The 50 Best Bob Dylan Songs Ranked! (2023)

Table of Contents
50. Wachablösung (1978) 49. This Wheel is on Fire (1967) 48. Pay in Blood (2012) 47. My Backs (1964) 46. ​​Make You Feel My Love (1997) 45. I Went to the Gypsy (1970) 44. Blowing in the Wind (1963) 43. I Don't Speak (2006) 42. Too Many Mornings (1964) 41. Forever Young (1974) 40. Spaßvogel (1983) 39. Times They Change (1964) 38. Love minus zero / no limit (1965) 37. If It Were Not You (1970) 36. Knocking at Heaven's Gate (1973) 35. Slow Train (1979) 34. The Girl from Brownsville (1986) 33. Most Disgusting Murder (2020) 32. It's All Over Baby Blue (1965) 31. IS (1976) 30. High Water (for Charlie Patton) (2001) 29. Don't Think Twice It's Okay (1963) 28. Along the Watchtower (1967) 27. Most of the Time (1989) 26. I Love You (1966) 25. A Simple Twist of Fate (1975) 24th Hurricane (1976) 23. I Will Be Delivered (1967) 22. Liberty Bells (1964) 21. I threw it all away (1969) 20. A Hard Rain's A Gonna Fall (1963) 19. The Groom Still Waits at the Altar (1981) 18. Herr Tamburin (1965) 17. Ballad of a Thin Man (1965) 16. One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later) (1966) 15. It's Okay Mom (I'm Only Bleeding) (1965) 14. Things Have Changed (1997) 13. The Lonely Death of Hattie Carroll (1964) 12. Tangled in Blue (1975) 11. Girl from the North Country (1963) 10. It's Not Me Baby (1964) 9. The Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands (1966) 8. It's Not Dark Yet (1997) 7. Positiv Fourth Street (1965) 6. Blind Willie McTell (1983) 5. Series of Devastation (1965) 4. Nostalgischer Blues Underground (1965) 3. Idiotwind (1975) 2 Visions of Johanna (1966) 1. Like a Rolling Stone (1965)

50. Wachablösung (1978)

Street Legal surprised fans: Dylan is the frontman of a big band, with female singers in the background. The words could well represent an indirect personal story, from adolescence to marriage to religious conversion — whatever it was, they brought Patti Smith to tears the first time she heard them.

49. This Wheel is on Fire (1967)

Then everyone covered themselvesSiouxsie and the BansheesaKylie MinogueIn every style, from psychedelic to electro-glam-stomp, the original basement tapes recording of This Wheel's on Fire, a great song and another of Dylan's myriad doomsday visions, has a uniquely intense and chilling quality that no one else ever has has reached .

48. Pay in Blood (2012)

If you're wondering if Dylan's capacity for anger has been dulled by age, listen to Pay in Blood, a gentle musical accompaniment for a literally murderous expression of rage: At first he's so angry the lyrics are unintelligible, his voice is just a slime. growling sound; when they come into focus, he seeks revenge on the bankers and politicians who "pump his urine." tension.

47. My Backs (1964)

Those upset when Dylan went electric couldn't say he didn't warn themsomeBig Was Coming: My Back Pages spends the best part of five minutes not denying their protest-singing past, but instead the kind of certainties they've been fueled ("Lies That Life Is Black and White"), a sardonic one to bid farewell.

46. ​​Make You Feel My Love (1997)

No recent Dylan song has become as ubiquitous as Make You Feel My Love, which in no small part owes its status as a modern standardThe cover version of Adele. The original has a noticeably darker tone, largely because it's sung by Dylan with his frightening modernity, but its powerful cocktail of beautifully direct lyrics and indelible melodies is irresistible.

45. I Went to the Gypsy (1970)

This fabulous (perhaps fabricated) account of how he met Elvis casts Dylan in the unlikely role of an avid admirer and infuses Presley with mystical powers ("he can... make you fearless, put you through the looking glass"). able to restore another artist's creativity: after meeting them, Dylan "has music to [his] ears".

44. Blowing in the Wind (1963)

Apparently written in a few minutes, taken from the melodyNo more auction blocks- a Civil War-era spiritual song performed by Dylan and Odetta - Blowin' in the Wind is perhaps Dylan's most famous protest song precisely because, as he pointed out, it is not a protest song: it is about universals rather than the details that make it up infinitely adaptable.

43. I Don't Speak (2006)

The conclusion of Modern Times delivered even more haunting horror (violence, plague, endless suffering) with an opening line that made it sound like an old folk ballad ("While I Going Out...") and a twist the song's protagonist didn't have . He's just a dismayed spectator, but possibly something far worse: with his heart filled with "an evil spirit," he ends the song by confronting a lonely woman.

42. Too Many Mornings (1964)

A respite from the inflammatory allegations that make up much of The Times They Are A-Changing, the poignant One Too Many Mornings sees Dylan reflect on the complex ending of his relationshipSuze Rotolo: "It's a feeling of restless hunger that doesn't mean nobody's good / If anything I say might as well be said".

41. Forever Young (1974)

Written "in a minute", there's a strong argument that the best version of the in-universe portrayal of Dylan's feelings of parenthood is the original demo - the reason he ultimately allowed the release of an incomplete lo-fi recording is, that there is a rawness . and the emotional impact the two have in 1974's Planet Waves are never quite the same.

40. Spaßvogel (1983)

Infidels, produced by Mark Knopfler, was divided, but everyone seemed to agree that the opening track was great: complex lyrics backed by Sly and Robbie's subtle reggae beat. The best version, however, is the searing Dylan performed on David Letterman's TV show with new wave band The Plugz, a tantalizing vision of an alternative route through the '80s that he didn't want to take.

39. Times They Change (1964)

The title track of Dylan's third album was truly inflammatory, a call to action that's more about identifying a generational divide that would become a rift as the '60s progressed than it was about any specific reason: "Come on moms .” and fathers of all earth, and do not criticize what you cannot understand.”

38. Love minus zero / no limit (1965)

"This isn't pop music I've ever heard," said a dissenting voice among disappointed interviewees after a Sheffield Dylan concert in 1966. The dissident had a point: that Dylan was reshaping pop in his own way Love Minus Zero/ No Limit, a beautifully melodic love song with lyrics richer than any love song before.

37. If It Were Not You (1970)

More captivating than her hit anthem of marital devotion, Lay Lady Lay, If Not For You offers nothing to unravel, no mystery, nothing to write a long literary essay about, just candidness and emotional connection. It's, to use a phrase not often associated with Dylan's work, catchy.

36. Knocking at Heaven's Gate (1973)

Elevating Knockin' on Heaven's Door to an all-purpose rock anthem, especially inRidiculously over the top Guns N' Roses cover— perhaps to be expected given its chorus, but there's a feeling the song itself is trampled on in the process: you're better off with the simplicity and resonant, haunted vibe of Dylan's original.

35. Slow Train (1979)

Tricky Thing: The most controversial of Dylan's born-again songs (sometimes the lyrics come dangerously close to right-wing religious fundamentalism) also happens to be his best. There's a tension in the music that undermines the slick production, real drama and conviction in the vocal delivery that shifts from anger to a sort of joy at the coming of doomsday.

34. The Girl from Brownsville (1986)

The largely rotten Knocked Out Loaded hinted that Dylan was in trouble. From time to time, however, he could find the good ones: co-written with the playwrightSam Shepherd, Brownsville Girl delivers 17 oddly sung conversational verses reflecting everything from her lingering writer's block to Gregory Peck, including a poignant aphorism from Dylan: "People who grieve together have stronger connections than people who are closer happy".

33. Most Disgusting Murder (2020)

Dylan's longest songappeared without warning, amid the coronavirus lockdown. Filled with enough cultural references to keep fans engaged until restrictions are lifted, his meditation on the death of JFK was more of a recitation to music than a song, unlike anything he had previously recorded: proof for the fact that the old man is almost 80 years old is still pushing forward.

32. It's All Over Baby Blue (1965)

Bringing It All Back Home ended with a song similar to the Another Side, It Ain't Me Babe ending. Once again, it's not entirely clear if Dylan is saying goodbye to a lover or to that part of his fandom that wanted him to stay the way he was. Either way, it ends up with a strong memo to itself: "Strike another match, start again."

31. IS (1976)

There's a theory that with no backing vocals, Isis is telling the allegorical tale of Dylan's attempts to fix his marriage ("what drives me to you," he grimly suggests, "is what drives me crazy"), but whatever it's, it's incredibly badass, its travelogue relentlessly driven by Scarlet Rivera's violin and the power of Dylan's voice.

30. High Water (for Charlie Patton) (2001)

The highlights of Love and Theft feel distantly related to 1983's Blind Willie McTell, another powerful travelogue inspired by a legendary bluesman whose chorus is borrowed from Patton's High Water Everywhere, though the tone is noticeably darker, with a odd touch of humor ("jump on the wagon, love, throw your panties overboard") is deeply inappropriate.

29. Don't Think Twice It's Okay (1963)

Ironically, Dylan's paean to Suze Rotolo in Italy helped end their relationship forever, as she struck the perfect balance of tenderness and poignancy: When Rotolo heard Joan Baez perform it on stage as a song, "about a love story, which also went on long,” prompting her to stop.

28. Along the Watchtower (1967)

thought DylanJimi Hendrix' Version von All Along the Watchtowerit was so definitive that he later began playing it live in the style of Hendrix. But there's a lot to be said for Dylan's humble original, whose brevity and rawness captures the same intensity of recent times in a different way.

27. Most of the Time (1989)

Most of the Time shows how involved producer Daniel Lanois was with Dylan's biggest '80s album Oh Mercy, the sound is rich, bright and atmospheric, and how Dylan himself was recovering from an artistic low: lyrical drawing of the emotional aftermath of a failed one Relationship is both perceptive and sensitive, his performance perfectly judged.

26. I Love You (1966)

The final song recorded for Blonde on Blonde features a parade of intriguing characters (the "dancing boy" is reportedly Rolling Stones Brian Jones), but by the standards of Dylan songwriting at the time, it's straightforward: a statement of upbeat love, and absolute charming. in which his Nashville gang proves themselves once again. The guitar in particular is a delight.

25. A Simple Twist of Fate (1975)

Dylan said he was appalled that people liked Blood on the Tracks ("enjoying that kind of pain," he complained). But regardlesshis backstory, who couldn't love Simple Twist of Fate? A genius at full speed, she has it all: a persistently infectious melody, a passionate voice, and incredible lyrics depicting her collapsing marriage in the third person.

24th Hurricane (1976)

The plight of incarcerated boxer Reuben Carter prompted Dylan to return to writing protest songs: "Hurricane" is as detailed, badass, and journalistic as "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll." There's a real tension between her snarling voice and the song's appealing melody, a crushing force in her lyrics: "If you're black, you better not show yourself on the street unless you want attention."

23. I Will Be Delivered (1967)

Among the most covered songs by Dylan (Even the Beatles had a chance) I Shall Be Released ended as a rousing anthem of protest, but it's the largely unvarnished original version of The Basement Tapes Raw that best captures its true power: an anthem-like song about not literal imprisonment but the transcendence of physical existence.

22. Liberty Bells (1964)

The title makes Chimes of Freedom sound like a protest song, but it's something else entirely, a vivid, poetic depiction of a storm ("the sky has broken its poems in crazed astonishment... the rain has undone the tales") that seems to be causing it became an epiphany. about its author: a dazzling sign of where Dylan was headed.

21. I threw it all away (1969)

The best Nashville skyline song. Extraordinarily beautiful, incredibly sad, and the complete opposite of the Dylan of three years earlier (his voice doesn't even sound like his own), I Threw It All Away is neat, direct, fluid: its beauty comes from its simplicity rather than its density.

20. A Hard Rain's A Gonna Fall (1963)

In response to the Cuban Missile Crisis, "A Hard Rains A-Gonna Fall roared straight out of the typewriter," according to a friend watching Dylan type. What's more, he recorded it in a single take: a stream of apocalyptic imagery so powerful it long survived the moment it was to become the soundtrack.

19. The Groom Still Waits at the Altar (1981)

Dylan's '80s were marked by some strange choices when it came to album track listings, starting here: what drove him to leave this wild blues-rock sliver Shot of Love? He's awesome, his killing spree borders on chaos, and the sheer passion in his voice make him a counterpart to the music on Highway 61 Revisited.

18. Herr Tamburin (1965)

A remnant of the Other SideBob DylanWhat shaped its future even more dramatically than Liberty Bells, Mr. Tambourine Man's whirlwind of free-associative imagery made it an instant drug song, but it's more about the act of writing itself, a joyful song to the moment when the muse takes charge.

17. Ballad of a Thin Man (1965)

No character on a Dylan song has sparked as much conjecture as poor Mr. Jones from Ballad of a Thin Man: who the hell could have inspired such an unrelenting spurt of bile? Maybe it doesn't matter: better not worry and just bask, if that's the right word, in his doomy sound and the exuberant intensity of Dylan's performance.

16. One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later) (1966)

One of Us Must Know, a post-match analysis of a love gone awry, is the negative image of the "nasty" songs Dylan specialized in: It sounds apologetic (most of the time, anyway) instead of stroke; its fantastic chorus, driven by Al Kooper's organ, feels somewhere between a surge of energy and a sigh.

15. It's Okay Mom (I'm Only Bleeding) (1965)

A song abounding with justifiably celebrated Dylan aphorisms: "He's not busy being born, he's busy dying" is perhaps the best. It's Okay Mom (I'm Only Bleeding) is a gripping and angry blast of apocalyptic imagery that sets the timeless theory. that politicians and the media convey a false sense of reality.

14. Things Have Changed (1997)

Dylan's great Oscar-winning contribution to the soundtrack ofwonder boysfinds him, not for the first or last time, casting a suspicious glance at a world he feels out of tune with, her sluggish, haunting music sets the backdrop for a series of shimmering omens of impending doom, all with a sullen shrug be dismissed: "I cared, but things have changed."

13. The Lonely Death of Hattie Carroll (1964)

Arguably the most powerful of all Dylan's protest songs, Hattie Carroll occasionally plays fast and loose with the facts of the racist murder he depicts, but his combination of journalistic reporting and poetic technique is astounding: the fact that he's measured, lacking in hysteria and no sentimentality in tone. makes it even more impressive.

12. Tangled in Blue (1975)

You could put anything or everything about Blood on the Tracks in a list like this: Spurred on by the failure of his marriage, his muse was working overtime, as evidenced by his stunning opening song, a fragmentary memory, an unreliably told story of a failed relationship. that changes in leaps and bounds from scene to scene, like a dream.

11. Girl from the North Country (1963)

Perhaps the finest of Dylan's early love songs, Girl From the North County is a memoir of an old friend (exactly what's the subject of some pretty insane debate) steeped in nostalgia and regret, in the rawness of The Freewheelin' The Sound of Bob Dylan turns into a still reflection of early morning.

10. It's Not Me Baby (1964)

This mingles with another kiss goodbye for Suze Rotolo, who is honestly being treated a bit roughly with the lyrics, with Dylan biding farewell to a generational label with his voice. It's unclear if he's addressing his ex or his audience, although the fact that he's completing his latest acoustic album gives strength to this latest rendition.

9. The Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands (1966)

Dylan thought Sad Eyed Lady was important enough to devote an entire page to him on the first rock double album, as if he needed to be alone. Afterward, he couldn't decide if it was an 11-minute masterpiece or if he was "just getting carried away": listening to the understated sound, cyclical melody and devotional lyrics, it's hard not to pick up the first one stay interpretation.

8. It's Not Dark Yet (1997)

The sound of a 56-year-old man facing death, Not Dark Yet developed a chilling premonition when its author nearly died of pericarditis before its release. But Not Dark Yet doesn't need a spooky backstory. It's successful in its own right: dark, brooding and at times blackly funny, it was one of the reasons Time Out of Mind was hailed as a masterpiece.

7. Positiv Fourth Street (1965)

With one of those great opening lines stopping you: "You've got a lot of nerve...," Fourth Street's taunting jibe at the Greenwich Village folk scene feels like listening to a particularly wild argument: so vicious you feel guilty for listening so convincingly you can't help it.

6. Blind Willie McTell (1983)

Another track Dylan bewilderingly dismissed, this achingly lively and unabashed acoustic evocation of the old South inhabited by the titular bluesman (equal parts beauty and injustice), was immediately and justifiably hailed as one of his best songs when he eventually bootleg series set with 1-3 boxes appeared in large quantities.

5. Series of Devastation (1965)

In the mid-'60s, Dylan complained that he'd never written anything as "outlandish" as the craziest folk ballads, but on Desolation Row he managed to take ballad form to a whole new level. It's a cliché to compare it to TS Eliot's The Waste Land, but it fits: a desolate 11 minutes of oppressive and absurd imagery that, despite its length, never lets the listener go.

4. Nostalgischer Blues Underground (1965)

Everyone knows that the release of Subterranean Homesick Blues was a defining moment in rock history. What's more surprising is how explosive it still sounds, 55 years after the excitement surrounding Dylan's "going electric" and the emerging counterculture the song seemed to embody: the unrelenting, choppy vocal fire, the lyrical fireworks, the chaotic roar of the backing musicians. . . Infinitely copied, never equalled.

3. Idiotwind (1975)

On one level, it's a storm of rage rivaling anything his amphetamine-fueled younger self could churn out, but Idiot Wind differs from Ballad of a Thin Man or Positively Fourth Street in that its author didn't just throw bitter accusations hurls, but writhes in agony. :: "I haven't known peace and quiet for so long that I can't remember what it's like". The end result is an extraordinary and heartbreaking listening experience.

2 Visions of Johanna (1966)

Like a Rolling Stone might have been more revolutionary, but Visions of Johanna has a strong claim to being Dylan's best song, a parade of luminous imagery that manages to be both unnerving and incredibly powerful ("The phantom of electricity howls through the bones of his face"). Meanwhile, his backing band from Nashville sounds just right: Subtle yet haunting, the mood of the early-morning lyrics seeps into the sound.

1. Like a Rolling Stone (1965)

Let it be known that the ranking of Bob Dylan's 50 Greatest Songs isn't a relaxing distraction to while away the lockdown period. It's an extremely frustrating exercise that can only end up looking forward to the songs you skipped and your face in a WTF? Expression. As for number 1, sometimes you have to bow to the inevitable. In the author's own words, 'Like a Rolling Stone' changed everything: six minutes of 'constant hatred', its chorus tune loosely based on Ritchie Valens' 'La Bamba', its musicians - as author Greil Marcus noted - just cling the song by him Nails, it was a single that broke boundaries and changed the face of music forever.complete booksIt was written about him to tease meaning out of his dense lyrics, but Marcus' point is crucial: Coupled with the sheer toxicity of Dylan's delivery, it's the sense of journeying into uncharted territory perpetually on the brink of collapse that makes it so always exciting. .

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