Greatest Hits

Norm is having one of his polls.

This time he invites us to submit our five favourite Bob Dylan songs. Here are mine:

1. Blind Willie McTell – Unbelievably this was one of the songs left off Infidels and not heard by most people until the release of the Bootleg Series Volumes 1-3. For most other artists this would be the glittering jewel at the centre of their career. In the case of His Royal Bobness it’s an outtake.

2. One More Cup of Coffee for the Road – It’s doesn’t seem fair to be limited to just one song off Desire but to pick others would have led to a very unbalanced list indeed. This song is one of the best examples of Dylan conjuring theatre from a wisp of a song. Scarlet Rivera, the violinist on this track was plucked from a New York Street by Dylan who apparantly saw her holding her fiddle under her arm and went up to her, asking “Hey, can you play that thing ?” The answer is a most emphatic yes. there are numerous good live versions of this song too.

3. Tangled up in Blue – I was 17 when I first heard this on the Annie Nightingale show on Radio 1. Dylan was unfashionable at the time and I hadn’t heard the mature Dylan till that moment. I bought Blood on the Tracks the next day and still play the same vinyl copy regularly. There’s any number of evocative lines in the song “We drove that car as far as we could, abandoned it out West” always works for me.

4. Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues – He wrote so many good songs I wonder if Dylan really appreciated all of them as much as someone less-gifted might have. His version of this is perfectly fine but when Judy Collins got her hands on this song she stretched and kneaded it into a new and unexpected shape. Languid vocals over jazz piano gives you a hint but you’ve got to hear it to see what you can do with even one of Dylan’s lesser songs.

5. Like a Rolling Stone – What can I say that hasn’t been said already ? Nothing, so I’ll shut up.

Except I reserve the right to substitute the above with any number of also-great songs depending on my mood.