My grandfather was a massive fan of Bob Dylan and always had a collection of his records, and so through that I’ve picked up a few songs and the ones that to me stick out by Dylan. Bob Dylan is one of the great Folk/Acoustic musicians that was brought to attention during the sixties (the 60’s was a good time to be a music fan, nothing had been done yet).
1. Desolation Row – Highway 61 Revisited, 1965, Columbia – Desolation Row (a song that was covered by My Chemical Romance for the ‘Watchmen’ movie) is actually over 11 minutes long and really weird lyrically, however one of the best songs ever written that can completely describe a scene, a morbid one so perfectly. Desolation Row was one of the most ambitious songs Dylan had written up until that point and is supposedly inspired by either ‘somewhere in Mexico’ or Eighth Avenue in Manhattan which was at the time a den of inequity.
2. Like A Rolling Stone – Highway 61 Revisited, 1965, Columbia – One of the more confrontational songs written by Dylan, about a woman who has fallen from grace and now has to ‘scrounge her next meal’ and having to deal with life on her own – Like A Rolling Stone has an amazing melody and lyrically is thought provoking, ‘when you’ve got nothing, you’ve got nothing to lose’ being one of the stand out lines in this song – and the use of the organ throughout the song gives a very different and contrasting vibe to the song.
3. Blowin’ In The Wind – The Freewheelin’ Boy Dylan, 1963, Columbia – Originally a protest song about peace, freedom and war, Blowin’ In The Wind is a collection of rhetorical questions and according to Rolling Stone, the 14th on ‘The 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time’ list, simply made on an acoustic guitar and the use of harmonica, it’s not surprising that it is held in such esteem. In it’s simplicity is it’s brilliance.
4. The Times They Are A-Changin’ – The Times They Are A-Changin’, 1964/5, Columbia – A song with a purpose and change with lyrics such as:-
‘Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside
And it is ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’.
It was certainly a song for the times and at a time when young people were just beginning to have their culture, hence the line, ‘Your sons and your daughter, are beyond your command’ and the changing society that was being created in that period, it’s one of the most important songs written and probably the archetypal protest song that still is relevant today, and probably always will.
5. Mr Tambourine Man – Bringing It All Back Home, Columbia, 1965 – The song is better known by The Byrds but was written by Dylan and is performed by him too, and this song was the beginning of folk rock. Intellectual lyrics and the twangy guitars that were the roots of many bands these days (Some bands are so obviously influenced by this fella) Mr Tambourine Man was original for the time and groundbreaking within music.
One of the most influential musicians of the last century, this is only a brief explanation of Dylan, check him out and you can hear all five songs here in this playlist of all 5 songs posts.