Friday, February 8, 2013

Rockin' Friday: Like A Rolling Stone

This week marked the 69th birthday of rock legend Al Kooper. What, you don’t know who that is? Al Kooper fell into playing a crucial role in arguably one of the best rock songs of the 20th century, which just so happens to be this week’s Rockin’ Friday selection. 

Bob Dylan wrote Like a Rolling Stone in 1965 as a way of speaking back to all of the detractors who had given him a hard time. It’s also a fascinating look at social hierarchies. The song’s subject, Miss Lonely, grew up in an affluent lifestyle and seemed to be on easy street, but due to unknown circumstances finds herself on the opposite end of the class structure and now she doesn’t know how to deal with it.

So what does that have to do with Al Kooper? He was an unknown 21 year old pianist who was watching the studio recording of Rolling Stone, which the band was tinkering quite a bit with. At one point, he jumped in on the electric organ, though he was not an experienced player, and improvised the now legendary intro to this classic song. He was in the right place at the right time, unlike Miss Lonely.

The familiar refrain of the song still sounds a powerful message, nearly 50 years after it was written:

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone

Happy Birthday, Mr. Kooper. Rock music is glad you jumped off the sidelines into history.

 What's your favorite Bob Dylan song?

1 comment:

  1. Love the song - one of those I turn up and sing loudly (though off key) whenever it comes on. Thanks for that bit of history surrounding it.
    It's hard to pick a favorite from a guy that is so prolific. However one of my favorites is Shelter from the Storm.