Ranking All 39 Bob Dylan Studio Albums- #9 John Wesley Harding  Bob Dylan’s 8th studio album. Released December 27, 1967. A
The countdown so far 39- Dylan -1973 38- Down In The Groove -1988 37-Knocked Out Loaded- 1986 36-Christmas In The Heart- 2009 35-Under A Red Sky- 1990 34-Saved- 1980 33-Fallen Angels 2016 32- Good As I Been To You- 1992 31- World Gone Wrong 1993 30- Triplicate 2017. 29- Shadows In The Night. 2015 28- Self Portrait 1970- 27- Bob Dylan- Bob Dylan 1962, 26- Empire Burlesque 1985, 25- Street Legal 1978, 24- Nashville Skyline 1969 23- Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid 1973- 22- Shot Of Love 1981 21. New Morning- 1970 20. Rough And Rowdy Ways -2020, #19- Tempest 2012 18. Together Through Life 2009 #17- Another Side Of Bob Dylan 1964 #16 -Infidels 1983 #15- Planet Waves 1974, #14- The Basement Tapes 1975 #13- “Modern Times 2006 #12 Oh Mercy 1989, #11 Slow Train Coming.#10- Desire.
It had been a year and a half since Bob Dylan had released his previous studio album Blonde On Blonde in late June 1966. In late July 1966 he would have his mysterious motorcycle accident in Woodstock, New York. The motorcycle accident put Dylan’s career on hold. In truth it was a life saver for Dylan who was living too hard and too fast. He needed a break and the motorcycle accident gave him the down time he needed.
1967 the rock world turned psychedelic- led by The Beatles- Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band that summer and even The Rolling Stones jumped on board in early December with Their Satanic Majesties Request. The albums and singles of the year were dominated by the new trend. How would Dylan answer? Some wondered if Dylan would answer- the rumors about him were all over the place. How seriously was he hurt? He was laying low in update New York.
In the last days of 1967 John Wesley Harding was released. Dylan’s previous three albums had been rock, rock-blues. John Wesley Harding was what today would be called Americana. The songs had sparse instrumentation, the lyrics had shorter lines -were direct and to the point and free style type type of songwriting that was prevalent in the previous albums was gone. It was a laid back album. The album cover was perfect for the music inside. The entire event was low-key- Bob didn’t want a single released, he just wanted the album released without any build up publicity. The songs on the album reflected the more stable life style Dylan was enjoying after his ‘motorcycle accident.’ And there was no hint that Bob was aware of the psychedelic music craze. Bob was following no trends.
Of the dozen songs on the album the most famous is ” All Along The Watchtower”- due to the remake of the song by Jimi Hendrix- one of the best covers of a Dylan song- or any song. Ten of the songs are in the 2 minutes to 4 minute range. To pick a Mount Rushmore is impossible- the album is strong from start to finish. OK Mt. Rushmore: ‘All Along The Watchtower”, ‘ I Pity The Poor Immigrant’ , “Dear Landlord” and ” As I Went Out One Morning.’ The only song ton the album that I am not crazy about it – “The Ballad Of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest.” The album was a success- going to #2 in the US and #1 in the UK.