Standing In A Drunken Boat – Dave’s Review

I read somewhere that Blonde On Blonde is “the sound of a man trying to stand up in a drunken boat, and, for the moment, succeeding”. I thought that was a great image, and one that fits the record perfectly. Dylan has a drunken singing style throughout – slow and a little slurred. Even the cover is a little blurry. He is emotional, singing of lust, love and pain, gullible, confused and a little naïve – and all that can be heard in One Of Us Must Know. The opener, Rainy Day Women #12 & 35, with its giggles and cheers, is silly and fun: you can imagine people dancing around the pub, enjoying the party.

A week is too short for me to begin to understand and appreciate the lyrics, for which Dylan is famed. Filled with imagery, they contrast completely with the simple, direct style of last week’s album. Visions Of Johanna stands out in this respect. Poetically filled with emotion and meaning, Dylan is also witty and funny. For example, I really enjoyed the sarcasm of Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat (“Well, I see you got your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat/Yes, I see you got your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat/Well, you must tell me, baby/How your head feels under somethin’ like that/Under your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat”).

Musically, the record is sweet-sounding and melodic. The pace is slow. A harmonica features on many tracks, giving them a bluesy feel. The organ on One Of Us Must Know is great and, together with the singalong chorus, makes it my favourite song on the record. The simple falling guitar after each chorus of Just Like A Woman adds that final touch of magic to the beautiful music and heartfelt vocals.

This is a record I could grow to love.

★★★★☆

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