Category Archives: Bob Dylans’s best songs

Bob Dylan’s best songs: I Believe In You

bob dylan bw

They ask me how I feel
And if my love is real
And how I know I’ll make it through
They look at me and frown
They live to drive me from this town
They don’t want me around
‘Cause I believe in you.

Here was something he had spent his life dealing with – rejection. But rather than believing in himself and his own judgement in the face of such hostility, he believed in Him. And how. Fusing blues commonplaces like ‘walk out on my own I A thousand miles from home … don’t mind the pain I Don’t mind the driving rain’ to express the kind of treatment meted out to many an accidental martyr, he insists such belief cannot be shaken – not even ‘if white turn to black’. At song’s end, though ‘friends forsake’ him, he knows he ‘will sustain’.
~Clinton Heylin (Still on the Road: The Songs of Bob Dylan Vol. 2, . 1974-2008)

Continue reading Bob Dylan’s best songs: I Believe In You

Bob Dylan: The Gospel Years, Part 4 – Best Song 1979 “Slow Train”

Sometimes I feel so low-down and disgusted
Can’t help but wonder what’s happenin’ to my companions
Are they lost or are they found?
Have they counted the cost it’ll take to bring down
All their earthly principles they’re gonna have to abandon?
There’s a slow, slow train comin’ up around the bend

If I could keep only one performance from the Slow Train Coming album, it would have to be the title song, “Slow Train,” much as I love to listen to “Precious Angel,” much as I am in awe of Dylan’s vocal performance on all of “When He Returns” and pieces of “I Believe in You.” But “Slow Train” is it, the white-hot core of the album, the one track that can and must be listened to again and again and again, inexhaustible, essential.
-Paul Williams (Bob Dylan: Performing Artist, Vol 2: The Middle Years 1974-1986)

Previous posts in this series:

..nothing less than Dylan’s most mature and profound song about America.
– Jann Wenner (Rolling Stone Magazine)

Slow Train:

Continue reading Bob Dylan: The Gospel Years, Part 4 – Best Song 1979 “Slow Train”

Bob Dylan’s best songs: Subterranean Homesick Blues

bob dylan Subterranean Homesick Blues
Photo by Tony Frank

Ah get born, keep warm
Short pants, romance, learn to dance
Get dressed, get blessed
Try to be a success
Please her, please him, buy gifts
Don’t steal, don’t lift
Twenty years of schoolin’
And they put you on the day shift

Question: Do you think there’s a move afoot to turn you into a pop star?
Dylan: They can’t turn me into anything. I just write my songs and that’s that! Nobody can change me and by the same token, they can’t change my songs. Of course I vary things once in a while, like with the different backing I had on Subterranean Homesick Blues. But that was entirely my own doing. Nobody talked me into it. Just so happened we had a lot of swinging cats on that track, real hip musicians.
~Bob Dylan (May 1965, UK)

Subterranean Homesick Blues. I mean… I don’t think I would have wanted to do it all by myself. I thought I’d get more power out of it, you know, with a small group in back of me. It
was electric, but doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s modernized just because it’s electric, you know? It was, you know, like a… Country music was electric, too.
Bob Dylan (Jeff Rosen Interviews, 2005)

If Dylan like Shakespeare is to be someday remembered for having created combinations of language that “age cannot wither,” “Subterranean Homesick Blues” will be a shining example thereof.
~Paul Williams (Bob Dylan Performing Artist I: The Early Years 1960-1973)

Subterranean Homesick Blues” was electric all the way down to its obvious R & B roots. No traditional ballad provided this song with its underlying infrastructure. Acoustic or electric, it had been taken at quite a different clip from any folk ballad—or, indeed, the southern boogie Chuck Berry utilized when devising the template on April 16, 1956. And Dylan would be the last to deny Berry’s overt influence. As he told Hilburn recently, this first foray into folk-rock was “from Chuck Berry, a bit of ‘Too Much Monkey Business,’ and some of the scat songs of the forties.
~Clinton Heylin (Revolution in the Air: The Songs of Bob Dylan, 1957-1973)

Subterranean Homesick Blues – video:


Continue reading Bob Dylan’s best songs: Subterranean Homesick Blues

Bob Dylan’s best songs: Up To Me

Bob Dylan - UpToMe

I don’t think of myself as Bob Dylan. It’s like Rimbaud said, ‘I is another.’
~Bob Dylan (Biograph liner notes)

In its own way ‘Up To Me’ is as masterful an achievement as ‘Tangled Up In Blue’, using much the same technique to create a well-crafted juxtaposition of ‘what I know to be the truth’ and what I’m projecting’.
~Clinton Heylin (Still on the Road: The Songs of Bob Dylan Vol. 2, . 1974-2008)

“Up To Me” was recorded 19 September 1974:

Continue reading Bob Dylan’s best songs: Up To Me

Bob Dylan: Roll On John (Lennon)

Captured in the documentary “Eat the Document”

Roll on, John, roll through the rain and snow
Take the right-hand road and go where the buffalo roam
They’ll trap you in an ambush before you know
Too late now to sail back home

Shine your light
Movin’ on
You burned so bright
Roll on, John
~Bob Dylan (Roll On John)

I dig John [Lennon]. As a writer, a singer and a Beatle. I dig everytime I meet them, but him I dig. He doesn’t take things seriously as so many guys do. I like that.
~Bob Dylan (KRLA Beat Interview, June 1965)

Oh, I always love to see John [Lennon]. Always. He’s a wonderful fellow… and I always like to see him.
~Bob Dylan (to Jann Wenner, Dec 1969)

Roll On John (original album version)

Continue reading Bob Dylan: Roll On John (Lennon)