Phil Spector's first listen to "Like A Rolling Stone"

Words By: Nick Bornholt | August 2nd, 1965

Illustration By: Sergio Garzon

Phil Spector's first listen to "Like A Rolling Stone"

The needle scratches and pops before the song kicks in, a gnarly snare ripping open a 1-4-5-chord pattern. Phil lies back, thumbs the album cover and digs the beat.

“This isn’t his best message by a mile,” Phil muses.

“But it’s the grooviest beat he’s ever put out there – fluid, fast and free.”

Strange thing is, Phil isn’t thinking Highway 61; he’s thinking Son Jorocho mess and Veracruz, dusty roads and low, loose six strings – he’s thinking “La Bamba”.

Phil doesn’t hear fresh and new and revolutionary in "Like A Rolling Stone". He hears stolen chord changes, handing Ritchie Valens the credit to a timelessly reworked rock & roll rhythm; that’s how it feels to Phil, that’s how it feels.

The production’s all wrong in Phil’s eyes, too dependent on the genius of the artist, but the canvas ain’t right. The recording’s never been right.

He dreams of taking the reins and ringing the thing for all its worth. He dreams of making something like opera with a folk-rock fat lady... He dreams of improving Dylan.



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