It's hard to choose between this and his softer crooning of Nashville Skyline (1969, Columbia 9825) with its beautiful ballad Lay Lady Lay, but in the search for essential albums, country needs a look in. Hardingsees Dylan coming back to acoustic, more traditional roots and less-surreal lyrics than previously. Shorter lines, pared lyrics were the order of the day. Every word counts.
There are influences/references from The Bible; there is a folky, old-America and history feel about it. The title song is about a Texas outlaw; As I Went Out One Morning is about temptation; I Dreamed I Saw St Augustine harks back over a thousand years in history; The Ballad Of Frankie Lee And Judas Priest has been called a ‘morality song’.
Dear Landlord, Drifter’s Escape and I Am A Lonesome Hobo speak of society’s rejects. Down Along The Cove and I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight utilise pedal steel guitar, anticipating country-rock. But All Along The Watchtower is perhaps the best-known (from Isaiah), through Jimi Hendrix’s 1968 feedback-drenched version with the full Hendrix ‘Experience’.