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John Wesley Harding
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Performer Notes
  • Personnel: Bob Dylan (vocals, guitar, harmonica, piano); Pete Drake (steel guitar); Charles McCoy (bass); Kenny Buttrey (drums).
  • Includes liner notes by Bob Dylan.
  • Personnel: Bob Dylan (vocals, guitar, harmonica, piano); Kenny Buttrey (drums).
  • Bob Dylan's eighth album followed a lengthy hibernation due to a motorcycle accident in which the singer re-evaluated his art. He emerged with a set of stark simplicity and heartfelt intensity, melding folk, rock, and country with a mesmerizing power that set off a huge back-to-basics movement in rock that lasted well into the next decade. A biblical purity encompasses the collection as Dylan paints graphic portraits of the disenfranchised--hobo, immigrant, drifter, messenger--articulating the uncertainty of the times. The best-known song here is the apocalyptic "All Along the Watchtower," which would soon be electrically redefined by Jimi Hendrix. The mood lifts on the final track "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight," a beautifully tender love song, suggesting that this is where salvation lies. John Wesley Harding repays repeated play with ever-unfolding metaphor and interpretation, including four hidden Beatles on the cover.
Professional Reviews
Rolling Stone (4/11/02, p.106) - Ranked #15 in Rolling Stone's "50 Coolest Records".

Rolling Stone (3/30/00, p.68) - 5 stars out of 5 - "...one of Dylan's most cryptic and thematically complex albums....its songs are rife with religious imagery, both explicit and implied....a masterful move - the original Dylan unplugged."

Q (Magazine) (p.111) - "[T]his spare collection of outlaw allegories and Biblical allusions is in stark contrast to the louder aesthetics prevailing elsewhere at the time..."
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