Bob Dylan, 'John Wesley Harding'
Recorded in Nashville in three sessions, Bob Dylan's
first album after the
electric warfare of his 1966 tour and subsequent retreat to Woodstock was
shockingly austere: an almost crooning Dylan with just a soft-shoe rhythm
section and a few sighs of steel guitar. But that calm was a perfect contrast
to the sermonizing fire be unleashed in "All Along the Watchtower"
and the crossroads parable "The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas
Priest." The moral fiber and martyr's temper in these songs were fierce
and immediate. Dylan wrote "Frankie Lee," "I Dreamed I Saw St.
Augustine" and "Drifter's Escape" en route to the first session,
on the train from New York. But there was unembarrassed loving, too: "I'll
Be Your Baby Tonight," recorded on the last day, pointed the way to the
country comfort of his next album,
1969's Nashville Skyline.