beatles August 1965
Highway 61 Revisited - Dylan August 1965
Rubber Soul - Beatles December 1965
Blonde on Blonde - Dylan May 1966
Revolver - Beatles August 1966
Think about the shear volume of astonishing material in the that time by just 2 artists. 76 songs and not one clunker. Not even one that's close to a clunker. In fact I challenge you to take the worst song here (if you can even figure out which one that would be) and put it up against any song released in the last 2 years.
After you've completely digested all of that, go turn on top 40 radio and try not to be sick. What we consider good and great is mostly trash. In comparison it's just about abysmal.
An interesting side note, Dylan was so creatively charged during this period that they released the outtakes from these three albums and they take up 6 CDs. That album received very high praise from critics. Think about 6 CDs worth of stuff he threw away that if released by anyone else would have made them a legend for sure. He tossed these cuts away and released these 3 albums instead.
Also, make sure to listen to the British releases of the Beatles albums. They are more representative of what the y were doing at the time. The American releases were after thoughts and often didn't include singles that were previously released like Yesterday from Help! (1965) which didn't show up on an American LP until Yesterday and Today in 1966.
Please post your comments and observations. Lets have a real discussion about this.