“Subterranean Homesick Blues,” Bob Dylan’s first Top 40 hit, released in March of 1965, is one of the artist’s first electric songs, but it was inspired by the Woody Guthrie/Pete Seeger folk anthem “Taking It Easy” (“Mom was in the kitchen preparing to eat / Sis was in the pantry looking for some yeast”).
In his Chronology of American Popular Music, 1900-2000, author Frank Hoffman notes that “Dylan almost single-handedly pioneered the folk-rock genre” with the song and others from that period.
The clip, directed by D.A. Pennebaker and showing Dylan flipping through a series of cue cards, was filmed in an alley behind the Savoy Hotel in London. It is the opening scene to Pennebaker’s critically acclaimed 1967 documentary Don’t Look Back.
Read a new lesson feature on playing 10 of Bob Dylan’s acoustic songs.