When you have a famous parent in any industry, there’s a lot of pressure if you want to make a name for yourself in said industry. But imagine if your father was Bob Dylan. Jakob Dylan wanted a piece of that musical pie, so to distinguish himself from Bob, he carved out his spot in a genre far removed from Bob Dylan’s iconic folk songs: alternative rock. The Wallflowers were formed in Los Angeles in 1989 by Jakob and guitarist Tobi Miller. They released their debut album in 1992, and it was critically acclaimed. However, sales were poor. They lost their original label and had to find a new one to record their next album. At this point, if the Wallflowers were going to survive, their next album would have to be a hit. On May 21st, 1996 the Wallflowers released their second album Bringing Down the Horse. The album was wildly successful, spawning a number one hit and being certified gold. I think that part of the reason the album performed so well was its high quality. To prove this, I’m going to examine the individual tracks to explain why I think it’s so good.
The album opens with “One Headlight” which is, in a word, a whole mood. The song perfectly captures the desperation of being trapped in a place you want to escape. I’m not going to pretend that Woodland Park doesn’t have its drawbacks. I can relate to this song a bit.
I feel trapped in Woodland Park and want to see the world, but given my current situation, I won’t be able to do that for a while. The next track “6th Avenue Heartache” was written by Dylan when he was only 18. It’s about encounters that he had with a homeless man on 6th Avenue, New York City. Track number three is titled “Bleeders”, and it’s a poignant song about heartbreak. Track number four is titled “Three Marlena’s”, which is about how life doesn’t always play out the way we want it to (at least that’s my interpretation). Track number five, “The Difference”, is probably the most amped up song on the album, and I think that it’s fun to listen to because of the upbeat guitar and great rhythmic flow. Track number 6, “Invisible City” is about coming to terms with the disillusionment that’s caused by failed relationships. Track number seven, ”Laughing out Loud,” is about a guy leaving a girl who manipulated him and then “laughing out loud” when she doesn’t understand why he left. Track number 8 is titled ”Josephine” and it’s a love song about a broken man promising to fix himself for his lover Josephine. Track 9 is titled “God Don’t Make Lonely Girls” and the guitar carries the beat. Track 10 is titled “Angel on my Bike” and it’s about how a guy got a girlfriend who lifted him out of his depression. The last track is called “I Wish I Felt Nothing” and it’s an apt look at how loneliness feels.
I’ve only scratched the surface on some of the meanings of these songs and I would recommend giving the album a listen yourself. The Wallflowers’ sound is unique and meshes together with apposite lyrics that compliment it to create a nearly perfect rock album. I believe that Bringing Down the Horse is what brought Jakob out from under his father’s shadow and made him a king of alternative rock. I give this album a 9/10.