His vocals from a forefront are a jarring cut between audiences, it seems to be split whether he can be enjoyed in the night or become a disfigured mannequin of rock ‘n roll history. Personally, it took a lifetime to warm up to his enigmatic style of writing and while unique, oftentimes tiresome vocal performances. At least on Blonde On Blonde, Dylan begins to make shuffles toward a standard electric rock ‘n roll stage presence rather than the acoustic letterings of his earlier work. Dissecting an hour and 12-minutes by Dylan under normal circumstances may be a challenge, but after repeated listens, Blonde On Blonde becomes addictive and charismatic behind all that dated dust.
Opening with “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35,” Dylan almost seems to stumble into the frame with this faded parade ensemble as he describes, “Well they’ll stone you when you’re trying to be so good. They’ll stone you just like they said they would. They’ll stone you when you’re trying to go home… Everybody must get stoned.” While it comes off as an obvious innuendo toward pot, Dylan is a deeper narrator that reflects more about the crucifixion of his sound moving from folk to rock. Instead of being a drug song as it was coined upon initial release, the snare taps and horn swells are just a swerve to avoid the social commentary.
As Dylan then opts to become a dance-hall commander, his ballad of “One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later)” is a transitional period where Blonde On Blonde finishes side one and ushers in a new era of grasp on sonic appeal. “One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later)” was the first track off Blonde On Blonde that is able to stand alone as a track that removes Dylan from his usual forefront of poetry and instead becomes simplified behind lyrics and music.
It is a relatable piece that describes, “But sooner or later, one of us must know. That you just did what you’re supposed to do. Sooner or later, one of us must know. That I really did try to get close to you.” Dylan continues to illustrate behind this gorgeous display on the percussion with rolls and fills that shift the emotions into more of a funeral for love rather than a celebration. The harmonica that then engulfs the track is somber and somehow reminiscent without ever uttering any words behind its tune.
While Blonde On Blonde has sections and moments of valor where the up-beat tempo is in the spotlight, Dylan actually thrives in the slower more thoughtful instances where the instrumental is fleshed but relies on his delivery to survive. Dylan is much more appetizing on Blonde On Blonde though and is a great start for new introductions even if audiences are 54-years late.