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Getting Into: Bob Dylan

How often have you said "I really think I would like that band, but I've never gotten into them"? Therein lies the inspiration for a new BuzzSugar feature called Getting Into, where I'll help start your education about a singer, band, or film director by telling you what albums or movies you'll need as a beginner, intermediate, and advanced fan.

Today's Getting Into idea comes from WhiplashGirlchild, who recently wrote in asking which Bob Dylan albums she should buy next. Actually, this whole Getting Into idea was inspired by Whip, so a big thank you to her! (Got ideas for Getting Into posts? Tell me in the comments or send me a private message.) Here's my guide to Getting Into Bob Dylan.

Beginner: Bringing It All Back Home, Blonde on Blonde, and Highway 61 Revisited

This is the triumvirate of seminal 60s albums that every Dylan fan should own. In addition to essential tracks like "It's All Over Now Baby Blue," "Like A Rolling Stone," and "Visions of Johanna," you'll gain an understanding of how Dylan transformed his harmonica-heavy folk music into a new type of rock by introducing electric guitars and Hammond organ. Plus, "Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands" from Blonde may be one of the best melodies Dylan has ever written.

For the intermediate and advanced selections,


Intermediate: Blood on the Tracks, The Bootleg Series, Vol. 6: Live 1964, Desire, and Modern Times

For your next phase, jump ahead to Dylan's best 1970s albums — you'll need Desire if for no other reason than to own “Hurricane” and “Sara.” To familiarize yourself with young Dylan, scoop up this recently released live double album; it features all of his best early songs, and it will make you realize how the charming singer captivated young fans with just a voice and a guitar. (Also good for this is the 1967 documentary Don't Look Back.) Now that you're a fan, don't forget to pick up his most recent album, Modern Times, and ponder how much Dylan's still got it.

Advanced: The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, Planet Waves, Time Out of Mind, and everything else.

Start venturing into earlier studio recordings, like the groundbreaking Freewheelin', and ponder the extraordinary versatility of "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" and "Masters of War." Then dip into some of Dylan's '70s work with The Band; I like Planet Waves because it's so uncharacteristically romantic and reflective. For another taste of recent Dylan, acquaint yourself with the 1997 Grammy winner Time. Then, of course, there is everything else, and even the bad albums have at least one worthwhile song — though really, you should avoid Dylan and the Dead.

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