Top 10 Bob Dylan Songs

Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, net worth

Bob Dylan’s albums of protest songs brought him a large audience. (Getty Images)

Today, Bob Dylan turns 75 years old. It’s a celebration not just of the man, but of his work, an enormous catalogue of incredible songs and albums. His music helped name Rolling Stone magazine, and he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, the same year as The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and The Supremes. He’s sold over 35 million albums in the U.S. alone. His legacy in popular music is beyond established.

As a successful musician for over 50 years at this point, it’s understandable that younger generations that didn’t grow up with Dylan’s music wouldn’t be quite as familiar with him. And with hundreds upon hundreds of songs in his massive discography, getting into him could be a little daunting. So here are ten great, classic Bob Dylan songs for anyone interested in discovering his music to start with!

1. Like a Rolling Stone

Like a Rolling StoneProvided to YouTube by The Orchard Enterprises Like a Rolling Stone · Bob Dylan Aquellos Maravillosos Años ℗ 2015 V.R. DigitalD3 Released on: 2015-03-13 Auto-generated by YouTube.2015-03-17T12:17:19.000Z

It’s almost impossible to have a Bob Dylan list without it. It’s become the Dylan song. It’s the basis for Rolling Stone’s name, and in their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, no matter how often it gets updated, it’s number 1. It plays a crucial role in Dylan transitioning from strictly acoustic folk to adding electric guitar.

But even with electric instruments, Dylan’s folk sensibilities and emotive storytelling shine through. The lyrics tell the tale of a young rich girl and her fall from grace, a far cry from the upbeat love songs that were ruling the charts. Still, the song thrived and peaked at number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, a remarkable feat for a song that’s over 6 minutes long.

2. Hurricane

HurricaneProvided to YouTube by Sony Music Entertainment Hurricane · Bob Dylan Desire ℗ 1976 Columbia Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment Released on: 1976-01-16 Background Vocal: Emmylou Harris Background Vocal, Bass: Rob Stoner Background Vocal: Ronee Blakley Background Vocal: Steve Soles Drums: Howard Wyeth Composer, Lyricist: Jacques Levy Congas: Luther Accordion: Dom Cortese Violin:…2015-09-23T15:49:35.000Z

Bob Dylan didn’t necessarily invent the protest song, but his name is what comes to mind when it’s said. Dylan’s protest songs weren’t just his early work, as evidenced by this 1975 classic and fan favorite. The track is based on a true story about Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, a boxer who was in jail for murder. Dylan read “The 16th Round,” a book that said Carter was innocent and the case racially motivated. He was inspired to write this epic, lyrically dense with accusations of institutional racism.

The song reached the top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100, a big part of his 1975 renaissance, and helped spark outcry about Carter’s imprisonment. It turned out Dylan wasn’t the only one suspicious of the motives that led to Carter being found guilty – in 1985 his conviction was overturned.

3. Tangled Up in Blue

Bob Dylan – Tangled Up In Blue (Video)In 1975, Bob Dylan released his fifteenth studio album, Blood on the Tracks. Taken from the cult classic Renaldo and Clara, you can watch Dylan's riveting live performance of Tangled Up in Blue now. Watch Bob Dylan live through the years Watch Bob Dylan's official music videos iTunes: Spotify: Google…2009-10-25T07:04:29.000Z

The other song that charted well for Dylan in 1975, Tangled Up in Blue is often seen as a high point in Dylan’s lyricism. The Telegraph went so far as to call it “the most dazzling lyric ever written.” Much of the story is extremely personal, with clear references to his crumbling marriage to his wife at the time, Sara Lownds (more on her later). Dylan’s ability to bring out big emotions from small, realistic stories shines as brightly as ever on this track.

4. The Times They are a-Changin’

Bob Dylan The Times They Are A Changin' 1964TV Movie, The Times They are a Changing' (1964) Directed by: Daryl Duke Starring: Bob Dylan2013-12-27T15:38:51.000Z

Perhaps the definitive protest song of its era, broad in its message with a memorable tune. Written in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement, the song is unique in its premise. It’s a protest song that’s less a call to arms, and instead a letter to older generations, to the politicians, writers, and parents of the world to get with the times. The Times They Are a-Changin’ is Dylan saying that the social progress of the times could not be stopped no matter what they did, and that the best thing for opponents of the movement to do would be to simply accept that, as the title says, the times are changing.

5. Desolation Row

Desolation RowProvided to YouTube by Sony Music Entertainment Desolation Row · Bob Dylan Highway 61 Revisited ℗ Originally released 1965. All rights reserved by Columbia Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment Released on: 1965-08-27 Guitar: Michael Bloomfield Guitar: Charlie McCoy Drums: Bobby Gregg Organ, Piano: Alan Kooper Organ, Piano: Paul Griffin Piano: Frank Owens Bass:…2014-11-08T08:55:08.000Z

This song is from the album “Highway 61 Revisited,” notable for Dylan going electric. Desolation Row, however, is the acoustic closer to the album. Whereas many Dylan songs tell stories, Desolation Row is more poetic, loose narratives dense with references and surreal imagery. The track has become a favorite among Dylan fans. It’s also an incredible commitment, coming in 11 minutes and 21 seconds long. But those who are willing to give it that time get classic Dylan in beautiful lyricism and gentle guitar work.

6. Blowin’ in the Wind

Blowin in The Wind – Bob DylanBlowin in The Wind Bob Dylan How many roads must a man walk down, Before you can call him a man? How many seas must a white dove sail, Before she sleeps in the sand? Yes, and how many times must cannonballs fly, Before they're forever banned? The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the…2013-10-04T23:33:28.000Z

Dylan may have been a young man when he wrote this song, but the philosophical queries he asked in the form of a protest song have lived on for decades, seen as all time great lyrics. Abstract and absurd questions like “How many times must a man look up before he can see the sky?” are coupled with clear allegories of oppression, such as “How many ears must one man have before he can hear people cry?”

Released in 1963, this is one of the defining songs of Dylan’s career. It helped establish him not just as a popular artist, but as a pioneer of the protest song. The song has been referenced in works such as “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and “Forrest Gump.”

7. Subterranean Homesick Blues

Bob Dylan – Subterranean Homesick BluesIn 1965, Bob Dylan released his fifth studio album, Bringing it All Back Home – watch the official music video for "Subterranean Homesick Blues" now. Watch Bob Dylan's official music videos Check out Bob Dylan's various promos Buy The Essential Bob Dylan: iTunes: Google Play: Facebook: Twitter: Subscribe:…2015-10-09T16:57:30.000Z

One of the few songs from the 60s that’s synonymous with a video, SHB was featured as the opening of a documentary entitled “Don’t Look Back.” In it, Dylan holds cue cards with phrases from the song, matching them up with the song. One of his first electric songs, there’s a clear blues influence in the guitar, while the dense lyricism has incredible pace and internal rhymes that wouldn’t be seen regularly in music until the rise of hip-hop.

8. Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right

Don't Think Twice It's All Right – Bob DylanVintage TV is available on Sky 369, Freeview 82, Virgin 343, Freesat 505 and BT/TalkTalk 82. For full episodes and exclusive content, download the free Vintage TV app or visit our website: vintage.tv2014-06-27T12:18:42.000Z

After 7 songs filled with politics, protest, and wall-to-wall lyrics, this is a refreshingly simple song. It’s just Dylan, his acoustic guitar, and his harmonica. His subtle storytelling shines again, detailing the end of a relationship from a first-person perspective. With beautiful guitar playing and a mournful voice fitting the resigned acceptance of the lyrics, it’s no wonder this is one of his most popular songs.

9. Just Like a Woman

Just Like a WomanProvided to YouTube by Sony Music Entertainment Just Like a Woman · Bob Dylan Blonde On Blonde ℗ Originally released 1966. All rights reserved by Columbia Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment Released on: 1966-06-17 Producer: Bob Johnston Associated Performer: Wayne Moss Associated Performer: Charlie McCoy Associated Performer: Kenneth Buttrey Associated Performer: Hargus Robbins…2014-11-08T08:56:30.000Z

Another example of Dylan getting the most out of simple melodies, this song is an ode to femininity and a woman who exemplifies it. It’s been speculated for years who the song is about, with possibilities including Joan Baez and Edie Sedgwick. The song peaked at number 33 on the Hot 100, one of several hits from Dylan’s critically adored album “Blonde on Blonde.”

10. Sara

SaraProvided to YouTube by Sony Music Entertainment Sara · Bob Dylan Desire ℗ 1976 Columbia Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment Released on: 1976-01-16 Background Vocal: Emmylou Harris Background Vocal, Bass: Rob Stoner Drums: Howard Wyeth Accordion: Dom Cortese Violin: Scarlet Rivera Producer: Don DeVito Engineer: Don Meehan Mastering Engineer: Stan Kalina Recording Engineer:…2015-09-23T15:38:29.000Z

Remember when I said we’d get back to Sara Lowndz? Their marriage continued to crumble into the mid-70s, when they became estranged. “Sara” was Dylan’s last-ditch plea to win her back. He was so desperate that in fact, he tried to win her back with this song while recording it – she was on the other side of the glass, watching. Reports of her reaction vary, but the one that’s gained the most traction was from Jacques Levy, who co-wrote some songs with Dylan and said “It was extraordinary. You could have heard a pin drop… She was absolutely stunned by it.” Though a standout track that potentially won her over, the marriage officially ended in 1977.

If you think other, more underrated Dylan songs deserved a place on this list, share them in the comments!

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