Tag Archives: best songs

Bob Dylan the best songs: Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts

bob dylan - the jack of hearts

The festival was over, the boys were all plannin’ for a fall
The cabaret was quiet except for the drillin’ in the wall
The curfew had been lifted and the gamblin’ wheel shut down
Anyone with any sense had already left town
He was standin’ in the doorway lookin’ like the Jack of Hearts
~Bob Dylan (Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts)

The uses of a ballad have changed to such a degree. When they were singing years ago, it would be as entertainment . . . A fellow could sit down and sing a song for a half hour, and everybody could listen, and you could form opinions. You’d be waiting to see how it ended, what happened to this person or that person. It would be like going to a movie … Now we have movies, so why does someone want to sit around for a half hour listening to a ballad? Unless the story was of such a nature that you couldn’t find it in a movie.
-Bob Dylan (to John Cohen, June 1968)

This epic ballad appears to have been wholly inspired by Dylan’s experience of making the movie Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid in a genre which suited both ballad and b-movies: The Western.
~Clinton Heylin (Still on the Road: The Songs of Bob Dylan Vol. 2, . 1974-2008)

Continue reading Bob Dylan the best songs: Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts

Bob Dylan’s best songs – Desolation Row (recorded August 4, 1965)

When you asked how I was doing
Was that some kind of joke?
All these people that you mention
Yes, I know them, they’re quite lame
I had to rearrange their faces
And give them all another name
~Desolation Row

Bob, where is Desolation Row?
Bob Dylan: Where? Oh, that’s someplace in Mexico. It’s across the border. It’s noted for it’s coke factory. Coca-Cola machines are… sells -… sell a lotta Coca-Cola down there.
~San Francisco Press Conference – Dec 3, 1965

Bob Dylan: As I look back on it now, I am surprised that I came up with so many of them. At the time it seemed like a natural thing to do. Now I can look back and see that I must have
written those songs “in the spirit,” you know? Like “Desolation Row” – I was just thinkin’ about that the other night. There’s no logical way that you can arrive at lyrics like that. I don’t know how it was done.
KL: It just came to you?
BD: It just came out through me.
~Bob Dylan – Kurt Loder interview, Oct 1987

Continue reading Bob Dylan’s best songs – Desolation Row (recorded August 4, 1965)

May 24: Happy 76th Birthday Bob Dylan

bob dylan 2015

Crimson flames tied through my ears
Rollin’ high and mighty traps
Pounced with fire on flaming roads
Using ideas as my maps
“We’ll meet on edges, soon,” said I
Proud ’neath heated brow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now

he not busy being born is busy dying

Bob Dylan, the single most important artist in the history of popular music, is 76 years old today Tuesday, May 24.

Here @ alldylan.com we got about 1700 Bob Dylan posts alive. In this tribute I’ll try to give an overview & hopefully lead you to material you might find interesting.

Here are links to some our Bob Dylan material @ alldylan.com

Bob Dylan quotes


You can find some of Hallgeir’s favorites here:


Best released/unreleased songs

bob dylan 1962

X Brilliant Live Performances from 19XX/2XXX

5 Great Songs recorded in 19XX series



Other people’s songs


The Gospel Years

Recording sessions


bob dylan 1977Concert videos/audio


bob dylan smoking 1981

Cover versions


Check out this link: Bob Dylan cover version lists

Other stuff

Check out:


Great Song: Scarlet Town by Bob Dylan

Painting By Joachim Patinir, Landscape with The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah

I will not pretend to know what Bob Dylan’s exact meaning with this song is but I will offer my thoughts on what I consider the second best song on Tempest.

Scarlet Town from the Bob Dylan album Tempest (with film footage from Masked & Anonymous):

The song feels like a mash of several songs, and that’s actually what it is. He draws inspiration from the old ballad Barbara Allen, but he just uses it as a framework to tell an even more sinister tale. The new parts of the song also feels like a split between two different songs, one set in biblical times and the other addressing the state of USA/The Western world today.

Lyrics Barbara Allen (The three first verses):

In younder town where I was born
There was a fair maid dwell’n
Made every youth cry well away
Her name was Bar-bry Ellen

Was in th merry month of May
When greenbuds they were swell’n
Sweet William come from th western state
An’ courted Bar-bry Ellen

Was all in the month o’ June
When everything was blooming
Sweet William on his death bed lay
For th love of Bar-bry Ellen

Bob Dylan has a long lasting relationship with Barbara Allen (the song) and I’ve included some versions here just as a reference.

Here is a wonderful separate post concerning Barbara Allen from Egil.

The first two verses from the Gaslight tapes (it’s eight minutes and has a lot of verses):

In Charlotte town, not far from here,
There was a fair maid dwellin.’
Had a name was known both far and near,
An’ her name was Barb’ry Allen.

‘Twas in the merry month of May,
Green buds they were swellin’,
Poor William on his death-bed lay,
For the love of Barb’ry Allen.

1988 live:

The first two verses in the -88 version:

In Scarlet Town where I was born
there was a fair maid dwelling,
and her name was known both far and near,
and they called her Barbara Allen.

T’was in the merry month of may
the green buds they were swelling,
sweet William on his death bed lay
for the love of Barbara Allen.

Two other artist that has used this song as a basis for an entirely new song are Gillian Welch and David Rawlings:

Not at all like the original Barbara Allen and the only two things it has in common with Bob Dylan’s song are, the title and it’s origin. The melody is different and the “story”/text is completely different (even if both have a distictly sombre tone). Gillian Welch/David Rawlings have more folksy/appalachian feel, while Dylan sings in a more talking blues style.

Continue reading Great Song: Scarlet Town by Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan: His 30 best songs from 2000 – 2012 (poll results)

hop farm day three 14 010712

Back in May 2014:

We again challenge you to put together a top 10 list, or at least 10 songs (if you only provide a top 5 list, they will count as well). Songs 1-5 will receive 2 points each & 6-10 will receive 1 point.

Here is my list:

  1. Mississippi (2001)
  2. Tempest (2012)
  3. High Water (For Charley Patton) (2001)
  4. Roll On John (2012)
  5. Workingman’s Blues #2 (2006)
  6. I Feel A Change Coming On (2008)
  7. Ain’t Talkin’ (2006)
  8. Scarlet Town (2012)
  9. Po’ Boy (2001)
  10. Tin Angel (2012)

Hallgeir’s list:

1. Cross the Green Mountain
2. Mississippi
3. Ain’t Talkin’
4. Tin Angel
5. Forgetful Heart
6. Pay in Blood
7. High Water (for Charley Patton)
8. Scarlet Town
9. Workingman’s Blues #2
10. Beyond here lies nothin’

56 people voted, most of them with a top 10 list. Thanks for the input folks… this is a another GREAT list.

Here are the results of the JV community jury:


Mississippi (2001)

65 points


High Water (For Charley Patton) (2001)

56 points


Cross the Green Mountain (2002)

53 points


Workingman’s Blues #2 (2006)

48 points


Ain’t Talkin’ (2006)

46 points


Pay In Blood (2012)

35 points


Nettie Moore (2006)

30 points


Forgetful Heart (2009)

27 points


Scarlet Town (2012)

26 points


Huck’s Tune (2006)

25 points


Sugar Baby (2001)

24 points


Long & Wasted Years (2012)

23 points


Thunder On The Mountain (2006)

23 points


Tempest (2012)

21 points


Beyond here lies nothin’ (2009)

19 points


I Feel A Change Coming On (2008)

19 points


Lonesome Day Blues (2001)

16 points


Tell Ol’ Bill (2005)

16 points


Tin Angel (2012)

16 points


Po’ Boy (2001)

15 points


Soon After Midnight (2012)

15 points


When The Deal Goes Down (2006)

15 points


Spirit On The Water (2001)

14 points


Honest With Me (2001)

13 points


Summer Days (2001)

13 points


Duquesne Whistle (2012)

11 points


Roll On John (2012)

10 points


Tweedle Dum & Tweedle Dee (2001)

8 points


My Wife’s Hometown (2009)

6 points


Someday Baby (2006)

6 points

Songs with 5 or 4 points: Moonlight, Narrow Way, Cry A While, Early Roman Kings & Waiting For You

16 songs got 3 or less points.

Spotify Playlist:

Mississippi (live 2002):


Cross The Green Mountain: