Saturday, September 27, 2008

My 100 Favorite Dylan Songs

Well, here they are in alphabetical order. After some intensive time in the STWOF listening room, I've come up with a list of my 100 favorite Bob Dylan songs. It wasn't easy, and I'm sure I'll change my mind within a week, but it was a fun process.

Thanks for all of the excellent comments and e-mails. As much as I loved Dylan before, putting this list together has reinforced my opinion that Bob is the greatest popular music artist of the 20th century.

1. A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall - The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan
2. Absolutely Sweet Marie - Blonde On Blonde
3. All Along The Watchtower - John Wesley Harding
4. Angelina - The Bootleg Series Volumes 1,2 & 3
5. As I Went Out One Morning - John Wesley Harding
6. Ballad Of A Thin Man - Highway 61 Revisited
7. Blind Willie McTell - The Bootleg Series Volumes 1,2 & 3
8. Blowin' In The Wind - The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan
9. Bob Dylan's 115th Dream - Bringing It All Back Home
10. Boots Of Spanish Leather - The Times They Are A-Changin'
11. Brownsville Girl - Knocked Out Loaded
12. Buckets Of Rain - Blood On The Tracks
13. Chimes of Freedom - Another Side of Bob Dylan
14. Dear LandlordJohn Wesley Harding
15. Desolation Row - Highway 61 Revisited
16. Don't Think Twice, It's All Right - The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan
17. Every Grain of Sand - Shot of Love
18. Forever Young - Planet Waves
19. Fourth Time Around - Blonde On Blonde
20. From A Buick 6 - Highway 61 Revisited
21. Gates Of Eden - Bringing It All Back Home
22. Girl from the North Country - Nashville Skyline
23. Gotta Serve Somebody - Slow Train Coming
24. Highway 61 Revisited - Highway 61 Revisited
25. Hurricane - Desire
26. I'll Be Your Baby Tonight - John Wesley Harding
27. I'll Keep It With Mine - Biograph
28. I Believe In You - Slow Train Coming
29. I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Met) - Biograph
30. I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine - John Wesley Harding
31. I Shall Be Released - Biograph
32. I Want You - Blonde On Blonde
33. Idiot Wind - Blood On The Tracks
34. If Not for You - New Morning
35. If You See Her, Say Hello - Blood On The Tracks
36. Isis - Desire
37. It's All Over Now, Baby Blue - Bringing It All Back Home
38. It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding) - Bringing It All Back Home
39. It Ain't Me Babe - Another Side of Bob Dylan
40. It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry - Highway 61 Revisited
41. John Wesley Harding - John Wesley Harding
42. Jokerman - Infidels
43. Just Like A Woman - Blonde On Blonde
44. Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues - Highway 61 Revisited
45. Knockin' On Heaven's Door - Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid
46. Lay Down Your Weary Tune - Biograph
47. Lay Lady Lay - Nashville Skyline
48. Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat - Blonde On Blonde
49. Like A Rolling Stone - Highway 61 Revisited
50. Lily, Rosemary And The Jack Of Hearts - Blood On The Tracks
51. Love Minus Zero/No Limit - Bringing It All Back Home
52. Maggie's Farm - Bringing It All Back Home
53. Mama, You Been On My Mind - The Bootleg Series Volumes 1,2 & 3
54. Man Gave Names To All The Animals - Slow Train Coming
55. Masters Of War - The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan
56. Million Dollar Bash - The Basement Tapes
57. Mississippi - Love and Theft
58. Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I'll Go Mine) - Blonde On Blonde
59. Most Of The Time - Oh Mercy
60. Mozambique - Desire
61. Mr. Tambourine Man - Bringing It All Back Home
62. My Back Pages - Another Side of Bob Dylan
63. Neighborhood Bully - Infidels
64. Not Dark Yet - Time Out Of Mind
65. Obviously 5 Believers - Blonde On Blonde
66. One More Cup Of Coffee - Desire
67. One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later) - Blonde On Blonde
68. Only A Pawn In Their Game - The Times They Are A-Changin'
69. Oxford Town - The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan
70. Percy's Song - Biograph
71. Pledging My Time - Blonde On Blonde
72. Po’ BoyLove And Theft
73. Positively 4th Street - Biograph
74. Queen Jane Approximately - Highway 61 Revisited
75. Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands - Blonde On Blonde
76. Sara - Desire
77. She Belongs To Me - Bringing It All Back Home
78. Shelter From The Storm - Blood On The Tracks
79. Simple Twist Of Fate - Blood On The Tracks
80. Song To Woody - Bob Dylan
81. Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again - Blonde On Blonde
82. Subterranean Homesick Blues - Bringing It All Back Home
83. Sweetheart Like You - Infidels
84. Tangled Up In Blue - Blood On The Tracks
85. Tears Of Rage - The Basement Tapes
86. Temporary Like Achilles - Blonde On Blonde
87. Things Have Changed - Modern Times
88. Tight Connection to My Heart - Empire Burlesque
89. The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll - The Times They Are A-Changin'
90. The Man in Me - New Morning
91. The Times They Are A Changin' - The Times They Are A-Changin'
92. The Wicked MessengerJohn Wesley Harding
93. To Ramona - Another Side of Bob Dylan
94. Tombstone Blues - Highway 61 Revisited
95. Tonight I'll Be Staying Here with You - Nashville Skyline
96. Visions Of Johanna - Blonde On Blonde
97. With God On Our Side - The Times They Are A-Changin'
98. You're A Big Girl Now - Blood On The Tracks
99. You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go - Blood On The Tracks
100. You Ain't Goin' Nowhere - Greatest Hits, Vol. 2

The most represented album is Blonde on Blonde with 13 songs. The only album to place all of its songs on my list was Highway 61 Revisited, which is my favorite album of all time.

Considering how many great tunes Dylan has, there's a good chance I've left off your favorite. Sorry for that. It's my bad.

Dylan's Discography
Buy Bob Dylan

A few tunes from the list:

Bob Dylan - Every Grain Of Sand (buy)
Bob Dylan - I Shall Be Released (buy)

And a fun one that didn't make it:

Bob Dylan - Froggie Went A-Courtin' (buy)

Now for a couple of questions:

1. What was the most glaring omission from my list?
2. In case I feel like making another list, what are your favorite covers of Dylan songs?


Anonymous said...

1. I Threw It All Away is probably my favourite Dylan song.
2. Canadian group The Philosopher Kings' version of Just Like a Woman is really good, Flatt & Scruggs' cover of Down in the Flood is good too. Even better is Lay Lady Lay as done by the Isley Brothers.

sraets said...

I would have to add "Moonshiner" to the list. The version on the Bootleg Series (not any of the live versions), mainly because it's one of his finest vocal performances. Aside from that, your list is right on the money!

godoggo said...

I don't know about glaring omissions, but there is one glaringly obvious Dylan cover, and I expect you'll find almost universal consensus that it's the greatest of them all, so I might as well just get it out of the way. I'm referring, of course, to William Shatner's rendition of "Mr Tambourine Man."

A Free Man said...

Great list. I was thinking, "How many Dylan songs could there be?" Then I looked at my iTunes library and I have 192 - and consider myself a relatively casual fan.

toady0s said...

glaring omission:

the man in me

you call yourself a dylan fan?


toady0s said...

ok, i swear that song wasn't on there a second ago.

my bad, my bad.

Paul said...

That's OK toady, I still missed a ton of other good songs. it wasn't easy getting down to 100.

I'm just asking for trouble here!

Anonymous said...

i'd add:

clean cut kid
sugar baby
ain't talkin'
can't wait
hollis brown
she's your lover now
standing in the doorway

there are so many... who else has this many great tracks? so much we can't even get to all of it. these are just from his 'officially' released recordings. there's a lot more stuff of his that's still 'unreleased'...

boyhowdy said...

Beautiful list. I'll think about the best covers concept; I'm overdue for my own such set anyway. Jimmy LaFave will definitely make the list somewhere; his ability to cover Dylan is unparalleled.

In the meantime, this is my father's current favorite Dylan cover; it goes over well on record, but I've seen it live, and in person, it may be unbeatable.

Chris Smither: Visions of Johanna

eric said...

the list is good but i think the basement tapes is under represented. i would certainly add "when the ship comes in" and "Please Crawl out your Window" among a few others. i think one of the best dylan covers is off of the Im Not There soundtrack and its Jim James and Calexico doing "Going to Acapulco"

Paul said...

Yeah, I knew I was going to hear it about the Basement Tapes. For some reason I don't like those tracks as much as I am supposed to. It's a mystery. Especially considering how much I like The Band.

Anonymous said...

1. Most glaring omission: Workingman's Blues #2. A recent one, to be sure, but for me, it's among Dylan's best.

2. Best cover of a Dylan song: "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" by Nina Simone or "All Along the Watchtower" by Jimi Hendrix. (for obviously different reasons)

Ian said...

choosing just one Dylan cover is impossible, so I'm going to post my top 5
1. Neko Case- Buckets Of Rain
2. Magnet- Lay Lady Lay
3. Drive By Truckers- Like A Rolling Stone
4. Ani DiFranco- Hurricane
5. Jeff Buckley- I Shall Be Reelased

James said...

1) I have a soft spot for "Up To Me" (though, admittedly, it does sound something like a rewrite of "Tangled Up In Blue")

2) and to connect to 1), Roger McGuinn's version of the song.

Also, I'll second the nod for Neko Case's version of "Buckets of Rain," and I also love Brian Ferry's "A Hard Rain's A-gonna Fall."

Mr. Myers said...

One omission that I have been enjoying in my rotation lately is Ring them Bells.

As far as covers,
Here are a few favorites-
Buckets of Rain - Redbird
Heart of Mine - Norah Jones
It's All Over Now Baby Blue - Grateful Dead
Percy's Song - Fairport Convention
Oh Sister - Andrew Bird

Paul said...

Anon at 12:58 - Workingman's Bues #2 (with a tip of the hat to Merle) was sooo close to making it in my top 100. I went with an older song.

carol said...

Paul, great job on the list - not an easy task! Glad to see "Mississippi" included....have you heard the version from the upcoming Tell Tale Signs? Spectacular. It may still be available on his website for free downloading.

I don't generally like BD covers, but these three make me reconsider.....
Buckets Of Rain - Jack Williams
You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome - Mary Lou Lord
Sweetheart Like You - Guy Davis

corinna said...

Buckets of Rain - Redbird (It is amazing)

Derek Trucks Band with Susan Tedeschi does a beautiful Don't Think Twice.

I could go on but those are my two faves.

paul minor said...

I am so sorry I didn't weigh in before, but of course I have some songs I just can't believe didn't make your cut. On a Night Like This and Going Going Gone are both great examples of why Planet Waves is the most under-appreciated Dylan album and my favorite album ever, by anyone. When I Paint My Masterpiece is its own namesake, and Precious Angel is inspiration itself. Senor and Changing of the Guard are poetry on par with Rilke, and Make You Feel My Love is as pure a love song as Cole Porter ever dreamed of.

I know this is your list, and it's a damn fine selection. I would have omitted some obvious choices like Don't Think Twice and Tangled Up, in order to make more room for some overlooked gems, as a bonus for the newer fan who stumbles upon such a list. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

great dylan covers:

going, going, gone - richard hell & the voidoids

just like tom thumb's blues - the handsome family

ballad of hollis brown - the stooges

i threw it all away - yo la tengo

it's all over now, baby blue - 13th floor elevators

it's all over now, baby blue - them

like a rolling stone - the creation

like a rolling stone - the wailing wailers

i shall be released - the heptones

moonshiner - cat power

Clint said...

I agree with Moonshiner. Would also add I Was Young When I Left Home from No Direction Home. That songs gorgeous.

JV said...

Great list. Best one left off--High Water (for Charley Patton). That song is brilliant. It's about racism and ignorance during the 1927 Mississippi flood. Ironically, Love and Theft came out on Sept. 11, 2001, and perfectly captured the jingoistic, racist attitudes too many people showed toward Muslims then, and continue to. It's a fantastic song, but kudos on this list. Awesome!

Anonymous said...


Paul Mc said...

Just echoing someone else, I was Young When I Left Home is pretty Amazing. There are so many though.

My very favorite Dylan cover is I Believe In You by Cat Power, which is maybe my favorite song ever.

I would like to hear everyone's least favorite Dylan song. Since 95% of them are better than 100% of everyone else's songs, the bad ones are maybe more interesting than the good. Ballad in Plain D is kind of squeeky.

Paul Mc said...

Oh and Long John from some live radio thing from the 60s I found recently is pretty spectacular.

Paul said...

Talking about bad Dylan, I think you have to divide his covers of other people's songs from his own songs.

He has some atrocious covers of other songs. The entire "Dylan" album is a disaster, though it was probably intentionally so.

While I don't like to highlight the "bad" around here (no reason to punish failed attempts), it would be kind of interesting to compare the least impressive Dylan recordings of his own songs to what other artists have to offer.

Jody said...

This is a fantastic list! We actually just put out a Bob Dylan Covers Mixtape yesterday with some of my favorite Dylan covers by the likes of George Harrison, Townes Van Zandt, Jeff Buckley and more. Check it out and let me know what you think! To download the mix, just click on the mixtape title:


Anonymous said...

You've done a great job, but looks like you overlooked "I'm not there", "This Wheel's on Fire" and, although never recorded by Bob that I am aware of (or anyone other than Joan Baez), "Love is just a four letter word"

godoggo said...

Bad Dylan.

Well, let's piss people off by picking one that somebody chose as a favorite: To Make You Feel My Love.

Bear in mind that I'm not enough of a fanatic to explore Portrait or Saved or whatever. I presume there are worse ones on there.

As for covers, I guess that of the relatively few I'm familiar with, my favorites are the Neville Brothers' version of Hollis Brown, and the Animals' version of Baby Blue, which is the high point of a generally mediocre comeback album called Before We Were So Rudely Interrupted or something like that.

I know Abbey Lincoln did a version of Tambourine Man, and the sample I listened to sounded pretty damn good. I suppose I could shell out 26 cents and download the thing...

godoggo said...

Oh, we're not actually discussing bad Dylan apparently. Nevermind.

Anonymous said...

You pretty much covered my favorites; meaning everything from Highway 61 and most of Blonde On Blonde. Usually it's hard to pick a favorite song by an artist but no doubt that Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands is my fav by far. My favorite cover is Richie Havens version of that song. He has a talent to interpret Dylan's songs so they sound different rather than just a copy.
I'm not really a fan of Chris Farlowe but thought I'd put in a plug for his cover of It's All Over Now Baby Blue. I must have a few dozen versions of that song as it seems most every obscure late sixties group or singer covered it. Cheers,

David said...

This is a fun exercise. Here are a few more of my favorites that you didn't have room to squeeze in:

1) New Morning
2)Everything’s Broken (from Oh Mercy)
3) Heart of Mine (from Biograph)
4)Fixin’ To Die (from his first album)
5) Changing of the Guards (from Street Legal)
6)Foot of Pride (from Bootlegs 1-3) Scares the hell out of me every time I hear it.

And I know what Paul meant when he commented, "For some reason I don't like those tracks as much as I am supposed to."

muruch said...

I'm partial to Joan Osborne's cover of "Man in the Long Dark Coat". Maria Muldaur's recent take on "Masters Of War" was good, too.

Larry Bird said...

1. DARK EYES from Empire Burlesque (seriously, take another listen)

2. Percy's Song - Arlo Guthrie

Anonymous said...

OK, time to start commenting as Anonymous now...

Anyways, mention of Masters of War reminds me how scary this version by the Scott Amendola band with Carla Bozulich is...

Also, this topic has got me googling about whom I'd like to hear covering Dylan. Apparently Jerry Lee recorded some song called "Rita Mae" that I don't know. Anybody heard it?

Rowland said...

Barb Jungr does a pretty good Ring Them Bells.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see 'You Ain't Goin Nowhere' did make the grade. The counting crows with the band cracker played a live version together which they call 'Easy Chair'.

Jugs said...

Glaring omissions? I can think of three:

Precious Angel from Slow Train Coming
Everything Is Broken from Oh Mercy
The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest from John Wesley Harding

Make that five if you add Tweeter And The Monkey Man and Dirty World by the Traveling Wilburys

Dean said...

Paul. Great list. Glad to see Mamma you Been on My Mind is on there. That song I was telling you about, Mixed Up Confusion, is on Biograph. It sounds like he's having fun but I think it wasn't folky enough for that period. Basement Tapes is a great record but it requires the temperature to be below 32 degrees. Try listening in mid January through February. Snow is not mandatory. I also like that song Lenny Bruce. " He sure was funny and he sure told the truth." As a matter of fact I like that whole Shot of Love record.

Vaughn said...

I just heard the new Dylan Bootleg Series Vol. 8 Tell Tale Signs yesterday and it is fantastic! There are alt. versions of his latter day catalog that are far superior than the released ones.
Also, it really puts in perspective how vital he still is. A must have.

fotofrenzy said...

great list!! glad to see lily, rosemary, and jack in there! if you forced my hand, i'd have to say it's tied with buckets of rain for my fav dylan song. but i'd rather reply, "whichever one is playing" to that question. so cheers to you for narrowing down a huge catalog. although you may not love the basement tapes, you've gotta love please mrs. henry, and apple suckling tree. even more tongue in cheek than his chopped liver days. i like the jim james cover of goin to acapulco from the i'm not there soundtrack

acompleteunknown said...

Great job...thanks for turning me onto your list. You obviously made the better choice of listing them in alphabetical order. but i'm a bit of a masocist and did mine in order of quality. We have a lot of it's hard for me to critique. All very good choices (and many songs that just missed the grade on my list).

My faves that didn't make it here:

Things Have Changed
Precious Angel
Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest
Wedding Song

Dr. Nefasto said...

Most glaring omission: Ring Them Bells

Most outrageous inclusion: Neighborhood Bully

One of my favorite Dylan's covers: It's All Over Now, Baby Blue - Them

Paul said...

I thought I might hear it for including Neighborhood Bully!

Here is the AMG song review, with which I agree. (The key to the song, in my opinion, is Dylan's delivery. It's one of the most fun Dylan songs to imitate.)

Excerpt of AMG review: "Though 'Neighborhood Bully' is a bit heavy-handed lyrically for someone as adroit a writer as Dylan, the driving music has the inherent joy and force of great gospel music."

Like so many Dylan songs, it just SOUNDS good.

Vaughn said...

I think Bob thought he owed one to Israel after the born-again phase so he wrote "Neighborhood Bully". And who says he can't hasn't been political since the '60's? Oh wait, he did...

John said...

Try and find Mick Ronson's remix of Most Likely You Go Your Way. Pretty cool with some funky horn work on it.

Brent Wittmeier said...

Top 100 Dylan songs?

I'm partial to some songs not on the list and not mentioned by others (as far as I can see):

1. Cold Irons Bound
2. Saved
3. Tomorrow is a Long Time
4. When I Paint My Masterpiece
5. Dignity
6. Born in Time (from Tell Tale Signs)
7. I and I
8. Sign on the Window
9. Wicked Messenger
10. Turkey Chase

Okay, I was kidding about the last one.

Disputes aside, it's hard to fault your list. As far as covers go, I like:

1. Jennifer Warnes - Sign on the Window
2. Nanci Griffith - Boots of Spanish Leather
3. Ben Harper - Well, Well, Well
(though Dylan didn't record it)
4. Emmylou Harris - Every Grain of Sand
5. Sonic Youth - I'm Not There

Frosty Jackson said...

Good list, thanks. Many are on my new Best Dylan Videos site