Bob Dylan's Best Songs: 30 Legendary Melodies by a Master Songwriter (2023)

if the singer-songwriterBob Dylanreceived the Nobel Prize in Literature in November 2016, the Swedish Academy praised him "for creating new forms of poetic expression within the great tradition of American song". Dylan, who was born Robert Allen Zimmerman on May 24, 1941 in Duluth, Minnesota, has sold more than 125 million records worldwide.

The 1960s song "The Times They Are A-Changin'" transformed Dylan from folk club act and cult hero into the voice of a generation as his compositions became anthems for civil rights movements and against war. The musician, who is a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, has also won Oscars, Golden Globes, and Grammys.

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Bob Dylan - The Times They Are A-Changin' (Audio-Offizieller)

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Dylan's meticulous skill as a lyricist has made him perhaps the most obsessively analyzed and discussed artist in the history of popular music. Picking out Bob Dylan's best songs is a near-impossible task given his overwhelming back catalogue...but we've chosen his 30 most important tracks as a sort of introduction to the master songwriter.

Of course, many of your favorites aren't on our list: wonderful songs like "Make You Feel My Love", "Mr. Tambourine Man", "Just Like a Woman", "Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands". " , "I Shall Be Release" or "Sara", so let us know your favorites in the comments below.

Listen to the best Bob Dylan songsSpotifyÖapple music.

A performer whose music shaped an era

"All great artists had something in their eyes," wrote Bob Dylan in his 2004 memoir.Chronicles: Volume One. "It was like, 'I know something you don't know.' And I wanted to be that kind of artist." This ability to capture the zeitgeist was even evident in the song "Blowin' in the Wind," one of their enduring early masterpieces, which they wrote while living in New York's Greenwich Village for the album.carefree bob dylan. The song was an early chart hit for Peter, Paul and Mary in 1963 and became a civil rights anthem, as did "The Times They Are A-Changin'," a song that calls for truly innovative measures of generational change ("come Fathers and mothers of all the earth, and do not criticize what you cannot understand").

The musician, who began writing as the Cold War raged, grappled with the threat of an imminent apocalypse sparked by the Cuban Missile Crisis on A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall. Dylan, who sampled the song for a few friends before debuting it at his first major concert at Carnegie Hall, was surprisingly just 21 when he composed this scathing indictment of the modern world. The song is a dense mass of sweeping allusions. Another defining moment in rock history, Subterranean Homesick Blues seemed to capture the alienation inherent in the emerging counterculture. This powerful homage to authority was used in the opening scene of the 1967 not look back, in which Dylan was seen in an alley with cards with the song's lyrics.

Bob Dylan - Subterranean Homesick Blues (Video offiziell in HD)

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Two other era-defining Dylan songs were "Masters of War" and the six-minute masterpiece "Like a Rolling Stone," which had a major impact on a generation of young aspiring songwriters. For over six minutes, the audience happily sang the anthem and repeated the line "How does it feel?". Acclaimed singer-songwriter John Hiatt, who heard the song when he was 13, said it "changed his life". "I had never heard such lyrics before. I've never heard anything like it," he said.

Bob Dylan, master of the protest song

Although Bob Dylan quipped in 1965 that "everything I do is protest," he was naturally wary of being labeled a "protest singer." Dylan has always been an uncompromising moralist. Throughout his long career, he has not been afraid to confront issues of social injustice. "Hurricane," the first single from his 1976 albumDesire, co-written by Jacques Levy, was an angry song about the wrongful conviction of boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, who was convicted of a triple murder in New Jersey in 1966. The song is about racism and false justice and Dylan's shock. The request to clear an innocent man's name proved prescient: Carter's conviction was overturned in 1988.

"It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)", a 1964 song, is a scathing attack on commerce and consumerism; during "Jokerman" from the 1984 albuminfidels, is another song dealing with the themes of justice and peace, with a bit of geopolitics. Dylan said that "Jokerman" was an example of the painstaking process of writing lyrics. "It was a song that was written and rewritten and rewritten," said the composer, who remains convinced that "the words are just as important as the melody".

Bob Dylan - Jokerman (Video Official HD)

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Even in his seventies, Dylan proved he was still capable of writing searing songs about America's political and cultural woes. His 2020 song "Murder Most Foul" which was included on his 39th studio album.rough and noisy ways, addresses the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963, a tragedy that, according to Dylan, "resonates with me to this day." The song, which lasts 17 minutes, once again demonstrated Dylan's gift for imagery and eclectic musical references:Los Beatles,etta james,John Lee Hooker,and swinging jazz starStan GetzThey are among dozens of musicians who have made their mark in this modern epic.

A discoverer of the human heart.

bring everything home,Highway 61 revised, jblond on blondare three of the biggest albums in the pop music canon, released in just 15 months in 1965 and 1966 'Blue', from the first of those three albums, is a song about someone trying to make sense of their life after a breakup to find. Though Dylan is immensely talented at writing about social issues, he's also an expert at writing personal songs.

Country and western singersJohnny Cashwrote to Dylan after hearing itcarefree bob dylan, and gave the young singer a guitar when they both performed at the 1964 Newport Folk Festival, and defended him in the argument over playing the electric guitar. Dylan had the opportunity to pay tribute to Cash when they recorded the 1969 album together.Skyline von Nashville. Cash penned the Grammy-winning liner notes as a tribute to "a great poet" who knew all about "The Edge of Pain." The stunning love song duet "Girl From the North County" about the memory of a former lover is steeped in regret and soulful nostalgia.

Another great Dylan album is the 1975 autobiographical album.blood on the tracks, which was produced by Dylan himself and added mandolin and organ to his repertoire. The album contained the stunning "Tangled Up In Blue" and "Buckets of Rain", the latter a simple but slowly addictive and melodic love song full of haunting lines like "Everything about you brings misery to me". Everything about Dylan's best songwriting is hit or miss.

Bob Dylan - Tangled in Blue (Official Audio)

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Another complicated and ambiguous love song from Dylan is "Boots of Spanish Leather," a reflection on longing for love, with a bittersweet twist to the story. Dylan is one of the most covered artists in pop history, and one of the strengths of his songs is that they lend themselves to interpretation across many genres. "Boots of Spanish Leather" was covered by Nanci Griffith (country), The Dubliners (Irish folk) and Patti Smith (rock). This song was written when Dylan was in his early twenties. Half a century later, he wrote the haunting "Long and Wasted Years," a song he produced under the pseudonym Jack Frost for the 2012 album.Sturm. The song is a deft exploration of the twilight of a couple's troubled relationship.

Bob Dylan songs that embraced Christianity

Bob Dylan grew up in a religious Jewish home, and spirituality was a major theme in his work. “I have a God-given sense of destiny. That's what they put me on earth for," Dylan said in 2001. A survey of 246 original songs he wrote between 1961 and 1978, including the spellbinding "God on Our Side" (an evisceration of how religion was used , to nourish cold) . hypocrisy of war) showed that more than a third of his compositions were related to the Old or New Testament. The influence of biblical parables on his lyrics becomes clear in "All Along the Watchtower".Juan Wesley Harding, a song about salvation containing verses from Isaiah 21 and the Book of Revelation. Jimi Hendrix released a cover about a month after Dylan, creating one of the most celebrated rock hits of the 1960s.

Dylan's 1974 soundtrack albumPat Garrett and Billy the Kidcontain the spellbinding "Knockin' on Heaven's Door," a song that has become a modern pop standard, covered byGuns N Roses. Dylan, who became a born-again Christian for a time in the '70s, also incorporated religious imagery into the powerful song "Shelter from the Storm" ("She Went To Me So Gracefully/And Took My Crown Of Thorns").

Bob Dylan - Knockin' On Heaven's Door (Audio Offiziell)

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Another of his most elegant songs, also steeped in religious imagery, is the lush "Ring Them Bells," a song Dylan believed "still stands" more than 30 years after it was featured on his 1989 album appeared.Ach misericordia. This album was produced by Daniel Lanois. On occasion, Dylan balked at being asked about his beliefs, casually asking an interviewer why people didn't ask Billy Joel similar questions.

The Poet of Isolation

Bob Dylan's voice is absolutely unmistakable: a high, high, lonely nasal accent that became his first identifying fingerprint since the early '60s. Dylan has experienced isolation in his personal life. In 1967, after a horrific accident on his Triumph motorcycle, the singer retired to Woodstock, New York, where he later worked with Robbie RobertsonDie Band. Together they created the now legendarybasement tapes, including the seductive song "You Ain't Going Nowhere," about the struggles of everyday life.

Dylan is a highly accomplished songwriter and one of his best jewel-filled pictures is "Changing of the Guards" bycall right. Dylan has read a lot throughout his life. In his acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize, he spoke about the importance of novels like Herman Melville's Moby Dick for him personally. Dylan said he loved this book because "it's full of highly dramatic scenes and dramatic dialogue." Dylan created his own high drama in introspective songs like "Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again," a composition about loneliness and longing and an outsider's struggle to escape the constraints of society. The song again demonstrated Dylan's gift for crafting short, crisp, and memorable phrases like "where the neon madmen rise."

Bob Dylan - Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again (Audio offiziell)

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"Visions of Johanna", another song byblond on blond, explores what it's like to feel left out in life. "It's easier to be separated than connected. I have a big hallelujah to all the people online, that's great, but I can't do that," admitted Dylan. The song, written shortly after his marriage to his first wife Sara Lownds, was recorded on Valentine's Day in 1966 was recorded included the lines: "We sit here stranded, though we all do our best to deny it." In 1999, British Poet Laureate Andrew Motion claimed the song was the best ever written. Although the great singer-songwriter Van Morrison reportedly called Dylan "the greatest poet in the world," it wasn't a title Dylan welcomed. "Poets drown in lakes," he joked.

Bob Dylan's Narrative in One Song

One of the most striking aspects of Bob Dylan's remarkable repertoire of songs is its breadth and depth. Dylan has recorded songs in many genres including folk, blues, rock, pop, gospel, country and moreThe Great American Songbook. He has also collaborated with a variety of musicians including Jacques Levy, Van Morrison, Willie Nelson and Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter. Dylan was part of the 80's supergroupThe Traveling Wilburys, along with George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty and Roy Orbison. Dylan has always been generous in the praise of his fellow songwriters. In 1991, he told Paul Zollo that he believed Randy Newman had made songwriting "an art", adding that "there's nothing better than his songs 'Louisiana' or 'Sail Away'".

Bob Dylan - Ballad of a Thin Man (Offizielles Audio)

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Dylan also took care to write complex stories, including "High Water (For Charley Patton)" from the 2001 and robbery. One of Dylan's best satirical songs is "Ballad of a Thin Man," supposedly about a journalist and his stupid questions. Two wonderful examples of Dylan's narrative songs are "Joey," which tells the story of mobster Joey Gallo, who was gunned down on his 43rd birthday; and the adventure ballad "Señor (Tales of Yankee Power)". The last song was produced by Don DeVito. Another triumph is the ambitious and lyrical Desolation Row, an 11-minute epic full of bold imagery. The opening lines ("They sell hanging postcards, they paint passports brown") refer to three men who were lynched by a mob in Duluth in 1920 after they were accused of raping a girl. Dylan's father, Abraham Zimmerman, was eight years old and living in Duluth.

Dylan has always drawn inspiration from a variety of artistic and real sources. "I learned as much from Cezanne in writing songs as I did from Woody Guthrie," he said. "It's not me, it's the songs. I'm just the mailman, I deliver the songs." I was humble. Dylan delivered tons of some of the best songs of modern times.

Think we missed one of Bob Dylan's best songs? Let us know in the comments below.


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