Robert Allen Zimmerman, or Bob Dylan as we mere mortals have come to know him, is the shining star to look out for in the ‘Blue’ sky of musical mastery. Not the very conventional type of musician, he was many different musicians built into one. His songs are remembered even today, the wonderful music that emanate from his simple yet sensible lyrics to his haunting melodies, he and his trademark harmonica tunes are immortal. Be it today, a decade ago or a decade later, these top 10 Dylan numbers can make your day, any day, anywhere.
10. Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door:
Who does not know this song? And the many covers it has had by various artists of myriad genres. It was composed in the year 1973 for the film Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid. It quickly reached #12 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart with lyrics to make your heart weep for the dying deputy officer, as he declares how he can’t fight anymore. We will never know whether the lyric are really that sad or is it Bob’s voice but the song still remains one of the most loved and the most well known the artist has written to date.
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9. All Along the Watchtower:
Bob Dylan had suffered a terrible motorbike accident in the year 1966 after which he was recuperating in his Nashville home, with two children born in the years ’66 and ’67. The subsequent time which followed was passed in growing roots and studying of religious texts for him especially the Bibble, which clearly influenced his album ‘John Wesley Harding’s lyrical metering. This song along with the album was recorded in the same ‘Blonde on Blonde’ studio in 1967.
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8. Things have changed:
This peppy number was made as part of the soundtrack for the movie ‘Wonder Boys’ in the year 2000. The song won the Academy Award and the Golden Globe for Best Original Song. Along with snazzy lyrics, the song comes with a good-original-concept video directed by ‘Wonder Boys’ Director, Curtis Hanson. This song received great commercial success as well as critical acclaim.
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7. Tangled up in blue:
A love lost, whether out of your free will or not hurts. And this hurt is expressed defying the notions of time and space in this little song, Tangled up in Blue. It has been regarded as a painting of words by many Dylan’ists. It appeared on his album Blood on the Tracks in 1975. Released as a single, it reached number 31 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Rolling Stone ranked it number 68 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
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6. Lay lady lay:
Another apt Valentine day recording was this song, in the year 1969. A song both sweet and soft, the lyrics and Dylan’s warm low murmur singing make it an exceptionally affectionate number. A definitive track to woo a lady love, or a feel good song for the lady herself, Bob managed to capture a delightful emotion in this one track, Love. This track is one of his many immortal tracks that generations after him have loved and enjoyed.
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5. The Times They are a-changing:
A heralding song this was meant to be for all the people of power to look around them and see the changing face of the world during the 60’s period of unrest and turmoil. ‘Come senators, congressmen, please heed the call’, sang Dylan as an anthem of change on 24th October, 1963. The song was ranked number 59 on Rolling Stone‘s 2004 list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
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4. Mr Tambourine man:
A happy song this one is. A song to listen to on a clear ‘jingle-jangle’ morning with a cup of tea in one hand paper on the other and the radio wafting this simple light melody in your living room or kitchen. Recorded in the year 1965, this folk-rock number has been included in many hit’s charts including Rolling Stones, Billboard Hot 100 and Grammy Hall of Fame.
3. Like a Rolling Stone:
If you want a song to pierce your heart, free your mind and make you evaluate the value of existence then you have found your answer. This is not a song about love; it is a song about harshness of life and bitterness of experience. The myth of a comfortable cushion-padded life broken down into the bare hand to hand struggle and the freedom that is born out it is emphasized in the lyrics. This 1965 track was recorded in a period that Dylan himself calls as a slump in his life and career. We have ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ to thank for the revival of Bob from his ‘I want to quit making music phase’ and also for heavily influencing another great artist Bruce Springsteen.
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2. Blowin’ in the Wind:
With lyrics which can only be defined as poignant and soul-stirring and music which is Oh so Dylan, this hard hitting number begins with the line “How many roads must a man walk down?” ascribed as the ‘Ultimate Question’ in the book ‘The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’. The track was recorded on 9th July 1962, and has been said to be protest song, asking questions regarding the merit of war, the necessity of freedom and want of peace. Grammy Hall of Fame inducted the song to its list in the year 1999.
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1. Visions of Johanna:
A song which seems to contain in itself the transcendental power to bring to life the elusive Johanna, this track was recorded by Bob on 14th February in the year 1966 for the album ‘Blonde on Blonde’. Rolling Stones included it in their list of ‘the 500 greatest songs of all time’, and rightly so as this number might probably be one of the saddest and loneliest love song ever. His longing for Johanna, who ‘is never there’, pulls a sentimental-romantic chord in most people’s hearts and etches its place firmly in the any Bob Dylan play list.
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