What George Harrison learned from Bob Dylan album ‘Blonde on Blonde’

It’s an impossible task, but if we tried to quantify the most influential artists in musical history, The Beatles and Bob Dylan would be two of the most worthy names to put forward. While Dylan pioneered the poetic protest song and forged a way for folk in the United States, The Beatles revolutionised recording and rock and roll from across the Atlantic.

Though they were two of the biggest names in music, there was, perhaps surprisingly, little competition between the two songwriting giants. Rather, admiration trumped animosity. The Beatles were in awe of their folk peer, while Dylan preferred to be more quietly complimentary of the so-called Fab Four.

Guitarist George Harrison was particularly enthusiastic about one of Dylan’s records, his 1966 double album, Blonde on Blonde. The LP was just as beloved by its songwriter as it was by Harrison, as Dylan once stated, “The closest I ever got to the sound I hear in my mind was on individual bands in the Blonde on Blonde album,” in a conversation with Playboy.

The hugely acclaimed record was so important to Harrison that it was one of the few records he took with him on his trip to India. “I’d felt very strongly about Bob when I’d been in India years before – the only record I took with me along all my Indian records was Blonde On Blonde,” he recalled to Crawdaddy Magazine.

Harrison described him as “so great, so heavy and so observant about everything” before going on to describe one of the moments from the record that struck him most – the final lyrics in ‘Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again’.

At the end of seven minutes of playful instrumentals and characteristic songwriting full of storytelling, Dylan sings, “And here I sit so patiently, waiting to find out what price you have to pay to get out of going through all these things twice, oh, mama, is this really the end? To be stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis blues again,” and the song delivers its final percussive blows.

Dylan’s words encouraged the Beatle to think about paying the price in order to secure a way out. Musing on those final lines, Harrison noted, “But the thing that he said on Blonde on Blonde, about what price you have to pay to get out of going through all these things twice – ‘Oh mama, can this really be the end.’ So I was thinking, ‘There is a way out of it all, really, in the end.’”

Dylan’s contemplative words seem to walk the line between comforting and existential, a trait that can often be found in his discography and that affected even George Harrison. Revisit ‘Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again’ by Bob Dylan below.

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