Bob Dylan’s early music is of course very good. His songs flow smoothly and are filled with various and complex ideas and feelings. But in those first five albums the music is also very rough. From his first album, the self-titled Bob Dylan, to his third album, Times They Are A-Changing, Dylan uses only a guitar; a harmonica and his own voice and each of those instruments are not used gently. Dylan’s Harmonica is loud, sudden and verging on grating, his voice leaves much to be desired, and most of the guitar playing on the three albums is sloppy and brittle sounding.
And yet, despite all of these drawbacks to Dylan’s performance, on Bob Dylan, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan and Times They A-Changing, Dylan manages to pound out some very beautiful melodies.
If you look at a song like, “Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance” off of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, a song that is very rough in its instrumentation, you can hear a melody that comes through that rough instrumentation and even though it isn’t the most technical or pretty song that has ever been written, it does evoke some emotion through its core melody. This I think is what made Bob Dylan such a successful musician.
Now, of course, there are some more soft, beautiful songs on these first three albums, “Girl From The North Country” or “Boots Of Spanish Leather” or even “Song To Woody” is a little slower and a little softer, but even in those songs the simplicity of Dylan’s song writing shows itself very plainly, he does not layer his melodies and he adds very little electronic effects to the songs his albums. The song writing itself seems to be the number one priority in Bob Dylan’s music.
This priority pays off because even on these first three albums, that could all be considered to be classics in there own right, there are a couple songs that stand out, to me, as some of the greatest songs in Rock and Roll history, songs like, “Baby, Let Me Follow You Down” and “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” and “The Times They Are A-Changin’” and “Masters of War”. If not the albums themselves, these songs stick out to me as past indications of what Bob Dylan would be doing next.