“Positively 4th Street” – Bob Dylan (1965)


“‘Positively 4th Street’ is a song written and performed by Bob Dylan, first recorded in New York City on July 29, 1965. … The studio band on ‘Positively 4th Street’ featured Bobby Gregg (drums), Russ Savakus or Harvey Brooks (bass), Frank Owens or Paul Griffin (piano), Al Kooper (organ) and Mike Bloomfield (guitar), with the song initially being logged on the studio’s official recording session documentation under the working title of ‘Black Dally Rue’. … Critic Dave Marsh praised the song as ‘an icy hipster bitch session’ with ‘Dylan cutting loose his barbed-wire tongue at somebody luckless enough to have crossed the path of his desires.’ … Joni Mitchell has cited the song as one of her biggest inspirations at the dawn of her career: ‘There came a point when I heard a Dylan song called ‘Positively Fourth Street’ and I thought ‘oh my God, you can write about anything in songs’. It was like a revelation to me’. … The song, like most of Dylan’s, is composed of a simple harmonic, or chordal, and melodic structure; the verse has a I-ii-IV-I progression followed by I-V-IV-vi-V. The song is in the key of F# Major. Dylan begins by telling the unspecified second-person target of the song that they have a lot of nerve to say that they are his friend and then goes on to list a multitude of examples of their backstabbing duplicity. While the lyrics are distinctly negative, the organ-dominated backing music is that of carefree folk-rock. The melody is somewhat repetitive and does not deviate from the harmonic progression set up during the first four lines of the song. Additionally, the song has no recognisable, repeating refrain, and does not feature its title anywhere in the song’s lyrics. Founder of Crawdaddy! magazine, Paul Williams, has noted that the song’s lyrics are uncharacteristically straightforward and devoid of the rich, poetic imagery present in the majority of Dylan’s contemporaneous material. Thus, the song can be seen as something of an open letter to Dylan’s intended target, with the Top 40 airwaves serving as Dylan’s means of communication. …”
W – Positively 4th Street, W – From a Buick 6
The Story Behind The Song: Bob Dylan’s ultimate musical middle finger on ‘Positively 4th Street’
Discogs (Video)
YouTube: Positively 4th Street (Official Audio), From a Buick 6 (Take 4)

About 1960s: Days of Rage

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