A couple books (that I have not read) have come out about Bob Dylan recently, Sean Wilentz’s “Bob Dylan in America,” and “Bob Dylan by Greil Marcus, Writings 1968-2010” by Greil Marcus. Dylan will turn 70 today, which also, I read in Jon Friedman’s Media Web column for MarketWatch.com, marks “the 50th anniversary of his arrival in New York City’s Greenwich Village folk scene. He was a star when John F. Kennedy was our president.”
But I feel as though I should come up with a list of my Top 10 Dylan songs done by Dylan himself. This is harder than it might seem because, often, someone else’s version tops his, in my mind. I actually like his “Blowin’ in the Wind”, but it’ll always be a Peter, Paul and Mary song; ditto the Byrds’ “Mr. Tambourine Man,” Willie Nelson doing “What Was It You Wanted”, even Joan Baez’s “Simple Twist of Fate”, and any number of others.
Links to the best videos I could find:
10. The Groom’s Still Waiting At The Altar – obviously from Bob’s overtly Christian period, I think I liked it as much because of its relative rarity – it was a non-album B-side of a single before it showed up in collections and the CD version of Shot of Love – as for that fascinating “church as bride” imagery. Not a great recording, I know.
9. Subterranean Homesick Blues – and I might like this more for the classic flashcard video than the song itself.
8. Hurricane – Bob was political from his early days, but this return to that issue, specifically addressing the trumped-up murder charges against Ruben ‘Hurricane’ Carter moved me.
7. Ballad Of A Thin Man – I’ll be honest: when I first heard Yer Blues on the Beatles’ white album, I had NO idea about the reference to “Dylan’s Mr. Jones”. Finally hearing it gave me a greater appreciation.
6. Summer Days – as I have noted, the Love and Theft album came out on September 11, 2001, but though I’d pre-ordered and purchased it, I didn’t listen to it until several days later. And when I did, it gave me such joy. No song more than this one.
5. Stuck Inside A Mobile With A Memphis Blues Again – I was initially attracted to the sheer length of the title, as well as the song’s merits. Couldn’t find a decent version online; this is the 2:22 intro from the movie about Dylan, “I Am Not There”
4. Highway 61 Revisited – if only for the dialogue between God and Abraham, it’d be worth it. This is a cartoon video someone put together.
3. Like A Rolling Stone – it’s anthemic. Love the Al Kooper organ.
2. I Want You – the very first Dylan song I ever owned, not from a Dylan album or single but from a Columbia compilation album The Best of ’66.
1. Rainy Day Women No. 12 & 35 – from that Salvation Army intro to “everybody must get stoned”. Can’t resist.
The entire Highway 61 Revisited album.