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Self Portrait


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Audio CD, August 24, 1989
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Bob Dylan's influence on popular music is incalculable. As a songwriter, he pioneered several different schools of pop songwriting, from confessional singer/songwriter to winding, hallucinatory, stream-of-consciousness narratives. As a vocalist, he broke down the notion that a singer must have a conventionally good voice in order to ... Read more in Amazon's Bob Dylan Store

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Self Portrait + Another Self Portrait (1969-1971): The Bootleg Series Vol. 10
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 24, 1989)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony
  • ASIN: B0000024W3
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (137 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #138,205 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. All The Tired Horses
2. Alberta #4
3. I Forgot More Than You'll Ever Know
4. Days Of 49
5. Early Mornin' Rain
6. In Search Of A Little Sadie
7. Let It Be Me
8. Little Sadie
9. Woogie Boogie
10. Belle Isle
11. Living The Blues
12. Like A Rolling Stone
13. Copper Kettle
14. Gotta Travel On
15. Blue Moon
16. The Boxer
17. The Mighty Quinn (Quinn, The Eskimo)
18. Take Me As I Am
19. Take A Message To Mary
20. It Hurts Me Too
See all 24 tracks on this disc

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Self Portrait stands as a truly perverse collection. Released in 1970 at a time when those on the radical left were hungering for their then-unimpeachable hero to reclaim his role as the conscience of his generation, Bob Dylan instead delivered a pop-inflected collection largely made up of rather indifferently performed covers. Youth culture was at a boiling point and the one figure the vanguard of The Movement hoped would galvanize all those street-fighting men and women was . . . crooning "Blue Moon"? In hindsight, Self Portrait is, at best, pleasant. The uncharacteristically lush likes of "All The Tired Horses," "Wigwam," and "Copper Kettle" are mighty nice, in fact. But then the tepid covers of "The Boxer," "Early Mornin' Rain," and "Gotta Travel On," as well as perplexingly lifeless live versions of "Like a Rolling Stone" and "She Belongs to Me" drag the whole set down and leave one wondering what Dylan was thinking when he selected such a provocative title for such an unrevealing album. --Steven Stolder

Customer Reviews

SELF PORTRAIT is rapidly becoming my favorite Bob Dylan album.
Bruce Eder
This was Dylan saying "this is what I like and I could care less if it sells." I love this album!
Amazon.com Reviewer
Among the latter, most of them are just bad ones (weak songs, lousy musicians, poor production values).
Poodles McWorms

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

148 of 159 people found the following review helpful By ewomack TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 25, 2003
Format: Audio CD
The first time I heard this album I nearly laughed myself unconscious. I had recently seen "Don't Look Back" in which Dylan gives surrealistic and absurd press conferences, makes fun of Donovan, and pretty much shows he's not your conventional performer. Then I heard the opening notes of "All the Tired Horses" and I was pretty sure that this album was in the same league as the "Oh! I though you'd ask me about the lightbulb" or "I consider myself a song and dance man" press conference clips from "Don't Look Back." I laughed and laughed, played it for friends, who usually didn't understand what I found funny, and more or less made up my mind that this album represented Dylan giving the middle finger to his fans. For some strange reason that belief endeared the album to me.
Years later, when I finally opened enough musically to appreciate Dylan's "country phase" (beginning with, roughly, "John Wesley Harding" and roughly ending with this album) I now think about this album very differently, and I actually enjoy listening to it, with the exception of a few tracks.
Dylan's first decade was spent continually changing styles. The "protest singers" hugged him to their bosoms until "Another Side of Bob Dylan" and then became violently offended when he completely ditched the protest scene, went electric and didn't seem to care what they thought. Simultaneously, an entire new scene opened up to him with "Like A Rolling Stone." Now Dylan was cool, and cooler than could ever be imagined. He was on the pop charts and in the spotlight. The fans at the time probably thought that Dylan had found himself and looked forward to years and years of the same kind of thing. But he unexpectedly turned coat on the "cool rock" scene as well and dove head first into its seeming "uncool" antithesis: country music.
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79 of 88 people found the following review helpful By E. Cannistraci on February 18, 2008
Format: Audio CD
I'll tell you, Rolling Stone Magazine. This s*@t is the epoch of Dylan's great run of 1960s albums. The thing is, hippies and the critics at the time hated this album. And why? Because Dylan wasn't being overtly existential or singing songs that were socially relevant. Heck, many of them were covers! How dare he!? How dare he not be fashionable!? Paul McCartney's wonderful RAM album suffered a similar condemnation. Apparently, the squarest thing you could do at the break of the 1970s was just make well constructed, exceedingly pleasant music to listen to. I mean, why LISTEN to music when you can sit around, passing a joint, and decipher it with your college boy friends? The fact that an album as good-natured, human and sublime as SELF PORTRAIT couldn't bring a smile to these hippies and critics proves there was something missing in them...and NOT in Dylan. This IS a self portrait of the artist at the time: Showing all his different sides and moods. There are lush orchestrated experiments in minimalism ("All The Tired Horses", "Wigwam"), NASHVILLE SKYLINE style country tunes ("I Forget More Than You'll Ever Know", "Take Me As I Am"), campfire folk songs ("Alberta"), hillbilly knee-slappers ("Little Sadie"), boogie-woogie jams ("Woogie Boogie"), sweet soulful ballads ("Let It Be Me", "Belle Isle"), gospel strutting R&B ("Gotta Travel On"), and live cuts that aren't "lifeless" by any means ("The Mighty Quinn (Quinn The Eskimo)"). In short, it's a musical landscape in the shape of America. This was Dylan just being a musician in the purest sense. But I guess all his so-called fans and the music press didn't really like the SOUND of Dylan or his music. They simply liked the IDEA of his music. When they were left to hear Dylan croon "Blue Moon" they couldn't process that. It didn't compute.Read more ›
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73 of 84 people found the following review helpful By Bud Sturguess on December 20, 2003
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
It's ironic that most of the albums the public chooses to label as the "worst ever recorded" are often made by those who are acclaimed giants in the music world; like John Lennon and Yoko Ono's "Unfinished Music" sound collages, or Creedence Clearwater Revival's underrated, hated "Mardi Gras." And like a majority of albums critics hate, Bob Dylan's "Self Portrait" actually turns out to be a very worthy listen, even if it takes a few listens to get used to for the average Dylan fan.
Released as a double album in 1970, "Self Portrait" was condemned by both reviewers and fans, who were shocked that the spokesman of their generation had not lived up to their standards. But if a performer can release a record that is regarded as a pitiful disappointment after a decade of publicly-embraced masterpieces, but with a grin on his face while doing it, it's not such a bad thing--the album saw critics claiming Dylan had somehow turned his back on his principles and was indulging in a "commercialization" of his music; critic Ralph Gleason even called for a boycott of Dylan's albums. But the bottom line was that Dylan was fed up with being hailed as a leader; in a biography by Anthony Scaduto, Dylan was quoted about this era: "I wasn't going to fall for that, for being any kind of leader...and because I wanted out, they all started to rap me." And that's the goal that makes this album so enjoyable. Didn't he tell us not to follow leaders in the first place?
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