Today: Bob Dylan is 72 years old – top 25 Bob Dylan songs by Hallgeir

Dylan 72

Happy birthday, Bob Dylan!

Bob Dylan (born Robert Allen Zimmerman; May 24, 1941) has been an influential figure in popular music and culture for more than five decades. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s when he was an informal chronicler and a seemingly reluctant figurehead of social unrest. A number of Dylan’s early songs, such as “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Times They Are a-Changin'”, became anthems for the US civil rights and anti-war movements. Leaving his first base in the culture of folk music behind, Dylan’s six-minute single “Like a Rolling Stone” radically altered the parameters of popular music in 1965. His recordings employing electric instruments attracted denunciation and criticism from others in the folk movement.

bob-dylan 72

Dylan’s lyrics have incorporated a variety of political, social, philosophical, and literary influences. They defied existing pop music conventions and appealed hugely to the then burgeoning counterculture. Initially inspired by the performance style of Little Richard, and the songwriting of Woody Guthrie, Robert Johnson, and Hank Williams, Dylan has both amplified and personalized musical genres. His recording career, spanning fifty years, has explored many of the traditions in American song—from folk, blues, and country to gospel, rock and roll, and rockabilly to English, Scottish, and Irish folk music, embracing even jazz and swing. Dylan performs with guitar, keyboards, and harmonica. Backed by a changing line-up of musicians, he has toured steadily since the late 1980s on what has been dubbed the Never Ending Tour. His accomplishments as a recording artist and performer have been central to his career, but his greatest contribution is generally considered to be his songwriting. (wikipedia)

dylan double

Since it is his birthday and all, I have forced myself to pick 25 songs to celebrate Bob Dylan. It was extremely hard to leave so many good songs out of the list…

These are my top 25 Bob Dylan songs:

1. Blind Willie McTell
2. Like a Rolling Stone
3. Tangled Up In Blue
4. Ballad Of A Thin Man
5. Every Grain Of Sand
6. Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues
7. It’s All Right Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)
8. Visions Of Johanna
9. Brownsville Girl
10. The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll
11. It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue
12. I Shall Be Released
13. Simple Twist Of Fate
14. Knocking On Heaven’s Door
15. Just Like A Woman
16. Masters Of War
17. Mississippi
18. Idiot Wind
19. Isis
20. Cross The Green Mountain
21. High Water (for Charley Patton) (the live 2003 version on bootleg s. vol. 8)
22. Highway 51 Blues
23. Oh, Sister (Hard Rain version)
24. Shelter From The Storm (Hard Rain version)
25. You’re A Big Girl Now

bob silhouette

Check out Egil’s list of his favorite Bob Dylan songs (an ongoing top 200 list)

– Hallgeir

Bob Dylan cover versions @ Johannasvisions
Bob Dylan albums @ Johannasvisions
Bob Dylan videos @ Johannasvisions
Bob Dylan concerts @ Johannasvisions
Bob Dylan recording sessions @ Johannasvisions

Other 24 May:

  • Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington (April 29, 1899 – May 24, 1974) was an American composer, pianist, and big-band leader. Ellington wrote over 1,000 compositions. In the opinion of Bob Blumenthal of The Boston Globe “In the century since his birth, there has been no greater composer, American or otherwise, than Edward Kennedy Ellington.” A major figure in the history of jazz, Ellington’s music stretched into various other genres, including blues, gospel, film scores, popular, and classical. His career spanned more than 50 years and included leading his orchestra, composing an inexhaustible songbook, scoring for movies, composing stage musicals, and world tours.
  • Elmore James (January 27, 1918 – May 24, 1963) was an American blues guitarist, singer, songwriter and band leader. He was known as “the King of the Slide Guitar” and had a unique guitar style, noted for his use of loud amplification and his stirring voice.
  • Gene Clark, born Harold Eugene Clark (November 17, 1944 – May 24, 1991) was an American singer-songwriter, and one of the founding members of the folk-rock group The Byrds.
  • Rosanne Cash (born May 24, 1955) is an American singer-songwriter and author. She is the eldest daughter of country music icon Johnny Cash and his first wife, Vivian Liberto Cash Distin.

Sources: Wikipedia, Allmusic, several books on Bob Dylan and my brain

15 thoughts on “Today: Bob Dylan is 72 years old – top 25 Bob Dylan songs by Hallgeir”

  1. Idiot Wind and “Grain of Sand” are brilliant. I don’t differ with anything you put in your top 25. Hattie Carroll is an example of his incredible storytelling, hard-hitting. I think of Seven Curses in the same way.

  2. A good list , I think. I just miss ‘All along th Watchtower’. Great storytelling, great first line (‘There must be some way out of here’ and of course beautiful different versions.
    Of the last albums I like ‘TOOM’ and ‘L and T’ the most. ‘TT’ and ‘Tempest’ show a lack of urgency and creativity, to me.

    1. I think Hendrix did the definitive version of Watchtower, I like Dylan’s take but it will always be Hendrix’ song for me.

      I like “the new” albums a lot, but I think I will have a better understanding of their value and how good they really are in a few more years. It is hard to appreciate recent albums as classics.

      Thanks for you comment.

      – Hallgeir

  3. Before reading your list I said to myself that I probably would come up with completely different ones I was surprised that I could live with 18 of your choices good job Even though we may tire of some oldies Blowin and Hard Rain cant be ignored

    1. Thanks, I was considering Blowin’in the wind, A Hard Rain and Desolation Road very hard, but I had to leave many gems out, as hard as it was.

      Thank you for the feedback

      – Hallgeir

  4. Sheesh it is listed. Sorry. I totally disagree that not enough later songs listed. The early to mid 70’s were very good to me.

  5. Really nice mix of songs. Of course no one is ever going to get 2 people to agree to the same 25 songs but to the comment about no later day songs listed (not that I necessarily agree) I would have added Mississippi.

    1. I know, but in my defence, it is only 25 songs and Bob Dylan has had a long and good career. There were a lot of songs I had to omit…

      …I really love those “new” albums

      Thanks for the comments

      – Hallgeir

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