Ranking All 39 Bob Dylan Studio Albums: #6- They Times They Are A- Changin’ 5 stars. Bob Dylan’s 3rd studio album Released on January 13, 1964.
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. #9: John Wesley Harding 1967. #8- ‘Love And Theft’ #7 Time Out Of Mind 1997.
My favorite Bob Dylan period- obviously by how I have my rankings is the early days- up until the motorcycle accident in 1966. Not to say other periods of his career aren’t outstanding-but five of my top six Dylan favorites fall into the years 1963-66. Those few years like with The Beatles brought a lot of changes with Dylan and his music. It is amazing that it is actually the same artist.
The Times They Are A-Changin’ is Bob Dylan the protest singer. A lot of folks would feel betrayed ‘Judas, Judas’ when he abandoned the folk singer- protest singer genre in 1965, some fans never went back. I’ve always thought it was the smartest move he could have made. He knew what he was doing. Had he stayed in that mode he would be as relevant today as say Joan Baez- an artist stuck in an era forever. He would have been limiting himself in a genre that was quickly becoming a dead end- especially for someone as talented as Dylan. As he would sing a couple albums later on “It’s Alright, Ma [I’m Only Bleeding]- ‘he not busy being born is busy dying.’
The Times They Are A Changin’- ten songs total time 45:36. Produced by Tom Wilson. Only Bob Dylan appears on the album- acoustic guitar, vocals and harmonica. It peaked at #4 in the UK album charts and #20 in the Billboard Top 200 album chart in the U.S.
Back to the issue at hand the album- The Times They Are A -Changin’. It was released less than two months after the assassination of President Kennedy and right before The Beatles invasion. Vietnam was heading up. The Civil Rights Movement was gaining steam. A lot going in the country and in the world. The Times They Are A -Changin’ – was the opening song on the album and the most well known. The song was Dylan’s statement on Civil Rights. I must say I think about this a lot now when something comes up. What side of history are you on? Dylan in 1964 was certainly on the right side of history not only on the Civil Rights era- but on matters of war. The third song- ‘With God On Our Side’ in which he adapted Dominic Behan’s Irish Nationalist anthem- ‘The Patriot’s Game’ -[and Behan accused him of plagiarism- never mind that Behan had nicked the tune himself]- Dylan goes through the various wars and conflicts in American history. It’s an anti-war song-before Vietnam really warmed up. Another favorite of mine from this album is “The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll’ about a murder in Maryland in February 1963 of a barmaid Hattie Carroll by a wealthy white drunkard named William Zantzinger. The end result of the trail- a $500 fine and six months in jail.
The Times They Are- A Changin’ is easily the most political album in Dylan’s career. It along with the previous album-The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan from 1963 gave him the handle of The Voice of A Generation. I don’t think he was all together comfortable with that tag. After The Times They Are A Changin’ he would move on outraging many in the crowd at the 1965 Newport Film Festival when he brought along his guitar and was backed by a rock band. Gasp! Dylan wisely never turned back.