Tom Gellatly

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Top 15 Dylan Songs - Revised

Did one of these a looong time ago before I knew his stuff fully, now after a long period of a LOT of Dylan and after him becoming my favourite artist ever, here's a more accurate representation of what I think.
15Bob Dylan
Not Dark Yet

Whilst it's easy to be distracted by Daniel Lanois' production here, focus on the
lyrics and we see a more touching side to Dylan, as he looks back over his life and
towards the end. Thankfully it's not quite dark yet, but it's affecting to listen to
Dylan assessing quite how close to getting there he is.
14It Ain't Me, Babe

Probably the most low-key song on this whole list, but one of the most effective.
With its deceptively innovative guitar parts and Dylan's trademark howls in the
choruses, IAMB is an understated little masterpiece of a rejection song.
13Mr Tambourine Man

Infuriatingly described by many as being inferior to various covers of it, MTM is
probably Dylan's best piece of pure poetry. The verse starting with 'and to dance
beneath the diamond sky' is just gorgeous and up there with the Blakes and the
Whitmans of the world, matched with delicate electric lines to make for an
astonishingly beautiful piece.
12Visions of Johanna

Often cited as Dylan's lyrical masterpiece, it's hard not to love this one. The way
the verses, pre-choruses and choruses all roll into one is something to behold, and
Dylan's poetry here never fails to amaze. Deservedly highly-rated.
11Blind Willie McTell

Sadly unreleased until the Bootleg series, this superb, haunting folk track laments
tales of slavery and does so as eloquently as Dylan's best work, with the musical
accompaniment being suitably sparse and chilling.
10Most of the Time

An underrated gem, and one of Dylan's better modern offerings, MOTT is a poignant
reflection on Dylan's current state of mind, replete with unexpectedly magnificent
basslines and mellow production courtesy of Mr Zimmerman himself. Magnificent,
and sadly overlooked.
9Don't Think Twice, It's Alright

The most passive-aggressive song in Dylan's catalogue (which is saying something),
Don't Think Twice is arguably the quintessential folk song, with touching lyrics and
mesmerising guitar work and a general vibe which make it a joy to return to again
and again.
8Tangled Up In Blue

The ultimate travelling song (maybe joint with Paul Simon's 'Graceland'), Tangled is
a masterpiece of a journey as Dylan describes an almost picaresque trip. He said it
took him thirty years to live and two years to write, but the wait was worth it.
7Changing of the Guards

Probably Dylan's most underrated song in my opinion, COTG is, in a word, dramatic.
Musically and lyrically, tensions run high throughout the track, with some of Dylan's
most beautiful but impregnable imagery howled chillingly over one of his most unique
musical backdrops. Pity that people mock it due to the various layers of cheesiness
which permeate the chorus.
6Stuck Inside of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again

One of Dylan's more fun tracks musically, along with most of Blonde on Blonde,
Stuck is a masterful description of Dylan's indecision between folk and 'going
electric' that sees Blonde on Blonde's surrealistic poetry in full, superb, swing.
5It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)

I've heard this song described as saying 'everything you've ever wanted to say,
ever' and that pretty much sums it up; just a chilling powerhouse of an elegy to
everything, seemingly spat out all in one go by Dylan without him quite knowing
where his (surely) divinely inspired words are coming from.
4Like a Rolling Stone

It may be 'the hit' but it's popular for a reason; one of Dylan's lushest tracks
musically and one of his bitterest lyrically, LARS is a simultaneously joyous and
furious romp that doesn't ever seem to get old.
3A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall

Another long, unwavering musical look at the state of things. Some of Dylan's best
lyrics and simplest music set the stage for a chilling view of the apocalypse which
doubles as a commentary on 'the times,' and it's all wonderful.
2Every Grain of Sand

Yes, it's from the much-maligned Shot of Love, but EGOS is a superb praise piece
with affecting music, lyrics, delivery and even harmonica solos. Affecting may well
be the word here, I guess. Just lovely and tragic for seemingly no reason, all at the
same time.
1Desolation Row

The greatest song of all time, a myriad of breakneck imagery and nostalgic
instrumentation, all serving to highlight Dylan's downtrodden, almost bored drawl
combine in what is easily, to my mind, the greatest musical achievement of anyone.
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