T for Tom

Day 12 – Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid – 1973

Posted in A Dylan A Day by johnsontoms on July 4, 2016


Getting on into the weird years, the years where years may go by. After giving us his least recognizable album Dylan devolves into scoring a film. While the composition is squarely Dylan-esque, with soft, sweeping guitars and sparse accompanying chimes blowing in the wind, the narrative is purely for film – empty of vocals and largely not telling a musical story.

It is however, soaringly beautiful. It begins with those mentioned chimes, and you can hear the cowboys riding in the sunset as the guitar softly plays on every other beat. Dylan begins to hum on the later tracks, and drops vocals in a quarter of the whole album. It is, I believe, a great soundtrack to the film that needed it.

The few things we can look to for Dylan are the songs that live in, retrospectively as some of his best work. Those are “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” and “Wagon Wheel,” which doesn’t even appear on this record. Of course both went on to be famously covered by Guns N Roses, Old Crow Medicine Show, and others. But in their original form, were the sounds of the prairie west and the frontier ahead.

I think this is more of the reason that Bob Dylan got involved than other, that it spoke to something inside of him. That infinite American longing for the frontier, the feeling that lives inside all of us that somehow the spirit can be found in searching

He gained a part in the film by providing the soundtrack, and the allure I’m sure was too much. It wasn’t but another two years later when donned his own flat-brimmed frontier hat, the look he’s sported ever since.

Because I think he’s always been a rambler. And while this record doesn’t say much, literally, it was the beginning of his wandering.

Song: Main Title Theme

As much as the legacy of “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” will persist, it’s the truth that lies in the cowboy riding into the sunset that lives forever. I hear that in this song.


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