Chapter 14
Another Side of Bob Dylan (1964)

ANOTHER SIDE OF BOB DYLAN was recorded during one glorious, nightly session on June 9 1964, over a bottle of Beaujolais – and it shows . . . The album may be a ‘rich, complex album’ and a proof of his ‘genius’, as Paul Williams and Paul Cable have it, but – for once – Clinton Heylin may have given the most adequate description, as ‘a typical Dylan session – flashes of sheer brilliance, improvisational flair, songs coming together and falling apart (in fairly equal measure) – in the studio’.1 In other words: he can’t be all right all the time.

In several of the songs, most notably in Ballad in Plain D and My Back Pages, it is evident that Dylan hasn’t really learnt the chord changes properly before he started recording. In these two songs it is difficult to find two verses that are played in the same way. There are lots of temporary solutions. True enough, the variations work out quite well, but it would be over-indulgent to call them planned...

Apart from this, it is interesting to note how a few guitaristic specialties recur in song after song. One is the use of the chord changes C/d – G/d (xx0553 – xx0433), as in All I Really Want To Do, slightly varied in I Don’t Believe You, and most beautifully in Chimes of Freedom. Another is the progression xx0430 – xx0210 – 320003 which occurs both in All I Really Want To Do and in Spanish Harlem Incident. And the most persistent of these ‘tricks’ is the figure G–G6–G7 found in To Ramona, My Back Pages, I Don’t Believe You and Ballad in Plain D. Add to this that all of the songs (except, of course, the piano song Black Crow Blues) are played in G or C, with an occasional capo, and you have an album which is quite simple, guitaristically speaking.

Then there is the genius, of course.