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4.7 out of 5 stars
The Times They Are A-Changin'
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
'The Times They Are A-Changin'' doesn't progress from what Bob Dylan did on 'Freewheelin''. Rather, it broadens his protest-oriented repertoire. Perhaps the gloomiest of his albums, it seems to be the only one from which his sense of humour is entirely absent. There is a slight shift in emphasis from anti-war songs to the effects of social injustice and hardship. Nevertheless, 'With God On Our Side' would have fitted in with the dominant theme on his previous album. The lyric, and in particular, its closing verse, is brilliantly crafted, though Dylan's delivery is occasionally disjointed by sloppy tempo changes, perhaps an attempt to break up its seven minutes.

The title track is probably the best-known item on the album, in large part due to the status it gained as a slogan, a kind of rallying call. It sets the tone for the whole album, characterised by Dylan's sober drawl and songs of relentless, unchanging form. The latter technique works well on the folky blues of 'Hollis Brown'. Dylan uses the guitar to add sombre colour to the song, which is a 'what-drives-a-man-to-kill' lyric of the sort featured liberally on Bruce Springsteen's early 1980s album, 'Nebraska'.

'North Country Blues' is probably the gloomiest recording, relating the anguish and hardships endured by redundant miners. Sandwiched between this and 'With God On Our Side', the reflective 'One Too Many Mornings' almost seems like light relief. 'Hattie Carroll' is another death song. It's one of Dylan's more articulate performances, though, ironically, I believe, there are doubts as to the authenticity of the slant Dylan puts on the story.

This album may not be perfect then, but it's still blindingly powerful and a remarkable forty-five minutes for 1964.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on 26 April 2007
When Bob Dylan has a fire in his belly and is on top form, there are few things finer in this world. With two albums under his belt and a confidence that could only have come from rapturous applause, he embarked upon this most serious of collections.

Very few albums have what you'd call the perfect sleeve art, in the sense that it is a visual representation of the music within. On The Times They Are A Changin' it is perfect. Stark, moody, monochrome, almost archaic even in 1963. Bob looks 23 going on 53, a man with the world on his shoulders.

From the off, Bob has some serious things to say. Let not over-familiarity dilute the title track, a revolutionary and almost Marxist desire to see the old order crumble and for the young to take over. Its actually startling that he got away with it! The subject matter is largely grim; he sings about murders on The Ballad Of Hollis Brown, Only A Pawn In Their Game, and The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll. There's one about the horrors of a closing mining town (North Country Blues) and another couple that directly relate to his anger against the establishment (With God On Our Side and When The Ship Comes In).

Its predecessor, Freewheelin', was liberally sprinkled with his Chaplinesque humour, and he wouldn't be railing against anything except women on its follow up, Another Side Of... again doused with that silent movie farce as was his wont. The Times They Are A Changin' is pretty hardcore stuff; one man, a guitar, both as harsh as the words he was putting across.

For me, a special place in my heart is reserved for With God On Our Side and The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll. These are stunning pieces of poetry set to music that's so gorgeous as to make you want to weep. I personally prefer Freewheelin' for its greater scope, but like that album, this is purely timeless.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
I am not going to argue that "The Times They Are A-Changin'" is the best of Bob Dylan's early albums, because that honor clearly belongs to "The Freewhelin' Bob Dylan," when the prospects of war gave Dylan's protest songs greater potency. But this is the one that is his most earnest attempt to emulate the great Woody Guthrie, a fact that I think is perfectly clear just from the black & white cover photograph of Dylan. The point is underscored in Dylan's "Outlined Epitaphs" that takes the place of traditional liner notes. There Dylan writes "In time behind, I too wished I'd lived in the hungry thirties an blew in like Woody t New York City an sang for dimes on subway trains satisifed at a nickel fare."
This year I have been listening to a lot of Woody Guthrie's songs and as great as Bob Dylan was in the Sixties and beyond, if there are people who do not remember when Guthrie was America's troubadour that is truly a shame. Listening to these songs you can clearly see the strong parallels between the two, with Dylan providing the same angry arrogance as his hero in the title track on "With God On Our Side." But Guthrie could also tell stories and Dylan takes his turn at that as well, with "Ballad of Hollis Brown" and "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll." There are not as many Dylan classics on this one as "Freewheelin'," but this is perhaps an even better collection of the really early Dylan, in off the bus from the Hibbing in the big bad city.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 8 December 2010
They say you can't judge a book by its cover but 'The Times...' is exactly as the cover suggests, downbeat, mournful, melancholly, ragged and dirty. There's no 'I'm a poet/I know it/Hope I don't blow it" quips, there's no joking around on Bob's last 'protest' album, it's about death, desperation, sacrifice, hatred, Bob doesn't offer solutions, just states the facts.
It's just Bob with his harmonica and guitar and he fingerpicks beautifully on a couple of tracks, his vocals are mournful to suit the music and the lyrics are direct, there's no 'mystery tramps' or 'two wheeled gypsy queens' here, this is an album saturated with reality.
To my mind, the only throwaway song on the album is 'When The Ship Comes In' which sound like it's been included to up the tempo a touch and when you consider that 'Seven Curses' and 'Moonshiner'(available on 'Bootleg Series 1-3') were recorded in the same sessions, both downbeat and superior, you can see the reasoning but I'd have plumped for either of the rejected pair.
As far as the remastering goes, I don't hear any difference at all, the packaging is superior by a long chalk but a couple of the songs still sound like they're culled from vinyl or a dodgy mastertape, ironically this adds to the overall sound so it's no bad thing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This 1964 release is the third studio album from icon of the age Bob Dylan. Building on the success of the previous year's `Freewheelin Bob Dylan' he continued to develop his own unique style, moving away from the pure folk of his debut and developing his political and surreal song writing styles. It's a dark album, full of death and bleak imagery, that culminates with the Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll, probably one of Dylan's most topical and angriest songs that deals with the murder of a black woman and the racist legal system that let her murderer off with a joke of a sentence. Other highlights are the titular song, in which hope is expressed that things are changing (but the rest of the album seems to be trying to prove that they aren't) and `One Too Many Mornings', a paean of hurt and loneliness that we can all relate to.

It's perhaps not as instantly accessible as Freewheelin, but it grows on you. The imagery Dylan conjures up is vivid and makes you think. It's one of the great protest albums, 4 stars. The
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 October 2012
Dylan's third studio album, THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN' continues in the protest vein of its predecessor, FREEWHEELIN' BOB DYLAN, but with a much more narrow focus. With FREEWHEELIN', Dylan did record protest music, but there was much more to that record than just straight protest, and what protest there was operated on a much more universal level than the run-of-the-mill protest songs of the day.

Not so with this record. When Dylan recorded THE TIMES in 1964, he decided to focus solely on the protest music genre of the 1960s. While much of the music is memorable, because of the narrow constraints Dylan imposed upon himself, THE TIMES has become more dated than any other reason in Dylan's career. And because it is so protest heavy, the album gets monotonous and just depressing to listen to in large quantities (just like the New York version of BLOOD ON THE TRACKS). Listening to the album straight through is very emotionally draining Taken in small doses, though, it's doable.

In the early days of the rock industry, the focus was much more on singles and EPs than full length albums. Bands like The Beatles and Led Zeppelin and their contemporaries are largely credited from moving the musical industry of the early and mid 1960s move away from singles to albums as the dominant art form. They helped make the albums indivisible and consolidated, with a natural ebb and flow, instead of sounding like a collection of singles with filler thrown in between.

While Zeppelin and The Beatles are the most renowned for this movement toward albums in general, along with jazz musicians, Dylan beat both bands several years to the punch. All of Dylan's albums have a distinct atmosphere and sound that he is creating, even his critically panned albums.

With TIMES, he is going for a stark, world-gone-wrong feel that dominates the entire record. Because of its heavy content, TIMES stands as Dylan's most depressing and emotionally draining album by far. While his other acoustic records certainly have a world-weariness and a focus on protest sentiment, they are also very humour at times, and filled with a vibrancy and life that TIMES is simply lacking. Now, only the deep morose of a world gone wrong stands out.

TMES is also unique because it appears that Dylan enrolled in the Phil Ochs school of songwriting, pulling his material directly from newspaper articles. Songs like "Pawn in Their Game," "With God On Our Side," "Lonesome Death of Hattie Carol," and "North Country Blues" all sound very much like relics of their time. While I always personally enjoyed "Pawn in their Game" due to Dylan's intricate word play, the song had become dated. While "With God on Our Side" has a universal message, Dylan focuses a large portion of the song on the early 1960s Cold War conflict between Russia and the United States, thus making the song dated in ways the FREEWHEELIN' song "Masters of War" will never be.

The title cut, justly one of Dylan's most famous songs, sounds simply like a made to order protest song. In 1963, before the song was recorded, Dylan's friend Tony Glover saw the early manuscript of the song, and read the lines "come senators, congressmen, please heed the call". Glover reportedly asked Dylan: "What is this s---, man?" Dylan's answer: "Well, you know, it seems to be what the people like to hear". The song sounds like a rather self-conscious attempt at a grand statement, and the spiritual sequel or successor to "Blowin' In the Wind". "Things Have Changed," Dylan's Oscar winning song from the Wonderboys soundtrack of 2000 is in many ways an answer to this song. Even though the song sounds forced, Dylan was at the height of his powers during the 1960s, and the title cut is one of his strongest songs. Just goes to show that when an artist of Dylan's calibre writes made-to-order music, he can still come up with fantastic material. Just look at Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel.

"Lonesome Death of Hattie Caroll," much like DESIRE's "Hurricane", has Dylan protesting social injustice with a memorable melody, strong lyrics, but unfortunately not that historically accurate. The song is about a young Maryland man with high political and social connections randomly killing a woman who was working at a hotel he was at for a ball named Hattie Caroll by hitting her with his cane. While William Devereux "Billy" Zantzinger (Dylan mispells his name as "Zanzinger") did get charged for manslaughter, it is generally agreed she did not die due to physical abuse. Hattie Caroll had a medical condition of hypertension, harden arteries, high blood pressure, and an elarged heart, and though an autopsy was not performed, she probably died of a brain haemorrage caused by stress from the situation, rather than the physical assault itself. The cane left no marks on her. The song is a fan favorite, and Dylan has performed it in concert in recent years.

The rest of the songs are rather well done. Dylan recycles the melody of FREEWHEELIN's "Girl from the North Country Fair" for "Boots of Spanish Leather". Dylan, being Dylan, had stolen that melody from Martin Carthy's arrangement of the English folk song "Scarborough Fair" lifts the melody to D. Dylan wrote "When the Ship Comes In" when a hotel denied him lodging while he was with Joan Baez do to his scruffy, hobo look. "Ballad of Hollis Brown," which Dylan rerecorded in the 1990s, is a fantastic, morbid song originally auditioned for FREEWHEELIN' but sequenced as the second track to great effectiveness, a stark contrast to the rather anthemic qualities of the title cut "Times They Are".

Like his debut, BOB DYLAN, THE TIMES ultimately is a rather limited snapshot of where Dylan was at artistically at the time. Bruce Springsteen is famous for recording numerous songs during his sessions that don't make the final cut, because the material doesn't fall in line with the overall tone he is striving for. Just like Springsteen's records, Dylan limits himself strictly to a specific type of music, in this instance protest music, but at this point in his career he was writing much more than protest music. Had Dylan included some of TIMES' outtakes as supplemental songs or substituted the outtakes for songs that made the album, TIME's emotional and artistic core would be changed radically. Had songs like "Lay Down Your Weary Tune," "Percy's Song," "Bob Dylan's New Orlean's Rage," "Farewell," "Hero Blues," and "Eternal Circle" been included, the TIMES would be a much more versatile album instead of the straight protest record that it is.

In retrospect, TIMES remains an important album, as much for what it is not as for what it is. Dylan would never make another album so protest oriented. Dylan would famously move away from this direction, lyrically with his next album, and then musically as well on the his electric period. The song that always stands out to me is "One Too Many Mornings", with this very memorable lyric of "Everything I'm a sayin', you can say just as good, you're right for your side and I'm right from mine"). Dylan famously recast that song in his "Royal Albert Hall" concert. With this song, he is already hinting at his break from the folk scene, like his subconscious now he can't stay in the protest folk scene for long.

The last song, just like most last songs on Dylan albums, is very significant. "Restless Farewell" stands as Dylan's own farewell to the movement that catapulted him to fame, and just like "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" is a devastating kiss off to people trying to pin Dylan down to their definition of what they want him to be. The protest movement only got Dylan for full straight album.

Ultimately, for what it is, TIMES is a great album, but not really an accurate snapshot of Dylan's art at the time. TIMES feels like a diversion into hard-core protest music, and not really natural extension or progression of what Dylan was doing at the time. My own thoughts are he had to go through the folk-protest movement and then go on to rock'n'roll, to go through just one more persona and then cut it away.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This 1964 release is the third studio album from icon of the age Bob Dylan. Building on the success of the previous year's `Freewheelin Bob Dylan' he continued to develop his own unique style, moving away from the pure folk of his debut and developing his political and surreal song writing styles. It's a dark album, full of death and bleak imagery, that culminates with the Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll, probably one of Dylan's most topical and angriest songs that deals with the murder of a black woman and the racist legal system that let her murderer off with a joke of a sentence. Other highlights are the titular song, in which hope is expressed that things are changing (but the rest of the album seems to be trying to prove that they aren't) and `One Too Many Mornings', a paean of hurt and loneliness that we can all relate to.

It's perhaps not as instantly accessible as Freewheelin, but it grows on you. The imagery Dylan conjures up is vivid and makes you think. It's one of the great protest albums, 4 stars.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 22 January 2001
To me, this is a magnificent album - intelligent and moving. It is admittedly slightly depressing but Dylan performs with such honesty that it is a truly emotive listen. I can't think of one weak track on it, and through the wailing of harp and voice, the lyrics have much to say about the trials and tribulations of life, and their context. No balladeer could give a better testament.
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on 2 October 2007
Dylan's third studio album, THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN' continues in the protest vein of its predecessor, FREEWHEELIN' BOB DYLAN, but with a much more narrow focus. With FREEWHEELIN', Dylan did record protest music, but there was much more to that record than just straight protest, and what protest there was operated on a much more universal level than the run-of-the-mill protest songs of the day.

Not so with this record. When Dylan recorded THE TIMES in 1964, he decided to focus solely on the protest music genre of the 1960s. While much of the music is memorable, because of the narrow constraints Dylan imposed upon himself, THE TIMES has become more dated than any other reason in Dylan's career. And because it is so protest heavy, the album gets monotonous and just depressing to listen to in large quantities (just like the New York version of BLOOD ON THE TRACKS). Listening to the album straight through is very emotionally draining Taken in small doses, though, it's doable.

In the early days of the rock industry, the focus was much more on singles and EPs than full length albums. Bands like The Beatles and Led Zeppelin and their contemporaries are largely credited from moving the musical industry of the early and mid 1960s move away from singles to albums as the dominant art form. They helped make the albums indivisible and consolidated, with a natural ebb and flow, instead of sounding like a collection of singles with filler thrown in between.

While Zeppelin and The Beatles are the most renowned for this movement toward albums in general, along with jazz musicians, Dylan beat both bands several years to the punch. All of Dylan's albums have a distinct atmosphere and sound that he is creating, even his critically panned albums.

With TIMES, he is going for a stark, world-gone-wrong feel that dominates the entire record. Because of its heavy content, TIMES stands as Dylan's most depressing and emotionally draining album by far. While his other acoustic records certainly have a world-weariness and a focus on protest sentiment, they are also very humour at times, and filled with a vibrancy and life that TIMES is simply lacking. Now, only the deep morose of a world gone wrong stands out.

TMES is also unique because it appears that Dylan enrolled in the Phil Ochs school of songwriting, pulling his material directly from newspaper articles. Songs like "Pawn in Their Game," "With God On Our Side," "Lonesome Death of Hattie Carol," and "North Country Blues" all sound very much like relics of their time. While I always personally enjoyed "Pawn in their Game" due to Dylan's intricate word play, the song had become dated. While "With God on Our Side" has a universal message, Dylan focuses a large portion of the song on the early 1960s Cold War conflict between Russia and the United States, thus making the song dated in ways the FREEWHEELIN' song "Masters of War" will never be.

The title cut, justly one of Dylan's most famous songs, sounds simply like a made to order protest song. In 1963, before the song was recorded, Dylan's friend Tony Glover saw the early manuscript of the song, and read the lines "come senators, congressmen, please heed the call". Glover reportedly asked Dylan: "What is this s---, man?" Dylan's answer: "Well, you know, it seems to be what the people like to hear". The song sounds like a rather self-conscious attempt at a grand statement, and the spiritual sequel or successor to "Blowin' In the Wind". "Things Have Changed," Dylan's Oscar winning song from the Wonderboys soundtrack of 2000 is in many ways an answer to this song. Even though the song sounds forced, Dylan was at the height of his powers during the 1960s, and the title cut is one of his strongest songs. Just goes to show that when an artist of Dylan's calibre writes made-to-order music, he can still come up with fantastic material. Just look at Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel.

"Lonesome Death of Hattie Caroll," much like DESIRE's "Hurricane", has Dylan protesting social injustice with a memorable melody, strong lyrics, but unfortunately not that historically accurate. The song is about a young Maryland man with high political and social connections randomly killing a woman who was working at a hotel he was at for a ball named Hattie Caroll by hitting her with his cane. While William Devereux "Billy" Zantzinger (Dylan mispells his name as "Zanzinger") did get charged for manslaughter, it is generally agreed she did not die due to physical abuse. Hattie Caroll had a medical condition of hypertension, harden arteries, high blood pressure, and an elarged heart, and though an autopsy was not performed, she probably died of a brain haemorrage caused by stress from the situation, rather than the physical assault itself. The cane left no marks on her. The song is a fan favorite, and Dylan has performed it in concert in recent years.

The rest of the songs are rather well done. Dylan recycles the melody of FREEWHEELIN's "Girl from the North Country Fair" for "Boots of Spanish Leather". Dylan, being Dylan, had stolen that melody from Martin Carthy's arrangement of the English folk song "Scarborough Fair" lifts the melody to D. Dylan wrote "When the Ship Comes In" when a hotel denied him lodging while he was with Joan Baez do to his scruffy, hobo look. "Ballad of Hollis Brown," which Dylan rerecorded in the 1990s, is a fantastic, morbid song originally auditioned for FREEWHEELIN' but sequenced as the second track to great effectiveness, a stark contrast to the rather anthemic qualities of the title cut "Times They Are".

Like his debut, BOB DYLAN, THE TIMES ultimately is a rather limited snapshot of where Dylan was at artistically at the time. Bruce Springsteen is famous for recording numerous songs during his sessions that don't make the final cut, because the material doesn't fall in line with the overall tone he is striving for. Just like Springsteen's records, Dylan limits himself strictly to a specific type of music, in this instance protest music, but at this point in his career he was writing much more than protest music. Had Dylan included some of TIMES' outtakes as supplemental songs or substituted the outtakes for songs that made the album, TIME's emotional and artistic core would be changed radically. Had songs like "Lay Down Your Weary Tune," "Percy's Song," "Bob Dylan's New Orlean's Rage," "Farewell," "Hero Blues," and "Eternal Circle" been included, the TIMES would be a much more versatile album instead of the straight protest record that it is.

In retrospect, TIMES remains an important album, as much for what it is not as for what it is. Dylan would never make another album so protest oriented. Dylan would famously move away from this direction, lyrically with his next album, and then musically as well on the his electric period. The song that always stands out to me is "One Too Many Mornings", with this very memorable lyric of "Everything I'm a sayin', you can say just as good, you're right for your side and I'm right from mine"). Dylan famously recast that song in his "Royal Albert Hall" concert. With this song, he is already hinting at his break from the folk scene, like his subconscious now he can't stay in the protest folk scene for long.

The last song, just like most last songs on Dylan albums, is very significant. "Restless Farewell" stands as Dylan's own farewell to the movement that catapulted him to fame, and just like "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" is a devastating kiss off to people trying to pin Dylan down to their definition of what they want him to be. The protest movement only got Dylan for full straight album.

Ultimately, for what it is, TIMES is a great album, but not really an accurate snapshot of Dylan's art at the time. TIMES feels like a diversion into hard-core protest music, and not really natural extension or progression of what Dylan was doing at the time. My own thoughts are he had to go through the folk-protest movement and then go on to rock'n'roll, to go through just one more persona and then cut it away.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 1 January 2004
This being Bob Dylan's third album is commonly classed as his 'protest album'. Rightly so as there a five songs of the like on here. Including 'The Ballad if Hollis Brown', 'With God on Our Side', 'The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll', ' Only a Pawn in Their Game' and the title track.
However after looking past these there is a song lurking here which I have grown very fond of taking the name of ' Boots of Spanish Leather'. I overlooked this song at first but never again, it is a gorgeous love song.
Bob Dylan is capable of writing angry protest songs, brilliant rock songs and quiet, moving love ballads. If it was up to me there would be a copy of every Dylan album in every country in the world!! If you ever want to see a living legend before your very eyes go see him live you will never forget it.
As with all Dylan albums all the songs are great some even greater and this is an essential album. The last song 'Restless Farewell' is a little hint ( i think ) that Dylan had had enough and wanted to go his own way and shake off the protest songwriter image, what followed was 'Another Side of Bob Dylan'. After that certainly did go his own way! If you don't have it take my humble advice, BUY IT !!
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