Sunday, October 7, 2012

10 Best Bob Dylan Songs to Die For !!

Undoubtedly the 10 Best Classic Bob Dylan Hits ! 

The former Robert Allen Zimmerman is an icon. A legend. No doubt on that! Not just under-appreciated and over-praised, the man we know as Bob Dylan manages to be both derided and worshiped at the same time. Fans and critics alike, both prone to over-analysis, often render his music impotent with their endless blathering dissection. Let us try not to go there. It is fun though.  

Bob Dylan has recorded around 35 albums. He has written hundreds of songs. Many of them are mediocre or even terrible, but the amount of greatness that has sprung from the mouth, mind, guitar and soul of this one man is astounding. So here is a list of  ten favorite Bob Dylan songs. (Ask again in 6 months, and it's likely that at least half of them will have changed.)

No matter. Here they are. They are lovely, poetic songs. Some are funny. Some are loving. More are hateful (though often still funny) and even murderous. Bob Dylan wrote them all, and thank God for that.

10: "Oh Sister" - I came across the Desire album pretty late in my Dylan appreciation, and after a brief infatuation (and quick burnout) with the directness of songs like the upbeat rocker with a message that is "Hurricane" and the over the top melodrama of "Joey," I still can't get this countrified, incestuous lament out of my head. Dylan at his creepiest.

9: "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" - Mean Dylan! Mean Dylan is still probably my favorite Dylan. This one's classic, because he acts as if he's being civil and fair and cordial and all that, but he's really just pissed off.

8: "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carol" - People give Dylan a lot of shit for his social protest songs, often implying that they were insincere and opportunistic. Maybe so, but they're still damn good songs. This one's more of a 'ripped from the headlines short-story' type affair anyway. This is one of those Dylan songs that I like because, after innumerable listens, I still can't figure it out.

7: "It's All Over Now Baby Blue" - More Mean Dylan. But this is different. It's Too-much-acid Mean Dylan, and you can't beat that. The scene in Don't Look Back where he punks young Donovan by singing this number is one of the most sublime moments of cool in the history of film. Or music. Or sublime moments of cool in general.

6: "Bob Dylan's 115th Dream" - Funny Dylan on Drugs. This is some amazing freestyle (or 'stream of consciousness' as the eggheads call it) business. Imagine being right there when he came up with this one off the top of his blunted head. Genius. And the false start still feels authentic no matter how many times you hear it.  

5: "Idiot Wind" - Really Mean Dylan. This one is so mean it morphs into a kind of self-loathing, even without the 'it was me all along' final line. What the hell all that "shot a man in Italy" stuff is about though I just don't know. Ideas?

4: "Tambourine Man" - Yes it's some kind of Yuppie Rock Standard by now, but so what. This is as beautiful and arresting a portrait of drug addled loneliness as could be. That "take me disappearing through the smoke-rings of my mind" verse is pure poetry, and gets me every time.

3: "Positively 4th Street" - I'm really not a hateful person. I swear. And neither is Dylan. It's just that he's really good at writing Mean songs. "I wish that for just one time you could stand inside my shoes, you'd know what a drag it is to see you." Ouch. Yes. Tell 'em Bob, let 'em have it. Aren't you glad Dylan never wrote a song about you?

2: "All Along the Watchtower" - From the under-appreciated John Wesley Harding album. The first four songs on the first side of this record are just amazing. ("Frankie Lee and Judas Priest" really freaks me out though. I think it's about homosexuality. No?) Anyway "Watchtower" may have arguably been done better by Hendrix, but it's as subtle and intriguing a bit of lyricism as exists in rock. It's like the first chapter to a great book that was never written.

1: "Girl From the North Country" - Is this the same melody as "Boots of Spanish Leather" or is it just me? This is my mom's favorite Dylan song. (She's still pissed at me for stealing all her records. Thanks mom.) What can you say? It's a heartbreakingly beautiful ode to love lost. The version with Johnny Cash off of Nashville Skyline is good too, if only because you get to hear Cash say "breast." robert whiteman

1 comment:

  1. I wouldn't die for any one but I love Dylan.

    Joy always,


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