All Along the Watchtower

This description of the song written by Bob Dylan, as recorded by Jimi Hendrix, comes from the great Reason To Rock website. Reason To Rock, a Web Book by Herb Bowie, is subtitled Rock Music As Art Form. Herb Bowie, who writes with style and insight, shares his love for his favorite rock recordings through a series of essays on artists, albums, and tracks. Below he analyzes the synergy of a master song writer and a musical genius embodied in four minutes of amazing music.

Let’s start by looking at the lyrics. This song came off of Bob Dylan’s John Wesley Harding album, which marked a radical departure from his previous recordings. His older compositions often had many more than the standard three verses of popular songs — “Positively Fourth Street” boasted twelve. His lyrics had often been pointed and sharply critical. His use of language was unusual, and called attention to itself by juxtaposing words and images not usually associated with each other.

In contrast, “All Along The Watchtower” is spare and restrained. The song consists of only three verses, with no chorus. The language is simple. Yet the three verses are packed with meaning and drama. Let’s see how it starts. continued…