Rock-Critic Pop Quiz #4: How Many '60s Bob Dylan Albums Can You Name?

bob dylan another side.jpg
In the '70s and '80s, knowing Bob Dylan was one of the most crucial skills of being a good rock critic, right alongside "a smug sense of entitlement" and "snorting this whole table of blow." But how does he fare among a new generation of critics? For young rock writers, Bob is basically an influence on Iron & Wine and something for to sample in Pepsi commercials. This week, our panel consisted solely of critics under the age of 40 -- the kids whose first exposure to Dylan was probably "Oh word, Jakob's dad?" They were given this brain-buster:

Bob Dylan made nine studio albums in the 1960s. How many can you name?

Shouldn't be too difficult, right? Pretty much the most epochal records ever made if you're the type of person to listen to NPR for any reason beyond "by accident." We cobbled 13 professional and semi-professional rock critics and gave them the usual rules:

1. I will not identify you AT ALL, so it is OK to be wrong. [We will say that our esteemed panel edits magazines, websites, and alt-weeklies. They have written for pretty much every outlet you've ever heard of, from Rolling Stone, Spin, and Billboard on down to random Tweets.]

2. You can't use Google.

So did these rainy day men and women end up bringing it all back home? Find out below:

The correct answer: Bob 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.

Out of 13 polled:

Number of critics that got all nine albums: 3

Number of critics that got eight albums:

Number of critics that got seven albums: 2

Number of critics that got six albums:

Number of critics that got three or fewer:

Most forgotten album: Another Side of Bob Dylan, missed seven times

Most correct album: Highway 61 Revisited, correct all 13 times

Number of critics that guessed Self-Portrait (1970): 2

Number of critics that guessed Blood on the Tracks (1975): 4

Of the three critics that ran a clean sweep, number that listed them chronologically:

Number of critics who cynically asked if this question had something to do with SOTC Dylan week: 2

Best incorrect answers (real-sounding division): At Big Pink, The Young Bob Dylan, Like a Rolling Stone, Sings the Blues, I'm Not There

Best incorrect answers (fake-sounding division): Bob Dylan in Jail, Bob Dylan and the Peppermint Dream Machine, A Young Man and his Harmonica, The Johnny Cash Record.

Number of critics who admitted "The first time I knowingly heard Bob Dylan was when I sought out the source material for PJ Harvey's 'Highway 61 Revisited' cover": 1

Number of critics who admitted they only knew the cover of Freewheelin' from Vanilla Sky: 1

Number of critics who started complaining about Saved (1980): 1

Number of critics who swore that we not tell Rob Sheffield that he couldn't do all nine inside a minute: 1

Like its title implies, 1964's Another Side of Bob Dylan was the first Dylan record to move away from "finger-pointin'" protest jams of his youth and into the emotional labyrinths he would explore for the next half-century. So we all don't forget this awesome album again, here are the Ramones covering the "My Back Pages."

Maybe you would like to prepare yourself for next time? More on Bob Dylan:

The Sex Shop Near Where Bob Dylan Lived

Interview: Famed Bob Dylan Violinist Scarlet Rivera On The Chance NYC-Street Meeting That Changed Her Life

Rock-Critic Pop Quiz #4: How Many '60s Bob Dylan Albums Can You Name?

Let's Play "Name Your Favorite Bob Dylan Song," Starring No Age, Robyn Hitchcock, DJ Rekha, Greg Dulli, And More

Dylan's Voice Archive: Nobody Likes Him In His Hometown

Dylan In NYC, Day 4: Haunting The Washington Square Hotel And The 8th Street Bookshop

Bob Dylan In NYC, Day 3: Revisiting The Gaslight, The Village Gate, And More

A Word From Todd Snider: What Would You Say If You Met Bob Dylan?

Dylan's Voice Archives: In Praise Of The Kinder, Gentler Blonde on Blonde

Bob Dylan In NYC, Day 2: Revisiting Jones Street And 161 West 4th

Bob Dylan's New York City: Why It Never Got Better Than 1961

Dylan's Voice Archives: Mods And Rockers Face Off In An Epic Orgy Of Stage-Crashing And Fruit-Throwing

Bob Dylan In NYC: Revisiting Cafe Wha? And 94 MacDougal

Bob Dylan Arrived In New York City 50 Years Ago Today

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I have to agree (and disagree) partially with Judge Simpson. Although I understand the concept of including 1970 as part of the "60s", if we are talking chronologically, it doesn't work.

The problems occur here because the statement is made that "Bob Dylan made nine studio albums in the 1960s." Did he? I would say he 'made' more, but maybe they weren't released in the 60s. A large part (the majority, I believe) of "Self Portrait" was recorded in 1969, and some in early 1970. Is it a 60's album? Well, yes and no.

And "Greatest Hits" certainly does deserve to be mentioned, if only for the inclusion of "Positively 4th Street", which had previously only been available as a single. I'll wager many more people heard that song on the LP when it was first released than ever did hear the single.

And as Judge Simpson already pointed out, there are now all the live recordings from the 60's. So how many did Bob 'make'? More than 9.

Of course this could have all been avoided if you said "released" instead of "made" (but it would still not be 9 - "Greatest Hits" makes it 10).

Judge Simpson
Judge Simpson

The nine albums of the 60's is actually debatable. Most mathematicians would claim the year 1970 is in fact part of the 1960's. That would add not only Self Portrait, but also New Morning to the list for a total of 11.

Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits was released in 1967, bringing the total to 12. Many fans and critics would argue for this album's inclusion due to its iconic significance and because it is one of Dylan's top selling albums.

Lastly, there is the distinction worth making between albums released commercially in the 60's, and those merely recorded in the 60's. The Basement Tapes might reasonably being considered a 60's album although it was released in 1975. Again, its iconic status is the strongest case for including it in the 1960's category. The celebrated, but unreleased, 1967 recordings prompted what is considered to be the first-ever bootleg album in rock n' roll history, circulated in the summer of 1969. It also birthed some of the 60's biggest hits for other artists, as well as more Bob Dylan bootlegs recorded in the 60's and distributed afterwards.

In this same vein, many officially released albums of live performances from the 1960's have emerged over the decades. Personally, I would claim Live 1966 to be equal to or better than any other Bob Dylan album.

Anyway, the point is, this is not a straightforward question and answer. But interesting nonetheless.


Too bad that was a cover that CJ sang, not Joey...


Damn dude, try meeting some girls.

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