|This was the only song on the album produced
by Tom Wilson, who produced Dylan's second album, The Freewheelin'
Bob Dylan. Wilson had been a Jazz producer and was brought in to
replace John Hammond. Wilson invited keyboard player Al Kooper to
the session, and Al produced the famous organ riff that drove the
song. This was the last song Wilson worked on with Dylan, as Bob
Johnson took over production duties.
|The title is not a reference to The Rolling
Stones. It is taken from the phrase "A rolling stone gathers no moss."
Dylan got the idea from the Hank Williams song "Lost Highway," which
contains the line, "I'm a rolling stone, I'm alone and lost."
|Dylan based the lyrics on a short story he had
written about a debutante who becomes a loner when she falls out of
high society. The lyrics that made it into the song are only a small
part of what was in the story.
|This runs 6:13. It was a big breakthrough when
this got radio play and became a hit, since many stations refused to
play songs much longer than 3 minutes. It was also rare for a song
with so many lyrics to do well commercially.
|Dylan recorded another version in 1970 for his
Self Portrait album. This time, he used experienced session
players in Nashville, Tennessee. Ron Cornelius played guitar on the
album and told us about the session: "You're not reading manuscripts.
In Nashville the players are booked because of what they can create
right now, not what's written on a piece of paper. Everybody's
creating their part as the tape is rolling. Out of everybody I've
worked with, I don't know of anyone who's been any nicer than Bob
Dylan. He treated me wonderfully, but at the same time you knew
being around him day after day that this man wakes up in a different
world every morning. On a creative level that's a really good thing
and to try to second guess him or to ask him what he actually meant
by these lyrics, you're shooting in the dark because he's not going
to tell you anyway. And he might be telling you the truth when he
says "I don't know, what does it mean to you.'"
|It is rumored that this was written about one
time debutante Edie Sedgwick, who was part of Andy Warhol's crowd.
She was the subject of an emotional tug of war between the Dylan
camp and the Warhol camp. (thanks, David - London, England)
|Jimi Hendrix often played this, including a
performance at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. Hendrix and Dylan met
only once, but Jimi had a knack for bringing out the emotions in
Dylan's songs: he also did a very successful cover of "All Along The
|The Rolling Stones recorded this for their
1995 album Stripped.
|In the November 2004 issue, Rolling Stone
Magazine named this #1 on their list of the greatest songs of all
time. (thanks, Ed - Perth, Australia)
|Greil Marcus wrote a book of almost 300 pages
about this song. The book was released in 2005 and is titled Like
A Rolling Stone. (thanks, Ed - Perth, Australia)
|If you listen very closely at the beginning of
this song, you will notice that the organ is an 1/8th note behind
everyone else. (thanks, Lancelot - Waikoloa, HI)