We all have that one album that changed music forever. That one LP that as soon as you heard it, you knew it would be a part of your life forever. For Iggy Pop, that music came from Bob Dylan.
It’s hard to imagine a world without Iggy Pop but, without hearing Bob Dylan as a teenager, his life could easily have followed a different route. However, like so many of the great artists who have emerged over the last 50 years, Mr Pop was inspired to follow his dreams after listening to Dylan.
The one Dylan record that Iggy holds dearest to is 1965 effort Bringing It All Back Home. Dylan’s fifth studio album saw him mix things up for his fans, opting for the first half of the record as electric whilst the second half was acoustic-led. The record was a turning point in the legendary singer’s career as it saw him ditch the folk songs that he had become synonymous with and showed that there was much more to him than just being a ‘protest singer’.
It’s one of Dylan’s finest records from his immense repertoire and was a commercial success at the time with it becoming his first album to enter the Top 10 in America as well as giving him a number one record in Britain. Tracks like ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’ and ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ remain some of his most loved work over half a century on.
Iggy was asked by VinylWriters to discuss the one album that changed his life and picking Bringing It All Back Home was a straightforward choice for the former Stooges man who recalled worshipping this record as an 18-year-old when it came out.
He disclosed: “When this album got released, I listened to it over and over and over again. I can still sing along to songs like ‘It’s Alright, Ma I’m Only Bleeding’ and ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’. Back then, I sat in front of the turntable and learned them word by word. ‘It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue’ is such a beautiful ballad, Them have once done a very atmospheric cover of that song.”
But it wasn’t just the hits that impressed Iggy: “While ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’ never has been my favourite song. Even if you love an artist, from time to time you can say with good conscience: that’s not for me. ‘Outlaw Blues’ was another song that always sounded to me like Dylan had to fill another three minutes on the album. But the other stuff— simply awesome! This nonchalance! Dylan didn’t polish his tracks too much.”
The former leader of The Stooges then continued his high praise, noting it’s historical importance within music and the impression he gave when performing live: “Of course, the record is very famous because it marks his way to the electric guitar. I have seen him on tour back then, in autumn 1965 he came to Detroit. At the first half of the evening, he stood there with his acoustic guitar, for about an hour. It was absolutely magical, he played songs from this record and earlier stuff.”
Of course, the next instalment of the show was a vision of the future: “When he came back, he was wearing a Beatles suit and winklepickers- and a Fender Stratocaster. He made a real show out of his return to the stage: he walked backwards, jumped up and turned around within the move, and then instantly started to play. He was joined by Mike Bloomfield and his backing band The Hawks, which later became famous as The Band. How damned good they were! They produced a fat sound, and while they were playing, bearded men in the audience roared: ‘Cut the shit, Bob! Play folk!’ It drove some people really angry, but I thought it was fantastic.
It’s easy to connect Dylan’s defiant performance to Iggy’s own determination to produce high-quality art. He then added: “Bob showed me that you can make things differently in rock music, and that was a true revelation. A few months ago I had seen the Beach Boys at the very same place. They had impressed me so much, that I immediately bought the same shirt that they were wearing. But they hadn’t given me any hope that I could ever be like them— I knew that I would never sing as high and clear, let alone understand anything about diminished 9-chords or such stuff.
“But Bob Dylan, The Stones or The Kingsmen made me think: Okay, why don’t I do something like that, maybe just a little more simple?”
The impact that Dylan has had on all genres of music is hard to quantify fairly, the world let alone the world of music would be a much darker place if it wasn’t for his influence and he truly is a one of a kind talent that proved that the impossible was possible for normal kids like Iggy to make it.