“In the Garden” by Bob Dylan

Saved, the second album of Bob Dylan’s ‘Christian’ trilogy, is one of Bob Dylan’s most widely hated albums, but unlike most of its peers in that category, it doesn’t have any glaringly obvious flaws. It’s main ‘problem’ seems to be that, of all Dylan’s albums, it sounds the least recognizably Dylan-esque. The lyrics are made up of old-school Gospel imagery with little of Dylan’s distinctive lyrical voice, and the music is in a Gospel-Rock style that sounds little like anything else Dylan ever wrote. But all of those things could be said about Nashville Skyline, too, and it’s now considered one of Dylan’s all-time classics. If you stop trying to judge this album by how well it fits in with the rest of the Dylan canon and compare it to the genre it actually belongs to (Christian Rock), it actually holds up extremely well. The lyrics may be fairly straightforward, but this album gave Dylan a chance to show what he could really do with a melody, a skill that generally got overshadowed by his lyrics on most of his more typical efforts. This song, probably the best-known track from the album, is quite possibly the greatest Christian Rock song of all time, starting off exquisitely soft and gentle and expanding into a thrilling gospel chorus. This is hardly surprising, as Dylan was, after all, the most talented musician ever to attempt the Christian Rock genre, and changing his style for the space of one album didn’t rob him of his genius. Christian Rock as a genre has become associated with blandness and insularity, and that reputation is not entirely undeserved, but there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the idea using Rock for religious purposes…some of the greatest music in history was made in the name of religion, after all. And say what you will about Dylan’s Christian phase, he still brought the same passion and craftsmanship to this album that was evident in the rest of his work, making him an almost complete exception to the flaws normally associated with this genre.

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