Like a Rolling Stone is a folk rock song recorded Bob Dylan.
Song Title: Like a Rolling Stone
Artist: Bob Dylan
Album: Highway 61 Revisited
Genre: folk rock, classic rock, folk
Composer: Copyright © Bob Dylan
Lead Vocals: Bob Dylan
Lead Guitar: Mike Bloomfield (of Paul Butterfield Blues Band) (Telecaster)
Rhythm Guitar: Bob Dylan
Piano: Paul Griffin
Organ: Al Kooper (Hammond)
Bass: Russ Savakus
Drums: Bobby Gregg
Tambourine: Bruce Langhorne
Harmonica: Bob Dylan
Producer: Tom Wilson
Recorded: June 15-16, 1965, Columbia Records Studio A, 799 Seventh Avenue, New York City, New York
Released: July 20, 1965
Rolling Stone Top 500: Like a Rolling Stone was selected number one (1) in Rolling Stone Magazines 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in May 2011. See Rolling Stone.
Number of listens: 26234
Current rank: 25 (updated weekly)
Highest rank: 12 (play the video all the way through to register a vote for this song)
U.S. Billboard Hot 100: 12 weeks, peak #2 (two)
United Kingdom: peak #4 (four)
Billboard chart listings courtesy of Billboard Magazine
Summary quotation from Wikipedia:
Like a Rolling Stone is a 1965 song by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. Its confrontational lyrics originate in an extended piece of verse Dylan wrote in June 1965, when he returned from a grueling tour of England, exhausted. After the lyrics were heavily edited, Like a Rolling Stone was recorded a few weeks later as part of the sessions for the forthcoming album Highway 61 Revisited. During a difficult two-day preproduction, Dylan struggled to find the essence of the song, which was demoed without success in 3/4 time. A breakthrough was made when it was tried in a rock music format, and rookie session musician Al Kooper improvised the organ riff for which the track is known. However, Columbia Records was unhappy with both the songs length at over six minutes and its heavy electric sound, and was hesitant to release it. It was only when a month later a copy was leaked to a new popular music club and heard by influential DJs that the song was put out as a single. Although radio stations were reluctant to play such a long track, Like a Rolling Stone reached number two in the US charts and became a worldwide hit.
The track has been described as revolutionary in its combination of different musical elements, the youthful, cynical sound of Dylans voice, and the directness of the question in the chorus: How does it feel?. Like a Rolling Stone transformed Dylans career and is today considered one of the most influential compositions in post-war popular music and has since its release been both a music industry and popular culture milestone which elevated Dylans image to iconic. The song has been covered by numerous artists, varying from the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the Rolling Stones, the Wailers to Green Day.
Writing and recording
In the spring of 1965, returning from the tour of England documented in the film Dont Look Back, Dylan was unhappy with the publics expectations of him, as well as the direction his career was going, and seriously considered quitting the music business. In a 1966 Playboy interview, he described his dissatisfaction: Last spring, I guess I was going to quit singing. I was very drained, and the way things were going, it was a very draggy situation
But Like a Rolling Stone changed it all. I mean it was something that I myself could dig. Its very tiring having other people tell you how much they dig you if you yourself dont dig you.
The basis of the song came from an extended piece of verse. In 1966, Dylan described the genesis of Like a Rolling Stone to journalist Jules Siegel:
It was ten pages long. It wasnt called anything, just a rhythm thing on paper all about my steady hatred directed at some point that was honest. In the end it wasnt hatred, it was telling someone something they didnt know, telling them they were lucky. Revenge, thats a better word. I had never thought of it as a song, until one day I was at the piano, and on the paper it was singing, How does it feel? in a slow motion pace, in the utmost of slow motion.
During 1965, Dylan composed prose, poems, and songs by typing incessantly. Footage of Dylan in his suite at the Savoy Hotel, London, captures this process in Dont Look Back. But he told two interviewers that Like a Rolling Stone began as a long piece of vomit (in one account 10 pages, in another 20 pages) which then acquired musical form. He never spoke of any other major composition in this way. In an interview with CBC radio in Montreal, Dylan called the creation of the song a breakthrough, explaining that it changed his perception of where he was going in his career. He said that he found himself writing this long piece of vomit, 20 pages long, and out of it I took Like a Rolling Stone and made it as a single. And Id never written anything like that before and it suddenly came to me that was what I should do
After writing that I wasnt interested in writing a novel, or a play. I just had too much, I want to write songs.
From the extended version on paper, Dylan crafted four verses and the chorus in Woodstock, New York. The song was written on an upright piano in the key of G sharp and was changed to C on the guitar in the recording studio. Dylan invited Mike Bloomfield, lead guitarist of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, to play on the recording session. Asked by Dylan to visit his house in Woodstock for the weekend to learn new material, Bloomfield later recalled: The first thing I heard was Like a Rolling Stone. I figured he wanted blues, string bending, because thats what I do. He said, Hey, man, I dont want any of that B.B. King stuff. So, OK, I really fell apart. What the heck does he want? We messed around with the song. I played the way that he dug, and he said it was groovy.
The recording sessions were produced by Tom Wilson on June 15–16, 1965, in Studio A of Columbia Records, 799 Seventh Avenue, in New York City. In addition to Bloomfield, the other musicians enlisted were Paul Griffin on piano, Joe Macho, Jr. on bass, Bobby Gregg on drums, and Bruce Langhorne on tambourine, all booked by Wilson. Gregg and Griffin had previously worked with Dylan and Wilson on Bringing It All Back Home.
On the first day, five takes of the song were recorded in a markedly different style from the eventual releasea 3/4 waltz time, with Dylan on piano. The lack of sheet music meant the song was played by ear. However the essence of the song was discovered in the course of the chaotic session. They did not reach the first chorus until the fourth take, but after the following harmonica fill Dylan interrupted, saying, My voice is gone, man. You wanna try it again? This take was subsequently released on The Bootleg Series Volumes 1–3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961–1991. The session ended shortly afterwards.
When the session re-convened the following day, June 16, Al Kooper joined the proceedings. Kooper, at that time a 21-year-old session guitarist, was not originally supposed to play but was present as Wilsons guest. When Wilson stepped out, however, Kooper sat down with his guitar with the other musicians, hoping to take part in the recording session. By the time Wilson returned, Kooper, who had been intimidated by Bloomfields guitar playing, was back in the control room. After a couple of rehearsal takes, Wilson moved Griffin from Hammond organ to piano. Kooper then went to Wilson, saying that he had a good part for the organ. Wilson belittled Koopers organ-playing abilities, but as Kooper later said, He just sort of scoffed at me
He didnt say noso I went out there. Wilson, surprised to see Kooper at the organ, nevertheless allowed him to play on the track. Upon hearing a playback of the song, Dylan insisted that the organ be turned up in the mix, despite Wilsons protestations that Kooper was not an organ player.
This session saw 15 recorded takes. The song had by now evolved into its familiar form, in 4/4 time with Dylan on electric guitar. After the fourth takethe master take that was released as a singleWilson happily commented, That sounds good to me. Nevertheless, Dylan and the band persisted in recording the song 11 more times.
According to Shaun Considine, release coordinator for Columbia Records in 1965, Like a Rolling Stone was first relegated to the graveyard of canceled releases because of concerns from the sales and marketing departments over its unprecedented six-minute length and raucous rock sound. In the days following the rejection, Considine took a discarded acetate of the song to a New York club called Arthura newly opened disco popular with celebrities and media people. At the crowds insistence, the demo was played over and over, until finally it wore out. The next morning, a disc jockey and a programming director from the citys leading top 40 stations called Columbia and demanded copies. Shortly afterwards, on July 20, 1965, Like a Rolling Stone was released as a single with Gates of Eden as its B-side.
Despite its length, the song became Dylans biggest hit to date and remained in the US charts for 12 weeks, where it reached number 2behind The Beatles Help!. The promotional copies released to disc jockeys on July 15 had the first two verses and two refrains on one side, while the rest of the song was put on the other. Deejays who wanted to play the whole song would simply flip the vinyl over. While many radio stations were reluctant to play the song in its entirety, public demand eventually forced them to air the full song. This helped the single reach its number 2 peak, several weeks after its release. It was a Top 10 hit in other countries, including Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.
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