- John Wesley Harding (album)
John Wesley Harding Studio album by Bob Dylan Released December 27, 1967 Recorded October 17 – November 29, 1967 Genre Folk rock, country Length 38:24 Label Columbia Producer Bob Johnston Bob Dylan chronology Blonde on Blonde
John Wesley Harding
Singles from John Wesley Harding
Produced by Bob Johnston, the album marked Dylan's return to acoustic music and traditional roots, after three albums of electric rock music. John Wesley Harding was recorded around the same time as (and shares many stylistic threads with) a prolific series of home recording sessions with The Band, finally released in 1975 as The Basement Tapes.
John Wesley Harding was exceptionally well received by critics and enjoyed solid sales, reaching #2 on the US charts and topping the UK charts. The commercial performance was considered remarkable considering that Dylan had kept Columbia from releasing the album with much promotion or publicity. Less than three months after its release, John Wesley Harding was certified gold by the RIAA. "All Along the Watchtower" became one of his most popular songs after it was covered by Jimi Hendrix the following year.
Dylan went to work on John Wesley Harding in the fall of 1967. By then, 18 months had passed since the completion of Blonde on Blonde. After recovering from the worst of the results of his motorcycle accident, Dylan spent a substantial amount of time recording the informal basement sessions at West Saugerties, New York; little was heard from him throughout 1967. During that time, he stockpiled a large number of recordings, including many new compositions. He eventually submitted nearly all of them for copyright, but declined to include any of them in his next studio release (Dylan would not release any of those recordings to the commercial market until 1975's The Basement Tapes; and by then, some of those recordings had been bootlegged, usually sourced from an easy-to-find set of publisher's demos). Instead, Dylan used a different set of songs for John Wesley Harding.
It is not clear when these songs were actually written, but none of them have turned up in the dozens of basement recordings that have since surfaced. According to Robbie Robertson, "As I recall it was just on a kind of whim that Bob went down to Nashville. And there, with just a couple of guys, he put those songs down on tape." Those sessions took place in the autumn of 1967, requiring less than twelve hours over three stints in the studio.
Dylan brought to Nashville a set of songs similar to the feverish yet pithy compositions that came out of the Basement Tapes sessions. They would be given an austere sound sympathetic to their content. When Dylan arrived in Nashville, producer Bob Johnston recalls that "he was staying in the Ramada Inn down there, and he played me his songs and he suggested we just use bass and guitar and drums on the record. I said fine, but also suggested we add a steel guitar, which is how Pete Drake came to be on that record."
Dylan was once again recording with a band, but the instrumentation was very sparse. During most of the recording, the rhythm section of drummer Kenneth A. Buttrey and bassist Charlie McCoy were the only ones supporting Dylan, who handled all harmonica, guitar, piano, and vocal parts. "I didn't intentionally come out with some kind of mellow sound," Dylan said in 1971. "I would have liked ... more steel guitar, more piano. More music ... I didn't sit down and plan that sound."
The first session, held on October 17 at Columbia's Studio A, lasted only three hours, with Dylan recording master takes of "I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine", "Drifter's Escape", and "The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest". Dylan returned to the studio on November 6, recording master takes for "All Along the Watchtower", "John Wesley Harding", "As I Went Out One Morning", "I Pity the Poor Immigrant", and "I Am a Lonesome Hobo". Dylan returned for one last session on November 29, completing all of the remaining work.
The final session did break from the status quo by employing Pete Drake on the final two recordings. Cut between 9pm and 12 midnight, "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" and "Down Along the Cove" would be the only two songs featuring Drake's light pedal steel guitar.
Sometime between the second and third session, Dylan approached Robbie Robertson and Garth Hudson of The Band to complete some overdub work on the basic tracks: "Then we did talk about doing some overdubbing on it, but I really liked it when I heard it and I couldn't really think right about overdubbing on it. So it ended up coming out the way he brought it back."
John Wesley Harding was released in stores less than four weeks after the final session, an unusually quick turnaround time, especially for a major label release.
Most of the songs on John Wesley Harding are noted for their pared-down lyrics. Though the style remains evocative, continuing Dylan's strong use of bold imagery, the wild, intoxicating surreality that seemed to flow in a stream-of-consciousness fashion has been tamed into something earthier and more crisp. "What I'm trying to do now is not use too many words," Dylan said in a 1968 interview. "There's no line that you can stick your finger through, there's no hole in any of the stanzas. There's no blank filler. Each line has something." According to Allen Ginsberg, Dylan had talked to him about his new approach, telling him "he was writing shorter lines, with every line meaning something. He wasn't just making up a line to go with a rhyme anymore; each line had to advance the story, bring the song forward. And from that time came some of his strong laconic ballads like 'The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest.' There was no wasted language, no wasted breath. All the imagery was to be functional rather than ornamental." Even the song structures are rigid as most of them adhere to a similar three-verse model.
The dark, religious tones that appeared during the Basement Tapes sessions also continues through these songs, manifesting in language from the King James Bible. In The Bible in the Lyrics of Bob Dylan, Bert Cartwright cites more than sixty biblical allusions over the course of the thirty-eight and a half minute album, with as many as fifteen in "The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest" alone. An Old Testament morality also colors most of the songs' characters.
In an interview with Toby Thompson in 1968, Dylan's mother, Beatty Zimmerman, mentioned Dylan's growing interest in the Bible, stating that "in his house in Woodstock today, there's a huge Bible open on a stand in the middle of his study. Of all the books that crowd his house, overflow from his house, that Bible gets the most attention. He's continuously getting up and going over to refer to something."
The album opens with the title song, which references Texas outlaw John Wesley Hardin, although some commentators find religious significance in the character's initials ("JWH" as Yaweh ). Dylan discussed "John Wesley Harding" when he spoke with Rolling Stone Magazine in 1969:
"I was gonna write a ballad on ... like maybe one of those old cowboy ... you know, a real long ballad. But in the middle of the second verse, I got tired. I had a tune, and I didn't want to waste the tune, it was a nice little melody, so I just wrote a quick third verse, and I recorded that ... I knew people were gonna listen to that song and say that they didn't understand what was going on, but they would've singled that song out later, if we hadn't called the album John Wesley Harding and placed so much importance on that, for people to start wondering about it ... if that hadn't been done, that song would've come up and people would have said it was a throw-away song."
NPR's Tim Riley writes that "'As I Went Out One Morning' has more to do with the temptations of a fair damsel who walks in chains than with America's first outlaw journalist, Tom Paine." In his album review in Rolling Stone, Greil Marcus wrote, "I sometimes hear the song as a brief journey into American history; the singer out for a walk in the park, finding himself next to a statue of Tom Paine, and stumbling across an allegory: Tom Paine, symbol of freedom and revolt, co-opted into the role of Patriot by textbooks and statue committees, and now playing, as befits his role as Patriot, enforcer to a girl who runs for freedom — in chains, to the South, the source of vitality in America, in America's music — away from Tom Paine. We have turned our history on its head; we have perverted our own myths..."
In "I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine", the narrator is addressed in his dreams by St. Augustine of Hippo, the bishop-philosopher who held the episcopal seat in Hippo Regius, a Roman port in northern Africa; he died in 430 A.D. when the city was overrun by Vandals. Riley notes that in "I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine", Dylan twists St. Augustine's "symbolic stature to signify anyone who has been put to death by a mob." Throughout the song, the narrator's vision of St. Augustine reveals to him "how it feels to be the target of mob psychology, and how confusing it is to identify with the throng's impulses to smother what it loves too much or destroy what it can't understand." The opening lyrics are based on the labor union song "I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night". The last line continues the "Joe Hill" theme, echoing the last line of Woody Guthrie's "Ludlow Massacre": "I said God bless the Mineworkers' Union, and then I hung my head and cried".
The album's most overt Biblical reference comes in "All Along the Watchtower", inspired by a section in Isaiah dealing with the fall of Babylon. As Heylin writes, "the thief that cries 'the hour is getting late' is surely the thief in the night foretold in Revelation, Jesus Christ come again. It is He who says, in St. John the Divine's tract: 'I will come on thee as a thief, and Thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.'" Dylan later said of John Wesley Harding that he "'had been dealing with the devil in a fretful way.'" "All Along the Watchtower" would soon gain great fame in a dramatic interpretation by Jimi Hendrix.
"All Along the Watchtower" is also notable for its vi-V-IV chord progression. Jimmy Page would use this cadence for the coda to "Stairway to Heaven," John Entwistle of the Who would use it in the opening bars of "Fiddle About", and it would later find popular use in heavy metal music. Dylan himself would return to this progression in Desire's "Hurricane".
"The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest" is perhaps the album's most enigmatic song, structured as a (possibly insincere) morality play. The song details Frankie Lee's temptation by a roll of ten dollar bills from Judas Priest. As Frankie thinks it over, he grows anxious from Judas's stare. Eventually, Judas leaves Frankie to mull over the money, telling him he can be found at "Eternity, though you might call it 'Paradise'." After Judas leaves, a stranger arrives. He asks Frankie if he's "the gambler, whose father is deceased?" The stranger brings a message from Judas, who's apparently stranded in a house. Frankie panics and runs to Judas, only to find him standing outside of a house. (Judas says, "It's not a house ... it's a home.") Frankie is overcome by his nerves as he sees a woman's face in each of the home's twenty-four windows. Bounding up the stairs, foaming at the mouth, he begins to "make his midnight creep." For sixteen days and nights, Frankie raves until he dies on the seventeenth, in Judas's arms, dead of "thirst." The final two verses are the most impenetrable. No one says a word as Frankie is brought out, no one except a boy who mutters "Nothing is revealed," as he conceals his own mysterious guilt. The last verse moralizes that "one should never be where one does not belong" and closes with the song's most quoted lines, "don't go mistaking Paradise for that home across the road."
Each of the album's next three songs features one of society's rejects as the narrator or central figure. "Drifter's Escape" tells the story of a convicted drifter who escapes captivity when a bolt of lightning strikes a court of law. "Dear Landlord" is sung by a narrator pleading for respect and equal rights. "I Am a Lonesome Hobo" is a humble warning from a hobo to those who are better off.
Self-styled 'Dylanologist' Al Weberman claimed "Dear Landlord" was inspired by Dylan's own conflicts with manager Albert Grossman, but many critics have challenged this notion. Most interpretations rest on who the 'landlord' is supposed to be, with most explanations ranging from a literal representation to a metaphor for God.
"There's only two songs on the album which came at the same time as the music," Dylan recalled in 1978, referring to "Down Along the Cove" and "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight". "The rest of the songs were written out on paper, and I found the tunes for them later. I didn't do it before, and I haven't done it since. That might account for the specialness of that album."
Lyrically, those same two songs stand out from the rest of the album. They are warm, cheerful love songs, lacking any of the Biblical references found throughout the album. "If John Wesley Harding was the album made the morning after a dark night of the soul," wrote Heylin, "these two songs suggested a newly cleansed singer returning from the edge." Accentuating the difference is the use of pedal steel guitarist Pete Drake on both tracks. The overall sound of these two tracks sounds closer to country, anticipating the country rock movement to follow as well as Dylan's next album, Nashville Skyline.
The cover photograph of John Wesley Harding shows a squinting Dylan flanked by brothers Luxman and Purna Das, two Bengali Bauls, South Asian musicians brought to Woodstock by Dylan's manager, Albert Grossman. Behind Dylan is Charlie Joy, a local stonemason and carpenter. A long-recurring rumor is that images of various members of the Beatles are hidden on the front cover, in the knots of the tree. There is speculation that the faces were much more apparent but brushed over sometime before press time (hence, the unusually dark features on the most prominent tree trunk).
The album sleeve is also notable for its liner notes, written by Dylan himself. The liner notes tells the story of three kings and three characters (Terry Chute, Frank, and Frank's wife, Vera), incorporating details from the album's songs. Unlike the actual lyrics to the songs, the liner notes are written with the same colorful, verbose style that characterized Dylan's previous work.
Professional ratings Review scores Source Rating Allmusic  Rolling Stone 
"I asked Columbia to release it with no publicity and no hype, because this was the season of hype," Dylan said. Clive Davis urged Dylan to pull a single, but even then Dylan refused, preferring to maintain the album's low-key profile.
In a year when psychedelia dominated popular culture, the agrarian John Wesley Harding was seen as reactionary. Critic Jon Landau wrote in Crawdaddy Magazine, "For an album of this kind to be released amidst Sgt. Pepper, Their Satanic Majesties Request, After Bathing at Baxter's, somebody must have had a lot of confidence in what he was doing ... Dylan seems to feel no need to respond to the predominate [sic] trends in pop music at all. And he is the only major pop artist about whom this can be said."
The critical stature of John Wesley Harding has continued to grow. As late as 2000, Clinton Heylin wrote, "John Wesley Harding remains one of Dylan's most enduring albums. Never had Dylan constructed an album-as-an-album so self-consciously. Not tempted to incorporate even later basement visions like 'Going to Acapulco' and 'Clothesline Saga,' Dylan managed in less than six weeks to construct his most perfectly executed official collection."
The album was remastered and re-released in 2003 using a new technology, SACD.
While legend has it that Dylan recorded John Wesley Harding after finishing the Basement Tapes sessions with members of The Band, several biographers and discographers have argued that the final reel of basement recordings actually postdates the first John Wesley Harding session.
Regardless of when this session actually occurred, The Band did accompany Dylan for at least one performance in the months following John Wesley Harding. After hearing of Woody Guthrie's passing (two weeks before John Wesley Harding's first session), Dylan contacted Harold Leventhal, Guthrie's longtime friend and manager, and extended an early acceptance to any invitation for any memorial show that might be planned. The memorial came on January 20, 1968, with a pair of shows at New York's Carnegie Hall. Sharing the bill with his folk contemporaries like Tom Paxton, Judy Collins, and Guthrie's son, Arlo, Dylan gave his first public performances in twenty months, backed by The Band (billed then as The Crackers). They played only three songs ("Grand Coulee Dam", "Dear Mrs. Roosevelt", and "I Ain't Got No Home"), and it would be another eighteen months before Dylan would again perform in concert.
As 1967 came to a close, Dylan's lifestyle became more stable. His wife, Sara, had given birth to their daughter, Anna, earlier that summer. He had reconciled with his estranged parents. A long contract negotiation ended in a lucrative new deal, allowing Dylan to stay with Columbia Records. While the media would never lose interest, Dylan maintained a low enough profile that kept him out of the spotlight.
After his appearance at Woody Guthrie's memorial concert, 1968 would see little, if any, musical activity from Bob Dylan. His songs continued to be a major presence, appearing on landmark albums by Jimi Hendrix, The Byrds, and The Band, but Dylan himself would not release or perform any additional music. There was very little songwriting activity, as well.
"One day I was half-stepping, and the lights went out," Dylan would recall ten years later. "And since that point, I more or less had amnesia ... It took me a long time to get to do consciously what I used to be able to do unconsciously."
There were major changes in his private life: Dylan's father died from a heart attack, prompting Dylan to return to Hibbing to attend the funeral. Shortly afterwards, Sara gave birth to their third child.
John Wesley Harding would prove to be the end of a long, influential run of prolific, groundbreaking work. Though in retrospect Harding already hinted of the country-pop sound of his next album, the seemingly sudden change in his musical style once again would prove dramatic and baffling to the press and his fans.
The track durations cited here are those of the remastered version released September 16, 2003, and re-released June 1, 2004. Previous versions differ.
- "John Wesley Harding" – 2:58
- "As I Went Out One Morning" – 2:49
- "I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine" – 3:53
- "All Along the Watchtower" – 2:31
- "The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest" – 5:35
- "Drifter's Escape" – 2:52
- "Dear Landlord" – 3:16
- "I Am a Lonesome Hobo" – 3:19
- "I Pity the Poor Immigrant" – 4:12
- "The Wicked Messenger" – 2:02
- "Down Along the Cove" – 2:23
- "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" – 2:34
Year Chart Position 1968 Billboard 200 2 1968 UK Top 75 1
- Bob Dylan - Guitar, Harmonica, Piano, Keyboards, vocals
- Pete Drake - Pedal Steel Guitar
- Charlie McCoy - Bass
- Kenneth A. Buttrey - drums
- Bob Johnston - Producer
- Charlie Bragg - Engineer
- John Berg - Cover photo
Modern Interpretations & Associations
Baltimore based creative folklore/music ensemble Television Hill have recorded a 6 song concept EP called My Name's Hardin, the title of which pokes fun at Bob Dylan's misspelling of outlaw Wes Hardin's name on his 1967 release while paying homage to Dylan's record and Johnny Cash's double concept LP Sings the Ballads of the True West. The Television Hill EP is a biographical work exploring Wes Hardin's life and lore and draws from Hardin's autobiography, Letters from Prison and an assortment of other biographical and relevant source material.
- ^ a b  Amazon listing
- ^  Discogs.com listing for JWH
- ^ http://english.la.psu.edu/facultystaff/Bio_Thompson.htm
- ^ http://expectingrain.com/dok/who/h/hardingjohnwesley.html
- ^ Riley, Tim (1999). Hard Rain: A Dylan Commentary, p. 177. Da Capo Press. ISBN 0306809079.
- ^ Quoted in Riley, Tim (1999), pp. 177-78.
- ^ a b c Heylin, Clinton (2001). Bob Dylan: Behind the Shades Revisited, pp. 286-90. HarperCollins. ISBN 006052569X.
- ^ Quoted in Heylin (2003), p. 287.
- ^ "The Original Mono Recordings". bobdylan.com. October 19, 2010. http://www.bobdylan.com/fr/music/original-mono-recordings. Retrieved April 24, 2011.
- ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. John Wesley Harding (album) at Allmusic
- ^ Rolling Stone review
- ^ Quoted in Riley, Tim (1999), p. 171.
- ^ Dundas, and Heylin
- 'Bob Dylan: John Wesley Harding (1967) - SACD', SendMeMovies.com (2004) Retrieved July 22, 2005.
- 'Bob Dylan: John Wesley Harding (CD)' SonyMusicStore.com (2005) Retrieved July 22, 2005.
- Dundas, Glen. Tangled Up in Tapes : a Recording History of Bob Dylan (Thunder Bay, Ontario: SMA Services, 1999 (4th ed.)) ISBN 0-9698569-2-X
- Heylin, Clinton. Bob Dylan : The Recording Sessions, 1960-1994 (London: St. Martin's, 1995) ISBN 0-312-13439-8
- An article about the cover photo of John Wesley Harding can be found on a fansite for The Band.
Their Satanic Majesties Request
by The Rolling Stones
Australian Kent Music Report number-one album
March 23–29, 1968
Disraeli Gears by Cream
Greatest Hits by The Supremes
Scott 2 by Scott Walker
UK Albums Chart number-one album
9 March – 18 May 1968
25 May – 15 June 1968
Scott 2 by Scott Walker
Love, Andy by Andy Williams
Bob Dylan Studio albumsBob Dylan · The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan · The Times They Are a-Changin' · Another Side of Bob Dylan · Bringing It All Back Home · Highway 61 Revisited · Blonde on Blonde · John Wesley Harding · Nashville Skyline · Self Portrait · New Morning · Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid · Dylan · Planet Waves · Blood on the Tracks · The Basement Tapes · Desire · Street-Legal · Slow Train Coming · Saved · Shot of Love · Infidels · Empire Burlesque · Knocked Out Loaded · Down in the Groove · Oh Mercy · Under the Red Sky · Good as I Been to You · World Gone Wrong · Time Out of Mind · Love and Theft · Modern Times · Together Through Life · Christmas in the Heart Live albumsBefore the Flood · Hard Rain · Bob Dylan at Budokan · Real Live · Dylan & the Dead · The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration · MTV Unplugged · Live 1961–2000: Thirty-Nine Years of Great Concert Performances · Live at the Gaslight 1962 · Live at Carnegie Hall 1963 · In Concert – Brandeis University 1963 Compilations The Bootleg SeriesVolumes 1–3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961–1991 · Vol. 4: Bob Dylan Live 1966, The "Royal Albert Hall" Concert · Vol. 5: Bob Dylan Live 1975, The Rolling Thunder Revue · Vol. 6: Bob Dylan Live 1964, Concert at Philharmonic Hall · Vol. 7: No Direction Home: The Soundtrack · Vol. 8: Tell Tale Signs: Rare and Unreleased 1989-2006 · Vol. 9: The Witmark Demos: 1962–1964 Concerts and tours Never Ending Tour Films Writings Books about DylanThe Bob Dylan Encyclopedia · Bob Dylan, Performing Artist · Invisible Republic · The Cambridge Companion to Bob Dylan Related articlesAlbums · American folk music revival · Awards · Bob Dylan bootleg recordings · List of Basement Tapes songs · The Bootleg Series · Discography · List of artists who have covered Bob Dylan songs · Related topics · Songs recorded by Bob Dylan · Songs written by Bob Dylan · Great White Wonder · The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams · The Masked Marauders · Theme Time Radio Hour · The Best of Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour · Traveling Wilburys Book:Bob Dylan · Category:Bob Dylan · Portal:Bob Dylan · WikiProject:Bob Dylan
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
John Wesley Harding — Álbum de Bob Dylan Publicación 27 de diciembre de 1967 Grabación 17 de octubre 29 de noviembre de 1967 Género(s) Folk, Country … Wikipedia Español
John Wesley Harding — Album par Bob Dylan Sortie 27 décembre 1967 Enregistrement 17 octobre 29 novembre 1967 Durée 38:58 Genre Folk … Wikipédia en Français
John Wesley Harding — may refer to:* John Wesley Harding (album), a 1967 Bob Dylan album * John Wesley Harding (song), title song to the 1967 Bob Dylan album * John Wesley Harding (singer) (b. 1965), an English singer (born Wesley Harding Stace) * John Wesley Hardin… … Wikipedia
John Wesley Harding (singer) — Wesley Stace (born 22 October 1965) is a folk/pop singer songwriter who often goes by the stage name John Wesley Harding and who has called his style of music folk noir and gangsta folk .He was born in Hastings, East Sussex, England. His given… … Wikipedia
John Wesley Harding — Studioalbum von Bob Dylan Veröffentlichung 27. Dezember 1967 Label Columbia … Deutsch Wikipedia
John Wesley (disambiguation) — John Wesley may refer to: * John Wesley, British Christian theologian * John Wesley (artist), modern American painter * John Wesley (guitarist), American rock singer and guitarist * John Wesley Davis, American politician * John Wesley Dean III,… … Wikipedia
John Wesley Hardin — (May 26, 1853 August 19, 1895) was an outlaw and gunfighter of the American Old West. He was born in Bonham, Fannin County, Texas. In the history of nineteenth century western America, Hardin was an especially brutal, prolific killer. Hardin shot … Wikipedia
John Wesley — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Wesley. John Wesley John Wesley (1703 1791) est un prêtre anglican britannique. Wesley est en grande partie crédité, avec son frère Charles Wesley, comme étant l un des fondateurs de l Église … Wikipédia en Français
John Harding — is a name that may refer to:*J. Eugene Harding (1877 ndash;1959), U.S. Representative from Ohio *John Harding, 1st Baron Harding of Petherton (1896 ndash;1989), British World War II general and governor of Cyprus *John Harding (Sha ko hen the… … Wikipedia
Harding — ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Ann Harding (1901–1981), US amerikanische Schauspielerin Benjamin F. Harding (1823–1899), US amerikanischer Politiker Chester Harding (Maler) (1792–1866), US amerikanischer Maler Chester Harding… … Deutsch Wikipedia