Best of Bob Dylan
Published: Thursday, March 21, 2013
Updated: Thursday, March 21, 2013 18:03
Well, it’s that time again.
Time for my pen to ink another Bob Dylan article.
I just can’t help.
Last month, Rolling Stone Magazine released a “Bob Dylan Special Collector’s Edition” that consists of Rolling Stone interviews, tributes from Mick Jagger to Bono and, most importantly, a definitive (so they say) list of Dylan’s greatest 100 songs.
The list was a collaboration of artists, writers and Dylan experts.
Experts, or “Dylanologists,” all have their own, wildly different, definitive lists of the troubadour’s most outstanding lyrical and musical achievements.
As do I.
So, with that said, here are my top 10 greatest Dylan songs:
10. “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding),” 1965. Easily, Dylan’s greatest lyrical beginning of a song. “Darkness at the break of noon/Shadows even the silver spoon/The handmade blade, the child’s balloon/Eclipses both the sun and moon/To understand you know too soon/There is no sense in trying.”
9. “Mississippi,” 2001. The original release is great, but the alternate version released in 2008 takes the tune to a different level and catapults this song into my top 10.
8. “My Back Pages,” 1964. For years, one of my favorite Dylan tunes. “Ah, but I was so much older then/I’m younger than that now.” I finally know what that lyric means.
7. “Mr. Tambourine Man,” 1965. Dylan’s most visual lyrics combined with a legendary tune, has the listener “disappearing through the smoke rings of [their] mind.”
6. “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” 1964. One of the most famous songs of the 60’s, “The Times They Are A-Changin’” categorized the changing landscape of America then and now.
5. “Desolation Row,” 1965. The final song on “Highway 61 Revisited,” Dylan’s greatest album (that’s another article); “Desolation Row” is a beautifully haunting and vivid portrait of an anguished mystery locale. Every time I hear the song, I am transported to a bleakly lit city street in the center of Dylan’s mind. “And Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot/Fighting in the captain’s tower.”
4. “One Too Many Mornings,” 1964. The most underrated record in the Bob Dylan songbook, “One Too Many Mornings,” is a gorgeous tale of love and loss. “And I’m one too many mornings/And a thousand miles behind.”
3. “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” 1963. The song that made poet Allen Ginsberg weep the first time he heard it and the song that brands Dylan as a poetic prophet, “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” still fails to achieve the fanfare it deserves. “Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’/But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’.”
2. “Like A Rolling Stone,” 1965. Tabbed by Rolling Stone as the greatest song ever written, “Like A Rolling Stone” still reigns as a masterful ride through raw emotions. It also legitimized Dylan as an electric powerhouse, the poet laureate of rock and roll. “How does it feel?”
1. “Blowin’ In The Wind,” 1963. Dylan at his Dylanist. “Blowin’ In The Wind” was the brainchild of a 22-year-old folk singer from Minnesota that changed the way many youth viewed their world. Who would have guessed that the skinny kid with a curly mop of hair could produce one of the most poignant, yet simple, songs of all time? “How many roads must a man walk down/Before you call him a man?” encourages asking questions and self/societal reflection. How most experts do not list this as Dylan’s greatest feat baffles me.