Surely one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, Bob Dylan is arguably the greatest American rock artist of all time. His long career has been consistently innovative, rewarding, and unique. His socially conscious lyrics represent the voice of his generation, and he continues today as one of the most important musicians in the world.
Edited By: Eric
Dylan started his career as a folk singer in the early sixties. Heavily influenced by Woody Guthrie, Dylan became famous for his left-wing politics, rebellious image, and poetic lyrical style. After recording a trio of great folk albums, Dylan was ready to turn the popular music world upside down when he chose to introduce rock music to his folk audiences. The result was a historic run of shows in 1965, during which Dylan would open his shows with a solo folk set, before bringing out "The Hawks" (later to become The Band). With his full-on electric band, Dylan performed loud, abrasive, intense rock music, giving crowds something they had never expected. The response of the folk crowd was mixed, but Dylan's stature as a rock icon was solidified. He released a series of rock albums that produced some of the most popular songs of all time. Starting with Bringing It All Back Home in 1965, the influence of his historic mid-sixties prime can not be overstated. In less than a year's time, he produced his two most important records; Blonde on Blonde and Highway 61 Revisited. Dylan continued full throttle, even after his near fatal motorcycle accident in 1966. Towards the end of the decade, he began exploring different styles, including his country album Nashville Skyline and the oddball experimentation of his ill-received 1970 release, Self Portrait.
In 1975, when it may have seemed that Dylan was running out of artistic ambition, he produced another one his greatest albums. The singer-songwriter was at his angriest when he recorded Blood on the Tracks, which in turn produced some of his harshest lyrics to date. The following decade was a period of experimentation, starting with his trilogy of gospel albums, which were recorded during Dylan's brief time as a born-again Christian. After several failed rock experiments, he finally got back in touch with his folk roots during the first half of the nineties. Finally ready to plug back in for a full rock album, he recorded yet another masterpiece with Time Out Of Mind in 1997. Dylan was again back at the top of the music industry, and the album was honored by numerous Grammies and other accolades. His studio album, Love and Theft, was released in 2001. Following that acclaimed recording, Dylan continued his never ending touring cycle. He is still on the road today, playing more shows than many artists half his age on a yearly basis.
BOB DYLAN STUDIO ALBUMS (ranked in order of greatness):
1. Highway 61 Revisited (1965)
Dylan's most famous record remains one of the most significant statements in all rock music. From the anathematic 'Like A Rolling Stone', to the apocalyptic 'Desolation Row, this album is truly one of the greatest of all time.
2. Blood on the Tracks (1975)
Some dark times in Dylan's life made for one of his greatest lyrical statements. This album captures Dylan at his angriest. Lashing out at everything that is wrong with the world, the results are phenomenal.
3. Blonde on Blonde (1966)
Still the longest studio recording of his career, this album contains many of Dylan's most famous songs, and it covers numerous styles of music. It's hard to find any weak moments in this 14 song set.
4. Bringing It All Back Home (1965)
Half rock, half folk, this is the transitional album that showed just where Dylan was planning to go with his music. It contains some of Dylan's most beloved classics, such as 'Mr. Tambourine Man'.
5. The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan (1963)
The best from Dylan's early folk period, this album is a daring political statement that served as a rallying cry for the anti-war movement of the sixties.
6. Time Out Of Mind (1997)
This album marks Dylan's return to greatness after two decades of experimentation and inconsistency. This album is atmospheric, sad, and very emotional. It is surely Dylan's most personal record since Blood on the Tracks.
7. The Times They Are A-Changin' (1964)
His last pure folk album, this recording foresees the massive social changes of the mid-sixties, and sets the stage for the revolutionary rock recordings of Dylan's most important period.
8. John Wesley Harding (1967)
Dylan finally tried to sing musically and put out an emotional, subtle record, most famous for the protest rant of 'All Along the Watchtower'.
9. Oh Mercy (1989)
After Dylan spent a decade struggling to make a decent album, he finally found his footing for this fantastic, cynical epic.
10. Desire (1976)
This bitter, angry, often politically charged masterpiece is most famous for the song 'Hurricane', which was crucial in bringing public attention to the travesty of the Ruben Carter accusation. Other great songs include 'Isis' and 'One More Cup of Coffee'.
11. Planet Waves (1974)
Dylan's lone studio release with The Band contains many classics. This is perhaps the most underrated album of his career. It includes two versions of 'Forever Young', one of the finest songs of his career.
12. Another Side of Bob Dylan (1964)
This album is oddly comedic and relaxed, especially when compared to Dylan's other folk releases. As the title clearly states, Dylan tried something new, and it was very successful.
13. Love And Theft (2001)
This upbeat, bluesy record shows that Dylan is still capable of writing great rock songs today.
14. Street Legal (1978)
Sadly forgotten, this album was the last before Dylan's downfall in the eighties. There are a few fantastic songs such as 'Senor', and the entire album is remarkably consistent.
15. Good As I Been To You (1992)
Rediscovering his roots as a folk singer, Dylan plays through standards from his past.
16. New Morning (1970)
Inconsistent, but still great, this album finds Dylan exploring some new styles with varied success.
17. Infidels (1983)
Following the artistic drought of his Christian phase, Dylan was still struggling when he wrote this. A few middling tracks slow it down, but 'Jokerman', among other good songs, make it all worthwhile.
18. World Gone Wrong (1993)
The follow up to Good as I Been to You once again finds Dylan playing folk standards.
19. Bob Dylan (1962)
The debut record shows the ambitious young songwriter getting started, but fails to live up to his later masterpieces.
20. Slow Train Coming (1979)
The first of Dylan's Christian trilogy, this album offers up a few great songs in the midst of Dylan's religious explorations.
OTHER BOB DYLAN STUDIO ALBUMS:
Nashville Skyline (1969) Self Portrait (1970) Saved (1980) Shot of Love (1981) Empire Burlesque (1985) Knocked Out Loaded (1986) Down In the Groove (1988) Under The Red Sky (1990) Modern Times (2006) Tempest (2012)
OTHER ALBUMS OF INTEREST:
Before The Flood - (1974)
Excellent live recording of Dylan with The Band shows how well they worked together in concert.
Biograph - (1985)
If you're looking for a compilation of Dylan's best work, this is probably the best "Hits" set on the market.
Dylan & the Dead - (1988)
A unique combination for Bob Dylan and The Grateful Dead makes for a good rock concert.
Hard Rain - (1976)
This live recording shows that Dylan could still rock live in the mid-seventies.
Live 1964: Concert at Philharmonic Hall - (2004)
At only 23 years old, Dylan put on this wonderful folk concert, with a special appearance from Joan Baez.
Live 1966: The "Royal Albert Hall" Concert - (1998)
One of the most important rock concerts of all time, Dylan performed a rock set in front of his largely folk audience. Boos and jeers are heard as Dylan plays at his loudest and best. The famous "Judas" shout signifies the end of an era and the beginning of a new one.
Live 1975: The Rolling Thunder Revue - (2002)
This excellent live recording contains the best rendition of 'Hurricane', as Dylan sings with passion and anger about the evils of racism in modern society.
MTV Unplugged - (1995)
Dylan's mid-nineties comeback made for a tremendous performance on MTV Unplugged. Dylan is in top form on this recording.
Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid - (1970)
This film soundtrack is more famous than the movie itself, thanks to the Dylan classic, 'Knockin' on Heaven's Door'.
The Basement Tapes - (1975)
These lost recordings of Dylan with The Band may be somewhat inconsistent, but there are a few great songs.
The Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3 - (1991)
These previously unreleased recordings finally were released in the nineties, and there are a lot of great songs to make them worthwhile.
Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 & 3 - (1988, 1990)
Combining the masterful talents of Dylan, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, George Harrison, and Jeff Lynne, this supergroup demands attention from anyone interested in these musicians.
THE 100 GREATEST BOB DYLAN SONGS (in order of greatness):
1. Like A Rolling Stone
2. Blowin' In The Wind
3. Subterranean Homesick Blues
4. Tangled Up In Blue
5. The Times They Are A-Changin'
6. Positively 4th Street
7. Desolation Row
8. Just Like A Woman
9. Mr. Tambourine Man
10. Knockin' On Heaven's Door
11. Rainy Day Women #12 & 35
12. A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall
13. Don't Think Twice, It's All Right
14. Maggie's Farm
15. Ballad Of A Thin Man
16. My Back Pages
17. It Ain't Me Babe
18. Masters Of War
19. Highway 61 Revisited
20. Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again
21. Visions Of Johanna
22. Lay Lady Lay
23. All Along The Watchtower
24. It's Alright, Ma, (I'm Only Bleeding)
25. I Want You
26. Forever Young
27. Tombstone Blues
28. Idiot Wind
29. It's All Over Now, Baby Blue
30. I Shall Be Free
31. Chimes Of Freedom
32. With God On Our Side
33. Shelter From The Storm
34. Dear Landlord
35. Leopard-skin Pill-box Hat
36. Not Dark Yet
37. Gotta Serve Somebody
39. One More Cup Of Coffee
40. Senor (Tales Of Yankee Power)
42. Tryin' To Get To Heaven
43. Ballad Of Hollis Brown
44. Most Of The Time
45. It Take A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry
46. Sugar Baby
47. She Belongs To Me
48. Simple Twist Of Fate
49. Gates Of Eden
50. Things Have Changed
51. Changing Of The Guards
52. When The Ship Comes In
53. If Not For You
54. Meet Me In The Morning
55. Everything Is Broken
56. Lily, Rosemary And The Jack Of Hearts
57. Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands
58. I'll Be Your Baby Tonight
59. Most Likely You'll Go Your Way And I'll Go Mine
60. You're A Big Girl Now
61. Shooting Star
62. Black Diamond Bay
63. Summer Days
65. Just Like Tom Thumbs Blues
66. Cold Irons Bound
67. Love Minus Zero/No Limit
68. Honest With Me
69. Time Passes Slowly
70. The Man In Me
71. Born In Time
72. License To Kill
75. Lonesome Day Blues
76. Queen Jane Approximately
77. Oxford Blues
78. Girl From North Country
79. All I Really Want To Do
80. Oh Sister
81. Love Sick
82. Thunder On The Mountain
83. Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum
84. New Morning
85. Every Grain Of Sand
86. Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You
87. Tight Connection To My Heart
88. Baby, Let Me Follow You Down
89. When The Deal Goes Down
90. Blind Willie McTell
92. One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later)
93. Mighty Quinn (Quinn The Eskimo)
94. Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll
95. On A Night Like This
96. Mixed Up Confusion
97. I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Met)
98. Solid Rock
99. Political World
100. You Angel You
BOB DYLAN SONGS COVERED BY OTHER ARTISTS:
Dylan first became known to most of the public through Peter, Paul, &
Mary's version of "Blowin' In The Wind", which quickly became a major
hit and a civil rights anthem. Soon, Dylan was one of the most
often-recorded songwriters in the world, generating hits for numerous
rock, pop, folk, and country artists. After his 1966 motorcycle crash,
Dylan recorded a series of demos of his new songs with The Band. Those
recordings--which became known as "The Basement Tapes"--were given to
a variety of artists, resulting in more hit versions of Dylan
compositions. The Byrds, Manfred Mann, Richie Havens, Fairport
Convention, and Dylan's former girlfriend Joan Baez all built their
reputations in part on their recordings of multiple Dylan songs.
While Dylan's songs have appeared less frequently on the pop charts
since the end of the 1960s, there have been thousands of reworkings of
his songs, and he occasionally writes a song for or with another
artist. "(To) Make You Feel My Love", originally given to Billy Joel,
has become something of a modern standard, while some fans were taken
aback by Dylan's collaboration with Michael Bolton on "Steel Bars".
Here are the 40 Greatest Versions of Bob Dylan Songs, ranked by their
popularity (in the US and the UK), influence, and impact on Dylan's
career. (This list excludes Dylan's own recordings, of course.)
1. Blowin' In The Wind - Peter, Paul & Mary
2. Mr. Tambourine Man - The Byrds
3. All Along The Watchtower - Jimi Hendrix Experience
4. The Mighty Quinn (Quinn The Eskimo) - Manfred Mann
5. It Ain't Me Babe - The Turtles
6. Blowin' In The Wind - Stevie Wonder
7. Knockin' On Heaven's Door - Guns 'N Roses
8. Make You Feel My Love - Adele
9. I Shall Be Released - The Band
10. This Wheel's On Fire - Julie Driscoll with Brian Auger & The Trinity
11. Don't Think Twice, It's All Right - Peter, Paul & Mary
12. It Ain't Me Babe - Johnny Cash
13. My Back Pages - The Byrds
14. All I Really Want To Do - Cher
15. To Make You Feel My Love - Garth Brooks
16. Don't Think Twice - Wonder Who? (The Four Seasons)
17. All I Really Want To Do - The Byrds
18. If Not For You - Olivia Newton-John
19. You Ain't Going Nowhere - The Byrds
20. Emotionally Yours - The O'Jays
21. Steel Bars - Michael Bolton
22. She Belongs To Me - Rick Nelson
23. To Make You Feel My Love - Billy Joel
24. If Not For You - George Harrison
25. Knockin' On Heaven's Door - Eric Clapton
26. If You Gotta Go, Go Now – Manfred Mann
27. Absolutely Sweet Maree - Jason & The Scorchers
28. It's All Over Now, Baby Blue - Them
29. Wanted Man - Johnny Cash
30. Just Like A Woman - Richie Havens
31. Farewell Angelina - Joan Baez
32. I'll Be Your Baby Tonight – Robert Palmer & UB40
33. Si Tu Dois Partir (If You Gotta Go, Go Now) - Fairport Convention
34. Chimes Of Freedom - Bruce Springsteen
35. Just Like A Woman - Manfred Mann
36. Chimes Of Freedom - The Byrds
37. Highway 61 Revisited - Johnny Winter
38. Percy's Song - Fairport Convention
39. Tomorrow Is A Long Time - Elvis Presley
40. Subterranean Homesick Blues - Red Hot Chili Peppers
PLACEMENT ON DDD LISTS (as of 1/05):
Greatest Rock Lyricists - #1 Greatest Rock Artists - #3 Greatest Influential Rock Artists - #5 Greatest Rock Songwriters - #6 Greatest Live Rock Artists - #44 Greatest Rock Albums - 6 entries