In addition to the obvious classics, there are renditions of little-known Bobtunes that in hindsight stand with his best from this time (15 of the songs here have never been officially released by Bob in any form). Long Time Gone is a powerful refutation of any attempt to tame the drifting protagonist. It includes the line "But I know I ain't no prophet / An' I ain't no prophet's son" - that predates the spokesman-for-a-generation furore (he may be more prophetic than he knows). With a sprightly rhythm, engaging melody and offbeat chord changes for the folk idiom, Guess I'm Doing Fine is another anthem of determination.You can listen to 22 of the 47 tracks in this collection on the NPR website. The demo of "Blowin' in the Wind" struck me as better than the version released on The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, but this may just have been a "shock of the new" reaction. "Long Ago, Far Away", which I previously knew only from the Brothers Four Sing of Our Times album (you can play a sample here), seems badly recorded; Dylan's voice on "far away" sounding very screechy. The anthemic "When the Ship Comes In"--my favorite version has long been that of The Hillmen, Chris Hillman's pre-Byrds bluegrass group (listen here)--is here done by Dylan accompanying himself on piano, and done splendidly. Other songs I'd never heard, like the aforementioned "I'm Doing Fine", were especially pleasant surprises.
As Michael Simmons sums it up:
I'm betting a lot of young people of the 21st century will find comfort listening to this young man of the 20th as he begins his odyssey. All eras set challenges for young minds - and Lord knows everyone gets the blues. True artists make their own mistakes and learn their own lessons, but it never hurts to know where giants have trod before embarking on a journey of your own.