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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Top Ten Favorite Bob Dylan Songs

     Talk about last minute posts!  Just heard today (Monday 5/23) that my good friends Larry from DiscConnected and Stephen from Stuffs are doing a small spur of the moment "blogfest".   The premise, in honor of Bob Dylan's 70th birthday, is to name our ten favorite Dylan songs.

       With little thought given to the matter, I've come up with my list, which is all earlier stuff since that's all that immediately comes to mind.  Much of my knowledge of Dylan's music is based on what other artists have recorded since I discovered Dylan the artist after he'd been around for a while.   I will name the songs and the versions that I was initially most familiar with in somewhat chronological order.  Here it is with links to the songs available if you click on the song titles:

It Ain't Me Babe -- I'd heard mention of Bob Dylan in the teen magazines in the early 60's, but had not heard his music.  Then, I heard Johnny Cash's version of  "It Ain't Me Babe" and thought it was utterly cool.  My curiosity about Dylan was stirred and my appreciation of Johnny Cash was secured.

Don't Think Twice It's Alright -- I first heard this song when it was released by The Wonder Who, which was a sort of joke pseudonym of The Four Seasons.  This version was a sort of joke cover version of "Don't Think Twice".   In fact the entire album was almost a joke since one side was cover versions of songs by Burt Bacharach and Hal David while the flip side was songs by Dylan.  The Four Seasons singing Dylan?  I was in my early adolescence and this was my first exposure to Dylan.  It wasn't all that bad actually and I was a big Seasons fan back then.

The Times They Are A-Changin' -- Seems like everyone was singing Dylan songs back in the sixties.  I first heard this song as a good time sing along on Beach Boys Party album.  Later the Byrds did a version that I liked even more.

Tears of Rage -- This song was on The Band's Music from Big Pink album.  It's co-written with Richard Manuel, but I'm including it here anyway since it's one of my favorite songs.

I Shall Be Released-- Also from Music from Big Pink, this Dylan song has been oft recorded.

All Along the Watchtower-- I was blown away by the Hendrix version of this Dylan song, but I've come to prefer the mellower sound of Dave Mason's version.

I Want You-- This was one of the first Dylan songs where I actually began to prefer Dylan himself performing his own songs.

Like a Rolling Stone--  It's a good song and I like it.

Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again-- This song was always stuck inside of my mind somewhere and then I really began to appreciate it when my buddy Stephen T. McCarthy made me pay closer attention to it.

It's All Over Now Baby Blue--I've saved my favorite for last.  I first heard this song done by one of my favorite bands, the 13th Floor Elevators, and it's still my favorite version--it's so depressing.

        Check Larry's and Stephen's sites (links above) for their lists and to see if maybe some more folks joined in the spur of the moment fun.

         What are your favorite Dylan songs?   Or does Dylan annoy you?  Are you even familiar with any of Dylan's music?



  1. I've always thought the best Dylan song is one that's been covered by someone else. Anyone else. He's a great songwriter, but boy does he have a horrible singing vice.


  2. I grew up on Dylan. I love his voice, his music and most of all, his lyrics. I like the songs you mentioned - trying to think what I might add - Maggie's Farm, Jack of Hearts, Don't Think Twice, Just Like A Woman. I've seen him three times in concert - the first two - he was brilliant - the third time I wish I'd left. He sang with his back to three quarters of the crowd, the sound was terrible and the band apathetic. yikes it was bad and just two days before we'd seen the best concert any of us had ever experienced - Leonard Cohen. Ah well, don't think twice, it's alright.
    Thanks for the memory inducer!

  3. Saw Bob Dylan and I came running to see what you had to say about my hometown boy. Love Dylan and you picked great songs :)

  4. "Blowin' in the Wind" was a favorite. I guess because it was an anthem for my generation.

  5. Mood -- Dylan's voice can take some getting used to. It took me a while to appreciate his style.

    Jan-- "Just Like a Woman" is a favorite of mine that I didn't think of. I guess every artist can have a bad night, but it's too bad for the people that pay to see it.

    Mybabyjohn-- "Hwy 61" is another great song.

    Siv -- Thanks for stopping by.

    Paula-- "Blowin' in the Wind" was indeed an anthem of that time. If I'm not mistaken I think it was the song that really drew people's attention to Dylan's music.


  6. Those are all on my tops list for Dylan, too. I've been a Big Dylan fan since the 60s. I posted on Facebook today that Bob turns 70 today. Can you imagine a young Dylan on American Idol these days? Randy'd say he was too "pitchy" and send him packin' - lol.

  7. Mr Tambourine Man, all the way. My dad would play this in the car when we drove back from the beach at the end of a long day. I just love the lyricism of it. "Though I know that evening's empire has returned into sand..." It's pure poetry.

  8. great list. I'm from Minnesota so Bob Dylan's birthday is a big deal here.

  9. I'm not a fan of Dylan. Maybe I'm too young to appreciate his music. ;o)

    Happy Tuesday! :o)

  10. LOL-his voice and the harmonica used to really get on my nerves. Now I can listen to one or two songs without cringing.

  11. I like The Times They Are A-Changin' a lot. But my favorite is KNOCKIN' ON HEAVEN'S DOOR. I like the Guns & Roses version but prefer Bob's. I also saw the movie it was featured in, Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid.

  12. Ah - the sound of my childhood - mainly on my dad's scratched vinyl. Great choices!

  13. I love me some Dylan, but I am very sad that as the years have progressed, he's sounded worse and worse live! My favorite is "Times They Are A-Changin'" and "All Along the Watchtower." Both very classic, just like the man himself!


  14. Lee-

    Any ten Dylan songs are going to be good-a couple choices I had not considered.

    I heard Bruce Springsteen do "I Want You" in 1975, and he did it slow enough so I could really take in the lyrics.

    Wow. That's imagery.

    Jan & Old Silly-post your top ten lists and leave a comment at my site and I'll add you to the list of participants!


  15. If not for you -- as done by George Harrison on his solo album, All things must pass ..

  16. BOIDMAN ~
    >> . . . This song was always stuck inside of my mind somewhere and then I really began to appreciate it when my buddy Stephen T. McCarthy made me pay closer attention to it.

    Really? Gee! Cool!
    But when and how did that occur? Because, honestly, I don't recall ever discussing the song with you before. What nonsense was I saying about it?

    I find it very surprising that all three of us included "Memphis Blues Again" on our lists. I would have bet money that my list was going to be the only one it appeared on.

    That's interesting. Is "Memphis Blues Again" one of the most liked but least mentioned Dylan songs?

    And hey... thanks for the link to Dave Mason's version of "Watchtower". I had never heard it before - didn't even know he had recorded it. It was very good. By the way, "Watchtower" is probably the only song by Hendrix that I like. Well... wait. I like "Little Wing" also.

    JEN ~
    I totally agree with you about "Mr. Tambourine Man" being "pure poetry". I've said that myself. I think it's the most "poetic" thing he ever wrote. It doesn't make my Top 10 Songs list, but it would make my Top 10 Dylan Poems list for sure - likely at #1.

    It's a pretty amazing piece of writing to analyze; very beautiful and curious imagery. I remember once just reading the words printed on paper, without the song playing, and I was startled to find how "fantastic" it is.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  17. Grew up on Dylan's music I dont think he ever wrote a bad song.
    I have a blog award for you Arlee over at my blog
    Love your blog

  18. Marvin -- Dylan is not formulaic enough for "Idol".

    Karen -- noted.

    Jen -- Another tune captured well by the Byrds, whose version caught my attention first.

    Carrie -- I didn't even know it was his 70th birthday until I heard it from DiscConnected.

    Seams -- Dylan's music is ageless. You need to go back and listen to it more closely.

    Carol-- Dylan's sound befuddled me at first, but it didn't take me long to catch on once I started having an appreciation for his songs.

    Lisa from Nadir -- "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" has been a bit overdone for me, but I really liked it when I first heard it.

    Laura -- I must be about the same age as your dad--I have a few of those scratched vinyls myself.

    Sara -- I have heard the same thing about Dylan's live performances having gone downhill, but not having ever seen him live or seen very little video of his live performances I don't know. I got a big kick out of the Soy Bomb incident.

    Larry -- Thanks for thinking this blog event up. Enjoyed it.

    Fishy -- Thanks!

    Thea -- I loved that George Harrison version of "If Not For You". I totally forgot that one.

    Stephen McC -- Now I'm confused. I listened to "...Memphis Blues.." repeatedly on YouTube after someone was talking about it and I could have sworn it was you because it just seemed like you. I don't know who else would have been discussing this one.
    I used to listen to a lot of Dave Mason since I was a huge Traffic fan. His version of "Watchtower" became my preference over the Hendrix version, which is still great.

    Beth -- Thanks. I'll be trying to collect these awards in the weeks to come. I appreciate it.


  19. Of course I know who he is and I am sure I have heard a song or two of his in elevators or stores, but not very familiar with his stuff.

  20. Gregg- Dylan is the most major songwriting icon of our era. You actually ought to give a listen to some of his songs and read the lyrics--they're not all that bad.


  21. >> . . . Of course I know who he is and I am sure I have heard a song or two of his in elevators or stores, but not very familiar with his stuff.

    GREGG ~
    In elevators or stores?

    Something is happening here
    But you don’t know what it is
    Do you, Mister Gregg?

    Come gather ’round Merle fans
    Wherever you roam
    And admit that the waters
    Around you have grown
    And accept it that soon
    You’ll be drenched to the bone
    If your time to you is worth savin’
    Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
    For the times they are a-changin’

    You may call me Greggory, you may call me Timmy
    You may call me Bobby, you may call me Zimmy
    You may call me R.J., you may call me Ray
    You may call me anything but no matter what you say
    You’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
    You’re gonna have to serve somebody
    Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
    But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

    How many roads must a man walk down
    Before you call him a man?
    Yes, ’n’ how many seas must a white dove sail
    Before she sleeps in the sand?
    Yes, ’n’ how many times must the cannonballs fly
    Before they’re forever banned?
    The answer, Dear Gregg, is blowin’ in the wind
    The answer is blowin’ in the wind

    Some Bob Dylan songs covered by Flatt & Scruggs, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Burl Ives, Willie Nelson, Buck Owens, Doc And Merle Watson, Kitty Wells, Hank Williams Jr., Eddie Albert, Eddy Arnold, Bobby Bare, Glen Campbell, Country Gentlemen, and Emmylou Harris:

    Blowin' in the Wind
    Don't Think Twice, It's All Right
    Down in the Flood
    Forever Young
    Girl from the North Country
    Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance
    I'll Be Your Baby Tonight
    It Ain't Me, Babe
    Like a Rolling Stone
    Love Minus Zero/No Limit
    Maggie's Farm
    Mama, You Been On My Mind
    Mr. Tambourine Man
    Nashville Skyline Rag
    One More Night
    One Too Many Mornings
    Rainy Day Women No. 12 & 35
    The Times They Are a-Changin'
    Wanted Man
    What Was It You Wanted

    “Blowin’ In The Wind" (The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, 1963)
    By Merle Haggard
    I don’t know if songwriting can get any better than “Blowin’ in the Wind” – an anthem for the civil rights movement that was both clever and had an impeccable melody. It was very timely when he wrote it in 1962. The answers to the problems of the current conditions were all up in the air, and they still are today. It still hits me. I just think it’s great, absolutely wonderful writing.

    He said that he wrote “Blowin’ in the Wind” in 10 minutes. I’ve had songs like that: once you understand what your thoughts are, you’ve just got to get a pen and get it down quick. And when somebody wants to know what time it is, you say, “I don’t give a fu#k, I need to write something down.”

    I first became aware of Bob when Johnny Cash started recording his songs in 1964. People in the country department recognized him from his association with Cash. I’ve always preferred the acoustic Dylan, though I can understand where he was going later when he went electric.

    He’s always improving, trying to create. He thinks all the time. I’ve never seen him when he looked like he wasn’t doing something, including the whole time we toured together in 2005. I was on a television show in Los Angeles with him seven years ago with Jerry Lee Lewis and Willie Nelson. He stayed in the wings and never did talk to nobody. Somebody said, “What’s he doing over there?” and I said, “Fu#k, he’s writing a g#ddamn standard.”

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  22. ARLEE BOID ~
    I did a word search on my blog (and on yours, too) and the only thing I came up with that included the title “Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again” was THIS.

    Do you think that might have been what you had in mind? You did see it before, because you left a comment for me about it (see the bottom of page).

    ~ D-FensDogg
    ‘Loyal American Underground’

  23. Stephen McC -- That could have been what inspired me to check out the YouTube video. I remember reading that particular blog bit. I associated listening to the song with you, but I had thought it was more recent than that. Who knows now? Time does fly.


  24. Gregg-

    >I am sure I have heard a song or >two of his in elevators or >stores, but not very familiar >with his stuff.

    I don't know how old you are, but I'd be amazed that anyone over 40 could really be that unfamiliar with Dylan's work.

    To echo Arlee's sentiment, you really ought to consider at least getting a collection of his lyrics and reading them, if not seeking out a collection like "The Essential Bob Dylan" to hear the man work.

    While his voice is an acquired taste, the songwriting is without peer. Literally.



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