Friday, October 24, 2008

Album Of The Day #94: PAT GARRETT & BILLY THE KID - Bob Dylan

Title: Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid
Artist: Bob Dylan
Label: Columbia
Released: 1973
Songs: Main Title Theme (Billy)/Cantina Theme (Workin’ For The Law)/Billy 1/Bunkhouse Theme/River Theme/Turkey Chase/Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door/Final Theme/Billy 4/Billy 7
Written by: Bob Dylan
Produced by: Gordon Carroll
Thoughts: This certainly isn’t a true album, but it is a great soundtrack. Dylan’s instrumental arrangements are sweeping and breathtaking, perfectly fitting the film they were written for. I caught the film on a Western cable station a while ago and was truly impressed. I was disappointed though, by the fact that the entirety of “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” is not used once, although MGM did actually use “Billy” throughout the film. MGM bastardized Dylan’s soundtrack to such a degree that they didn’t even use “Main Title Theme (Billy)” for the opening credits and the beautiful “Final Theme” during the closing credits. Instead, they used the same vocal versions of “Billy” to open and close the film.
If you take this as an album, it is a perfect closing to Dylan’s ‘country’ era. Only four tracks have vocals, and of those four, three are just variations on “Billy”, which essentially tells the story of the movie. Of the instrumental tracks, my favorite is the previously mentioned “Final Theme”. It is just so moving and wonderfully arranged. “Turkey Chase” is also a fun track that was used as the flip-side to “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door”.
I have always found “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” a little under-whelming. It consists of just two verses and a chorus that just repeats the title. It sickens me to say that this is the only Dylan song I ever hear on the radio because it fails to show any of Dylan’s true prowess as a song-writer.
“Billy” is a cool tune, but rather pedestrian, lyric wise, as it just tells the listener the basics of the story. So, I guess the tracks that stick out to me are the instrumentals that show that Bob isn’t just a great song-writer, but a great tunesmith.

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