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Dylan Again

A kick-ass song. Often considered to be the greatest song of all time.

“I wrote it. I didn’t fail. It was straight,” Bob Dylan said of his greatest song shortly after he wrote and recorded it in June 1965. There is no better description of “Like a Rolling Stone” — of its revolutionary design and execution — or of the young man, just turned twenty-four, who created it.

Al Kooper, who played organ on the session, remembers today, “There was no sheet music, it was totally by ear. And it was totally disorganized, totally punk. It just happened.”

To this day, the most stunning thing about “Like a Rolling Stone” is the abundance of precedent: the impressionist voltage of Dylan’s language, the intensely personal accusation in his voice (“Ho-o-o-ow does it fe-e-e-el?”), the apocalyptic charge of Kooper’s garage-gospel organ and Mike Bloomfield’s stiletto-sharp spirals of Telecaster guitar, the defiant six-minute length of the June 16th master take. No other pop song has so thoroughly challenged and transformed the commercial laws and artistic conventions of its time, for all time.

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