Highway 61 Revisited by Bob Dylan

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In its constant return to this ‘dividing line’, Highway 61 Revisited is a concept album before there were (officially) concept albums, the shared impetus behind most of its songs a subliminal plea to cross over and join the singer on the ‘other side’, becoming in the process one of the ‘beautiful strangers’ Dylan writes of in the album’s liner notes:

the subject matter--tho meaningless as it is--has something to do with the beautiful strangers....the beautiful strangers, Vivaldi's green jacket & the holy slow train

That ‘holy slow train’ not only represents the journey across the threshold – it is the threshold: an existence in which there is no defining origin and no obvious destination; where the essence of life is simply, as Dylan would later put it in ‘Tangled up in Blue’, to ‘keep on keepin’ on’. The sense of becoming estranged (‘the beautiful strangers’); of being alone (‘to be on your own’); coupled with the burden implied by the liner notes’ conclusion – ‘you ( sc. the reader) are lucky – you don't have to think about such things as eyes & rooftops & quazimodo’ – are all ideas that seem to echo the existentialist nihilist philosophers and writers of the previous generation, specifically Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus, whose philosophies were still part of the early nineteen-sixties zeitgeist that Dylan experienced in his formative years in Greenwich Village. Camus had written in 1956 that ‘for anyone who is alone, without God and without a master, the burden of days is dreadful,’ while Sartre’s ‘human life begins on the other side of despair’ could be an epigraph for ‘Like a Rolling Stone’.

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the Unkindness of Ravens If you have found our critical notes helpful, why not try the first Tower Notes novel, a historical fantasy set in the time of the Anglo-Saxon invasions.

Available HERE where you can read the opening chapters.

The Unkindness of Ravens by Anthony Paul